You have two good reasons to invest some time in thinking of ways to make your business’ employee onboarding process innovative and exciting. The first is that you were probably once someone’s employee and you worked for a company that didn’t care about your first impressions. It’s likely you didn’t stay long.
The second is, your new employees, whether they stay and grow with the company, or decide to move on to other opportunities that align more closely with their career goals, will become your brand ambassadors. You want them to have positive things to say about their experience with you. The challenges presented by the COVID 19 pandemic have meant that businesses have had to become creative in finding the best employees and bringing them onboard.
This has meant an upsurge in remote meetings, which can create their own issues, particularly at the beginning of the relationship. What are some of the best ways you can prepare an employee to start working with you? Read on to find out in our mix of traditional and remote techniques for the best employee onboarding experience.
Stages of the onboarding process
Before we get there though, we’ll have to break down the stages of the onboarding process that your new employee has to go through, whether they are a traditional or remote hire.
This is where you introduce the employee to their new job role, the people who will be working with them most closely, and senior members of the company.
At this point, they are usually presented with a company manual outlining the company’s values and history. The new hire should also be given an indication of the behavior/work ethic expected of them within the company’s culture.
This is a more detailed run-through of the new employees’ role, where they are given supporting instruction in the use of items like proprietary software or equipment that are unique to the company or job. This can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks after the employee is brought on board.
The new employee has been on board for a few months now and is settling into their role. Senior staff in their department should be prepared to give them greater independence in their role as they adjust to having less hands-on guidance. This should only be done after ensuring the new employee is adequately prepared to do so.
In this stage, the employee is fully familiar with his role and can perform it with little or no supervision.
Their managers should be encouraging them to think about their future with the company and where they see their long-term career headed.
As far as possible the company should encourage their career path with the appropriate training and mentorship.
Now that you understand the stages of the onboarding process, here are some ways you can go about making your new employee’s onboarding one of their most memorable ever.
Prep the new hire with fun videos
Who says instructional videos have to be boring? Let someone who is familiar with the new hire’s duties put together a fun, fact-filled video about what their new day-to-day activity will be like.
Give extra points if you can add music, graphics, in-house jokes, and interviews from departmental colleagues.
Zoom/Video meet and greets
New employees are often nervous about how they will fit into an environment and work culture. With COVID 19, they aren’t even getting the chance to meet these new colleagues in person much of the time.
You can arrange for them to meet “face to face” over a Zoom chat session, or even have short pre-recorded videos from their workmates, giving random facts about themselves.
The idea is to keep the chat or videos light and friendly, to serve as an icebreaker so that the new employee isn’t going into their first day of work blind. They are aware of who they’ll be working with and have established cordial relationships with them before.
Outsource data collection
One of the most difficult parts of bringing on an employee, particularly remotely, is the collection of their HR data.
Whenever someone new is brought on, forms need to be filled for their banking and accounting details, their health and insurance status, their tax information, among others. The professionals behind WorkBright.com advise that you should automate your entire onboarding paperwork process and give online access to them. Your new hire can join on their first day of work, without you or them worrying about not having filled out crucial forms.
When you’ve outsourced this function, you can be confident your company is compliant and fulfilling its legal obligations to your new employee.
Switch up the company manual
Most company manuals are dull, dry documents outlining rules, regulations, company entitlements, benefits, and the like.
Why not turn yours into a glossy magazine? Instead of a list of rules, you could have a question-and-answer segment about your policies or even a crossword puzzle.
Virtual lunches/happy hour
This is another opportunity for your new hire to meet their work colleagues. This is a relaxed setting where they can interact freely and bond together.
Be generous with company swag
Nothing makes someone new to a company feel like they belong more than having a company t-shirt from day one. Prepare a package of company stationery, mugs, thermoses, whatever you may have with the company’s logo for your new employee. Have it presented to them on their first day in the office or delivered to their home if they are working remotely.
You can even have your IT department ask whether they prefer to work with a PC or Mac and set up their workstation or laptop according to their preferences.
These things demonstrate to your new hire that you think they are important and that you are glad they are part of your team. You’ll never know how they’ll appreciate it.
