5 Effective Steps for Easy Onboarding

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with over 40 corporate recruiters from more than 30 companies that are Fortune 500, 100, and privately held. Some of the top recruiting forces in the nation, possibly the world, participated in conversation around the topics of hiring trends, employer branding, and onboarding, to name a few. Each company approached onboarding a little differently, but there seemed to be an underlying theme with everyone’s strategy.

Onboarding, or “on-boarding”, is a business management term used for the process of helping new employees become productive members of an organization. In general, onboarding can be defined as the process of acquiring, accommodating, assimilating and accelerating new users into a system, culture or methodology. Some may call it New Hire Orientation, but it’s so much more!

As I listened to each company’s approach, I put together a short list of ways to get the most out of the onboarding process. Five ways, to be exact – important to both the employer and employee.

1. Communicate, communicate, communicate! For some, the onboarding process can last up to 9 months as the student graduates from college, transitioning into the workforce. Keep communicating with them on a regular basis. Notify the manager that that the candidate has accepted the offer. Ask them to reach out and start building the relationship. Don’t just drop them off at New Hire Orientation, saying goodbye and good luck.

2. Get the forms out of the way and orient more in “orientation”. Nobody likes spending their first week filling out forms for HR. You hired the person because you want them to work for you, right? They can’t do that if they’re filling out W-2’s, direct deposit paperwork, or if they’re worried about where to park on campus. If they’re not worrying about whether or not their check will be sent to the black hole, they’ll pay more attention to the training.

3. Provide alternative training opportunities. We’re in the 21st century. Nearly everyone has a computer (or two or three) and we know how to use it. If we have the opportunity to complete some of the training (operative word is “some”) ahead of our official start date. Let us get past the basic training, coming to our first day on the job prepared.

4. Mentor me. Assign mentors to all new hires to help with personal and professional development. It’s a great opportunity for both the mentor and mentee! New hires can learn from the experience of their mentors. Mentors can gather fresh, innovative insight from new hires (sometimes referred to as “reverse mentorship”). Whatever way you look at it, there’s a benefit! Mentorships don’t always have to be all about the job. Feel free to ask your mentor/mentee about life, their experience, or advice. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know!

5. Connect. It’s that simple. Help new hires connect with special interest groups, affinity networks, and those that have just finished the training program. It’s a great way to show them that there’s a place for everyone in your organization, allowing them to network with others who have been successful. Find optional ways to connect your employees during and after work hours. You’d be amazed at the rapport that is built over a cup of coffee when it’s not all about work.

Feel free to add your comments below. If you have a 6th, 7th or 8th way to make onboarding easier, let me know! It’s a collaborative effort.

As always, thanks for reading.

Views: 310

Comment by Dr. John Kenworthy on July 21, 2010 at 9:00pm
Excellent Kirk. I'd add a sixth (well actually a first) that we're finding is having real positive impact. Pre-job start even better, coaching for the organizational culture adjustment. Excellent for college grads (though rarely undertaken as they are too "low-level" to be allowed coaching). Essential for older hires.

Mentors can do this but often they do so after the fact rather than before. Why let people hit the brick walls and then say "oh, you didn't know about the brick wall huh, well, next time..." ?
Comment by Kirk Baumann on July 22, 2010 at 9:51am

Great point! It's very important to receive coaching before starting a new job. Some companies are starting to do this (Nestle Purina has a corporate ambassador program), but you're right. Not enough students are taking advantage of this opportunity.

How do you think we can fix that? I work with (not all at once) over 20,000 college students a year in one way or another, regarding career development. Tips on bringing this to their attention in a way that they'll actually listen?

Thanks for the comments!



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