Welcome Aboard! What Every Organization Should Do to Engage New Employees

Welcome aboard! That’s the heartfelt greeting that you’ll receive from the captain when you board his/her ship or boat. Think back to a time when you were starting a new job. Did you receive that same heartfelt greeting?  We’ve all been there—excited about what is to come but apprehensive not knowing much at all about a totally new environment.

An organization’s onboarding process is a reflection of its culture. Tactical things need to be accomplished during the new-hire orientation, issues related to benefits (an important part of their compensation), payroll, security, technology and telecommunication—things employees need to know and may be anxious about.

Smart organizations will leverage technology and make information available on intranets or through portals providing a one-stop information points for all these administrative issues. This not only saves time, but it avoids information overload in the beginning.

The welcoming process, however, begins when the offer of employment is made and accepted. Once an offer is accepted, the manager should follow up with a welcoming notice—an e-mail, handwritten note, or phone call—that lets the new employee know how happy everyone is that he/she is joining the team. Before they start work, let them know about arrival time, whom to ask for and a schedule of the first day’s activities.

There is a golden opportunity between offer and start date to communicate since the employee may still be in touch with other companies he’s been talking to. Extending a warm welcome makes the organization stand out so the employee is not tempted to entertain another offer.

Have a team member reach out to the new hire before the first day as well. This not only provides a sense of welcome, but it allows for a collegial relationship to form. On the first day the employee will know one of her peers—someone else besides the manager she can go to with questions.

Be ready for a new employee’s first day. Have his workspace ready with all of the tools and equipment he will need to do his job. Managers should plan to spend as much time as possible with a new hire on his/her first day. Don’t book too many meetings, but if something unexpected comes up, have other members of the team available to fill the gaps.

Make arrangements for someone to have lunch with the new hire—the manager and/or other team members. Share the organization’s history, vision, values and mission.

Onboarding Is More than One Day

 The onboarding process doesn’t end on the first day or the first week. Build in checkpoints—at 30, 60, 90 days.  This gives the organization the opportunity to follow up and get feedback on how the things are going—did the employee feel welcomed, are they fitting in with the team?

You can learn a great deal about people’s perception of your culture by conducting these check-ins. As the 90 day mark approaches, the manager can provide feedback about what’s working and what adjustments can be made—an opportunity to give the employee a sense of their future with the organization and send the message that you care.

Onboarding is about making new employees feel welcome and becoming productive. It shapes employee engagement. It’s such an important issue that we devote an entire chapter to it in our new book, The Big Book of HR.. It takes some work, but the payoff can be huge.

Strategic HR Cornelia Gamlem, GEMS Group ltd and Barbara Mitchell, The Mitchell Group LLC Thursday – July 13, 2017