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How to Successfully Onboard New Employees

Given the huge effort and expense devoted to sourcing and attracting talent, it is sometimes surprising to see how little attention is paid to playing in new starters. All too often it is a case of ‘sink or swim’, which is none too smart given current challenges in recruitment.

Successful organizations invest resources to position employees for success; it’s a more effective approach than having to find the resources to deal with lost productivity and turnover. Actively helping newly hired staff transition into their roles is crucial if you want to get the full benefit of your hiring efforts quickly.

One of the big problems with induction programmes is that they treat onboarding as a checklist of activities when it should be an integrated process of engagement and involvement.

Don’t assume that new starters have the relevant social skills and business understanding to tap into your culture and network independently. Invest time in introducing recruits to their new environment and offer initial support and a framework for learning.

Clarity of purpose is key

You probably started the recruitment exercise with a comprehensive job description and supplemented that with a carefully crafted person specification. Your candidates probably interviewed with the line manager and, ideally, met other members of the team. In the real world though, when your recruit takes their seat, the pieces don’t always fall into place easily.

‘Unrealistic expectations’ is the most often cited reason employees given when they resign. When organizing onboarding programmes it’s a good idea to address more than job conditions and rewards; include performance expectations so that your newly hired staff starts with a realistic perspective of what is expected of them in terms of performance objectives.

Failure is often the result of new recruits either misunderstanding the demands of the role or a lack of the skill and agility in adapting to the new situation. The first can be avoided with a good induction design and the second can usually be overcome with coaching or mentoring. The best new hires will have a learning process to go through to meet the required level of job proficiency for their new role.

An effective induction should be tailored as much as possible for each role and should start with an assessment that identifies what is most relevant to the situation. If you rush the process without a good understanding of the issues likely to confront newly hired staff your risk hampering their achievement of key performance indicators.

Positive and productive

A positive onboarding experience which is relevant, timely, and meaningful will engage recruits as quickly and effectively as possible so that they feel comfortable in their new roles. The better you can facilitate their adjustment the sooner you will see results – confidence, performance, retention, perceived fit, job satisfaction, and engagement.

This is what the CIPD has to say: “Managers need to invest time in inducting new employees to help them settle in, become productive more quickly and to help prevent them from leaving within their first six months in the job. We recommend using a ‘buddy’ system to provide support more informally to help new employees settle in”.

Successful onboarding improves retention and promotes long-term organizational success. Helping new employees become proficient makes them more valuable to the organization. The key to achieving this is a good orientation process that uses a structured approach to build a more productive, engaged, loyal workforce who contribute to and reach organizational goals more successfully.

Top tips for successful onboarding:

Engage with new hires to support them in learning their new roles and navigating your culture and context.
Allow new hires to use time in asking questions and learning their way around.
Help new recruits build a big picture perspective by encouraging participation in organizational events and identify colleagues and stakeholders who can help recruits establish positive relationships.

Source: The Undercover