With timelines tight and resources stretched, downtime is something few businesses can afford. Given this, you’d think senior managers would be doing everything they can to ensure new hires are integrated into their team as quickly and smoothly as possible. Sadly, experience often suggests otherwise, with many companies guilty of leaving new staff members to largely fend for themselves.
A contract is the beginning, not the end.
It’s amazing how many businesses devote considerable energy and resources to finding great candidates, only to subsequently let their new team member flounder due to a poor onboarding experience. It’s a major issue that can affect everything from productivity and morale to your customer relationships. Sometimes the new hire can also end up leaving – sending you back to square one.
What is ‘onboarding’?
According to Strategic Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest HR professional society, onboarding is: “The process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team.”
It starts from the very first moment you connect with a candidate, be that a phone call, a face-to-face interview or even just an email. The process then continues AT LEAST until the candidate is well settled into your team. Ideally, there should really be no specific end to onboarding of course, because learning and growth should never stop.
Why is onboarding so important?
An effective onboarding process ensures new team members are able to start performing the role you employed them to do as quickly and productively as possible. Beyond obvious things like ensuring their workspace is ready, introducing them to colleagues and clients and setting them up with all the necessary IT and security credentials, it’s also essential to clearly outline your company culture, policies and procedures, regulations and OH&S requirements. This way they’ll know exactly what to expect from the company, and what the company expects from them. Clarity is everything.
How do you do it?
If you’re looking to set up, or refine, an onboarding strategy, a great place to start is by speaking with your current employees. How did they find their onboarding experience? How did it help them? Where could it have been better? Did they even have one?! This allows you to reinforce the good things, improve the not-so-good things and, of course, fill the gaps. When it comes to implementing the actual onboarding process itself, typically there will be a lead ‘mentor’ allocated for every new hire. It’s their job to direct the process, calling in other relevant team members (e.g. IT and Finance) as and when required.
Make it formal
However you decide to structure your onboarding process, the key is to formalise it. Ideally it should be clearly documented in a step-to-step format that’s available to all managers and employees in a printed and/or digital form. Then insist it’s followed for all new hires.
It’s also a good idea to ensure new employees are not only taken through each step, but that you keep a formal record to confirm they have, preferably dated and signed by both the new team member and their mentor.
Interested in structuring a better onboarding experience for your team?
Contact ELR Executive today.