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 and ensure that new employees are assimilated into the organization with a well-oiled onboarding process. With a startup or a smaller organization, a formal onboarding may not be always necessary. However, as companies grow bigger, it is essential to build a formal, structured, and effective onboarding process.

Onboarding is the process used within organizations to welcome new hires and equip them for their work assignment. An onboarding program is an important process needed for the effective integration of new hires into an organization, and to get them warmed up for the challenges that lie ahead. New hires can get acclimatized to the new working environment, company culture, and their role within the organization.

Good onboarding programs can increase productivity, employee engagement, and retention. They help in reducing attrition and short-term turnover of staff. They also lift employee morale, make them feel welcome and comfortable in the new environment, and motivate them to perform at an optimum level. These programs enable new hires gauge the bigger picture and work towards fulfilling organizational objectives.

Here are few guidelines to keep in mind while implementing an effective onboarding process.

Prepare yourself and the new hire

A lot can be done and achieved in the weeks and days from hiring an employee to the actual joining date. It is best, to be prepared for the new hire, with respect to their individual needs. Getting things organized and sorted out after an employee joins makes the employee feel unwelcome.

Much of the paperwork on the part of the employee can be done prior to joining through an Employee portal, or via mails. Access to the employee portal can also help them connect to the organization as a whole, with a newsfeed and other company-related information.

Here’s a checklist of things to do prior to the employee joining

  • Communicate with regard to joining formalities
  • Prepare paperwork
  • Email copy of employee handbook
  • Prepare the new hire with the where, when and how of his first day/week at work

Here’s a quick round-up on what to prepare for the first day at work

  • Setup the employee workstation
  • Provide necessary access, logins and permits for the employee
  • Assign a work buddy
  • Let everyone know you have someone new onboard
  • Create and share the new hires first week/ month itinerary
  • Connect the new hire with his manager and team
  • An office/campus tour
  • A welcome gift/card

Managers and HR could check in on the new hire, during the first week and post the first 30 days. Areas that the new hire is finding it difficult to tackle can be dealt with at this time. It is helpful to take note of things or areas that were not addressed in the onboarding process. This helps to make further improvements for future onboarding training.

  • Create a good first impression

Onboarding is the ideal time to make a good impression with the new hire, build trust, and alignment with company expectations. You can also share the company’s vision, norms, and values you want them to imbibe. The program sets the tone for company culture and gets the new hire up and running to be productive, and fulfill goals set for them. The process will also cover the employer and employee duties, rights and responsibilities, and the terms and conditions of employment. As a priority, the onboarding process must cover any legal and compliance requirements for working at the company and also pay attention to the health and safety of the new employee.

  • Handle knowledge transfer

An onboarding program is part of an organization’s knowledge management and transfer process intended to set up the new hire for success. During this phase, you should aim to get new hires up to speed, ready, culture acclimatized and integrated into the team. Otherwise, you risk them ending up as a misfit, and without clarity on their role and how it fits in with the team in the company framework. Poor culture fit doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t possess the skill set needed to perform the job but that their methods and expectations don’t align with the values and norms   of the organization or management expectations.

  • Build social connections

These sessions can also play a critical role with regard to new hire socialization and building the right connections needed to succeed.  Onboarding helps new hires to build relationships that can help them learn, improve, flourish and perform. Right connections will empower them to take giant strides towards success, and company leadership needs to create the right atmosphere and space for these connections to flourish. They also serve the purpose of setting expectations and short term goals for the employee to focus on. In addition, well-designed induction programs can significantly accelerate processes designed to help new hires reach expected competency standards, thus ensuring they are more productive in a shorter period of time.

Familiarize them with the company culture

A poor integration in the company culture is one of the leading reasons for new hire failures. However, very few companies impart and integrate new hires into the company culture effectively. Imparting the company mission, vision and ethos form a crucial element in the onboarding process.

As an anchor of the onboarding process, you would be the first face and name that the employee connects to the company culture. So, it’s important to communicate and represent the company culture at an individual level and at the company level. Employee onboarding portals can be leveraged to showcase what matters to the company, what is rewarded, what is recognized, and what the company as a whole stands for and is aiming for.

The company’s vision must be stated on every hire’s first day. The team and all employees in the company must know the company vision and their part in accomplishing it. This must be further reiterated to the new hires, in different means of communication. The company values and its vision must be seamlessly implemented in the onboarding process, such that the new hire imbibes it and quickly owns his part in it.

Communication and feedback

Getting the new hire on his job at the earliest provides a sense of ownership. Even if it is a small task, it is good to start the employee on a job on the first day. This helps them get focused and gets them to start contributing to the team. Communicating expectations, and providing a means of feedback and response will help build confidence.

Provide new hires with clear expectations and goals. Get into the details, and help clarify their doubts should there be any grey areas. Let them know you are committed to their development and career within the organization. Take them through how they can grow, how they can build themselves, and the company’s interest in developing its talent pool.

Feedback from new hires, at regular intervals, helps to improve on the existing onboarding system. An effective onboarding process is a key to building a talent pool, retaining talent, and increasing productivity.