Employee Onboarding

Crucial Tips for Onboarding New Employees

By George Dickson on August 26, 2015

So you've hired a new employee, one who is sure to be a rising star in your company. Congratulations! That's an important achievement, but it's just the beginning. An exceptional people operations strategy goes beyond having a great recruiting plan. It must also retain those new employees, and an optimized onboarding process is a big part of that. A truly great onboarding plan helps to ensure a successful transition from a new hire to a happy, engaged long-term employee.

According to SHRM Foundation's "Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success," successful onboarding leads to: lower turnover, higher job performance, higher job satisfaction, lowered stress, career effectiveness, and organizational commitment.

Fortunately, you don't have to do this alone. Your existing employees can help acclimate new hires. In fact, it's smart to get your employees involved as relationships, mentoring, and a friendly work environment are essential ingredients in building an engaged workforce. Use the tips below when onboarding new employees and the entire team will benefit.

Build a solid foundation for onboarding

According to the SHRM report's research-based model of onboarding, successful onboarding is the result of:

Selection + (self-efficacy + role clarity + social integration + knowledge of culture)

The report mentions four "C's" of onboarding, which are compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. Compliance covers your basic policies and expectations; clarification covers making sure your employees understand their roles; culture is your company's personality, its norms and values, and its accepted behaviors; and connection involves interpersonal relationships and social integration.

While most companies cover compliance and clarification extensively during the onboarding process, there's often a lost emphasis on culture and connection.

This is a huge oversight.

In order to thrive in a new environment — and ultimately choose to stay with the company  new hires need to feel comfortable and accepted. The SHRM report noted that one of the primary reasons cited by those who have failed to onboard successfully is the failure to establish effective working relationships.

Incorporating all four C's into your onboarding process can help ensure success, but focusing on culture and connection early on is crucial.

Learn what new hires want

BambooHR conducted a study last year on onboarding, and it found that the majority of new hires have specific wants as far as onboarding is concerned. In the first week, new hires want:

  • On-the-job training (76 percent)
  • A review of company policies (73 percent)
  • A company tour, equipment setup and procedures (59 percent)
  • A buddy or mentor (56 percent)

New hires also indicated who they prefer to show them the ropes: they prefer to have their own managers show them around, not HR. Mentors and colleagues were also high on the list.

Learn why new hires quit right away

BambooHR also found out why new hires quit right away. Those reasons are:

  • Changed their mind
  • The work was different than expected
  • The boss was a jerk
  • They didn't get enough training
  • The work wasn't fun
  • They felt under appreciated
  • They felt neglected
  • They felt overwhelmed
  • They felt under qualified

Facilitate relationships early

Now that you have the building blocks in place and know what new hires want and why they quit, it's time to get your employees involved. While you may want a manager to conduct the formal tour, policy review, and training, a coworker (rather than a manager or direct supervisor) can often be an excellent choice for an early mentorship role.

Not only can this person provide some of the training as well as serve as an informal tour guide, he or she can also introduce the new hire to others, be available for questions of any type, and be a friendly and familiar person in the lunchroom, at meetings, and around the office.

A buddy/mentor can also help make work more fun and counter some of those feelings of being overwhelmed or neglected.

Make the first day special

The first day on the job is nerve-racking for most new hires, and filled with a mix of excitement and uncertainty. You and your team can help put new hires at ease by creating a welcoming environment. Your new hire's desk or office should already be set up with the equipment they need. BambooHR recommends going even further with a welcome package with extras like pens, paper, a company t-shirt, and even a candy bar. It's a nice touch that can make a new employee feel wanted and special.

This is a twist on the old "welcome wagon" concept. You may even want to have a mini welcome party with coffee and snacks, or a team lunch for all to break the ice and let everyone get acquainted.

Use Peer-to-Peer Recognition

If your company has a peer-to-peer recognition program like Bonusly, invite new hires to use it right away. If it doesn't, seriously consider adopting one as peer-to-peer recognition is one of the most effective ways to build camaraderie, foster relationships, increase engagement, and reduce turnover. Peer-to-peer recognition can also counter many of the reasons people quit right away by showing appreciation, celebrating accomplishments of all types, and making work more fun.

Show your new hire how the peer-to-peer recognition program works by recognizing him or her on the first day for a job well done. Not only will receiving a bonus on the first day of the job feel great, it will likely pique curiosity about the program as well as exemplify exceptional work that new employees can aspire toward. As part of the on-the-job training/mentoring, show the new hire how to recognize other employees for their help. Before long, your new hire will be thanking others and building strong work relationships along the way.

Each of the tips above can contribute to a successful onboarding. Remember, this isn't a one-day or one-week process; plan on continuing your onboarding efforts for the long term. It's worth it.

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Written by George Dickson

George Dickson

George manages content and community at Bonusly. He's dedicated to strengthening organizational cultures through thoughtful leadership and frequent recognition.