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Onboarding–helping new employees adapt to their new positions, part II

You need a detail schedule for new hires

Recap

Successful onboarding programs share proven, predictable structure, consistent communication and, above all, management patience– not buying into the unrealistic expectation that the new hire should hit the ground running from the very first day. Another critical element of success is leveraging new employee strengths before encouraging them to acquire new competencies. –Also, providing new hires with pre-boarding information–, e.g., e-packets including company orientation videos, new employee benefits documents, etc., significantly boosts first-year employee retention.

First impression strongly affect motivation and performance

Share onboarding responsibilities

Again, before the first day, send the new hire a schedule for the first few days, with meetings scheduled not only with their reporting manager, but also their team members, higher-level managers, and with representatives from other departments with whom they’ll be coordinating future work. In fact, 43% of companies make onboarding a team effort, something I believe is the best approach even for corporations where HR often wants exclusive control of the process.

If you have been keeping things loose and informal, with no established onboarding structure, consider the confusion and anxiety that can trigger for a new employee on their first day. For starters–if the hiring manager is going to be out of town, consider changing the first employee’s start date so that he or she can meet with her or him without delay. If a new employee doesn’t even know where the lunchroom or restrooms are located, you have a problem.

Most importantly, the reporting manager needs to set aside time right away to discuss day-to-day responsibilities, goals, performance expectations and how to prepare for their first 90 days–including initial project assignments. Make them aware of the importance of their work and its impact not only on other team members but also on those working in other areas.

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Select veteran employees to help the new hires

It’s highly advisable that you structure time for your new employees to shadow veteran employees during the first weeks or longer. This is another of those factors that correlate with motivation, productivity, and retention. Whom you select to provide that mentoring is based not only overlapping responsibilities but, also, on the personality of the veteran employee. Some of your most competent employees may not have the personability or patience required for this kind of assignment. The resulting lack of rapport can significantly undermine the morale of new hires. Be careful to avoid that mistake.

Other basics

  • Make sure your new hire has a comfortable, clean, fully stocked workstation with computer and other digital devices ready to go. Place important documents such as the employee handbook, phone directory, organizational chart and enrollment paperwork on their desk. Also, make sure to stock their station with all the necessary office supplies.
  • Provide staff members with information about the new employee, including such things as their job description and resume. Also, give them a schedule with times to meet the new hire and with a description of how they will be working together once the employee is up to speed.
  • Welcoming gifts are not a gimmick. Having a custom t-shirt, workbag, pens, etc., all help to make the employee feel welcome while building brand loyalty.

In Part III, the concluding segment in this series, I’ll explain how training reinforces onboarding along with some final suggestions for maximizing employee retention and productivity.

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