4 Ways to Onboard Your Employees the Right Way

By Lisa Calick

The onboarding process is your company’s first involved interaction with your new employees. Waiting until they walk in the door on the first day can be too late. An effective onboarding process begins from the moment your candidates accept the job. You’ll want to show them they made the right decision and be able to make the most of the new job from day one.

Here are four ways to get their career journey at your company off to the best possible start.

Begin early. Plan to connect with your new employee as soon as the hiring decision is made. Start the clock running by triggering operational procedures that allow them to feel confident from their official first day.

Send a welcome email a week or two before day one. Make them feel welcome and assured of how much you look forward to them joining the team. This shouldn’t just come from someone in HR, but from the hiring manager or key team members. Make sure they have important information on such key topics as start time, where to park and contact information for assistance.

If your processes are automated, send a link in advance asking new hires to complete their employee profile. If you aren’t quite there yet, you can automate somewhat by sending any required forms through an e-signature program.

By having the hiring paperwork out of the way, the first day can focus on quickly assimiliating into the organization — not filling out boring tax and insurance forms. Which do you think they’d rather do?

Pre-plan the first day. So what do you do with the new hire if they’re not filling out endless forms? How about introducing them to an office or workstation that’s clean and well-stocked with the basic supplies they’ll need?

Pre-order business cards, set up the computer, get them on the network and make sure accesses will be granted. There’s nothing more frustrating than a first day spent with blocked screens and password rejections. Having things all set up beforehand shows that your company is organized and that solid effort was made to make them feel welcome. Make introductions and make sure there’s a welcome lunch.

Train strategically. What does the new hire need to know to proceed with as few stumbles as possible? And there is no standardized answer to that question. There are elements to onboarding that will be common to all employees — such as company policies and the basics of navigating through the physical space — but from that point, training must be customized. Each of your individual hires must learn the distinct skills, procedures and programs that they will be expected to know.

It’s a lot to know at one time, so make sure you proceed with patience and at a pace the new hire can follow. Ask repeatedly if there are questions and make sure they know who to contact when they do get lost — which, inevitably, they will.

Keep training ongoing. The first three tips reflect your goal of wanting to make sure your new employee wants to come back for day two. But your onboarding job’s not over after then. The fog hasn’t miraculously lifted after a good first day.

Make sure they’ve been connected with the people who can help them through their early weeks on the job. Then check in with them after 30 or 60 days to see how the assimilation process has gone. And keep them comfortable with the idea of going to you or others for help whenever they need it.

This will keep your new people from feeling hopelessly lost or frustrated. It will also help you learn how well your onboarding process is working and what you can do to improve it for future hires.

Lisa Calick, SPHR, provides Wiss clients with HR and employment law compliance solutions. She can be reached at (973) 994-9400 or lcalick@wiss.visioncreativegroup.com.

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