Set Up an Efficient Onboarding Process for New Employees

Your onboarding program for new employees can be as elaborate as a six-week combination training and boot camp or as simple as a series of scheduled one-on-one conversations between the new employee and a manager or HR staffer, or something in between. Whatever form you take, however, you want to give it structure.

You need to provide a schedule, and everyone involved needs clearly defined roles. You want the individual elements of the program weighted. In other words, a logical and strategic connection between the importance of a particular issue or topic and how much time you devote to that issue or topic must exist.

The first day: Ease anxieties

Even though new employees have likely been on your company premises previously during the interview phase, their experiences on the first day of work will leave a lasting impression, even from the minute they walk into the building or onto the job site.

You need to offer a first-day welcome to begin the process of making them feel at home. Following are tips for you — or the individuals’ bosses if you’re not supervising the new hires — to remember:

  • Alert the receptionist or security guard (if you have one) that a new employee is arriving and make sure that this person greets the newcomer warmly.

  • Arrange for someone (you, if possible) to personally escort the new hire to his work station or office.

  • Personally introduce the newcomer to other members of the working team.

  • Give the new employee a company roster with names and phone numbers of people to contact, along with their job titles.

  • Encourage current employees who haven’t been formally introduced to the new hire to introduce themselves and offer to help in any way they can.

  • At some point during the day, meet with the employee to take up where the last interview left off. Let them know how glad you are to have them on board and that you will be providing a comprehensive introduction to the company and the job within the next few days.

  • Schedule a lunch with the new employee and his manager on the first day.

  • Make every effort to have the employee’s work station set up before he arrives, with a computer, e-mail access, a phone number, and basic supplies. Some new employees have to wait as long as two weeks to actually be able to begin work because they don’t have basic tools! A “new hire” checklist can help streamline the onboarding process for every new employee.

The first week: Discover more about the company and the job

You probably gave the new employee plenty of information about your company while recruiting and interviewing. Even so, the first few days on the job are the best time to reinforce that information and build identification with the company. At the very least, a new employee should know the following:

  • Your company’s basic products or services

  • Size and general organization of the company

  • An overview of your industry — and where your company fits into the overall picture (Who’s your chief competition?)

  • Your company’s mission statement (if you have one) and values

  • Department goals and strategic objectives

  • The corporate culture

Second week and beyond

A key part of the onboarding process is early follow-up. You or supervising line managers should meet with employees at predetermined points: two weeks after the first day on the job, a month after, two months, or at intervals that work best for each job’s complexity and changeability. These times are when you check in with new team members to find out how things are going for them.

How well do they understand the company and their roles? Do they have any questions that have not been answered? Inquire especially as to the value of training programs. Are they helpful? Do they address the right areas? Are they worth the time being spent on them? What future developmental experiences would employees like to see?

These follow-up meetings are also a good time to hear their assessment of the onboarding process thus far.

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