Onboarding-Ready or Not, Here They Come
By Marsha R. Kunz, Director of Human Resources
Do you remember how you felt on the first day of employment with a new company? No matter how many first days you have experienced, it can still make you a little anxious. If your company implements a really good onboarding program, it can make your new hire feel right at home on that first day.
Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into your organization. In the last several years, this process has gone far beyond just hiring and orientation. Organizations are now rolling out the welcome mat before the employee even shows up on the premises. With employers vying for the best talent, there is added motivation to make new employees feel at home from day one and into their first several months of employment. If done right, this best practice will also increase employee retention and engagement, while also fostering a culture of belonging.
Onboarding differs from orientation in that orientation is a brief portion of the onboarding experience. Here are some helpful suggestions for a successful onboarding experience:
- Be in touch with the new hire 2-3 times before his or her start date. Send the new employee the offer letter, but also follow up with a welcome letter. The welcome letter gives the employee needed information about the first day, such as where and what time to report, items to bring such as picture identification, direct deposit information, etc. Along with the welcome letter, send a small welcome package with your company’s promotional item(s) like a tee shirt, coffee mug, pen and such; whatever your company’s budget allows. After all, who does not love getting a package in the mail? Also, let the employee know the acceptable company dress code so he or she does not feel “out of place” on the first day.
- Prior to the new hire’s start date, send his or her required paperwork for completion in advance, such as I-9 and tax forms. Some companies have implemented programs that will allow them to do this electronically so employees can have all of that information completed before orientation. This saves a lot of time and stress on the new hires on day one, because they do not have to worry about bringing all the information needed for these forms.
- If it fits into your company’s culture and budget, have the office or department host a small welcoming social (coffee break or light breakfast) on that first day, just before orientation starts. This will give the existing employees an opportunity to introduce themselves and welcome the new hire in person.
- Have a detailed orientation schedule ready for the new hire so he or she knows exactly what will be happening throughout the day and who will be facilitating the training.
- Before the new hire starts, assign him or her a “buddy” and confirm with the buddy that he or she is committed to being a resource for that person for the first six months of the new hire’s employment. The buddy plays a key role in helping to integrate the new hire into the company’s culture. Be sure to introduce the new employee to his or her buddy on the first day. The buddy serves as a resource for questions like “Who do I contact if I need office supplies?” and can be helpful in making introductions to other employees in a more gradual manner, explaining his or her role with the company as introductions are made.
- Involve your CEO, President or Senior Officer of the company at the beginning of orientation to welcome the new hire(s) and talk a little about the history of the company and its mission statement.
- Take a picture of your company’s new hire(s) and send along with a welcome email to the company so everyone who has not met the new hire can put a name with a face and know what the new hire’s role with the company will be. This takes some of the stress off of the new hire to explain it to every co-worker he or she meets.
- Lastly, about a month or two into the new hire’s employment, and if your company has a mentor program, assign the new employee a mentor. This person needs to be someone that is one to two position levels above the new hire and someone willing to advise and guide the new hire in his or her career with the company. While there are many philosophies on the best way to match mentor and mentee, it is helpful to get some idea of what the new employee is like and what projects he or she will be working on before trying to place him or her with a mentor. Make sure the mentor and mentee are introduced to each other once the mentor assignment is finalized.
As of the writing of this article, we are all operating in a COVID world, where much of what we do has been converted to virtual processes. Even in a post-COVID world, we will continue to depend on technology to help us make the above items possible from a virtual perspective. Is your company ready to get onboard?
Marsha R. Kunz Director of Human Resources
Marsha is the Director of Human Resources for the firm. She oversees all of the human resource-related opportunities and challenges that come with a growing firm. She has a thorough knowledge of human resources issues and stays abreast of the latest developments related to employment law compliance, benefits, management/staff training and working environments. In […]