Effective Onboarding: What Really Matters When Onboarding New Employees
The term “onboarding" refers to the process of integrating new employees into the company, preparing them to succeed at their job and to become fully engaged, productive members of the organization. It includes the initial orientation process and the ensuing three to nine months (or the period of time it takes to get an employee "up to speed" in a particular company or discipline). This is a crucial time in a new employee’s career: the employee is both eager to succeed and highly impressionable to their experiences and surroundings. What is most crucial during this critical phase is that employees receive the right resources, training and networking opportunities to be successful in their new jobs, and the proper career counseling to stay informed of future career opportunities.
It takes a disciplined, coordinated effort from HR and line managers to ensure a successful outcome during this phase. You must map out the new hire’s experience during the first six months to ensure it aligns with your onboarding goals. The following questions are an excellent framework to begin assessing the effectiveness of your new hire onboarding:
- Does your process make it easy or difficult for the new hire to get the information they need?
- Does your process increase or reduce a new hire’s work productivity?
- Does your process ensure or impede the new hire’s success?
- Under what conditions have new hires excelled?
- Why have new hires failed? What were they lacking? What were the conditions under which they were not successful?
Get the Basics Right First
Many employers make a great first impression through their recruitment processes and orientation sessions but neglect to develop a solid employee onboarding program. Oftentimes new hires are left to fend for themselves, resulting in low engagement, retention and productivity. An excellent onboarding and training process, (rather than presenting flashy orientation sessions and company swag), will result in a much higher return on a company’s investment in a new hire.
As a starting point, the following steps should be implemented for new hires:
- Provide employees with clean and fully functioning workstations on Day One
- A new hire’s first day should include his/her supervisor being present and accessible
- Walk newcomers through organizational charts to explain formal and informal lines of communication and hierarchy
- Help new employees establish a professional network by introducing them to people recognized as valuable company resources
- Educate new hires on career paths within the company and what the career development process looks like
Consider Generational Differences
In all likelihood you’ve hired people from at least three different generations: Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials. Have you considered how employees from each of these generations will work together as a team? It is important to create a healthy work environment that is inclusive to all generations; for example, preferred forms of communication and work styles may be different for different age groups.
Here are a few tips for onboarding employees of different generations:
Baby Boomers — Baby Boomers understand modern technologies more than one may assume. Do make sure they are familiar with your company’s technological processes, but handholding is not necessary. This generation is usually quite loyal to their employers; however, as an employer you want to make sure that you consider both their technology preferences and background and provide proper training in this area, if needed.
Baby Boomers like to work in a team and enjoy receiving recognition for their achievements. They are also great mentors to younger employees. They tend to prefer face-to-face communication; they prioritize benefits like health insurance and retirement plans.
Generation X — Gen Xers are largely very familiar with technology and are comfortable with change and modern business processes. They’re quite used to turnover; they are the employees most likely to resign from a position if they don’t see career/company growth as a likely path in the future.
They prioritize job growth opportunities, a healthy work-life balance, and solid retirement plans.
Millennials — Have you heard the horror stories of “entitled” and “spoiled” Millennials? These stories may be overinflated. Millennials are considered to be quite flexible and open-minded. They have a lot of enthusiasm and are ready to grow their careers. They value team collaboration, effective communication, and transparency.
Still early in their careers, Millennials prioritize benefits like paid time off and some control over their schedules, as well as telecommuting options. Millennial women in business are especially eager to define their career paths and remain loyal to a good company.
Don’t make a costly mistake and miss this step in your hiring process. Contact us to learn more about onboarding best practices!