The best onboarding programs go far beyond Day One.
Most companies have a basic process for bringing a new employee onboard. They’ll put together a welcome packet, set up that person’s office and send out a companywide email introducing the new hire to everyone.
But the highest-performing businesses will invest time in a formal onboarding plan that stretches beyond Day One to the first several months after an employee joins the organization.
“A formalized, thoughtful and purposeful onboarding process is going to help strengthen employee engagement and connection,” said Jonathan McClellan, employee recognition segment director for Hallmark Business Connections.
Here are some of the ways the smartest organizations welcome new employees.
They maximize communication // New hires should receive daily feedback about their performance for the first week, if not the first month. Younger employees are going to be most interested in hearing how they’re doing, but most workers want to know whether they’re living up to expectations.
This feedback could come in the form of an email, a formal meeting or— for individuals doing remarkably well— formal recognition. The smartest companies put an emphasis on communicating with new people, and making it easy for new people to reach out when they have questions or need help.
“When companies are doing it right, they leverage all the channels of communication they have available to them,” McClellan said.
They encourage connections // The highest-performing organizations make sure their new employees have the chance to build relationships with co-workers throughout the organization. Staff lunches, companywide events and departmental meet-ups—they’re all opportunities for recent hires to meet people beyond their immediate department.
McClellan knows one company that has a very clever way of introducing new people to the team. Each hire gets a packet filled with a photo of every person in the company. During their first week, new people are then tasked with finding the person who matches every picture in the packet, introducing themselves to each co-worker, documenting their name and title, and asking an icebreaker question.
“It’s a great way to get to know your co-workers, and the entire company gets behind it because they all had to do the same exercise themselves,” McClellan said. “It’s a tremendous exercise.”
They involve the entire company // While front-line managers can handle most of the onboarding process, they need support from senior managers. Some companies also will assign mentors to new people; McClellan recommends that mentors come from a different department than the one where the new hire works, to encourage greater exposure across the organization.
When leaders of high-performing organizations are devising their formal onboarding plans, they’re careful to get input from all parts of the company. That way, the plan includes information on what kind of training is required for specific roles and how to measure the performance of the person in that role.
They have a plan, and they follow it // The trick to doing onboarding well is to invest the time up front in building a system that spells out desired outcomes, whether that’s a reduction in turnover, an increase in skill acquisition or some other key metric.
The system should track employee performance—that way, management can tell if the onboarding process is working. The system should also track how often managers are communicating with recent hires and what they’re saying.
The good news is there are enterprise-wide solutions that can simplify a lot of this tracking, McClellan said.
This all takes time and energy, but high-performing companies have found real benefits to investing in onboarding, McClellan said. Your small business could, too.