New Employee Orientation: How to Onboard New Employees
Creating a great employee onboarding program has numerous benefits. Most notably, it increases employee retention, and helps a new hire ramp-up to full productivity more quickly.
The time and money spent to find a new hire varies by company but can add up to thousands of dollars per person. That’s a lot of resources wasted if the new employee quickly leaves the company. From this point of view, good onboarding is simply maximizing your investment in training.
New employees often report that their onboarding was too short, inadequate, and left them feeling adrift in a sea of information. Why do so many companies skimp on the onboarding process when it’s so important?
Why Onboarding Fails
The first step in improving your employee onboarding process is identifying what needs work. If you find that your onboarding hasn’t been met with rave reviews, you could have one of these common issues:
- Your onboarding program is too short. Most companies only plan for a week of onboarding. Successful companies extend their onboarding to 30 days or longer.
- Your onboarding sessions are boring. There’s too much focus on paperwork and monotonous slideshows.
- You haven’t addressed the stress and anxiety that often come with a new job. This leaves new employees feeling isolated and confused.
The good news is that each of these issues has a solution. If you work with focus and intention on improving your employee onboarding experience, you will increase productivity, employee retention, and job satisfaction. Happy employees are a great source of referrals, reducing the time and financial costs of filtering applicants.
If you’re not certain which of these common problems applies to your company’s onboarding process, survey your employees. The best time for this is right after they’ve completed the process. Touching base again once the employee has settled in can also yield valuable insight.
Starting A Relationship
Onboarding is more than just hiring a new employee; it’s the start of a relationship. Think of what you might do to start any other type of relationship out on the right foot.
You probably do your best to make a good impression. You should try to make the other person feel comfortable, valued, and heard. The elements that start any good relationship need to be incorporated into your onboarding process as well.
A good place to start your employee relationships is by getting to know each other. Identify commonalities, discover strengths, and nurture interest from both sides. Your employee applied to your company because they saw something they identified with. You hired them because you saw value in their experiences.
It’s vital that every employee feels equally valued. When you’re assessing your employee onboarding process, make sure you are being inclusive of women, people of color, and those with physical or psychological challenges. People in these groups are more likely to feel isolated or marginalized.
Your relationship with the new employee starts before they walk in the door on their first day. A key element to making your new person feel welcomed and comfortable is to be prepared for their arrival. This means setting them up for success and identifying internal resources.
A few things you should have in place before onboarding day:
- Make sure their new workspace is prepared. If you clear off a desk at the last moment, they’re likely to feel like an afterthought or an inconvenience.
- Let their department and new co-workers know who they are, when they’ll arrive, and their onboarding schedule.
- Give training staff enough support so they’re not rushed while teaching the new employee how to perform their job.
- Send an onboarding agenda to the new employee so they know what to expect. You can include parking information and directions to help them navigate the building.
- Provide an introductory email to their immediate supervisor and the training staff.
You can reduce the time they spend completing tedious tasks like tax paperwork by sending it to them ahead of time. Just keep these documents to a minimum. Nobody appreciates being asked to do work they’re not being paid for.
What’s Your Style?
Research shows that, despite the hype around learning styles, classifying them isn’t very useful. The premise is that everyone learns differently and needs a teaching style that matches them to learn effectively.
The important takeaway from teaching styles is not that they should match learning styles, but that there’s an optimum teaching style for each subject. This, more than anything else, is a good reason to vary your employee onboarding education.
Do not sit your new employees in a room for an entire day of watching PowerPoint presentations. It’s not stimulating, it’s sedentary, and it invites disengagement. Think about the last time you were required to watch a boring business presentation. Did you look at your phone? Did you take too many bathroom breaks or get up for coffee several times?
To keep engagement high during your employee onboarding, use a range of activities. For every hour they’re sedentary, you should have an activity that gets people up and moving. Tour the department or the building. Take the group for a coffee break. Leading simple stretching exercises will wake people up.
After assessing your current employee onboarding strategy, you might find that you’re not dedicating enough time to the process. New employees often feel overwhelmed with the amount of information they’re expected to absorb in a short amount of time.
How much time you allot to onboarding will depend on the job position, your company’s industry, and the tasks required for the job. A successful onboarding program is focused and consistent. Make a list of your onboarding goals to help you pinpoint desired outcomes.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What do you need to convey about your company and its mission?
- How does the new employee’s position help the company accomplish its goals?
- What essential safety information should you include?
- Are there resources in place where new employees can go for answers to their questions?
- What do you want them to take away at the end of the day?
- How can you free up the supervisor’s time so they can give the new employee personal attention?
You may consider having the employee spend half the day in orientation style meetings and the other half with a mentor. Mentoring a new employee can help form strong bonds that encourage employee retention.
Spice It Up
Avoid new employee disengagement during onboarding by livening things up a bit. Games may seem childish but they’re great at icebreaking. Friendly competition stimulates the brain, aids in information retention, and can foster camaraderie.
Here are a few game ideas:
- Company trivia. Have “contestants” answer questions that review what they’ve learned so far. You can use a Jeopardy-style layout and offer company merch as prizes.
- Learning names. Start with the trainer. Have them say their name, their department, and one quirky thing about themselves. The next person does the same but also has to repeat the person before them’s information.
- Catch. Use a stress ball or a crumpled piece of paper to toss around the room. Have the trainer throw the ball to someone. The person who catches it says their name, their department, and one thing they remember from the day’s training. They then throw the ball to someone else. If someone has caught the ball, they can’t be thrown to again.
- Card decks. There are several decks of cards on the market intended to help people get to know each other. Each card has a question or scenario for someone to read and another person to answer. You can also make your own deck.
The point of these activities is not only to give everyone’s brains a break but to help them feel a sense of community. When they finish onboarding and begin their normal schedules, they will know at least a few familiar faces.
It’s not easy starting a new job. Extroverts may spend a lot of time engaging with their new coworkers but may be nervous about learning new tasks. Introverts might like having their own personal workspace but have trouble assimilating into the office community.
Every person responds to new job stress differently. There are a few things, however, that can help anyone feel at home. Employees who feel confident and at ease adapt more quickly and are more productive.
Here are some suggestions to help ease new job anxiety:
- Choose a good mentor. Good mentors are personable, enjoy their jobs, and are adept at communicating information clearly.
- Set up resources. If your employee has to interrupt someone else every time they have a question, they may be hesitant to ask. Make sure they know how to access the resources they need.
- Explain safety measures. The more your employees feel prepared in the event of an emergency, the less anxious they’re likely to be. Make sure you explain not only which safety procedures are in place, but also why they’re effective.
You will get out of your onboarding program what you put into it. If you invest in your new employees during this crucial time, they’ll likely be with the company long enough to make that investment pay off. If you treat it as a troublesome inconvenience, your new employee may not feel valued and start looking for another position within a year.
Enhancing your onboarding & training process is made easier when you have a robust talent management system. That’s why Criterion has developed a new talent engagement solution to help you streamline your recruiting process, design unique onboarding experiences, create custom training workflows, and drive productivity.
Interested in learning more? Book your demo today.