Welcoming a new employee with ‘onboarding’
Before I became an entrepreneur two decades ago, I held several real jobs. On the first day of work at every one of these employers, I was greeted with zero fanfare.
No welcome. No orientation. No training.
In most cases, the only information I obtained was the location of the restroom. And at several companies, I had to ask.
You can imagine, then, how intrigued I am by today’s practice of onboarding.
The term refers to a potpourri of activities companies take to make newcomers feel comfortable and motivated.
The reason? Employers spend so much time and money hiring and training people that they want them to feel good about their job decision – and stay for a few years.
And what better way to plant the seeds of happiness in new hires than showing delight that they have joined the team?
“If you’ve ever started a new job only to find the company totally unprepared for your arrival, you know how important onboarding is to the employeeemployer relationships,” says an article at www.wheniwork.com. “But proper onboarding isn’t just about first impressions. Taking the time to plan how new hires will be introduced into your company will affect their future performance and their ability to achieve stated goals and to have overall satisfaction
with their new positions.”
I dare say that major employers in Chester County such as Vanguard, QVC and Siemens already have successful onboarding programs in place.
But most small businesses don’t.
“Onboarding is especially difficult for small businesses,” writes Maria Black in AMA Quarterly. “Research has found that 80 percent of small businesses do not have any employees with expertise in hiring, much less engaging new employees from the get go.”
If you happen to be a small businessperson sold on the idea of onboarding here are the basic steps:
• Start with reception. Before a new employee shows up, alert the receptionist to greet the person warmly. Another effective practice is to post the person’s name with a welcome message on a sign near the front door.
• Arrange for an escort. Although the new employee presumably has been at the office location for an interview, the individual has a limited knowledge of the logistics of your operation. At the very least, assign an escort to bring the person to the orientation room.
• Free up key personnel. Human Resources and other managers who previously met the newcomer should be available for initial onboarding activities. On several of my jobs, I never again saw the person who interviewed me. Instead, I was greeted by an unknown supervisor, which I remember being quite disconcerting.
• Wow the newcomer. In this day and age, small businesses should have the resources to produce a professional video or presentation about the company. Ditto on a booklet or manual with information about such things as dress code. Keep in mind that the newcomer probably will judge materials against top-notch designs they have seen on the internet, television and movies.
• Give a tour. Few people get to see an entire operation during the interview process. So show the individual around the nooks and crannies, including – yes – the restrooms. Most newcomers, of course, will be most interested in checking out their own work stations. So, before the person’s first day, stock the space with supplies such as pens, papers and staples. Also ahead of time, create voicemail and email accounts for the employee.
• Introduce co-workers. Sure, you can let newcomers fend for themselves in getting to know fellow workers. But taking them around their department is a better approach. An article at www.careerbuilder.com suggests an even more thorough process. “Provide staff members with the new employee’s resume and job description, and advise them to share a description of their positions, ways in which their roles interact with that of the new hire, and how they might expect to work together in the future,” Career Builder says. “This is also a good time to assign a mentor or buddy as an immediate resource for any questions and key information about organizational culture and goals.”
• Follow up. During an employee’s first 90 days, periodically check in, recommends www.roberthalf. com.“You, or supervising managers, should meet with new employees at predetermined points: two weeks after the first day on the job, a month after or at intervals that work best for each job’s complexity and changeability.” All onboard!