How to Onboard New Employees

Recruiting Guide Home > Bonus Chapter 11

Best Way to Onboard a New Employee

In an ideal world, the top talent you hire will stay with the organization for the long run. You’ve put a lot of thought and work into the hire. You’ve followed best practices and recruiting rules. You’ve worked hard to make sure the hire is a good fit. Of course they should stay.

So what could go wrong? In an ideal world, nothing.

Unfortunately, we do not live in an ideal world. Today’s marketplace is intensely competitive. For top professionals, opportunities abound. This is why finding a top-notch candidate is not the same as keeping one.

In this section, you will learn the secrets of keeping your hires for the long run.

Employee Retention Through Effective Orientation and Onboarding

Recruitment is a costly affair – Not just in terms of money, but also in terms of time and manpower. Yes, the expenses are high. Yes, the work is hard. But the benefits of finding and hiring the right employees far outweigh the costs.

So what happens when employees leave midway – or worse yet, early on?

Losses do happen. Employee turnover is costlier than both recruitment and retention. Statistically, 22% of turnover takes place within the first 45 days of recruitment. Up to 25% of new hires leave within the first year of employment. For about 16% of the new hires, turnover comes within the first week.

Why are all these people leaving? If you have spent enough time, money, and resources to ensure the right people are hired for the right roles, the employees who leave aren’t a bad fit for your company or their position in it. Why the turnover, then? So soon into the employment, no less!

Well-hired employees may leave for two reasons: 1) A bad orientation period, or 2) poor management of expectations.

Your company’s HR absolutely needs to ensure that employees start off on the right foot once hired. Good, well-founded, and effective orientation plus onboarding is the key to lowering turnover and keeping top talent.

Is proper orientation really that important?

Yes. Proper orientation really is that important.

Why? Simply put: First impressions lead to lasting expressions. A good orientation will instill confidence in your new hires and give them the motivation they need to be successful within your company. A good orientation will involve them in your organization from the get-go.

That’s not all, though. Proper orientation helps you and the organization in numerous other ways.

Let’s look at the top five benefits of good, effective, and proper orientation.

Diminished Turnover – The clearest benefit of proper orientation is minimal turnover. When combined with onboarding, orientation equips new hires to work and love your organization. Orientation introduces new hires to knowledge, on-the-job skills, motivation, camaraderie, and more. In fact, this combination is the key to keeping top talent within your organization.

Shorter Time-to-Productivity – Time-to-productivity is directly tied to your ROI on the new hire. The earlier your new hire can perform their assigned tasks, the higher your ROI. With effective and efficient orientation on day one, you can bring the new hire up to speed quickly and easily. With a solid onboarding process, you can ensure new recruits are on a path to top-notch performance.

Increased Productivity – An effective orientation and onboarding process provides a boost to your base level of productivity. It helps new hires understand what is expected of them in terms of the intended job role. This type of training and empowerment can result in new hires quickly meeting expectations.

This is, in part, because the new hires understand how their performance will be measured. That understanding places them in a better position to meet – and possibly exceed – expectations. Effective onboarding also helps new hires realize their potential, which can further boost productivity.

Higher Engagement – Good orientation and onboarding effectively embeds or integrates new hires into an organization. It provides them with an understanding of the organization on a deeper level. This includes its mission, values, culture, vision, and behavior. This understanding can help employees feel like they are a part of the organization from the get-go.

Integration into the company plays a key role in socializing your new top talent among existing employees and erasing any doubt or anxiety new hires may have. They should not feel or act like outsiders in their own organization.

Once engagement sets in, the chances of turnover greatly decrease. It should also be noted that higher engagement lays the groundwork for higher loyalty. Higher loyalty, in turn, effectively eliminates the threat of imminent turnover.

Improved Morale – Proper orientation and onboarding can have an impact on employee morale and work culture. Simply put: Better onboarding is better for everyone.

On top of that, investing in orientation and onboarding is proof that your organization values employees. Many organizations claim to do this, but backing it up with proof is another matter entirely.

To make the immersion of new hires a smooth and beneficial process, enlist the help of others, such as present employees, managers, or company leaders. At the end of the day. onboarding will benefit all involved and help spur relationship-building in the workplace.

