As a company leader, you are responsible not only for hiring the best new talent at your company, but also making sure that that talent is utilized in the best way it can be—not only for your achieving results, but also for helping your new employees feel that they are welcomed and appreciated appropriately and in a way that recognizes who they are as individuals. To ensure that this is happening, you need to assess your current onboarding practices to see where they are successful and what areas may have room for improvement.
1. What happens at hiring?
As you consider new talent to add to your company, you’re evaluating not only if they can perform the responsibilities you need them to, but also if they will be a good fit for your team and your company culture. (There are many good resources for discovering this, like the program StrengthsFinder, created by Gallup.) When you make that call to offer them the job, and present them with the official job offer letter, let them know why you’re hiring them. They know what skills are necessary; they saw the job listing and went through the interview, after all. But they might not know what YOU saw as valuable in them. Take a look at what you’ve been saying at hiring—are you merely inviting them on board, or are you giving them the confidence to start their new job knowing what you find special about them?
2. What happens before the first day?
The Office of State Personnel in North Carolina has developed an excellent strategy for onboarding before, during, and after the first day of work. They discuss the importance of using this period to reduce time to productivity and to create initial excitement. What are you doing to achieve these goals? Are you providing necessary materials to your new hires before their first day, such as employee directories, HR and benefits paperwork, schedules of their orientation meetings and company socialization opportunities?
3. What happens on the first day?
It isn’t uncommon for an employee’s day to involve being shown their desk, with a pile of hiring paperwork on it, waiting for computer logins so they can have an email account and access to their work, and being whisked around for quick introductions to new coworkers whose names they won’t remember. Does that sound bewildering and unproductive? Figure out how you can make their first day less of a blur and more of a good memory—have things ready for them, and create ways that they can learn without being overwhelmed.
4. What happens during the first six months?
You want to have your new employees be fully integrated and productive as soon as possible, and you also want to make sure that they feel comfortable asking questions. It’s important to find out where they think they are and where you think they are along the way, to make sure everyone is clear on expectations and results. Figure out times when you can have dedicated communication with your new employee so you can find out where they wish they had more help or what processes they are frustrated with, and so you can let them know where they’re doing particularly well and where you would like to see them grow. This will allow you to stay in touch with potential situations before they become problematic situations.
What is your plan to examine your current onboarding practices to identify areas to be improved?