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How Onboarding Can Set the Tone for a Positive Employee Experience

Angela Ash
How Onboarding Can Set the Tone for a Positive Employee Experience

Proper onboarding procedures can make or break a business. This fact has been increasingly recognized recently and, with the rise of new technologies, has evolved dramatically.

Typically, onboarding is seen as a set of fixed steps that outline job responsibilities, duties, schedules, and payment information, submitting job requisition documents, providing devices and tools to new hires, gathering the forms new employees need to fill out, and setting up accounts and logins for new hires.

However, this rigid approach isn’t nearly sufficient to ensure that new hires can fit in and feel welcome. That’s why it’s recommended to schedule orientation sessions early on and get new employees to mingle.

We’ll hereby discuss the most important aspects of how to ensure that new and transfer hires are satisfied with their jobs.

Onboarding SOPs

Everything said and done, onboarding is a massive undertaking. Setting standard operating procedures (SOPs) is, hence, highly recommended.

Typically, SOPs define which training materials to provide; these can vary from documents to instructional videos and online training programs.

Also typically, all of these deal with job responsibilities. They rarely take into account soft skills and cross-cultural training.

That is the first tip: include soft-skill sessions in your onboarding SOPs.

Customization Rules Supreme

SOPs should serve to define the entire onboarding process. However, keeping in mind that people are different, it’s also recommended to customize the programs to allow for individual differences and aspirations.

First of all, HR teams should understand new hires, their roles, backgrounds, and skills. Based upon this, they should proceed to identify key information. As mentioned above, job descriptions and company policies are typically communicated early on, but you should also consider department-specific information, and compliance (if applicable).

Now we come to the customizable part. While onboarding training usually adheres to a template, HR teams should edit them to fit key information. Each section needs to be relevant to the specific role and department.

Next on, keep in mind that different people learn in different ways, so think about formats. The best approach usually involves a balanced mix of written documents, videos, interactive e-learning modules, and in-person presentations (doesn’t apply to remote teams, so coming up with a viable approach for the latter is also of importance).

Personalize the details. Insert the hire's name and other relevant information to show your dedication and respect. Also, make sure to highlight organizational culture, values, vision, and mission. This can be done in various ways; some ideas include stories, testimonials, and examples.

For best results, ensure that onboarding materials are engaging (preferably, interactive as well). Use graphics, images, and infographics to make the training fun.

Finally, new hires should be able to access the onboarding materials seamlessly. This can be done by deploying learning management systems, physical copies, or a company intranet, for example.

Picture the Bright Future Ahead

Onboarding new employees implies more than communicating the basics. The focus should be on building trust. That’s why letting new hires know what to expect in the future is a good strategy.

To begin with, make sure to communicate career growth and development opportunities during the initial stages of onboarding. Better still, dedicate a section of the materials to the company's career development plans. Include potential career paths, job levels, and advancement opportunities.

To level up the approach, schedule personalized one-on-one career discussions as well. There, new hires can communicate their career aspirations and goals.

Explain how the company supports employee skill development. Present opportunities for continual education, workshops, and certifications, where applicable.

Introduce New Hires to Key Staff

Introducing new hires to key staff is one of the most important aspects of the onboarding process. The most obvious benefit of the practice is that newcomers will foster a sense of belonging, but there are other benefits to the practice as well.

E.g., new hires will build connections faster and gain a better understanding of the company culture in this way. Shortly put, early engagement is crucial for addressing employee retention, which is a huge issue for many businesses.

Promote Mentorship

No matter how stellar onboarding training may be, new hires are often lost in translation. It is essential to focus on helping them out in the beginning, as different people may face different obstacles.

The best way to ensure a smooth transition is to assign a mentor to each new hire. Don’t stick to deadlines here. Some people need more time to get accustomed to the new environment, while others fit in faster.

Typically, businesses decide on a 90-day plan, but do customize the approach based on feedback.

Another good idea may be assigning a partner to each new hire. This person should be the address where the new hire can go for answers. Partners are different from mentors in that they may come from a different team (which is recommended, by the way). On top of helping new hires fit in, they also help them mingle and meet people from different departments.

Encourage Networking and Connections

Here’s a catch: building connections is paramount, but not just any connections will do. It’s critical that HR teams understand the distinction between connections and meaningful connections. This is especially important when it comes to onboarding remote teams. They need to be integrated virtually, but overwhelming them with random activities is not the way to go about things.

There are various ways to boost this process. I.e., you may organize social events like welcome lunches or team outings. Another good idea is networking sessions and they can be incorporated into the onboarding process, too.

For remote teams, think in terms of online collaboration tools Slack, Microsoft Teams, or internal social networks.

Finally, where applicable, you may also apply for job rotations.

Overall, onboarding processes are a complex affair and may be voluminous as well. Therefore, HR teams should adjust them so that they’re engaging and (critical!) allow sufficient time for new hires to get the ropes of everything.  

One way or another, integration and connections take time to get shaped, so rushing things won’t achieve anything. Be patient, welcoming, and open to feedback, and take your time adjusting the onboarding process.

Angela Ash
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