The following information is from an interview with Molly Kelley, Human Resource Business Partner at Xenium.
We tend not to think of it this way, but onboarding a new employee begins before their first day on the job – it starts with the interview. This is when the employee first learns about their role and responsibilities, what they can achieve, and whether their values align with the company.
Define a Process
Whether it’s a formal or informal process, taking the time to properly welcome a new employee through an onboarding program proves to them that their success is valued.
A formal process may work well for some organizations as it provides a step by step guide to assure new employees gain all information necessary at the appropriate time in the process. An example of a company that this works well for is IBM, which has a three step Assimilation Process (ABC) – 1) Affirming 2) Beginning 3) Connecting. This process lasts throughout the entire first year of their employment and it is then that they are considered fully integrated.
With a less formal process, it is still important to determine who has ownership of the onboarding. Ideally the hiring manager owns the process because that is likely to be the primary relationship throughout their employment. Regardless of who manages the process, there should be an understanding within the organization that everyone is accountable for proper onboarding – giving the new hire a proper welcome, and making it known that they are available as a resource should the new hire need anything.
“Onboarding tends to be a one-way street – this is who we are, this is what we expect of you, here is what will happen if you don’t meet our expectations.”
Molly suggests encouraging a two-way street of communication throughout the onboarding process to gain insight about who they are and what their strengths and skills are. Conversations like this uncover the value the new hire brings to the organization and allows the manager to provide learning opportunities for them to grow and develop.
Convey Your Culture
“The reality is we spend 9-10 hours a day with our coworkers. It’s important to have solid relationships behind that.”
Culture is conveyed through company values, Senior Leadership, employees and the relationships and communication present throughout. Creating the opportunity for a new hire to interact with a team helps them to build relationships while immersing them in the culture.
Quite a few Xenium clients are adopting this approach, and some have created a formal onboarding process that occurs at least once per month, which includes an hour lunch with the Vice President, Directors or Owners to welcome all new employees. Although it can be challenging to set this time aside, it is an effective way to set a precedent that it is important to welcome new employees.
When a company has a mentoring program it should be introduced early in the onboarding process as a way for the employee to build relationships while learning more about the company, culture, and career opportunities.
“Often once an employee hits the 90 day mark, managers think they are done with their onboarding process and that the employee is off and running with no further need of support.”
On the contrary, this is when the employee finally feels settled into their job and begins thinking about what comes next – what they can learn, what projects they can work on and what impact they can make on the organization. The onboarding process may be over, but the communication continues throughout the entirety of the employment relationship. Early on, managers should be checking in with the employee to make sure they understand their job and that the initial conversations around the job description match with what they are doing on a daily basis. When an employee is unclear about their expectations, performance is likely to suffer. Employees crave opportunities to learn and develop, so having consistent conversations around their goals is important to helping them succeed.
Other Ideas for Successful Onboarding:
- Send new hire paperwork to the employee to complete before their first day so that process is not what they walk into on their first day. Instead, find a way to connect them with the company culture as the first activity upon arriving on their first day.
- Contact the employee beforehand to find out what they would like their username and password to be for IT purposes. Have their manager, team or Company President send a welcoming email as the first item in their new inbox.
- Stock the employee’s desk with office supplies.
- Take the employee on a tour and introduce them to all employees – including Senior Leadership. Organize a lunch if time permits.
- Spend time going over the job description and clarifying any questions.
- Encourage open and ongoing communication.
Additional Resource: On an employee’s first day, allow them time to complete an “About Me” page to be saved in their employee file. Managers can use this information to introduce the new employee to the rest of the team and to recognize them in the most meaningful throughout their employment. Get started by downloading our “About Me” template!