5 Strategies to Improve Your Employee On-boarding Experience

There’s more to a good employee onboarding than a handbook and branded swag.

Creating a positive first impression is such a key piece in ensuring your new hire is happy with their decision. Just because they have signed a contract does not mean that loyalty follows. People often make decisions on how long they plan to stay early on based on the experiences felt during their onboarding process. Positive first impressions make them feel encouraged and valued, resulting in higher engagement. So it is important that you document your onboarding process so that it is easily repeatable and tailored to the individual.

Here are five simple ways you can improve your onboarding practices:

  1. Document it. Make it consistent, Do all the things, every time.

Onboarding plans differ company to company and often have their own set of unique processes. The key is to create a repeatable onboarding plan. Doing this avoids inconsistencies in experiences. You want to avoid having some new hires having a positive experience, while others are left questioning their decision. To ensure that the process remains consistent make sure you document each step. Automating the process leads to a better experience for your new hire and increased productivity for your team. When you are creating this onboarding plan, make sure you set your team up for success. You don’t have to start with a 90 day plan including all the tours, rewards and certificates. It can be minimal but effective. The key is that it is consistent and adjustable.

  1. Make sure your onboarding program has a “long tail”.

Don’t assume your plan starts and ends on day one. If you have a new hire who has an incredible first day, don’t throw them into the deep end right after. The process shouldn’t feel transactional, instead it should feel engaging. In order to find a healthy balance for your employee, make sure you spread out the onboarding process over a timeline that works for you. Ideally, you have a 90 day program built out as it generally takes three months for people to really understand the nuances in an organization and their role and responsibilities. Don’t blow all of your process and good intentions on day one.

  1. Involve the hiring managers. It’s not just an HR thing.

The onboarding program isn’t just in the hands of HR / People & Culture, it should be collaborative. New hires don’t want a singular view point. People want to meet their fellow coworkers and further understand what is expected of them. It is important to avoid unsuccessful techniques like siloing your new employee to one specific department, refraining them from having a universal understanding of the company and the culture. Or isolating new hires in training for a week and then putting them to work immediately following. Instead, have them engage in training, socialize with their team but also assign them a few tasks so they feel useful. Although HR will oversee and administer the onboarding plan, it is critical that hiring managers also be involved.

  1. Consider how you want people to feel, not just what they need to know.

A great question I like to pose is, what do you want this new hire to know, understand and feel? This should be a question that lingers as you map out the entire onboarding experience – from feeling welcomed, to cared for, to feeling useful and belonging. An example that illustrates this point is ensuring a well received first day on the job. You want to make sure when they arrive, employees provide a warm welcome. They should know who they are upon arrival versus being surprised. Every step of the way they should feel that you value the skills they are bringing to the table evoking a sense of belonging. A big mistake is creating your onboarding plan purely based on things people should know IE- (where things are located), versus how they should feel.

  1. Include something new, surprising and different to WOW your new employees and remind them what a great decision they made.

Although the first day has a big impact on how people feel towards the company, make sure to weave in something that will WOW them. Think of something new and different that this individual may not have experienced in the past. You want to elicit the “How did you do that?” type of response to make it long lasting and memorable. For instance, asking them what their favourite chocolate bar is during the recruitment process so you could have it placed on their desk upon arrival. Or, have a welcome card signed by as many people as possible in the office on their desk. Just make sure that this is tailored to the individual and outside the box.

A strong onboarding plan should be focused on what your new hire needs to succeed in their role and how they feel throughout the experience.
Focusing on improving your onboarding process can help retain the great talent you have just invested time and money into attracting. The experience should be personalized to that individual while the onboarding plan should remain repeatable and consistent. I believe that integrating these 5 simple steps can greatly improve your current process.

Jerry Gratton • Aug 25, 2020



Twitter: jrgratton