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Insight: Onboarding is gateway to engagement

January 24, 2017
Borderless Leadership

How do organizations welcome new employees into their established workforce?

Does the new hire come to an empty workstation with a first day filled with overwhelming paperwork and orientation videos, or is there a deliberate and well thought out plan for setting expectations, explaining duties, social integration, offering training and development and providing feedback?

Effective “onboarding” in today’s hiring process is often given far too little attention in many organizations. Unfortunately, it is often rushed and new employees are left to thrash through it alone and frustrated. After the grueling recruitment and hiring, many managers are anxious to disperse the workload that accumulated during the position vacancy. In too many cases, efforts to acclimate the new hire into the culture fall short of best practices. If not handled properly, onboarding can be a tenuous time for both the new employee and the manager.

Whether it is a good experience or a poor one, onboarding establishes the first impressions of the company and its culture. It should be viewed as a critical means to establish a relationship with the new employee and set him or her up for success by introducing skills and behaviors that are expected within the organization. More than just a few days or weeks, onboarding should be a process that is tactically planned and transpires throughout the new hire’s first year. That time is needed to continuously communicate with the new employee on important policies, procedures and goals, and listen to his or her ideas and strategies.

Most new hires are highly engaged when they start a new role. Effective onboarding can channel this enthusiasm. Companies should take a look at their current onboarding processes and evaluate what is effective and what is not. Ask the questions: How much time is spent with onboarding? Who are the people that are involved? Do the people involved really understand their role in welcoming the new employee? Is it strategically planned and considered a priority?

An effective onboarding process includes three components:

Creating Connections

With the introduction of a new employee, there is a need to understand the inner workings of the position and company. Beyond the policies and procedures are social norms of the department that have a significant impact on integration. Provide opportunities for new hires to socialize and connect with others. Instead of a whirlwind of “meet and greets” during the first couple days, schedule time for veteran employees to have some quality time getting to know the new hire. Be precise on how other jobs relate to the new hire’s position, what are the job duties of those positions, and the level of expected interaction with coworkers. The manager should be readily available with an open-door policy and plan for plenty of informal check-ins that can taper down as time progresses.

Integrating into the Culture

Onboarding is an opportunity to really showcase the organization’s culture. This is where the employee is going to be able to see how important the “people factor” is. Think beyond the person’s first few days on the job. Providing continuous opportunities to connect the employee to the mission of the organization and illuminating how those efforts contribute to the organization will harness the eagerness that comes with starting a new position. Coaching, training, ongoing support, setting expectations and collaborative goal setting have a powerful impact on new hire satisfaction and ultimately employee retention.

Providing Clarity on Role

Employees should be able to directly relate to how their job aligns with the company’s mission statement. New hires should not be left wondering how they fit in to the organization or what duties are expected of them. Assigning a project that the new hire can begin working on immediately will illustrate the impact the role has on the organization. Clearly explain responsibilities as well as the appraisal and recognition process. Then provide the resources needed for success. This process should also include introductions to outside organizations if the position requires networking with external contacts. And don’t be hesitant to celebrate the successes and contributions from the very beginning!

Employers need to protect their investment of time and money spent during the recruiting process by having a dynamic onboarding plan in place. In order to have engaged, resilient teams, there is crucial need to welcome and prepare new employees to do their jobs very well and set them on the path to real success.

By Traci Beeson

Source: Argus Leader

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