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Onboarding Can Make or Break a New Hire’s Experience
For more than 20 years, I have observed (and planned) the onboarding of many new employees. Given the amount of planning, expense, and time spent recruiting, it only makes sense to warmly welcome new employees and design an excellent onboarding experience. Yet it’s not always a smooth process.
Common Onboarding Pitfalls
The sad truth is 33% of new employees leave within the first 90 days of starting their job. That begs the question: What causes that departure rate?
Expectations not clearly communicated
One major cause of early turnover is the job not being what employees expected. During the interview phase — sometimes considered the “dating phase” — prospective employees may think the job is a perfect fit, only to learn once in the role that it is not what they anticipated. This scenario results from a lack of communication between both parties — and it can be prevented.
Employers must be upfront about job duties and priorities, and candidates must share an accurate assessment of their skills and behavioral style. It is only through honest communication during the dating phase that proper role and team alignment can occur.
Lack of training
Even the most senior-level employees require new job and organizational training to get up to speed. Without training and a personal guide, a new role can feel overwhelming and mystifying. When employees aren’t clear on how to carry out their responsibilities, they don’t know if they are performing their job correctly and meeting goals. This uncertainty leads to frustration and dissatisfaction.
Organizations can avoid this scenario by putting together a formal onboarding and integration plan for new hires, as well as scheduling meetings for managers and direct reports to check in. The onboarding and integration plan should include helpful company documents (e.g., mission and values, an organizational chart, and internal acronyms), team member introductions, and mentor assignment. When new employees are properly integrated into the business, they can be productive, feel included, and find satisfaction.
Work relationships start to form on Day One. These connections are made when new hires interact with mentors, managers, and colleagues. If a conflict arises early on with a coworker or manager, new employees may decide the company is not the right place for them and decide to move on.
To reduce the potential for conflict within the first 90 days, everyone must warmly welcome new hires and help them feel supported and included. Also, organizations should use their mission, vision, and values to inform the candidate selection process. This will help ensure new hires have similar values and ethics. When cultural alignment is achieved and the first impression is a warm welcome, healthy relationships are more likely to form between new hires and existing personnel at the onset.
What Good Looks Like
Many labor factors are outside of an employer’s control, but organizations that are keen to avoid turnover in the first 90 days are strategic in their onboarding. They:
New employees are welcomed the day they accept a position. Astute organizations send a Welcome card signed by team members and owners to make hires feel embraced in a genuine way. They also send company swag before the first day to help build excitement. Potential swag items include an insulated water bottle or a fleece with the practice logo. These offerings create delight in the homes of new employees and impress their family and friends, which fosters a positive impression before starting their new role.
Like the first day of school, the first day in a new job can cause tremendous stress and anxiety for workers. Employers can alleviate first day jitters and make new employees feel further welcomed by proactively answering their questions.
- Will they be filling out employee paperwork on the first day? Much of that paperwork can be completed in advance of the first day. Many organizations have invested in online employee onboarding technology that allows employees to complete necessary forms in minutes.
- What is the dress code, and what time should they arrive? Answers to these questions should be in the employee manual, but if the manual is not provided until the first day of work, sending a simple first week agenda and dress code policy beforehand is helpful.
- Should they bring lunch, or will the practice provide a team luncheon? Sharing this information in advance will help new employees know what to bring for their first day.
- Where will their desk be, and will a phone and computer be set up for their use? Resources that new employees need to do their job should be set up and functional at the start of employment. This signals to them that the business is organized and ready for them.
- Who will be ready to greet them when they first arrive? Having a company representative there to welcome and show new employees around makes a great in-person impression.
Most new employees have done research on the company, but no amount of research can tell the whole story. For this reason, wise employers share the company’s history and strategic inflection points with all new hires. Also, internal leaders make time to discuss the company’s mission, vision, and values. Lastly, the lines of reporting within the organization (think org chart!) and how each team typically connects and collaborates is covered. Having all this information upfront helps new hires to quickly appreciate the company, understand its dynamics, and feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves.
Foster Loyal Employees
How new team members are onboarded is a critical element in the employee journey. Lead a successful integration effort from the beginning by avoiding common pitfalls and embracing best practices. Setting new employees up for success in their jobs is both rewarding and pays dividends, as it typically leads to quicker ramp-up, productivity, and retention.
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