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Get Creative with Effective Onboarding

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“How was your first day?” is the first thing any new employee hears when they head home after their first day at their new job.  A well thought out and executed onboarding program can guarantee a resounding “GREAT!” and serve as a strong engagement and retention tool for the employee over their first 90 days and beyond.

Start Early

Onboarding begins well before an employee’s first day. The minute they sign the offer letter, the candidate has committed to the company and the company has a responsibility to reciprocate with a commitment to their new employee.  Having a dedicated contact person for questions and support through the new team member’s transition is key. Identify someone in the organization who has a vested interest in the employee’s development and success.  It can be the direct supervisor, a member of the HR team, or even the CEO; it needs to be someone who can devote time to being an effective mentor as the new employee prepares for the beginning of their next career step.

Define Goals

The next step is to identify learning outcomes for your organization’s onboarding process.  Learning outcomes are pretty self-explanatory, asking the question “What will the participant have learned at the conclusion of the onboarding process?”.  For example, if the new hire is in a training and development role, a learning outcome might be: “At the conclusion of onboarding, the participant will be able to create, administer and track the completion of monthly e-learning modules.”  Development of substantial learning outcomes is conducive to a focused onboarding schedule with a clear direction. It allows the company to be intentional and provide the new staff member the tools to be successful once the onboarding has concluded.  

Make a List

Complete a checklist of everything your new employee should have and know by the completion of their onboarding.  If there are required meetings with key people needed to help them transition to their role, schedule them in advance and create a schedule.  This forward-thinking shows the candidate they are working for a proactive, organized, and well-run company committed to their success.

After all this planning and preparation, there’s still more to do for day one.  Address any logistics before your new team member walks in the door to have the first day go smoothly.  Have their computer waiting for them with an E-mail account already activated.  Have someone from IT at the ready to help them set up any necessary programs and applications.  Same if they receive a cell phone. Clear off all old voicemails from the landline. Have all necessary office keys ready for them.  The work area should be spotless and look like new, ready with fresh office supplies for their use. If you can get business cards printed early, do it.  These all seem like little details but demonstrate effort on your behalf to make the person feel like they are part of the organization.

Imagine the new hire’s surprise and look of gratification when they arrive at their workspace and it’s decorated, covered in company swag (t-shirts, water bottles, journals, etc…), and they have some snacks and goodies to sustain them throughout the day.  Show them you are excited to have them be part of the team by connecting them to the organization on day one. You are demonstrating to them they are a valued member of the team already before they’ve even had a chance to produce any work. Send out a welcome questionnaire once they’ve accepted the position so you can make sure their swag fits and that the snacks you bought are allergen or food lifestyle sensitive.  The questionnaire should also ask about their favorite food to order in, so they can enjoy their favorite food over lunch with their team and other members of the organization.

Setup Regular Check-ins

Quality onboardings last 90 days, with manager check-ins scheduled day 30, day 60 and day 90.  This allows the manager and the employee the opportunity to discuss performance, identify gaps and plan for the employee’s future with the company.  This lines up with the standard probationary period for companies, so it provides a timeline for effective goal setting and a chance to intentionally identify if the employee is, in fact, a good fit.

And, it doesn’t end there…

So, you’ve reached Day 91!  Even when your employee is knocking it out of the park and wearing some sweet company gear, onboarding isn’t done!  Review the checklist you created to make sure they’ve received everything and gained all the knowledge they need to be successful.  If a checkmark is missing, consider its value to the onboarding process. If it’s still an essential piece of the employee experience, address it immediately and don’t consider onboarding complete until you’ve taken care of it.  Then devote some time to assessing the effectiveness of the onboarding process with the employee who experienced it. Ask them to identify what worked and what didn’t. Ask them what suggestions they have to improve the onboarding experience.  To get valuable feedback on your process, ask the person who experienced it.

Written by: Eric Mochnacz

Eric is a Consultant with Red Clover and specializes in Learning and Development, Recruiting and Onboarding and Performance Management. Meet Eric…