Onboarding? Discuss . . .

We hear the term banded about a lot . . but do you truly offer your new starters an ‘onboarding experience’? One which really helps cement their view that they’ve found the right place for them? Don’t underestimate the opportunity you have here. The more engaged someone feels at this stage of the journey will undoubtedly help to build the conditions for performance later on.

Up to 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days Source: Reducing New Employee Turnover Among Emerging Adults (shrm.org) That’s pretty stark, isn’t it? Read on . . .

So, you’ve spent a lot of time, effort, resources (and undoubtedly, money) to secure your next hire. You’re excited (and a bit relieved!) and cannot wait for them to get started. Before you take that big sigh of relief it’s a good idea to get thinking about your plans for them when they join – how will you ensure that your longed-for person feels fully equipped and supported to do some of their best work with you?

A good place to start is to consider how you want this person to feel when they start – and not just what you want them to know. Traditionally, there has been a tendency to cram everything into a one-size-fits-all induction plan with zero flexibility – as if it was your one and only chance to give this person information! I’m sure we can all recall similar experiences when joining a new organisation -and how this can result in a feeling of total overwhelm and lack of clarity. The dreaded e-learning that NEVER seems to end – you remember?! Now, tell me, how much of this information did you actually retain beyond the space of a week?!

Of course, there is always the compliance box to tick, but it’s worth thinking about how you can do this in a more meaningful and engaging way . . . could certain topics wait until the person has more business context and can link the theory to something in practice? They are more likely to retain information this way. If there are certain things which have to be completed within the first few days of someone joining your organisation then it would be worth taking some time to consider how you can break this up with varied activities/meet and greets throughout the days.

What do you really want to know when you start at a new place? You probably want to know who you can go to when you need to ask a question – and what people tend to do for lunch – the things that really matter and can make you feel part of the team from the word go. So why not allocate a ‘buddy’ for your new starter? Not only will this help the person to feel like their first few weeks have been thoughtfully considered but it could also be an opportunity for you to engage and involve your existing employees as well. How could you encourage your current team members to find out more about the person who has just joined, so it doesn’t feel like the responsibility to build relationships is all one way?

Taking the time to consider some of these things will really make a difference to how your new person feels when they join. Think back to when you started in a new role – what was important to you? What was it that really engaged you and had an impact? Or think back to a time when you didn’t have such a good experience – why was that? How can you ensure that you don’t put your people through the same experience?

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box here -and consider your company culture when designing any Induction or Onboarding process (can we start calling it an experience instead?!). If you are a diverse, agile and exciting business with a great product, why would you want to put someone through a stuffy and over-engineered induction ‘process’? It won’t feel like the company they joined. This is your chance to really cement who you are, what you are about and the way in which you do things. Don’t underestimate this or feel confined by what’s gone before. Be brave, be bold and be you – and check in to understand how things are landing with your new starter . . .how do they feel? What else do they need to know? What resonated with them? What are they excited about? Have you missed anything? These kinds of questions help to take it ‘beyond the process’ and help the employee to feel more valued – that their ideas and thoughts count. If you miss this chance, it’s more challenging to gain this later on. Remember – the person joining will have a unique and valuable insight – they will be alert to things which maybe you now miss as you are too close to things . . .how can you be proactive here and tap into this? You will only have this chance for a short period of time. . .

It’s worth mentioning here the importance of how you treat someone for the whole time they are with you. Even when they leave. Be in no doubt – this reflects on you as a company. Instead of being fixated on loyalty and length of service, we perhaps need to shift our mindset to think more about the value someone can add and the impact they can make in the time that they are with you – even if that’s a relatively short time. The world of work is changing and the more you can understand what makes you different as a company, what you stand for, why people join and why they choose to stay – and then build on this at every opportunity – the better. This involves speaking to people, asking questions and staying alert to their needs. More on this in a future blog post . . .

If you liked this, you’ll like: What makes a great Employee Handbook?