Employee onboarding

Employee onboarding is a crucial part of the recruitment process. Companies should not assume that the hiring process is officially over once a new candidate is recruited, rather they should look at employee onboarding as another step of recruitment. And the sooner new employees are made to feel welcomed and equipped to fulfil their role, the sooner your company will reap the rewards of their skills and experience. That makes it critical to develop a carefully considered onboarding process.

The onboarding process can increase retention rates

First impressions count, and an effective employee onboarding process doesn’t just ensure your new hire becomes a productive team member sooner, but it can also enhance staff retention rates.

Research by US consultants Aberdeen Group found 90 per cent of companies believe their employees make their decision to stay at the company within the first six months.  Reflecting this, it’s important to set up new employees for success from day one.

Key steps to effective employee onboarding

The best way to get new team members off to a brilliant start is to provide a warm welcome and an effective orientation.

Welcoming a new staff member involves several important steps.

1. Have a clear onboarding process in place

Preparation for onboarding a new employee needs to start well before they walk through the door. Be sure to:

  • Help new employees prepare – Let your new hire know key workplace details in advance of their first day. Fill them in on the dress code, where to park or public transport options, and of course, the time they should arrive at the office.
  • Provide a functioning workstation – Your latest recruit needs to be up and running in their role from day one. This means having a phone line and email account established before they arrive as well as a clean work space that is ready to be used.
  • Arrange orientation – Confidence and clarity are must-haves for new employees to perform the job they were hired to do. If your company provides formal orientation or induction meetings, be sure to book a spot right away so that it coincides with the new hire’s first few days. It’s a good way to learn what your company does, and ask questions about what to expect when working for you. Even if the orientation process is just a one hour discussion in your office or with a HR staffer, make a diary note. It’s an opportunity for the new employee to learn about your company's mission, values, organisational chart, and key products and services.
  • Organise the necessary paperwork – Nothing wastes time and leaves a bad impression more than having to chase forms and manuals on a new employee’s first day. Have any tax or superannuation forms ready as well as any employee handbooks or manuals.

2. Schedule the first day

According to the SHRM Foundation, the trajectory of a new hire’s success can be established as early as the first two weeks, so it is important to make the first day a special one[2].

Help a new recruit to settle in quickly by making them feel welcome and relaxed with these tips:

  • Announce the new hire with a welcome email to the team and/or company at the start of the day. Let the receptionist know in advance to greet your latest employee when they arrive.
  • Introduce the team to your new employee and guide them around the workplace to meet key people throughout the business. Gathering the team for coffee is a good way to bond in a social setting. It can also be a chance to familiarise your new employee with the projects you'd like them to tackle in the coming days and weeks – and meet the colleagues they will be working alongside for each task.
  • Show them around the workplace. Explain where the stationery cupboard is, where the staff kitchen, toilets and company meeting rooms are located, and offer a few tips on the best places to grab lunch or coffee.

3. Organise training and mentoring

Part of making a positive impression is to be clear about what you expect your new employee to do, as well as gaining a good understanding of how they would like to work and evolve in their role.

  • Revisit goals and responsibilities – You will have touched on this during the hiring process, but the onboarding process offers an ideal time to go into detail about assignments and expectations. Also discuss the evaluation process and scheduling of the performance review.
  • Schedule training – Engage with your latest employee to discover where training for new skills may be required. Book in relevant internal training, conferences and webinars. Establishing employee training as a priority for the business can not only help you secure the candidate, but retain them too.
  • Review mentoring opportunities – Mentors not only offer invaluable advice and guidance to new employees, they can also act as a sounding board for ideas and concerns. Moreover, having a 'go-to' person can play a pivotal role in retaining top talent, building a better work culture and improving team performance. Consider assigning a mentor early in the employee onboarding process, or encourage them to seek one out.

4. Help them settle into their role

Successfully onboarding a new employee is not an overnight process. It can take several months so be prepared to check in often, and schedule regular catch-ups to give new hires the opportunity to air any concerns and receive feedback on their progress. Take the time to observe them and ask questions - do they understand the business and their role? Facilitate any additional training that may be needed.

Don’t overlook recognition. Keep the employee motivated and engaged by celebrating success. It could be as simple as noting the new employee’s achievements in a team meeting.

The time invested in an effective employee onboarding process will reap rewards. It can lead to a faster learning curve, greater productivity and staff retention, and help to build a more motivated and engaged workforce from the start.

Want more hiring tips and recruitment advice? Visit our recruitment process hub.

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