You may have heard the words “you never get a second chance at a first impression.” Hiring new people to join your team is the same, but maybe not in the way you’d think. See, while you’ve invited this new hire into a probation period, they get the opportunity to do the same with you. It is crucial to your employee retention, workplace environment, and overall success with your people and business to make this period pleasant for everyone. Onboarding is a fantastic process that can help employers win the hearts of their new employees. So, how can you leverage this opportunity?
Hiring new members of the team is an important step in your organization’s growth but comes with its own set of challenges. Often, companies will lose out on great opportunities during the onboarding process, as they don’t recognize it for the crucial imprinting window it truly is. While some may treat this as a glorified orientation day, onboarding is a significantly longer process.
Orientation is certainly an important part of hiring new talent. Delivering important information about your organization, logins and necessary apps, exchanging information, and what their day to day will look like is part of it. Orientation may be a one-day event, but onboarding is a longer process, lasting up to 12 months. It involves making sure your new people settle into their roles comfortably and confidently, solidifying their knowledge base and getting to know their managers, coworkers, and company in the process. Support through the onboarding process might include one-on-one meetings between the new hire and varying levels of leadership, learning and development opportunities, and team-building exercises. Creating positivity during this process helps new employees understand the kind of environment provided by your organization and see that you value their well-being by checking in on their development. Making this first impression can increase your street cred within the business world; word spreads fast, good or bad. Providing support for your employees through onboarding is going to get that positive reputation rising and your company culture will be attracting the best of the talent pool available to you.
Onboarding is key to employee retention too; people who experience positive onboarding periods are far more likely to spend longer with the company giving that great experience. (Organizations that have invested in building a strong Onboarding program increase new hire retention by 82%.) By investing in your people, you’re saving time and resources while creating a strong workforce. With employee turnover costing far more than maintaining those already hired, it makes fiscal sense to invest in who you’ve got. The more you’re investing in this process and making people feel secure in their employment, the more effective they become at their jobs, and the better employees (with strong senses of company loyalty) you have on your team!
Talya Bauer, in her works on the importance of effective onboarding, highlighted four distinct areas of the process that are of utmost importance: compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. Let’s look at these in more detail.
Compliance – this is the orientation process. This period includes instructing the new employee on practical matters (like where to park, good lunch spots, who they can expect to interact with on a day-to-day basis), providing an exchange of essential information (login information, HR policies and information, Payroll and benefits structures, etc.), and covers the legal and policy-related sides of the hiring process.
Clarification – discussing with your new team member the expectations you have of them in their new role. What responsibilities are they going to hold? What are the requirements of the position, and what can you do to support them as they find their feet in your company?
Culture – exposing your new hire to the company culture you’ve curated. Explore the work environment, explaining the organizational values and norms, how your people work together and structures within your organization. Are they going to be working independently, in small groups, answering to many different levels of leadership? These questions can all be answered in discussing the aspects of culture they are immersed in.
Connection – connecting your new team member to their new teammates! This step involves aligning information networks, forging personal connections, and creating a support system for the new person during their learning and initial development. A great step here would be assigning a mentor, a go-to source of information within the field, providing a strong support system readily available to the new person in between you and other leaders checking in on them.
Of these four areas, the last two are the most essential to creating a strong successful onboarding experience for a new hire. Emphasizing the importance of your organization’s culture and creating opportunities for connection, developing support systems that encourage growth and development, these will all build a strong, confident, and capable member of your team. Be able to customize your onboarding process for each new hire as well; use a strong base of the four concepts previously mentioned but be willing to be flexible in the delivery of these concepts, depending on the needs of the new employee. Each hire is unique, and their learning and development journey will reflect that. By listening to their experiences, adjusting your approach to the learning process, and valuing the differences between each hire as unique and diverse, you and your leadership will show you value the person, not just the worker!
Creating a strong, supportive onboarding process will provide benefits for both the workers you employ and the organization as a whole. Financially, supporting your people through the first chunk of their employment and making it an enjoyable work experience is going to save you money, it’s true. But at the core, you’re valuing your people. Starting a new position can be intimidating, and too often new hires are left feeling thrown to the wolves. By providing a positive work culture, support from yourself and your fantastic team, and making the entire process clear, a new team member will be able to settle in quickly and become a strong member of the team.
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