Three Steps to Creating a Successful Onboarding Process for New Employees

Eric Mochnacz
May 24, 2023

We’ve all heard the expression “You only get one chance at a good first impression.”  As cliche as it may sound, it is imperative new employees have a positive, thorough onboarding experience.  An effective onboarding process is critical to employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.  Let’s talk about three things businesses and HR can do to create a successful onboarding process for new employees.

1. Clearly Define the New Hires’s Role and Goals 

An onboarding program provides clear guidance on what a new employee is expected to accomplish on their first day, their first week, their first month, and beyond.  Generally, a 90-day introductory period is the standard timeframe for setting your new team member up for success and integrating them into the company and its culture.  Having a clearly defined plan for the introductory period is key to a successful and effective onboarding process.  

The first-day agenda is critical to an employee feeling welcomed and productive on their first day.  Schedule all key meetings with HR, their manager, and other key stakeholders.  They are low-pressure meetings, meant to give the employee a chance to adjust and get to know their new colleagues.  It’s important for the manager to review the employee’s job description and set clear expectations for performance towards the job duties over the next 90 days.  Generally, you want the employee to use their onboarding period to learn about the company, their role, and their coworkers.  You can still expect them to execute on deliverables, but demanding they “hit the ground running” without an adjustment period could be a recipe for disaster. A 90-day introductory period is a standard that allows for a well-paced, methodical introduction to the company, rather than expecting an employee to know and do it all within their first week. 

It is the manager’s responsibility, in conjunction with HR, to set reasonable goals for the new hire to achieve throughout the introductory period.  At set check-ins, scheduled for 30, 60, and 90 days, the manager and new hire discuss progress towards those goals.  If the new employee is smashing those goals, these check-ins are a great opportunity to set more ambitious goals and reset expectations.  If the employee is struggling with goal achievement, check-ins are a great time to revisit those goals and discuss how the manager and company can best set the employee up for success. 

The key in the initial phases of onboarding is making sure new employees feel supported and set up for success.  This is done through a methodical and intentional onboarding plan.  Clearly outlining goals and expectations, especially during an employee’s initial introduction to the company, makes a strong impression and has a positive impact on long-term engagement and retention.  

2.  Set up a Recurring 1-on-1 Meeting With the Manager 

Manager involvement in a new employee’s transition into a new company is critically important to the success of their onboarding.  At least initially, a manager is directly responsible for the employee’s success.  The manager has a responsibility to engage regularly with the new employee in ongoing, informal feedback discussions and hold devoted 1-on-1 meetings to establish rapport and measure progress toward position deliverables.  

Regular meetings between a manager and employee also establish trust.  It sets the tone for the relationship, and the employee knows they can expect transparency for the duration of that professional relationship.  Then, when the manager has formal performance management conversations with the employee, the employee is prepared and there aren’t any surprises.  This has a direct, positive impact on employee experience.  

By having regular meetings with their manager, employees feel more connected to their work.  In turn, they are engaged in the company.  When employees are engaged, there is a greater likelihood they will stay.  And as they grow with the company, they are able to mimic the behavior that led to their success.  When that employee then onboards new employees, they understand the importance of regular formal and informal feedback discussions to set their new direct reports up for success.  

3. Create and Implement a Training Plan 

The employee experience doesn’t end once an employee hits their 90-day mark.  An employee may be performing well, but they may also need continued development in order to guarantee continued success.  Their continued integration into a company is based on an organization’s ability to support their ongoing growth.  At the conclusion of an employee’s introductory period, the employee and manager create a development plan to address areas where they still need improvement and/or new opportunities for learning.  This demonstrates a continued commitment to professional development and growth for the employee.  

Need Help Improving Your Onboarding Process? 

If you’re a small business looking to hire and keep talented employees, your onboarding process can make all the difference.  You want to work with a firm who creates onboarding programs tailored to your specific company and your unique workforce, all in the interest of a positive employee experience.  An effective new employee onboarding program also needs to be scalable and repeatable to support your business as it grows.  Red Clover consultants are proven experts in developing and improving the employee onboarding experience.  Reach out to us today.

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