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Don't Let Onboarding Be a One and Done Affair

January 7th, 2019

onboarding welcome

When your new hire starts, what's your onboarding like? Chances are they fill out a pile of paperwork, sign off on the company handbook, maybe watch a welcome video featuring the CEO and then get escorted to their new boss.

That's where it ends for most companies. And that's one reason why so many new employees -- almost 17% by one study -- don't last the first week. 30% have quit in the first six months.

With so much time and money employers are spending now to hire workers, engaging them from day one should be a priority. And that should start before they ever walk in the door.

Your company may not have the budget for the sophisticated onboarding program of a large multinational, but that doesn't mean you can't adopt some of what the do. It costs nothing for the hiring manager to reach out to their new teammate to congratulate them on accepting the offer. Sending them a handwritten note of welcome is an especially nice touch, made even better if their new colleagues add their names to the note.

When they walk in the door on that first day, have the hiring manager greet them personally. Before taking them to HR for the administrative work (assuming they haven't completed the paperwork online or were sent it in advance), show them their new work area and introduce them to the team.

Don't let your onboarding end there. At many companies -- and the company size doesn't matter -- new hires are assigned a buddy. This is someone who will help them acclimate to the culture and the environment answering those "new person" questions like: "Where do people go for lunch?", "How do I work the copier?" and "What happens at the weekly staff meeting?"

You also want to encourage feedback from new hires. Since they are unlikely to volunteer it, HR and the hiring manager (yes, both of you!) should schedule separate meetings at regular intervals, beginning at the end of the first week. Why separate meetings? There may be some issues a new hire could be uncomfortable raising with the boss. The other, more important reason for meeting with HR is to get feedback on the onboarding process, and for uncovering any doubts about the job or the organization.

An article on the Society for Human Resource Management website offers a list of questions to ask the new hire. SHRM recommends conducting these one-on-ones at 30 day intervals for the first several months. "Be prepared," says the article by HR leader Paul Falcone, "To address any shortcomings in individual performance or organizational challenges that may be hindering productivity. It doesn't take much time, can head off problems proactively and will demonstrate your effective leadership and communication abilities."

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