Onboarding for success

The experience an employee has with an organisation during the onboarding phase can determine both their success in the role, and their attitude toward and engagement with the organisation in the long term. In a recent article Harvard Business Review cited research which has shown that by adopting a systematic approach to onboarding, managers can help bring employees up to speed 50% faster and position them to make positive contribution sooner. As the war for talent heightens, companies can no longer risk losing new hires just to an ineffective onboarding process.

The time between a candidate accepting the role and starting their job can be somewhat precarious, however it does present an opportunity for organisations to inspire engagement. Providing information snippets about the culture and values of the organisation, and what to expect from day one can help put a new hire at ease and generate excitement. Of course the onboarding basics of documentation, health and safety, technology etc. should be covered in the first days of an employee joining the company. After that, managers become an integral part of integrating new hires and are fundamentally become the drivers of successful onboarding.

While every organisational culture, manager and new hire is unique, there are certain things managers can do which will ultimately increase the engagement of new hires.

  • Be Empathetic: Joining a new organisation can be overwhelming for people. Trying to learn the new cultural norms, establish relationships and learn about the business and the industry can be challenging, even for the most experienced professionals. Research has shown that challenges which arise from lack of cultural fit and relationships are actually the most significant drivers of new hire turnover. Ensuring that new hires feel comfortable to ask questions as part of their learning journey will help to alleviate any level of uncertainty. Put yourself in their shoes, make sure you have an open door policy and connect your recent hire with other team members who might have insights and advice to offer.
  • Provide direction: goal setting is an important driver of performance for any employee (established or new). It is imperative that a new hire knows what they need to do, how they should go about doing it, and why they are doing it (how their job contributes to the overall company and team objectives). These aspects of the role will likely have been discussed during the interview process, but the likelihood is that the conversation could have occurred 4-6 weeks before the candidate begins the role, so it is extremely important to re-open this conversation in week one.
  • Seek out early wins: working with the new hire to focus on the core aspects of their new role can help guide them toward an early win and avoid the trap of taking on too much in order to prove themselves. Provide clarity on what constitutes a win. Recognising these contributions can help build the individuals confidence and credibility among their team members.
  • Coach rather than manage: the traditional manager role has evolved and the most successful teams are now led by those individuals who strive to empower their team for success through mentoring and coaching. Managers can help team members to recognise their strengths and opportunities for development, thus providing the necessary guidance to perform the roll to their best ability.
  • Include the new hire in everything: The odds are that any new hire will be working as part of a team, so it is important that they feel included. Make sure that new hires are quickly included in all of the normal day-to-day events in the organisation such as coffee breaks, lunch routines, post-work socialising, etc. The sooner a new hire feels comfortable in all aspects of their new environment, the better.