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A Guide to Onboarding: Set up a Great Employee Experience

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  • HR Technology

A Guide to Onboarding: Set up a Great Employee Experience

A Guide to Onboarding: Setting the Stage for a Great Employee Experience

You did it! After several weeks (maybe even months), and hours of interviewing and assessing talent, you found the best candidate for the job. You extended the offer, and they accepted — congratulations!

No matter the nature of the job market, this is a big step in staffing up and building your team. As you celebrate that success, you know what’s coming. Onboarding is up next, and it’s a key milestone in the employee journey.

Why is onboarding important?

We all know turnover is expensive and time-consuming on all fronts, from staffing to interviewing to ramp-up time. While a good candidate experience might help you land that ideal candidate, what happens during onboarding is critical — literally from day one, to the beginning months and even throughout their tenure at the company.

For some of us, our onboarding journey may have happened a long time ago, and for others perhaps it was more recent. Think back – how was your experience? How did you feel? What did your leader do? Or perhaps what didn’t they do? Whether your experience was top-notch or subpar, it’s likely that the experience has stuck with you and perhaps prompted you to make pivotal decisions in your career journey.

It’s important to point out that the onboarding experience doesn’t just impact the new hire, although they’re the ones going through the experience. Let’s face it — their experience will have a direct effect on how they interact with others, from the rest of the team and their manager to the clients they may soon be interacting with in their day-to-day role.

There are a lot of components to an impactful onboarding program and multiple functions involved in creating the experience. It’s not solely on the direct manager, though it weighs heavily on their plate. We should also delineate onboarding (introduction and welcome to the organization) from training (how the job gets done), as they likely happen in parallel.

And let’s not forget that the candidate experience sets the stage for onboarding — a smooth pass of the baton with consistency in messaging, sentiment and cadence is critical for a positive overarching experience.

If you’re interested in bettering your onboarding experience, here’s a breakdown of some tips and practices to help enhance this period of the employee journey.

Moving from candidate to employee

Technology is important: Confirm their required technology will be available and ready within the first hour of day one, including all supporting materials, peripherals, etc. In today’s day and age, working without the proper technology in hand doesn’t really work.

Ensure continued touchpoints: The time between when the offer is accepted and the start date could be a few weeks — don’t go silent on them. Stay connected and continue to reach out to keep them engaged and build excitement toward day one and what’s to come.

Remember, details matter: Set clear expectations on when to show up, where to park, the dress code, and what day one and week one will look like. If possible, assign them a mentor. Be thorough and clear and make sure the rest of the team knows they’re starting and are available to connect.

Think about workspace readiness: Identify their workspace and ensure it’s fully functional and welcoming. Preparation is key here. If they’re remote, think about the equipment they’ll need to create a functional space. If they’ll be reporting to a physical location, a welcome sign with some decorations can make the space even more welcoming on that first day.

Day-One Checklist

Dedicate time to connect: From the initial welcome, introduce them to the team and other colleagues and take them to lunch. Show your enthusiasm and ensure they have a rich, fulfilling day filled with engaging activities amidst necessary online enrollments and paperwork. Leveraging technology here to streamline the onboarding process, from education on benefits offerings and support in setting up direct deposit, can help make the transition seamless.

Provide the right tools: Ensure they have what they need, from technology to “swag” to help highlight the company culture — everyone likes a welcome gift (or two)!

Provide an onboarding overview: Set the stage with what the onboarding program will look like, what they can expect and specifically what training they will experience. Give them confidence in how you will equip them to be successful and drive the company’s positive culture.

Get started with training: Let them know what the job training schedule will be and ensure they have what they need to be successful to optimize ramp-up time. Technology is key here too; make sure your training modules are modern and streamlined where possible.

What to Do in the First Two Weeks

Make daily check-ins: Ask how they’re doing, offer support and answer any questions they may have, showing you care about their experience. Check-ins are also your opportunity to continue to get to know one another, including who they are as their whole selves and how you can create an environment where they can do their best work.

Arrange key stakeholder meet and greets: Set up time for them to meet other colleagues outside of your immediate team and learn about other parts of the business. These meet and greets can help drive a culture of openness and high engagement while giving your new hire exposure to a wide range of teams in the company.

Educate on company programs: Share information on affinity groups, or employee resource groups. Ensure benefits enrollment is complete and educate on other programs that help highlight the positive culture in your company and the resources available to them.

Discuss and plan for career growth: Don’t wait to talk about growth and development and how career planning works at your organization. This should happen early and often. It’s a key factor for candidates that doesn’t fade in importance once they start at a company.

Looking Ahead

Maintain frequent touch points: Relationship building takes time, and building trust is key. Determine together what the right frequency is and continue getting to know each other’s work styles. Identify areas where they excel and enjoy what they do (we call them “loves” in StandOut).

Coaching: Offer on-the-job support, investing time to sit with them and provide coaching and assistance. As leaders, how you treat them and work with them is so critical, not only to their long-term success but how your relationship will form and the trust they have in you will build from here.

Involvement: Encourage them to get involved in programs and offerings within your organization. Engagement happens in their roles, but it shines through in what they do across the organization in opportunities like stretch assignments. The more involved they become, the more engaged they are and ultimately the more fulfilled they are as employees.

Provide continued support: As leaders, so much of the job is providing support for your associates, removing obstacles in their way, and hearing their ideas on how we can be better in what we do. The support leaders provide will yield positive results for the employee and their work, as well as the rest of the team, function and organization. Give them space to think outside the box through the support you give.

Let’s face it – leaders have a lot on their plates. Many of the actions mentioned can be automated through personalized processes and workflows and new AI-driven technologies to help streamline the onboarding journey and allow managers to focus on the human touchpoints. As you move forward in onboarding, keep one thought as a guidepost – as your new hire connects with family over dinner and fields a question about their new job, move with intention so that the answer they’d likely share is the one you’d hope they share.

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