By this stage, the employee would have been at the company for a few days or a few weeks. If they are working remotely, perhaps you would have decided to train them in the use of Apple Business Manager which they are using with their laptop at home, for example.
Training isn’t the same as onboarding, but it is a vital part of the onboarding process. This is where the employee learns the technicalities related to his job. If their job involves document management, they may be taught to use the photocopier. Role training will encompass being shown basic operation and troubleshooting skills related to the machine.
Such an employee may also be trained to properly store documents in a variety of media, especially if the company has a way of doing it that is different from the rest of the industry. If they have a customer-facing role, they may be given customer relations training.
The idea behind role training is to get the new hire up to speed so that they can do their job in the best way. The company will be acting in its own best interest by fulfilling this obligation to their new employees because:
- Well trained employees give you a competitive advantage
- New hires who have access to training activities are less likely to leave the job citing confusion over their role or a lack of training opportunities. Having high turnover is costly to a company.
The role training component of the onboarding may come to have an informal element as the new employee will begin to perceive how other departments and workflows within the company affect how they do their job. They may also begin to understand that there are key relationships they need to nurture to perform their role successfully.
This will happen along with the formal training elements. Both are needed for the new employee’s success.
By the time the new employee has been there for several months to about a year, they should be entering the transition phase of the onboarding process.
They should understand their role adequately and perform it well with little or no assistance from departmental colleagues and should be on their way to becoming a “seasoned” employee.
Throughout this part of the onboarding process, departmental managers should be checking in with the new employee at 30, 60, and 90-day intervals to get their impressions of the company, how they’ve been settling in, challenges they’ve been having, as well as to set performance goals for the next meeting period.
The manager should be monitoring them to see if they are meeting those goals. If they are, new goals are formulated and the skills the new hire has already attained are integrated with the ones they are scheduled to learn.
If the new hire is having difficulty transitioning into the role, the manager may order some new training. The manager may also reassess whether the goals they’ve set for the employee are within reach given their ability level.
This is the period where the new employee and the company determine whether they are a good fit for each other. If they aren’t, usually the employee or the company terminates the relationship.
If both the new hire and the company think the relationship is worthy of deepening, the employee is likely to do the following:
- Build their network within the company. This is how they find out about opportunities for advancement
- Request special projects or training and excel. This is how they catch the eye of people who can pave the way to these advancement opportunities.
For their part, any manager observing these qualities should provide:
- Mentorship for new employees looking to extend their role and move upward in the company
- Opportunities, introductions, and training for promising new employees during the transition phase.
You may not believe that “onboarding” encompasses as much as 2 years after an employee has joined your company, but it does.
At this point, the employee has a firm grasp of his role and knows his way around the company. They will be looking for opportunities for advancement, either in the department that they started in, or in another where they want to develop a skill set. At this point, your company may decide whether the employee is worthy of placement on the management track.
Your business can prepare another brochure, booklet for them, in the style of a “travelogue”, where they can be shown all the locations (positions), they can “travel” to within the company.
When your new hires reach this phase of the onboarding process, they should encounter an in-built lifelong learning culture within your business, where you provide them with access to discounts and time off for skills development.
There are two other phases that are unofficially considered part of the onboarding process. These are the pre-hire stage and if the employee chooses to leave the company, the offboarding.
The pre-hire stage is important because it occurs from the moment your potential new hire agrees to take the job and signs their contract.
Companies often underestimate this stage and go silent on the new hire, assuming that they will know that their decision to work for the business is valued. What ends up happening is that the new employee forms a poor impression of the company.
One pleasant way to let them know they are top of mind is to promptly send them a heartfelt thank you note for their decision to join the company. An emailed gif of their soon-to-be team members high-fiving each other wouldn’t be out of place here as well.
Unfortunately, not everyone will stay with your business. New hires who decided to leave should have an exit or offboarding interview. The aim of this interview is to find out what prompted them to leave. As far as possible, strive for a cordial parting. You want former employees to leave with positive impressions of your business.
You’ve worked hard to build your business. Studies show that improper onboarding of employees causes them to quit within 3-6 months of taking the job. Using these innovative onboarding tips, retain them and help them grow with your business.