Business success in the present day, demands companies to retain, build, and nurture talent boosting productivity. HR teams strive to build a pipeline of talent and help to measure and manage employee performance. In this process of talent management, a key aspect is building an effective and robust onboarding system.

Onboarding sets the pace and tone to an employee’s stint in the organization. Hence, much care has to be taken, to handhold new employees and ensure that they are assimilated into the organization with a well-oiled onboarding process.

Onboarding is the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members. Onboarding plans are aimed to help new hires be comfortable with the new company culture, environment and business objectives of a company. Initially, you need to guide them as they undertake new projects in an endeavor to get them up to speed quickly.

The ultimate goal is to reduce attrition and engage new hires to stay with an organization for a longer period. While developing an onboarding plan for new hires, there are some important aspects with respect to the individual and the company that needs to be addressed.

  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

The onboarding process should start the moment a candidate visits the company’s website or career site, so by the time the applicant comes in for the interview, they already have a good impression about the company. If the applicant is able to connect with the company branding, culture, and goals the battle is half won. Prepare for the big day, well ahead of time. As soon as the new hire accepts the offer, paperwork can start.

Paperwork can be done electronically, at the comfort of their homes. Let them in on what to expect on the first day and a career at your organization. Send them an employee portal link, invite them to employee group portals. Nothing zaps out energy on the first day as spending hours filling paperwork.

At the office, prepare their work station, and their teams for the new arrival. You can also forward an employee handbook earlier so that new hires aren’t burdened with excessive information on the first day. As onboarding requires coordination between multiple departments, it is imperative that they use a good onboarding solution.

By providing credentials to the organization’s intranet, you can give the new hire access to videos, resources, FAQs, and podcasts that display your company’s vision, goals, values, features a welcome message from the CEO, talks about your company culture and provide employee testimonials. In addition, you get to know your team leads and team members, which will help understand the company’s chain of command and reporting structure.

  • Things to look into on the first day

On the new hire’s first day, the HR department/technical team involved in their interview process should be there to welcome him/her. This will help to ease the nerves. Its also important to introduce new hires to colleagues, management, and team members. Also, a critical part of the onboarding process is making the new hire aware of the organization’s culture and values.

  • A welcome letter / email to greet your new hire. Keep the letter personalized, welcoming and engaging
  • Outline the company goals, its mission and ethos
  • Configure the new hire’s e-mail ID.
  • Get him an ID Card.
  • Connect the employee to the manager and HR personnel
  • Reiterate benefits and package, and explain roles and responsibilities providing a more detail job description
  • Provide details including the “when, where and how” of reporting to work. This could include even the office dress code, parking instructions, other unofficial norms at works. Also provide a guided tour of the office space
  • Prepare the new hire’s work station with all the tools in place including name plate, computer, software downloads,  ready and available
  • Assign a buddy at work for the new hire, and brief that employee of his role
  • Inform team members and other stakeholder’s of new hire joining details, and get them onboard in making the new employee feel welcome
  • Describe the first day/ week itinerary. Briefly mention the duties and responsibilities of the new job along with the expectations and key performance indicators
  • Personalize the onboarding experience

Giving a personal touch to the onboarding process can engage new employees, giving them the ability to visualize their career goals, chart out their ambitions, and also be in alignment with the organizational objectives. The organization needs to communicate to the new hires that they value them and their work and they just don’t consider them as an asset to make a profit.

Creating a unique and company-specific onboarding ritual helps build the connection with the new hire. Many companies have amusing and distinct initiation traditions. Onboarding rituals can be developed depending on the culture and work ethics of an organization.

The organization should focus on the unique needs of each new hire instead of having a routine orientation program. Having a “buddy” or a mentor in the first few days at a new place is a source of reassurance for all new hires. Making proper introductions with teammates, colleagues and managers help to build connections and help ease the strain of socializing.

Processes can be set up for managers and teammates to help new hires integrate with the company culture, letting them in on company norms and work ethics. Having a mentor or a buddy helps anchor the new employee to company culture and traditions, and intricacies that otherwise would be awkward for a new hire.

Make sure a new staff member understands what’s in it for them in the company and how they can make a difference at the workplace. Implement a transparent and credible employee recognition program and communicate to new hires on how their performance will be evaluated and how the performance appraisal system works so that they know there will be rewarded and won’t go down the drain.

  • Have a follow-up plan to check how your new hire is doing

It’s crucial for both HR and reporting managers to check in on a new employee a week and month post-induction. Reviewing and providing relevant feedback would help the new hire steer in the right direction. High performing companies often have processes that review the engagement levels of new employees at regular intervals during the course of the first year.

After the first month of joining the company, the employee is expected to have fully understood the performance expectations with regard to his role, and the organization continues to handhold and equip the employee, building connections, and facilitating relationship building. Few actions that should be initiated after the first month are:

  • Get feedback from the employee with regard to his “settling in” – in the organization
  • Review the new hire performance and provide feedback on specific tasks
  • Provide relevant feedback – regularly and consistently. This could include constructive criticism on how to improve new hire performance
  • Review performance and development goals
  • Facilitate one on one meetings with managers, skip level managers and HR
  • Facilitate relationship-building across business and functions
  • Review the employee with their buddy with regard to any queries
  • Facilitate socialization with the new hire taking an active part in office events, work-related and otherwise
  • Ensure the employee has attended the new hire orientation program fully
  • Facilitate necessary training and mentoring to further equip the new hire for the role and assignments ahead
  • Review the employee with the assigned buddy for feedback

By extending your employee onboarding program past 1 month to a year, your new hires will benefit in the below 3 ways:

1)Complete and balanced learning
Progressive learning in stages and small quantities will avoid information overload and ensure better understanding, retention, and practical application of important concepts.

2)Improved performance
Assigning a mentor and promoting positional job training over an extended time frame has tangible benefits in helping the employee understand his role, sharpen his skill set and learn how to be aligned with organizational goals.

3)Increased new hire retention
Investing time and resources in your employees will help them feel valued, setting goals and expectations will enable them to understand career growth opportunities. Giving new hires scope for growth will keep them motivated. Opportunity to learn and improve their skill sets is critical for improving employee retention.