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How important is it to have an onboarding process?

By Clodagh S. Higgins - January 1, 2019

Your new employee is finally in place, fully motivated and eager to get started. But before you fall into the temptation of dropping her or him twenty urgent tasks and beg them to start working, hold your horses and answer this question: How do you best manage the early stages of a relationship between your organisation and a new employee?

When you have been trying to fill a position that has been vacant for some time, and you are under pressure to get the new hire to start working as soon as possible, it’s easy to overlook the critical process of onboarding.

Let’s face it – redistributing the working load or having urgent matters taken care of immediately, is beyond tempting. However, the time that you spend investing in new hires through onboarding dramatically benefits their ability to succeed at an early stage. Not having and executing a plan for onboarding employees, can quickly make the newcomer feel like a burden more than a much-needed contribution to the team.

Reports show that more than 25% of employees leave a new position within the first 60 days. But check this out: When employees go through a structured onboarding process, they are 58% more likely to remain with the company after three years.

Here are 5 ways you can ensure a successful onboarding process, and the reasons why they are important:

5 ways to ensure a successful onboarding process:

1. The practical factors

When arriving at a new workplace, nothing is more discomforting than feeling like nobody remembered you were coming. These are some simple things you can do to prevent that feeling:

First of all, know where the new employee is going to be seated. By having a desk and a good chair ready, you can avoid your new colleague being left in the common area to feel like there (literally) is no place for them in your company. Make sure to have all necessary equipment ready and inform them who their nearest referral is if needs or questions should occur.

These simple steps really do not demand a lot of effort, but they will make new employees feel like they are already a part of, and play an important role in, the company. It also shows that you have been waiting for them to arrive, as opposed to apparently being taken by surprise the day they actually show up.

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2. The “housewarming”

Being “the new guy” is not always easy. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to ease the burden of being the latest member of the team.

The least you can do to make them feel at home in your working environment is to spend a part of their first day giving them a tour of the office. Introduce the new employee to your other colleagues, and make room for small talk. Being given a chance to learn something about each new face, makes it easier to remember and feel connected to new colleagues. This counts for both new and old team members.

But keep in mind – before you do the introduction round, make sure everyone knows you have a new employee so that when they are greeted, they are greeted by people with expectancy, not surprise, of their arrival.

Not all employees start working at the company right after signing a contract. If you have planned social gatherings before the new employee begins, invite them! And when they finally arrive, there’s no harm in welcoming your new colleague with a small gift. Maybe flowers, a food hamper or some company swag?

If you want your employee to stay in your company for more than just a few months, you have to make sure they thrive in the environment and with the people they are surrounded by. Also, be aware of what your employee will need to feel welcome in your company. Millennials will need a totally different approach than employees from Gen X.

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3. A nice first day

Clear some space on the calendar for taking proper care of the new employee.

On their first day of work, they should have a meeting with their direct manager, to receive information, set expectations and have the possibility to ask about what’s on their mind. Also, have a plan B ready in case the team leader or some of the other key persons in charge of welcoming the new employee get sick.

Make the first day a light-version of an ordinary day. Paul Guillemin, CEO and co-founder of Fretlink, advises: “A good practice is to give the newcomer a mission that should be easily tackled, with a clear output. It builds confidence and enables the rest of the team to instantly see his/her contribution and be glad of his/her hiring.”

4. Create good onboarding-guides

Onboarding-guides are great tools for measuring how things are going and what should be focused on in the weeks and months ahead – both for the new employee and for the manager. At the end of this article, you can read more about what these guides should contain.

5. Remember that onboarding and training is not the same thing

Simply put: While training is about the specifics of the job that needs to be done, the onboarding is about the bigger picture.

Integrating training into the onboarding process – rather than making them two separate entities – introduces employees to their organisation on a cultural and functional level, creating a foundational connection between their work and the organization who has recently employed them.

Embrace these tips in the onboarding phase, and your new employees will quickly grow to become essential team players on the road towards growing your company successfully.

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