Simply finding the right people for your team can be tough. The real challenge, though, is integrating new hires into your culture and processes.
Getting employee onboarding right requires a lot more than a welcome packet. It takes time, communication, and a significant commitment from both the employer and the new team member.
To streamline your company’s onboarding process — and to make it more successful — put these six tips into practice:
1. Automate non-human parts of the process
No new employee wants to spend hours sitting through presentations. Help them get up to faster and with less effort by using automation tools.
For example, use email sequences to send NDAs and tax forms to new hires as soon as you generate a new email account. Invest in an e-sign tool to track these documents and signatures. Add new employees to your corporate wiki so they can start learning your processes on their own.
The bottom line is, technology can help new hires spend more time getting to know the team and less time doing rote onboarding tasks. Their first day should be full of fun, not paperwork.
2. Make welcomes more memorable
You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Making new employees feel welcomed and excited from the get-go increases your chances of retaining them.
New hires often worry about whether they’ll fit in. Pair them with a colleague to show them around, and encourage current team members to introduce themselves. Ask executives to stop in for a quick chat with the new employee.
Remember, too, that not everything needs to be done right away on the first day. Get a box of doughnuts and a “Welcome” banner for the office. Take the morning to bond, rather than scrambling around trying to immediately figure out a new workflow.
3. Pair new hires with experienced team members
Beyond the first day tour, there are many benefits to pairing new hires with your team’s veterans. An experienced employee can be a mentor, giving the new employee a trusted ear from the start. Mentorship arrangements are also a great way to teach the new employee the company’s culture.
Experiment with mentors in the same and different departments as the new hire. You might find it’s more valuable to give them a deeper understanding of their immediate team’s operations, or you may want to help them build relationships across the company.
You can also create new hire groups, giving new employees an opportunity to connect with and help each other. They’ll not only feel more confident together, but will also be able to discuss areas the entire group might need more training on. That, in turn, makes your onboarding more efficient and collaborative.
Don’t expect too much from these new hire groups. Informal interactions are the best way to build camaraderie and identify gaps in their training. Put too much pressure on them, and they might be afraid to speak up about weak spots.
4. Create a structured plan for their first year
Too many companies confuse onboarding for orientation. The truth is, the onboarding process lasts much longer than a new employee’s first week.
To ease new hires into their roles, build out a one-year plan unique to them. By reducing uncertainty around their trajectory, these plans can help them feel less anxious and achieve greater growth.
Use monthly, quarterly, and annual goals and milestones to help new hires know whether or not they’re on the right track. While you should follow up regularly with new hires, time-bounded goals give them a chance to make adjustments before hard conversations are necessary.
Beyond providing structure and stability, creating these plans with new employees underscores your shared commitment to their success. By making new hires feel valued and lighting the path ahead, you make it that much more likely they’ll rise to the occasion.
5. Check in with new employees early and often
Even with a robust first-year plan, it’s important to schedule one-on-one time with your new team members. A recent LinkedIn survey suggests 96% of new employees consider direct time with their manager to be critical to a good onboarding experience. These conversations not only help employees get to know their managers, but build mutual trust.
Schedule check-ins either weekly or at milestones throughout the new hire’s first-year plan. For example, you might touch base at 15, 30, 45, and 60 days into their new role.
Even with this schedule, managers must make time for ad-hoc conversations to chat through new team members’ progress and to answer questions. Extemporaneous conversations are often the best source of insight into how a new hire is truly faring.
6. Treat feedback as a two-way street
Much as they might like to think otherwise, even tenured managers can learn something from new hires. Remind both parties that feedback on the company’s onboarding process is not only encouraged, but expected.
For instance, what might the new hire wish they’d known about the company prior to their first day in the office? Which parts of the onboarding process are tedious or confusing? How helpful did the new hire find their mentor to be?
The watchword of your onboarding process should be optimization. If your company wants to perfect its onboarding process, the path to it is through the people who most recently went through it — your new hires.
Like those early check-ins, regiment the feedback process. Consider setting up a recurring Google form, perhaps to be completed every Friday for each new hire’s first three months, that asks for feedback.
Just as importantly, reward new hires who provide meaningful feedback. Perhaps they can earn a two-hour lunch break for every suggestion that’s actually implemented by the company.
Simply put, the best ways to make onboarding easier is to just focus on your new employees as people. Make them feel welcomed, pair them with experienced employees, check in, and chart their future. By validating their value and showing them the team’s excitement to have them, the experience will certainly be worth remembering.