Wel­com­ing a new em­ployee with ‘on­board­ing’

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - Kath­leen Be­g­ley Colum­nist

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!

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