onboarding

What I’ve Learned: Onboarding Tips from 30-Year Pro

Kevin Sheridan Benefits Communication, Industry Insights

**Psst! Before you leave, make sure to download Kevin’s new eBook — The Ultimate New Hire Pre-Boarding Timeline!**

Shockingly, one out of every 25 employees quits on their very first day.*

While this statistic is initially surprising, if you closely examine the way most employees are welcomed by their new employer, it becomes apparent that most onboarding practices deserve a ‘D’ grade at best. In fact, poor onboarding is a primary reason why the majority of employees leave their employment within the first year.** And these early departures are even more common for millennials who approach their first jobs with the anticipation of having, on average, 16 employers over the course of their career lifetime.

So what are some the things managers can actively do avoid turning off new hires and ensure an engaging and productive onboarding experience? Here are a few ideas.

1. Implement a robust ‘pre-boarding’ process.

Pre-boarding is exceptionally important to keep the employee-to-be engaged with, and excited about, their new employer between the point of their accepting the position and their first day.

New employees experience nearly the same jittery feeling as a person on the verge of a first date. They’re eager to make a good impression, and extra-sensitive to any reaction that seems tentative or unenthusiastic. Go radio silent after making your offer and you risk making a new hire feel ignored or neglected. Also? Having a pre-boarding process in place allows you to ask new employees to fill out a lot of the annoying paperwork necessary before their first day, ensuring that that first day is more pleasurable. Speaking of which…

2. Go out of your way to make new hires feel sufficiently welcomed on their first day.

Managers are wise to do the following things on their new hires’ first day:

  • Greet them at the door or at the front desk in person.
  • Immediately introduce them to their new coworkers, with a clear explanation of what each coworker does (ideally with note cards or personal fact sheets containing the information which can later be reviewed by the new employee).
  • Give them a bathroom key and show them where it’s located.
  • Take them out to lunch.
  • Allow them the freedom to choose a mentor. (Assigning a mentor to someone can make the relationship feel like a kind of arranged marriage. Instead, let the new employee make the choice themselves, after reviewing possible mentor backgrounds and expertise.)
  • Make sure their technology and communication equipment is set up and personalized.

(On the subject of personalization…one of my favorite “first-day” practices was created by the best hire I made in my 32 years in business, Ashley Nuese. One day, Ashley came to me and asked if she and her team could ask a certain question during the interview process. When I asked her what the question was, she said she’d like to ask the job candidate, ‘What is your favorite candy?’ I said that the question would probably create some puzzling looks on the faces of candidates asked the question, and she said ‘Yes, but guess what will be on their desk their first day on the job?’ This interview question is now affectionately called ‘The Candy Question,’ and is used by hundreds of organizations around the world, including by the recruiters for the TSA here in the U.S. How neat is that? The employee shows up on their first day and gets an immediate sign that they were listened to and cared about on a personal level. In addition, they get to taste something sweet!)

3. Stay committed to making the employee feel welcome and valued all the way through their first 90 days.

In my experience, during the first 90 days of an employee’s employment, the very best onboarding programs make a concerted effort to leverage the top five drivers of employee engagement (listed below in order of importance).

Got a lot of remote employees you want to keep engaged? Check out Kevin’s 5 Tips for doing just that.

4. Recognition.

Managers should make ‘thank you’ and “nice job’ a regular part of their vocabulary. Additionally, managers should take the time to teach new employees why what they did is so intrinsically important to the organization’s mission and purpose.

5. Career Development.

Managers should meet with the new employee to discuss their career and job aspirations and say the magical words ‘Where do you want to be in six months and how can I help?’ As a result, new employees will immediately know that their boss is ‘in their corner’ vis-à-vis their career development.

6. Alignment on values.

From Day One on, managers should demonstrate to their employees that what they cherish and value is in complete alignment with the organization’s culture, mission, and values.

7. Work with Purpose.

Managers should make sure their new hires are working on assignments that have meaning and purpose from the very start. For example, at my old company, we gave one of our new marketing employees a press release to write on her very first day, explaining that what she wrote has a very likely chance of appearing in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. (It did.)

8. Manager/employee relationship.

There is a lot to be said about the old adage ‘People don’t leave companies, they leave managers.’ So it’s critical that managers show their employees that they have an interest in them as human beings, not just as employees. Part of this involves keeping the channels of communication open by asking for frequent feedback, and fostering an atmosphere of fun. We spend so much time at work toiling away that we forget to laugh and have a good time. Whether it’s playing Pictionary, Apples to Apples, or going to grab an ice cream cone, it’s important that as they’re learning the ropes, your new hires also have a good time with you and their coworkers. Believe me. It works.

You may be interested to learn how ALEX can save HR departments time and money when onboarding employees and make them productive from their very first day.

* 2011, Judy Enns, HR Solutions, Inc.

** 2011, HR Solutions, Building a Magnetic Culture study.

 

To read more posts by Kevin Sheridan, go to: http://kevinsheridanllc.com


And here are a few other related posts from the ALEX blog:

ALEX Onboarding Survey Says: Prepared Employees Are Happier

The Ultimate New Hire Pre-Boarding Timeline (eBook)

“My First Time” Handouts for Employees Trying to Use a New Health Care Plan