Employees, both new and old, will see how much your company does to make employees feel valued. The older ones may remember their own time as new hires when the company had done just as much to make them feel involved on their first day. This creates overall positive sentiments about your organization and boosts loyalty even further.

To summarize, proper orientation has many benefits. These include reduced turnover, reduced time-to-productivity, and higher productivity. Faster engagement, increased loyalty, and improved morale are also benefits.

All of these produce tangible or financial benefits and help mitigate actual business risks. In short, they have a direct impact on your bottom line!

So what exactly is proper orientation, and how do you execute it?

Proper orientation answers questions, manages expectations and immerses new hires in their new roles – all from day one.

Proper orientation, however, is not a stand-alone event. It is the first (and most crucial) part of a large and extended onboarding process. This process starts well before the new hire joins and can last anywhere between six and 12 months. The key to executing the proper orientation lies in its planning.

Basics of Orientation-Planning

There is a lot to cover here, so it’s best to divide orientation-planning into two key phases: Planning tasks that happen before the orientation day, and tasks that happen on the orientation day.

Ideally, your team should start work immediately after the new hire accepts the position. This will help prevent unnecessary rushing on your end.

Before the Orientation Day

One – Start by planning for, and preparing, the paperwork for the new employee. This will often include a copy of their contract and a copy of their long-form job description. It will also include any documents or reports they may need regarding their new position. Check your employee handbook to ensure it’s up-to-date. Be sure to create additional copies.

Two – Contact the candidate via phone or email to share vital information about the first day. This information could include when and where they must be on their first day, or to whom they must report. Discuss any arrival logistics as well to ensure they have a smooth first commute to the office. Confirm the dress code (if applicable) and provide other critical details.

Three – Decide on a workspace for the new hire. Equip the workspace with necessary furniture, hardware, and office supplies. Make sure everything is in proper working condition to give off a good first impression.

Four – Add the name and position of the new hire to all organizational lists, including the telephone directory and/or website directory. You may also need to set up an email account, phone extension, or business cards.

Five – Create a framework and timeline for the month-long onboarding process. For this, you will need to decide on what tasks the new employee will perform their first day. In addition, you will need to make additional arrangements for the day to run smoothly. To help with this, set up a team for the orientation. Make sure to clearly lay out the specific roles and responsibilities of each team member.

Six – Inform all relevant personnel about your new hire. This might include co-workers, supervisors, team leaders, managers, and board members. Communicate the name, position, and start date of the new hire.

On the Orientation Day

One – Be prepared to meet the new hire promptly when they report at the reception. Do not keep them waiting, as it sends the wrong message and dilutes their enthusiasm.

Two – Give them a tour of the office. During the tour, make introductions with co-workers, mentors, supervisors, team leaders, and managers. Be sure to point out facilities such as the mail room, lunchroom, restrooms, and fax machine.

Three – Conduct a one-on-one session with the new hire so you can get to know them better. Do not ask any serious or intrusive questions at this stage.

Four – Follow up that session with a review of the key human resources and administration procedures. Cover topics related to pay and benefits, leaves and vacations, travel, and so on. Walk the new hire through the employee policies and programs as well.

Five – Next, provide an overview of the organization, including the chain of command. Make use of an organizational chart and hand them a copy if needed. Talk about the mission, vision, values, and other aspects critical to your organization’s culture.

Six – Use this session to review the new employee’s job role and responsibilities as well. At this stage, you may use the long-form job description to explain tasks and expected outcomes. Highlight how the work relates to other roles or departments within the organization; this will help the new hire value the importance of their role.

Seven – In addition, discuss the internal communication process and flow. Don’t forget to include details about staff meetings, and so on. Identify both short- and long-term work expectations.

Eight – Review general expectations and the company’s schedule. Include important topics such as job start and finish times, lunch times, breaks, and so on. Dress code, workplace behavior, and other do’s and don’t’s should be communicated here if they haven’t already been clarified.

Nine – Invite the new employee to ask questions or to communicate their own expectations of the job.

Ten – Complete the legal, security, and paperwork requirements.

Eleven – Assign a team member to invite the new employee to lunch with the rest of the team. If possible, have the new hire’s team members treat them to lunch.

