Onboarding is the process of acclimating new employees to the work environment. Starting a new employee off on the right foot is absolutely crucial. Yet it is a process that is often ignored or poorly executed. While some organizations understand the need to effectively introduce new employees to their surroundings, onboarding strategies at many companies fall into one of two categories: (1) “Onboarding Strategy? What’s an onboarding strategy”? OR (2) “OK, now that you’ve filled out the new hire paperwork (for the last 3 hours), here’s your office. Have a nice career!” Companies spend a great deal of time and energy diagnosing attrition with exit interviews. In some cases, employees are lost at hello. Here are a couple of practices I would recommend integrating into your onboarding process.
Include socialization in the onboarding process
Think introducing a new employee into the corporate environment is just Feel Good Fluff? Think again. Workforce.com surveyed over 7100 employees and 53% cited the relationship with co-workers and managers as the basis for staying with the company. As a hiring manager, building the foundation for a working relationship with a new hire and the rest of the team is crucial.
So why isn’t socialization a key component of most onboarding strategies? I believe it’s because the term is misunderstood or applied wrongly. Socialization isn’t a meet and greet with the entire organization or taking a new hire to lunch or inviting them to play a round of golf. After all, this isn’t Club Med. Hiring managers who effectively utilize socialization in the onboarding process do two things: 1st, they realize integrating a new person on to their team is their responsibility and not the responsibility of HR. 2nd, they begin building relationships between the new hire and each team member by explaining how the new hire’s job impacts individuals and the team as a whole.
Maintain contact with a new hire between offer acceptance and start date
The onboarding process should begin with the acceptance of the offer and carried through to start date (and beyond). Have you ever found the perfect candidate, had them accept an offer and then never show up for work? That is commonly referred to as a falloff and it’s absolutely devastating! Now that crucial position (the one you spent your time and budget to fill) is now as vacant as the Bates Motel.
Change is the only constant in our lives yet most people are change adverse. Employees will often stay in unsatisfying jobs because it is a familiar environment. Presented with a counteroffer (we’ll cover that topic in the next edition), and most people will stay put.
When you hire a new employee you are radically changing their life. They are starting a new job with a new set of responsibilities, working with a brand new set of people, and sometimes in a location they’ve only visited. It is a daunting task and needs to be encouraged. Effective hiring managers call new hires in the 2 to 4 week period between offer and start date. They express how excited they are that the new hire is joining their team and reinforce all of the reasons working with their organization is a great career move.
Onboarding can set the tone for an employee’s entire career with your organization. Make sure the first days are good ones.
Recommended Reading - For details regarding Onboarding Strategies, take a look at “All Aboard: Effective Onboarding Techniques and Strategies” which was published recently by the Aberdeen Group.