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All too often, this is the onboarding process new employees face: It starts with an awkward walk around the office, where they’re put on display and overwhelmed in the process. If they’re lucky, there’s a desk ready for them at the end of it, and if they’re really lucky, a computer. Then the new hire is left on their own to complete all of the required paperwork and training — and to hope someone remembers to check on them before lunch.
Research confirms that this experience is sadly common. According to Gallup, only 12 percent of employees think their organization does an “excellent” job of employee onboarding. The challenges they cite include a lack of participation from current employees; an inability to track effectiveness; and programs that are too short, don’t reflect the company culture or fail to show a path to the future for new hires.
So, how do we fix this mess? Here are four ways to improve your onboarding process and engage both new and existing employees:
Make it a group effort
Onboarding isn’t exclusive to the human resources (HR) or talent acquisition departments, though many employees see it this way. At the same time, HR can’t expect other departments to understand their role without giving some guidance. Before a new hire joins, brief their team-to-be about what employee onboarding entails and what role they will play.
Offer resources to reinforce the process; even something as simple as a checklist can give employees a reference point for what needs to happen when. Include milestones along the way: For example, the week before they start, make sure their desk and equipment get set up. On day one, deliver a welcome kit. During their second month, sit down and talk about career development, mentorship and coaching; and so on. Providing this ahead of the new hire’s start date helps bridge any gaps, developing a stronger program that involves everyone.
Onboard for 100 days (at least)
Repeat after me: onboarding isn’t one and done. Offering to take an employee out to lunch on their first day isn’t going to guarantee their loyalty to the organization weeks, months and years down the road. Allow employees to onboard over 100 days or more — learning from their colleagues, absorbing information in meetings, getting up to speed on strategy and solutions and observing what’s happening around them.
Trust me: You don’t want them to make any big decisions their first week. They don’t know your organization yet; they don’t even know anyone’s name. Onboarding new hires slowly gives them room to breathe — and will work in your HR department’s favor, helping them assess employees on the job.
Throughout onboarding (and employees’ tenure, for that matter), seek to deliver “micro-experiences” whenever and wherever possible. Rather than lumping new hires together in generic training courses, consider alternate methods that personalize the content and make it memorable.
The same goes for learning and development. A PowerPoint isn’t enough to help employees retain what…