What was your best and worst first day at a new job? I can tell you about mine. My worst experience was coming to a desk with a laptop and having no idea what to do next.
Eventually, someone came and introduced me to the team and my duties, but that first feeling of helplessness and frustration somewhat dampened the excitement of starting a new job.
My best experience was when I found not only a laptop with my account set up already but also a welcome email with a step-by-step guide and links to the internal wiki, an invitation to an onboarding session, and a calendar with a schedule of my team’s activities. And, of course, a branded mug on my desk. I immediately felt a part of the team. I felt like I belong here.
Surely, employee onboarding reaches far beyond a mug and a notebook with the company logo and continues for much longer than just the first day. This is a very important stage of the hiring process and when done right, onboarding brings benefits for both the business and the new employee. Statistically, proper onboarding increases employee retention by 82% and productivity—by 70%.
Let’s see what you can do to make your onboarding process better.
How to improve new employee onboarding
The techniques and practices we are going to talk about are aimed at making the new hire feel confident and relaxed and helping them reach their cruising altitude as soon as possible. Your HRs exercised their recruiting magic to convince the candidate to accept the offer, and now you need to create a positive first experience with excellent onboarding.
Have an onboarding plan
As with any business process, employee onboarding should have a plan, a checklist, and a timeline. Both you and your new hire should know what needs to be done and when.
Needless to say, the onboarding plan should be ready before the new person sets foot into your office. When drawing the plan, consider the following:
- Position you hire the person for. Different jobs require different introductory flows, such as training and self-development practices.
- Need to involve other people. In most cases, a new employee is greeted by HR and introduced to the team lead who then introduces the newbie to the rest of the team. If any onboarding training is needed, schedule that taking into account everyone’s availability.
- Hardware and software required for the new employee to start working. Make sure that the new hire has all the equipment they need as well as all the software licenses, if necessary.
Prepare a plan outlining what the new employee is expected to do and achieve on the first day, in the first week, and in the first month. For example:
- Day 1: Install the necessary tools and familiarize yourself with them.
- Week 1: Complete the orientation training, join the team’s routine activities, and browse the company’s internal wiki and external knowledge base for customer support, if available.
- Month 1: Complete the necessary job training, and start contributing to the team’s tasks.
Welcome new hires on their first day
The first day is important, as it shows the new employee that they are needed and welcomed. They should feel that the company expected them and prepared for their arrival.
What you should think about while getting ready for the new employee’s first day in the office:
- Their workspace (computer, business accounts, ID card)
- Invitation to the company’s and team’s communication channels (Slack, Webex, Discord, or any other that you have chosen) and collaboration tools (Jira, Trello, Infinity, or other)
- Welcome box (branded stationery, a mug, a lanyard for their ID card)
- Introduction tour (office space, an introduction to the team)
- Events calendar (onboarding activities, orientation training, meetings with the team)
This way, the new person will have their time filled with useful activities and their onboarding will be as smooth as possible.
Use a buddy system
It’s always a great idea to assign buddies to new hires. A buddy is usually a team member who assists the newcomer with various issues. For the new employee, a buddy is a person they can turn to when they have questions or difficulties. Even if the buddy cannot answer a specific question, they can suggest the right person to turn to.
A buddy can introduce the new colleague to the company culture – the dress code, if any, the working hours' flexibility, and the company’s and team’s rules and traditions. They can invite the new person to a nearby café that the team frequents to connect in a less formal atmosphere.
With a buddy, employees become more comfortable in the new environment and adapt quicker.
Set up necessary training
Even though you verified the new hire’s skills during the interviews, they might need an introduction to your internal processes and specific tools. Depending on the scope of the knowledge that needs to be obtained, training can have different formats:
- Internal security and culture procedures that can often be self-paced with a short quiz at the end.
- Introduction to the product in the form of presentations supported by references to the company’s customer-facing knowledge base.
- Professional skill training that can be in any format – self-paced, instructor-led, or peer-supervised.
Define goals and follow up on them
Employee onboarding is not done just for the sake of it. It should pursue clearly defined goals that the new employee should achieve by the end of their onboarding. You can set the goals while creating the onboarding plan so that they correlate with the scheduled activities.
For example, you might think of the following goals:
- Week 1: Get acquainted with the basic company’s policies and rules, set up the workspace, and complete initial training.
- Month 1: Start contributing to the team’s tasks.
- Month 3: Achieve independence in everyday work.
However, it’s not enough to only set goals and leave the new colleague to struggle with them on their own. Schedule regular follow-up sessions to check in with your new hire and see how they are progressing. Such a practice allows catching all the issues early and nipping all problems in the bud. If the new employee needs any help or advice, this is the right time to provide it.
This way, your new team member will feel supported and secure, and their productivity may improve. Who knows, you might even need to send a salary raise letter soon.
Listen to your new employees
In addition to all the obvious benefits of getting a new professional on board, hiring a new person gives you an excellent opportunity to look at your business through fresh eyes. People who work at the same place for a long time tend to get used to the adopted rules, procedures, templates, and guides. A new person might see things you no longer see and suggest valuable improvements.
Their input may vary depending on their position and qualification – from rearranging sections in a document to switching to another tool or framework. In any case, listen to what your new colleague has to say and even encourage their feedback. This way, you not only get improvement ideas but also make the new employee feel respected and valued.
When you hire a new employee, both of you are trying to make the best impression on each other. I hope these tips can help you set up the onboarding process so that everyone who joins your business feels welcome and supported.
About the Author: Evelina Carillo is an experienced writer and blogger with over a decade of expertise in crafting diverse content assets for the marketing and business sectors. Additionally, she has contributed her skills to EdTech for five years, further honing her knowledge in the field.