2021 Best Practices for New Hire Onboarding

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A strong onboarding program will set new employees up for a successful first day, and more importantly, a successful career at the company. 

By carefully planning onboarding steps, companies give new employees the information, relationships, and tools they need to be comfortable and confident enough to do outstanding work. Most importantly, the onboarding experience guides an employee’s tenure at the organization. A bad experience can lead to early departures and high employee turnover. Whereas, a good experience can lead to long-term happiness.

Onboarding officially starts when your candidate signs the offer letter. The 2-3 week window between offer acceptance and the start date presents a crucial engagement opportunity. So make the most of it! Here are some tips and best practices. 

Welcoming New Hires on Day 1

Deliver a personal experience that helps the new hire feel welcomed and appreciated. Schedule “bookend” meetings to check in with the new hire. (This is especially important if your team works remotely, as organic interactions are virtually impossible, and diligent scheduling is the best way to ensure quality interactions.) – 30 minutes the first thing in the morning for a welcome and 30 minutes at the end of the day for a debrief. You can also consider scheduling a virtual team lunch with the new hire’s immediate team. 

One-on-one meetings provide the ongoing communication necessary to create a positive work environment. They’re also a great way to enforce or adjust performance goals, address needs, and dole out morale-boosting praise.

Additionally, it is a good practice to give new hires a welcome package full of branded swag, such as apparel and office supplies, customized with your company’s brand, colors, and logos. Show your new hire some love by shipping them some company-branded swag!

Collecting personal information

Ask your new employee to share any necessary personal information for your records. At a minimum, consider collecting their name, preferred nickname, cell phone number, emergency contact info, and a photo. If your company uses an HRIS, ask the new hire to fill out the information directly through the system. You can even add a custom information field, like t-shirt size or dietary restrictions.

Sending a welcome email to your department and entire office

The email should include the new hire’s name, picture, a description of their role and initiatives (which you can pull from the job description), some resume highlights, the person’s educational background, supervisor, and contact information. You can also ask new employees for an interesting fact to share with their new colleagues.

Aside from having a new hire’s teammates congratulate them over email, you can also share the new hire’s LinkedIn profile and suggest your employees connect with their new teammate for an introductory call—particularly if some teammates didn’t meet the new hire during the interview process.

Introducing the new employee to people at all levels of the organization

Schedule “meet and greets” with company leaders or top performers (including your most recent employee of the month) so new hires can hear their stories and learn from their experiences. This helps your new hires gain a big-picture understanding of how everyone contributes to your company’s mission and how they will belong. Also, have them pre-meet with important stakeholders, and set up meetings for day one. 

To-Dos for Hiring Managers on Day 1

Introduce your new hire to your team members in-person and to the company via email or company messaging software. Make sure your new hire’s computer station is up and running. Check whether the IT team has set up new hire’s official accounts and installed software, apps, and antivirus. 

The hiring manager must run a role-specific training inclusive of core responsibilities, team structure (names, roles, duties, and organizational chart), job-specific tools, and expectations/ objectives. Moreover, when assigning the initial tasks to your new hire, make sure to offer guidance, provide resources that your new hire is likely to use (e.g. reports, spreadsheets, and glossaries), and clarify any questions that may arise. Additionally, you may also assign your new hire a work buddy to help them adjust to their new workplace.

Sharing employee handbook 

Send your new hire a copy of your employee handbook so they can learn all about your policies, culture, employee resource groups, and more. Using eSignature, ask the new hire to sign your handbook digitally—which will also save some time during onboarding. Next, share your benefits guide with new employees so they have time to look over your healthcare, dental, vision, and voluntary benefits. 

Creating the first-week schedule for new employees

Keep new employees energized with a packed schedule for their first week(s) – especially their first day. New hire schedules are also the first step to a structured onboarding program. In an article written by Jen Dewar for Sapling HR, she reported that – Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. 

Planning first small successes

If you can help your new employees have some small wins early on, it will accelerate the process of them becoming a strong contributor to your company and a part of your competitive advantage. Quick successes also give them the confidence needed to excel in a new role and help them earn respect from their colleagues. Make it a high priority to discuss their initial goals on the first day, asking them what they think it will take to accomplish them.

Wrapping Up

Organizations with well-thought-out onboarding processes achieve 50% greater new hire retention.  At its essence, onboarding is about integrating employees into your organizational culture for them to prosper and grow personally and professionally. Follow this checklist to keep your company’s new employee onboarding process on the right path.

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