“If you want people to perform well, you have to get them off to a good start. That’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?”
– Dick Grote, author of How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals
After a lengthy search, you’ve finally found the perfect candidate to fill that open position on your team. Congratulations, but your job isn’t finished yet! The next crucial step is to properly welcome your new hire with a well thought-out onboarding effort.
Getting your new employee operating with maximum efficiency and effectiveness relies on a comprehensive onboarding process. In our view, a plan that goes beyond the usual formalities of corporate values, compliance, and org structure to include a fun and meaningful introduction to company culture, opportunities to meet and socialize with team members, and a few short-term goals to focus on while coming up to speed, can go a long way to engaging your new hire quickly.
Human Resource managers often refer to the four aspects of new employee onboarding as The Four C’s: compliance, clarification, culture, and connection – all of which are important. Yet, too often an onboarding plan can become bogged down with “compliance”. Sitting in a boardroom with pamphlets of information, your new-hire is left with an unexciting, solitary first experience.
As you plan out your onboarding process, don’t forget to schedule time for “connection.” Taking a few extra measures to ensure an employee feels accepted and at ease with the organizational culture of the company will go a long way to integrating them within your team.
Many executives are beginning to recognize the engagement power of a smooth, organized cultural integration. Some companies are going so far as to send over the benefits information and an employee handbook ahead of a new-hire’s first day.
Before your new-hire even arrives in the office, you can set up some activities and surprises to make him feel welcome and express everyone’s excitement at him joining the team. Make things personal by having a small gift, decorating his desk, or getting the whole team to greet him when he first arrives. Within the onboarding plan, organize for him to buddy-up with other members of the team. Here, he can shadow colleagues, learn more about how the company works, and make connections with co-workers.
Once in the office, be sure to not only review your new hire’s core job responsibilities, but to discuss the company’s strategy and how his role fits into the overall picture. Ideally, focus on a few short-term tasks or responsibilities rather than jumping into too many different divergent tasks all at once. And frequently check-in over the first couple of months – don’t assume that your new hire remembers everyone or everything he’s learning right off the bat! In meetings and within projects, encourage questions and solicit his input – making him feel comfortable contributing now will solidify his ease at doing so throughout his employment with the company.
Onboarding is an ongoing process, so look for ways to fold your new-hire into the culture of the office in the weeks to come – looking beyond that first 24 hours. Does your company organize events? It could be a team lunch or maybe the company softball game, but he should be invited!
Another way to continue the trajectory of cultural integration and company familiarization is by assigning a mentor. A mentor can touch base with the new-hire in scheduled meetings or maybe a company funded lunch date. Never underestimate the power of peer-to-peer learning and communication.
This gives him a safe place to direct questions and a starting point from which to build those interpersonal relationships!
The most important thing to remember with onboarding is don’t wing it. Even if you have just 30 minutes to sit down and plan out your new-hire’s first 24 hours, you are doing yourself and your company a huge favour. Optimally, think about how you want your employee’s first 90 days to go: What will his training look like? Who will he connect with? How can you make him feel a part of the team from the get go?
Your effort to improve employee engagement and consequently, employee productivity, should start from Day 1, it just takes a little bit of effort.