Onboarding: 1 Day Vs. 90 Days
Effectively onboarding employees can go a long way in ensuring they become productive, engaged employees. Although the focus is finally shifting to enriching onboarding programs, there are still many companies that believe onboarding consists of having the new hire complete the required paperwork and turning them over to their supervisor to start their job. Unfortunately, I’ve been through new hire experiences like that, so I know firsthand how lost and unimportant I felt as a result.
Companies that “get it” and have put real effort into developing onboarding programs have more engaged employees and lower turnover in the first six months to one year of employment. Employee onboarding is more than just what happens on the first day, it’s a process that should last at least three months.
The Start of Successful Onboarding
I believe it begins during the recruitment process, when first impressions and relationships are formed about the company. I know that I have made decisions about whether or not I wanted to join a company based on my interactions with the recruiter. During the recruiting process they are the “face” of the company. In addition to discussing the position and the candidate’s skills and experience to assess their fit for the role, the recruiter should also ensure the candidate knows what the company does and why they do it and the corporate strategy and mission. Core values and corporate culture should also be a part of the discussion so the candidate knows the type of organization they may be joining and can decide whether or not it may be a good fit for them.
Before Their First Day
After acceptance of an offer, a welcome kit should be sent to the employee which contains information about what they can expect on their first day, benefit information and any other information they need to bring with them in order to complete their new hire paperwork. A buddy should be assigned and introduced in the welcome letter. The buddy will act as a point-of-contact for the new employee, and should be an employee that has been with the company for at least a year, is engaged in the culture and exemplifies the corporate values.
The first day should include a formal orientation session which includes the following:
- Completion of all new hire forms, e.g., benefit enrollments and payroll information
- An overview of policies and procedures
- A tour of the facility including staff introductions
If possible, having members of the executive or management team available to discuss corporate history, mission, vision and values during the orientation session is important and makes new employees feel valued and respected. If not possible, having recorded presentations by those executives is a good alternative. Here are a few other ideas on how to welcome a new employee for their first day.
The onboarding process continues after the employee has completed the corporate orientation program and begins to settle into their position. The manager plays an integral role in helping the employee successfully assimilate into their role. Managers that meet with their new employees regularly to set and monitor performance expectations and goals have employees that become engaged much quicker than those who are left to figure it out on their own.
Over the course of the next 90 days, ongoing communication and “check-in’s” are very important! I’m not talking about micromanaging, but rather talking with the new employee to ensure they understand their role, have the tools and resources needed to do their jobs effectively and have the opportunity to discuss concerns and roadblocks. A training and development plan needs to be established, if it has not already been done. Monitoring progress against the plan is also an essential part of ensuring success and helping the employee stay on track.
Ask for Feedback
At the conclusion of the 90 day period, HR should conduct an assessment of the 90-day onboarding process as a means of measuring the effectiveness of the program. Surveys are an effective way of measuring the effectiveness of the program. The survey can be conducted by the manager or Human Resources. Keep in mind, there is always the possibility of getting feedback that is skewed in situations where the employee thinks the feedback can be linked to them. To avoid this problem, many companies will outsource the survey process. If an employee can be assured of anonymity, they are more apt to provide valuable, accurate feedback. Testing is another effective method for certain positions where the employee is expected to learn a particular skill, where proficiency can be measured through a standardized test.
Remember, onboarding is an ongoing process and not a one day program or one conversation; it’s a process that takes at least 90 days and requires effort on the part of the company, the manager and the employee. An effective and well thought out onboarding program will help ensure new employees have what they need in order to become engaged members of the team.