Just as communication at the beginning of a marriage can indicate if it will end in divorce, the foundation established early on with a new hire is crucial to productivity, engagement and retention.
About 80% of organizations say they offer some form of onboarding program—either formal or informal—according to a new Society for Human Resource(SHRM) survey. However, many employers use passive onboarding procedures that simply cover a checklist of unrelated items.
Studies show that comprehensive onboarding programs yield the best results if they cover these five areas: clarification, connection, culture, compliance and check back. Here are some key elements of each area:
Pair each new employee with a mentor or coach who can offer advice on job duties and company culture. Mentors can answer questions that new employees hesitate to ask managers. Studies show that new hires with mentors get up to speed on organizations faster than newbies without such assistance.
Ensure that new employees understand their jobs and performance expectations. Within the first 60 days, managers should schedule a check-in meeting with new employees (see box below).
Help employees network and establish relationships within the organization. Most employees start this on Day One, some even before.
Schedule team-building exercises and luncheons between new employees and their co-workers. Hold a quarterly CEO reception and dinner with new employees to cover the organization’s strategy and fiscal goals.
Extend onboarding programs beyond a few days or a week. For example, during the first several months, include brief rotating assignments to expose new employees to different parts of the organization.
Include speeches or videos of managers and executives discussing company history, values and organization culture. Follow up with roundtable discussions so new employees can ask questions about organization culture.
Explain the basic organization policies and rules, including employee handbooks, nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies, security procedures, IT policies and at-will employment. Don’t just slide a handbook to them and say, “Read this.”
5. Check back
More than a quarter (28%) of employers collect little or no feedback from new hires about their onboarding program. And 39% do only “occasional” spot checks. The best onboarding programs are being constantly evaluated by new hires.
Example: An Indiana university sends each new hire a survey asking 20 questions about his or her welcome, including:
- How would you rate your treatment at the HR office?
- Did you feel welcomed?
- Was your work area ready for your arrival?
- What are some things you learned “the hard way” during your first month that we should tell other new employees?