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Employee engagement starts with onboarding

May 1, 2017

By Keisha Ward, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The term onboarding means different things to different companies.  Some describe onboarding as the time it takes to complete paperwork and conduct a background screening after a new hire accepts an offer. Others consider onboarding to be the first-day orientation, consisting of one day (or one hour in some cases) packed with paperwork and everything you need to know about the organization.  But in actuality, orientation is merely the first step in the onboarding process. Onboarding is an ongoing process and should be approached as such. 

Onboarding, when done correctly, should be a well thought out process that is designed to build a lasting relationship with the new team member. The process should provide a smooth transition for new hires to learn about the organization and its culture. It should also be an opportunity for them to gain clear understanding of how their role, skills and personality will fit into the broader corporate picture.

Experts say, a sound onboarding process spans 1-2 years. It can also continue throughout the employee’s tenure. 

Who should play a part in the onboarding process? 

  • It starts with recruiting. You’re Human Resources and Talent Acquisition team play a key role in the success of your onboarding process. Candidates want to understand your company’s culture sooner rather than later so recruiters should be prepared to convey a clear message as to the style of your organization during the initial phone conversation. 
  • Managers contribute a great deal to a successful onboarding process. They need to clearly define the role, expectations and continue dialog with the new employee. 
  • Senior level leaders should also contribute by clearly stating the organization’s mission and values.    

How to do it right: 

Reach out to new hires before they start.
Build or establish a relationship with your new employee by informally breaking the ice with a quick phone call to answer any questions they might have.  Use this opportunity to make them aware of morning traffic, parking or best places for lunch in the area.

Get the entire company involved.
Prior to the new hire starting, ask them about things the like such as snacks, favorite color, teams and include this information in a new hire bio that is sent to the team.  Employees can use this information as a welcoming tool by bringing the snack or another favorite item to the new employee’s desk throughout the day, week, or month as an icebreaker and conversation starter. 

Communicate culture regularly.
Cultural fit is key with new hires.  While it is easy to determine skill set, determining whether the new employee will have the ability to mesh well with office work habits and personalities can be more challenging.  Explaining the company’s culture and values allows the new employee to envision how his or her role contributes to the success of the organization. 

Don’t give them the silent treatment.
Make sure that they have a consistent day scheduled for at least the first two weeks.  Often, the most unsettling thing about being new is not knowing what to do and having no direction.  New hires should walk in the door to a well thought out schedule including names, titles, location, phone numbers and directions.

Adding a new employee to the team is a process and many organizations feel that the process ends when they arrive.  To the contrary, the focus should now shift to, “ok, we’ve hired this amazing contributor, now how do we make them happy and want to stay?”

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