How To Effectively Onboard Your New Employee
Do you remember your onboarding at your job? How was your first day, the first week, or the first month at the job? As the nostalgia of being a new joinee sinks in, visualise your employees joining under you. They may be feeling the same level of uncertainty or nervousness that you once experienced.
When you entered your office, you might have had a lot of questions and expectations of how it was going to be. Would you be able to adjust effortlessly and adopt the organisation’s culture? Would the people be friendly to you? Would the work be too much or too little? And what most importantly, will I like the work and people?
Now as the tables turn and you’re the boss, you have two options. Either repeat the history of what happened with you; or instead, make the first day of your employees a memorable one. The way in which you conduct your onboarding sets the tone of how the employee would be all through his tenure with you. But before that, let’s first look at what are the usual scheme of things that play out during the onboarding process. Let’s revisit what a new employee feels on his first day and how different are his feelings from your expectations?
What does an Employee feel during his first day?
While a few of them might feel very nervous with a constant whirlpool of thoughts, others might feel excited about the new job. The new office and meeting new people also triggers an adrenaline rush in some to get more done on their first day.
• Desire to understand the work culture:
Everyone who joins new in a company has the curiosity to learn more about the company and its work culture. This even makes people do a lot of internet research about the company. This often is even driven by the fact that they don’t want to get anything wrong in the very initial days and thus make sure they know enough about the company before joining.
• Understanding the scope of work:
Before the interview or during the recruitment process, you may have explained to the role to the employee with the help of a job description. However, the exact scope of work is usually known only when an employee joins the company.
• Feeling of being accepted:
Feeling like an outsider is something nobody wants to experience on their first day. For those who are extroverts breaking the ice may be easy, while for some others it may be a struggle. They try their best to be a part from the first day itself but it is a mutual effort which both the team and new recruit have to put in.
What does an Employer expect from the onboarding process?
An employer recruits a person with a motive to scale the work done in the company or as a replacement for someone who is moving out or to begin a new vertical or even for a new role. In either of the cases, you’d want the new joinee to settle in as soon as possible and comply by the company values and protocols. Here are a few things which a majority of employers expect from their new employee:
• Employee should understand company values and policies:
A new employee should be willing to unlearn his previous teachings. This makes it easier to understand the values and policies of the new company. To ensure a uniform discipline the new joinee is usually briefed on the rules on the very first day and is expected to follow them throughout.
• Employee should be comfortable with his team and in the office:
Irrespective of the employee’s personality traits, employers usually expect them to gel with their team from the very first day. Based on the rapport they are able to create with others around them, their productivity and output are going to be determined.
• Employee must start contributing ASAP:
The main purpose of hiring a new employee is to get the work done, and thus every time a new joinee is recruited the employers expect them to start contributing immediately.
Here’s how to make onboarding memorable and effective for new employees
The employee expectations and the company’s expectations are usually different; to add to that the onboarding process itself becomes the deterrent. Why? Because of paperwork, filling up and signing many forms and documents, though necessary to abide by the compliance of the company, too many requirements tend to kill the excitement of the new joinee. Onboarding also has induction programs which are often dull and bland. The primary reason for this is the same old content of the program repeating every time a new onboarding happens. This not only creates a disinterest in the presenter, but also the employees who may find these programs irrelevant.
Here’s how you could transform your onboarding process from a passive one to a dynamic and memorable experience:
• Aim to complete the paperwork prior to joining:
Starting the first day with paperwork is perhaps the biggest mistake in the onboarding process. It takes much time and leaves the employee feeling like it was an unproductive day at work, especially to those who are eager to jump into the thick of things. It helps to keep the first day free of paperwork. The menial processes such as filling of employee forms, signing offer letters, handing over appointment letter, submission of personal documents, photo, etc. can be moved to the end of the day.
• Make it a policy to assign buddies to the new joinee:
Understanding about the company and the team becomes a lot easier and practical when there’s someone to guide the new joinee. Make it a one-month process, not just for the first day. It helps the new employee overcome their nervousness. It gives the employee an opportunity to shoot questions without hesitation or feeling judged. Over a period of time, it also gives the employee a good vibe of the company culture. However, you need to ensure you choose a positively predisposed person as the buddy to a new employee. Brief the buddy about their responsibilities towards the new employees and what you expect from them.
• Plan the day 1:
I can’t stress on this enough that it’s absolutely important what the new employee does on the first day of their job. As they are unaware of the exact tasks and work they should perform, it is helpful if there is a schedule for them to follow from the very first day; in some cases, even for the first week. Plan for what tasks to perform, who will they engage with for these tasks and what outcome is expected during these tasks. Plan for both formal and informal events. Start with something fun perhaps. A good idea would also be to conduct a team meeting (sort of a Job Status Report (JSR) meet) so that the new employee gets a good glance at the extent of work and everyone’s role in it.
• Make the company introduction meaningful:
There are numerous factors in an induction that can have a lasting impact on a new employee. For example: the choice of place, the person who inducts the new employee about the company, the manner in which the induction is done; all of this has a large impact on the new employee. The introduction either motivates the new employee or leaves them feeling like this was a waste of their time. Develop a creative way to introduce the new employee to your company’s history and values. Think about how everyone can plan some part in this introduction. Focus on the purpose of the company rather than showcasing different departments and their roles. Make them understand where do they fit into the larger picture. It will help them understand their role better.
• Begin with attending meetings:
Meetings are an essential part of the business communication. Thus by attending meetings, they not only understand the operations better but also get to know the key points of contact. This would be very helpful as they gradually grow in the company. And by this I don’t mean internal meetings; I mean external meetings – with clients and partners. It makes the new employee feel welcome, makes them feel that you trust them and it gives them an opportunity to learn by observing you and how you conduct business. For example: what words you use to describe your organisation, your services, your strengths, your negotiation approach, etc.
• Make introduction to employee policies interactive:
Typically, the HR department hands over a 100-page employee handbook that covers various employee related policies, procedures and formats. While it is very important for the new employee but is often shelved and never read. In my experience, employees usually consult each other about such things. Facilitating an informal coffee session where the new employee is given an opportunity to ask fellow employees about the various policies and processes would be far more effective. It will also subtly facilitate bonding among the employees involved. Of course you must make an attempt to curate this session and follow it up with quizzes with the new employee to ensure that the key take away is not missed.
• Lastly, let them start with smaller assignments:
Starting with smaller assignments from the initial days ensure a better understanding. It also boosts the morale making them feel more confident and efficient. Also, it ensures the contribution of the new employees from the very initial stage itself.
Having creative presentations, active demonstrations and better onboarding could set a tone for a positive and productive work environment. These are just some of the ways that you could use to transform your onboarding process into a dynamic, interesting, job-oriented and effective process.
We at Yellow Spark specialise in assisting you to develop unique onboarding and employee training modules that ensure both you and your employees have a good start at working together.
To know more about us, write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’d be happy to help.
Author Profile: Deepam Yogi is an adventurer at heart, socially conscious in her gut and professionally a strategic consultant. She co-founded Yellow Spark to support organisations to build workplaces that people love being a part of. Deepam describes herself as a shy yet opinionated writer, and firmly believes that most answers to complex issues lie in simple communication.