Onboarding Best Practices That Benefit New Hires and Your Business

May 5, 2016
By

You’ve interviewed tons of candidates and finally found the right person for the job. You extend an offer and she accepts. Your work is done, right? Wrong.

In reality, recruiting a candidate is just one part of an effective onboarding program. If you want to set your new hire up for success on day one and beyond, it’s crucial that your onboarding program contains other key elements that start with recruiting and result in a strong onboarding process.

Why Onboarding Matters to Small Business

For small businesses with limited resources, a good onboarding program is a wise investment for three reasons:

⇾ It boosts productivity. Studies show that a strong onboarding program can boost new hire productivity by 70%.

⇾ It helps you retain more employees. Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%.

⇾ It builds culture. Cultivating a strong culture in your workplace takes time. If you can’t retain employees, that process takes even longer. With a structured onboarding program, employees are 58% more likely to be with your company after three years.

Use These 5 Uncommon Pro-Tips for Successful Onboarding

Successful onboarding programs go above and beyond to deliver delightful experiences to new hires even before the first day on the job. What are some uncommon ways to super-charge your onboarding process? Keep reading to find out.

#1 – Leverage the recruiting process.

The recruiting process can play an important part in a good onboarding program. How so? By leveraging it to identify whether or not candidates would be the right fit for a role based on their skillset and personality.

At The Channel Company, Vice President of HR Erika McGrath does exactly that by “pre-boarding” potential new hires with a behavioral assessment tool. Before an offer is extended, McGrath’s team is able to predict a wide range of characteristics in candidates based on the results of the assessment. She then uses that information to determine if someone is the right fit for a specific job.

“We define the behavioral requirements of the role, and then we have the ability to gain a better understanding of the type of training and coaching needed during the onboarding process,” McGrath explains. This process of evaluation allows her team to make better determinations about candidates, and get a better idea of what’s needed to ensure success on the job.

#2 – Make onboarding a team sport.

Welcoming a new hire is the responsibility of your entire team, not just HR or the hiring manager. What’s more, your onboarding program will be more effective if you involve everyone at different stages in the process.

At Mercy for Animals, Jake Morton, Director of Operations, onboarding kicks off with education about the company through their social media presence and other shared materials. Later on in the week, new hires get face time with teammates at their company meeting.

“Sharing great, robust stories really gets people connected to the organization,” Morton explains. It also gives new hires a chance to socialize with the rest of the team after they’ve had a couple days to get acquainted. This gradual interaction helps newcomers feel less overwhelmed and allows them to build relationships at a gradual pace.

What else can you do to get your team involved?

⇾ Pair existing employees with new hires. The buddy system can be an effective way for new hires to feel welcomed and acknowledged at your company. On their first day, pair them with an employee who they can “shadow” during the first week. Naturally, this should be an employee who’s open to inviting new people to lunch and checking in on them during their first week. With a buddy system like this, new hires will feel like they’ve made a friend within their first few days on the job.

⇾ Share their story. Have your leaders spotlight new hires by sharing their stories with the company on the first day. While it’s great to have HR send out a note acknowledging a new hire, it’s even more meaningful when a founder or senior manager takes the time to acknowledge a new employee with a company-wide email.

⇾ Consider a Friday start date. It’s tempting to have new employees start on a Monday, but new hires may run the risk of feeling neglected by managers who are busy getting ramped up for the week. The solution? Consider starting new hires on a Thursday or Friday when the work week is winding down.

#3 – Move beyond the employee handbook.

Starting at a new company can be overwhelming. From learning about the product to understanding customers and how the organization functions, it’s a lot to take in at once. New hires may find it challenging to get all the information they need to get informed on day one.

To combat these challenges,  McGrath and her team at The Channel Company invite new hires to review their “new hire resource library”. The resource library contains articles, webinars, and other media designed to teach new employees about all facets of the business, and goes beyond the basic employee handbook. During their first week on the job, people can review the information at their own pace through their Zenefits dashboard, and then refer to it as-needed over time.

Related blog post: How much do hiring and onboarding cost?

#4 – Have some fun.

Breaking the ice with a new hire can be difficult for existing employees. But at The Channel Company, McGrath has found a clever way to fix this problem.

“When I give candidates their offers, I always ask them what their favorite candy is,” she explains.

“I don’t tell them why I’m asking, but on their first day in the office, we fill a big bowl with all of their favorite candy and put it on their desk. This makes it easy for people in the office to come by, grab some candy, and maybe start a conversation with someone new,” McGrath states.

What’s great about this tactic is that it’s a subtle way to show a new employee that the company cares, but it also makes it easy for team members to get involved, too.

McGrath’s candy tactic is awesome because it shows new hires that the company cares, while providing an easy way for new team members to strike up conversation and get to know one another.

#5 – Remember, new hires are human.

Everyone acclimates to new work environments differently. Some people are outgoing and talkative on day one, while others take a few weeks (or months) to get comfortable. Take the time to get a read on your new hire’s preferred level of communication during the initial stages of onboarding. This will help you prepare the team in advance of your new hire’s first day on the job.

The Link Between Onboarding and Employee Engagement

If you want to build a great team and work environment, a good onboarding program isn’t optional. Beyond boosting new hire productivity, it also increases their engagement in the workplace, which has been shown to contribute to employee happiness, retention, and productivity. In fact, highly engaged employees had 147% higher earnings per share than their competition.

It isn’t easy to build an onboarding program that gets results. That’s why we put together this helpful guide for onboarding best practices in the first thirty days. 

About

Sonja writes on company culture, employee engagement, and growth. With an M.A. in sociology and a background in business, she's fascinated by people, art, and social movements.

Category: HR Tips & Trends, Culture, Talent


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