Let’s call it what it is, employee on-boarding is just another fancy schmancy name for new hire orientation.
Though the term has been re-coined and spun to sound like it’s something new, it’s the same old process through which new employees are recruited, processed and trained. A typical on boarding program should include inviting an applicant for interview, and end with an offer letter and confirmation of start date. However, once new employees start their first week, this process changes drastically by organization.
The biggest question to answer when planning an on-boarding program: Who is responsible for the new people? Is it HR? Their manager? Their Trainer?
The answer is simple: All of the above.
HR, Managers and Trainers must each be held equally as accountable for the development of new employees. However, while it is the responsibility of HR and Managers to determine the correct processes and systems important to the success of each employee, it is the Trainer’s responsibility to ensure they are developed and taught to each employee.
So even though, new hire orientation is not a new concept, the definition of on-boarding should be expanded to:
The acts through which employees gain knowledge, and the necessary skills and behaviors to develop into successful and productive employees
With this in mind, a successful on-boarding process should be at least 6- 12 months long.
Before an official on-boarding program is created, employers (HR, Managers, Trainers, and Organization Leaders) should take the time to answer these questions:
Studies show that more than 80% of the highest performing organizations have an on-boarding process that starts before the first day on the job. Are you apart of that statistic? If not, here are some ways to welcome your new hires with style and class-
- Create a new hire portal and share it with your new employee once the ink has dried on the offer letter. Examples of what each employee should find in the portal:
- Other things to include in portal:
- Letter/Video from their new manager welcoming them to the team
- Content designed to engage prepare them for the first day
- Pictures, videos of the team and team activities
- Glossary of most frequent terms used by employees
A tip on creating content:
Video is always better.
Now it’s time for the first day. Going into this as an employer, there are a few things you should know and commit to memory as an unchangeable truth.
Your new hire is not 100% sure they want to stay at your company long term. Your new employee is not even 50% sure at this time. It is your duty to make sure that by the end of the on-boarding process, your new employee has been converted. What you do on the first day of the on-boarding process goes a long way to ensure your new employee’s loyalty.
The purpose of Day 1 is twofold. HR needs to align new employees with the objectives of their new position, trainers need both set and communicate expectations and managers need to reinforce both objectives and expectations. This is the only day you will have to impress and leave a lasting impression on your new employee, by Day 2, it’s already too late.
If your employee goes home unsure about the people or the organization, that feeling may become subdued, but it does not go away.
Social interaction is also crucial on Day 1. New employees need to be able to mingle and build rapport with their team, as well as, the leaders of the organization. This sends the message he/she is important and that company leaders care about each employee. Allowing opportunities for social interaction among other employees, also gives them a chance to start orienting themselves to the culture of the organization.
Humans want to belong, we seek opportunities to become a part of a greater whole, it is a survival mechanism, and one of the reasons why groves of people move major metropolitan areas each year. New employees need the opportunity to socially negotiate their status within an organization’s culture and giving them the chance to interact socially, does just that.
A few things need to happen at the one month mark:
- HR needs to step in as well as managers to ensure that the employee is comfortable, happy and well-adjusted. HR must determine if all their needs are met and discuss any feedback the new employee may have thus far.
- Managers must also take the time to meet with each new employee at the end of the first month to realign he/she to company objectives and the expectations established on Day 1.
At the 3 – 6 month mark, HR should make an effort to check back in with the new employee. At this point, the employee should be fully acclimated to the organization and this meeting helps to get any additional necessary paperwork completed. Benefits should be reviewed at this meeting, as well as, a temperature gauge taken to determine if the employee has any issues with fitting in to the organization culture. The purpose here is to show the employee that he/she is not just a warm seat, and that his/her happiness is important to the organization.
The success of your new employee can be causally related to how he/she feels about the job and whether or not he/she feels they are just a number or an integral part of the organization.
During this time frame, the trainer should be phased out and the manager should be working more closely with the new employee to further coaching and development.
At the one year mark, barring any gross and unacceptable behaviors of the new employee, you should be able to determine whether or not the employee will be a success in the position. It’s important to note that most organizations rarely extend the on-boarding process this long, but depending on the position this should be more necessary than not.
How can you tell? Well ask yourself, how multifaceted are the duties of the position? Is it as simple as moving the robot, or does the employee need to understand several moving parts as well as perform them in order to be successful? The more complex the position is, the longer the on-boarding process should be.
At the end of the first year, the on-boarding process should transition to an employee retention and satisfaction program and as you will see in my next post, even that should have its own coaching and development program. Instead of start to finish, to turn skeptic employees to evangelists, your on-boarding process must be seamless from “start to continuous development.”
So how SHOULD you end the conversation after the first year? Simple.
“So, let’s talk about compensation…”