10 Best Practices to Improve Onboarding

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The long interviewing process is over. A great candidate has passed the background check and drug test with flying colors. The hard part’s done. Pat yourself on the back.

Actually you may want to postpone the celebration – at least until onboarding is complete. The process of welcoming your new superstar into the organization is critical; a poor onboarding experience may compel a new hire to bolt from even the most reputable employer. To prevent that, make your new employee’s onboarding experience as smooth, welcoming and productive as possible.

Here’s how:

1. Put yourself in the new hire’s shoes.

Remember what it’s like to be the new guy. Think about what you’d like to happen on your first day. Make it happen. Because a dissatisfied new hire will make you famous on the internet – and not in a good way.

2. Reach out and let your new employee know before the start date what’s going to happen next.

Don’t wait until the employee’s first day to acquaint him or her with your onboarding process. Communicate via email or phone – before the first day. Let him or her know these necessary details:

  • When and where to show up
  • How to dress
  • Whom he or she will be meeting with
  • Pay dates
  • Vacation and sick day policies

This will expedite the onboarding process.

3. Make sure immediate help is available to them.

That first day can be as scary and lonely as starting a new school. Remember how that felt? And in joining your organization, the candidate may be too overwhelmed to ask questions. Ask if the hiring manager or one of his/her staff can hang with the new employee to answer questions that pop up.

4. Don’t give them writer’s cramp on their first day.

The first day at work doesn’t have to be laden with paperwork. Provide the new employee with paperwork in advance. Doing so will expedite the process and reduce your new hire’s stress.

5. Create a checklist for internal processes that need to be done before the first day to ensure these are ready when the new employee arrives:
  • Employee computer and necessary software
  • Phone, email address, business cards, mobile business phones & other devices
  • ID badge, keys, parking pass, notepad, pens, scissors, and other office supplies
6. Make their first day special.

Offer a “Welcome to the team!” greeting card signed by the department. A 60-second “welcome” video from the CEO or VP of HR may be a great investment and used repeatedly for all new hires (great ROI!). Such attention to detail can further improve your company’s brand.

7. Explain your company’s computer network(s)

Many organizations forget to explain their systems and networks. Have an authority such as an IT Manager show the new employee where on the network they can find things they’ll need:

  • Materials required for their work – spreadsheets, sales & marketing materials, etc.
  • HR forms, how to handle sick days, vacation requests
  • Printer locations
  • Where/how to fax/copy/print materials
  • Required security codes
  • Explanation of phone system, email system & calendar

The sooner your new employee knows where to find and how to use the resources they need, the sooner they’ll succeed.

8. Keep the process organized.

Schedule training classes and reserve conference rooms as necessary. Keep the schedule organized and tight, but with room for flexibility if things change. Doing so will ensure all bases are covered as well as demonstrate your company’s professionalism to the new hire.

9. Tell them about training they’ll be receiving.

If your new hire will be required to attend training courses, share the individual’s curriculum with him or her as soon as possible so he or she will know what’s going to be expected.

The more information the new team member has from the outset, the more prepared he or she will be. And that’ll make you look good.

10. Solicit feedback to further improve your program.

The more information you can reasonably derive from a new employee about the onboarding experience, the better equipped you’ll be to improve it. Ask what could have been done better. Let the new employee know how important his or her input is. You’ll not only gain insight to possibly modify and improve your onboarding process but foster an attitude of mutual respect, frankness and openness.

Joining a new company for what will hopefully be a long-term and mutually beneficial partnership is a critical first step in your employee’s career with your organization. Plan it with care so it’s a smooth and comfortable experience, and watch both your new employee and your company flourish.


Lewis Lustman

Lewis Lustman is a content marketer who enjoys developing materials that engage, inform, challenge, and hopefully entertain my audience. Lewis is a former journalist for Los Angeles Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, and has worked for a number of leading advertising, marketing, technology, and PR firms over the years. Interested in a topic that he hasn't yet tackled? Drop him a line in the comments section!

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