The moment you step through the door on your first day at a new job, you’re flooded with different emotions. Similarly to the feeling of schoolyard jitters on your first day at school, being an adult doesn’t seem to relieve any of the anxiety and excitement that comes from stepping into a new, foreign and strange world.
While there isn’t much that a company can do to prevent how an individual feels taking that initial step through their door, there are countless ways that they can impact them positively or negatively after that first step. This is done through new employee onboarding.
What is the purpose of having an onboarding process?
Have you ever started at a new job and felt that some coworkers were ignoring you? Did you feel unwelcome?
That unwelcome feeling can transcend into other areas of employment and leave the individual questioning whether they made the right career choice by going there.
This is what onboarding looks to combat. New employee orientation isn’t just a nice gesture from the company, it helps to promote integration and feelings of compatibility.
An organised onboarding process not only improves employee engagement and satisfaction, but it also directly relates to employee retention. So much so in fact that research from The Wynhurst Group SHRM presentation found that 20% of employee turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment.
So, how can you avoid having a negative onboarding experience for your new recruits?
Here are some of the most common mistakes companies make when onboarding new employees (The Balanced Careers):
- Overwhelming the new hire with facts, names and new faces.
- Showing lengthy uninteresting orientation videos.
- Failing to provide appropriate equipment such as a laptop and adequate assignments.
- Failure to clearly set expectations, goals and responsibilities.
As with every business function, you need to first ask yourself before implementation or changes are made, “What goals to we want to achieve with this?” And more relative, “What impression do we want to give the new employee during their orientation?”
Once you’ve established your goals, you can begin to map out the process on how to achieve a successful orientation in your workplace.
Here are six tips on how to achieve a successful new employee onboarding process:
1 – Start the process before they start work.
Send an agenda out to the new employee with the offer letter so that they know what to expect. Stay in touch after he or she has accepted the position to answer any questions they may have moving forward (The Balanced Careers).
2 – Reduce anxieties through celebration.
The pressure associated with meeting new coworkers, learning processes and understanding job responsibilities can be stressful for the new employee. So, add some fun to their day.
As a company, rather than simply leaving celebrations for farewells and goodbyes, start introducing celebrations as a means to promote new beginnings. A new employee welcome breakfast is one such event that could be used to reduce early anxieties. Not only is it a great way to promote a culture of openness, but it is the perfect opportunity to get the employee to meet their coworkers in a non-threatening atmosphere.
3 – Assign a buddy system.
There’s a reason why high schools get students as opposed to teachers to show new students around campus – to relieve stress and create a trusting environment. Having a trusted person in the company who can answer the new employees questions, show them around the office and give them a true sense of the company and culture can have a profound effect on their sense of belonging.
4 – Establish clear goals and responsibilities from their work.
A job title is never a clear indicator for responsibilities and accountabilities. Every new (and current) employee should understand the key functions of their role, inside and out. During new employee orientation, sit down with the new recruit to clearly outline their everyday duties and how their role impacts the overall company mission. This will not only give them a definite direction on how to proceed with their tasks, but also create a sense of empowerment to know they are contributing to the company’s bottom line.
5 – Take the new recruit out to lunch.
Have you ever seen the movie Mean Girls? If you have, you probably remember the scene where the new student (Lindsay Lohan) eats lunch alone in the bathroom. That scene didn’t exactly scream “welcoming”. While some people may genuinely enjoy eating lunch by themselves, the first few weeks of a new job is the exception to the rule.
Take the new employee out for something to eat. This is your chance to make the person truly feel like a part of the team. Encourage other employees to say hello, introduce themselves and participate in the lunch as well.
6 – Request feedback from the new employee.
As with every new, or existing business initiative, there is an ROI and ways that it can be improved upon. Gather feedback from new employees after their orientation as been completed (this will vary from organisation to organisation), analyse the results and respond accordingly.
Your company is unique, just as each individual is. While each individual will respond differently to the onboarding process, there are a few universal human traits that remain consistent. A sense of belonging to a team and compassion from co-workers all positively influence how a new employee receives your company on their first day, week, month and year.