Twelve – Lastly, schedule a quick session for the new hire to meet their immediate supervisor. This should be done on the first day so that the new hire can start off with meaning to their work. If this is not possible on the first day, schedule this as soon as you can. Have the supervisor (or mentor) communicate the roles and responsibilities of the new hire. If available, an outline of the learning and development plan can be helpful. Make sure to review the performance measurement and management system.

The most important thing to keep in mind on the day of the orientation is making the new hire feel at-ease and welcome. Orientation day is a day of apprehension, much speculation, and an overload of information. You want to make sure that the new employee feels optimistic about their time with the company.

When conveying serious or sensitive information, the right tone is important. Aim to be effective, yet cordial. Make your tone too strict, and your new employee will end up feeling restricted, even trapped. Make it too friendly, and they may underestimate the importance of the information.

You don’t want to your organization to seem like it’s imposing a never-ending list of rules and regulations. No one likes that. But neither do you want your organization to seem lax or negligent. After all, rules, behaviors, and performance expectations do matter.

After the Orientation Day

The first day of orientation should be followed with effective and ongoing engagement. This, of course, will occur through a broader onboarding process.

There are numerous benefits to this approach. For one, it saves the employee from feeling overwhelmed by the information overload. For another, it helps you nurture the new employee over time. Duties, roles, and responsibilities can be gradually added at a manageable pace.

In addition, a drawn-out onboarding process helps you make the best of the new hires’ learning curves. You can monitor performance, measure results, review experience of the new hire, and more. All of this will enable you to make changes to the process,and achieve the best results possible.

How long should onboarding continue?

There is no definitive answer to this question. Ideally, onboarding should continue until the new hire is fully immersed in their role.

Onboarding can be grouped into three stages. The first stage is week one, followed by month one, and rounding out with the first 90 days.

Since you have only recruited top talent, onboarding until the first 90 days should be sufficient.

Onboarding: The First Week

The first week is the most vital period of onboarding.

Why? Because it sets the stage for future experience and expectations.

The focus at this stage is to integrate the new employee among the rest of the organization. This is done through – you guessed it – work.

During this week, the mentor or the supervisor should focus on communicating company expectations. The expectations should be stated in terms of duties performed, rather than in results obtained.

Discuss management styles and decision-making processes during this time, as well. The new hire’s supervisor or immediate manager should initiate these discussions.

Onboarding: The First Month

By the end of the first month, new employees should have settled into their initial job roles. At this point, you should introduce performance measurement metrics into the picture.

Focus on clearly stating company expectations in terms of results obtained. Set the stage for cross-functional orientation and guide the new employee towards relationship-building. The new hire should be put in teams or work groups that make them interact with co-workers increasingly often.

Ensure that the new hire is completely familiar with the organizational structure at this stage. At minimum, they should be aware of their departmental structure. Familiarity with the mission, vision, values, and basic workplace protocols is also necessary.

Ensure that they are completely familiar with the organizational structure.  At minimum, they should be aware of their departmental structure. Familiarity with the mission, vision, values, and basic workplace protocols is also necessary.

Onboarding: The First 90 Days

By the end of 90 days, the new employee should have reached their time-to-productivity. If they have surpassed it, that’s even better!

Performance assessment and feedback is critical here. Both should have begun by the end of the first month. Depending on the new hire, this may be the time to add large deliverables. Doing so will challenge them, albeit modestly.

Make it your goal to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the new hire by the end of the second month via monitoring and measuring their performance levels.

Towards the start of the third month, you should be able to recognize the new hire’s strengths. Then, you should brainstorm how to maximize those strengths. This should, of course, be communicated to the employee. In addition, personalized goals to improve weaknesses should be crafted.

By the end of the first trimester, you should recognize exactly what value the new hire adds to your company. Focus on this specific value and help them build confidence in their work, if they do not already have it.

Towards the 90-day mark, your new hire should both understand their role and recognize how they contribute to the company’s success. If the onboarding has been planned correctly, by day 90, the employee’s confidence and ability will have increased.

Regular performance reviews, meetings, and ongoing guidance will help keep the new hire positive. It will also help keep them on track and feel valued.

Small Business Recruiting Guide Home > Bonus Chapter 11

Additional Resources on How to Onboard New Employees