How to Create a Successful New Employee Onboarding Program

Actual Comments on Why Employees Leave:

“There is a lack of training for employees. Initially, when I joined the company my supervisor was not interested in training me. He never gave a proper overview or never gave a proper answer to my questions. He spoke sarcastically. I could not learn what I needed to learn as a new employee.”

The Solution

Training is such an important part of onboarding new employees. The onboarding experience can lead to having successful employees or worst case employee turnover. What we do not know about this comment is how long the employee remained with the company before leaving. We also do not know whether the former employee had a conversation with his manager about his need for training. Communication is a two-way street and employees have a responsibility for letting their managers know when they need help. What we can do is create a detailed pathway for managers to follow to ensure new employees are successfully on-boarded.

Before the first day of work through the end of the first week:

Send a welcome, or possibly, in this case, an introduction email to new employees. This is a small gesture and doesn’t take any time to send a short email welcoming new employees to your team. Imagine how you would feel receiving this email. It creates a “good feeling” and instills confidence in new employees that they are important and made a good choice.

Ensure new employees have all the tools they will need to do their jobs and are set up on the first day. This includes cubes (if employees are working onsite), computers, login information, phones, and instructions for setting up their phones, setting up email accounts, office supplies, etc. This is another message to new employees that they are important and expected to hit the ground running.

Make sure new employees attend the new employee orientation where the following topics are covered: company history and current vision, organization structure, goals and expectations, information about company policies, code of conduct, benefits eligibility and how to access benefits, compensation plans, and other important topics. It should be noted that orientations are just as important as the recruiting process in that they are often the “second impression” employees have of their new employer. Many companies view orientations as a necessary evil and do not put a lot of time and effort to make them interesting and current. Orientations should be informational, interesting, fun, engaging, and worthwhile in the eyes of new employees. Anything less is a waste of your time.

I was in charge of new employee orientations at a previous employer. We were in a huge hiring mode and had new employee orientation every Monday morning. One of the best things we did was to have someone from the leadership team attend the first part of the orientation to present the company history, mission, and goals. Employees were very impressed that our leadership would take the time to welcome them to the company. Words need to be demonstrated by actions. It was a big success. One thing to remember is to make sure all new employees have access to the new employee orientation. Don’t forget those who work remotely.

The first 90 days:

The “before the first day of work through the end of the first week” might be viewed as the easy stuff. The entire first 90 days are critical because there is a limited horizon for motivating employees and setting them up to be successful in their new roles. In today’s environment, employees do not have loyalty to any employer. In the first 90 days, it is all about retention and engagement. This is where good managers come in. Managers are often the third impression and possibly the most important impression employees have.

A critical part of the first 90 days is setting both short-term and long-term goals. Short-term goals should include assignments whereby employees feel they are quickly contributing to the organization’s goals. These assignments do not need to be complex, but rather assignments which allow employees to get their feet wet. Long-term work should include larger/more complex assignments.

Managers can do a lot to increase new employees’ comfort level and productivity during the first ninety days. Effective onboarding is not just about giving employees a quick orientation and forms to fill out but rather its purpose is to educate new employees about the operational aspects of their jobs, set clear expectations, and help them assimilate into the organization’s culture. The most important thing managers can do is to create an individual plan with scheduled meetings, active introductions rather a list of names and email addresses, training (job-specific training as well as corporate required training such as compliance training), lunches, and time for getting organized in their new roles. This shows them that you care about their success. In the first week, managers should have a daily debrief to find out how things are going. Thereafter, managers should set up touchpoints throughout the first 90 days to check in on employees’ progress and identify and resolve any issues/challenges thereby increasing the potential for good performance and success. At the end of 90 days, managers should conduct a review of the first 90 days that involve employees. Ask new employees what they think of their first 90 days. Make feedback a two-way street. A great way to conduct this review is to gather onboarding feedback in the form of a survey. Products like HSD’s new hire surveys help organizations uncover what is working most effectively during the hiring process and help improve their retention rate.

Onboarding, done correctly, establishes a foundation for future success. When organizations do not have a good plan for onboarding new employees, they run the risk of miscommunication of goals, poor performance, low morale, bad decisions, and ultimately financial loss in the form of increased turnover. Companies spend a lot of time and money finding the perfect candidate to fill an opening. Unfortunately, many organizations think their work is finished once an offer is accepted. Sadly, they don’t realize that the real work is just beginning.

(This blog post brought to you by HSD Metrics, an exit interview company that helps companies reduce employee turnover by providing automated reference checking, exit interviews, and by measuring employee retention. The comments from exiting employees that are featured in this blog are collected from actual exit interviews conducted using ExitRight®, HSD’s exit interviewing service. Because we place the privacy of our clients at the top of our priority list; the names of all involved parties are kept completely confidential. Check our blog often for posts like this, to reduce employee turnover within your organization. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today.)