I run my own business, and one of our goals is to better assimilate our new employees into our workplace culture. I’m not particularly familiar with formalized onboarding, so can you share best practices?
Bringing aboard new team members is exciting. It often means your company is growing, and bringing new energy and fresh perspectives to the workplace. But it can also be challenging and a bit disruptive. So first, it’s important to understand exactly what an onboarding process is, and isn’t. It isn’t a training program or protocol, and it isn’t the signing of a stack of forms. Onboarding is the management of the early stages of a relationship between a business or organization and a new employee, and it is a critical operation for any business.
Ensuring that your onboarding process goes beyond a few “sign here on the dotted line’s” and the handing over of a company handbook will help get new employees started off on the right foot, and set them up for future success with their new colleagues and tasks.
These are a few of the things our MCM HR consulting team suggests our clients include in their standard onboarding process:
Reach out early.
An onboarding process can start when an offer of employment is accepted. Begin by reaching out to your new employee prior to their start date with details on what they can expect on their first day. Make virtual introductions to their new team and if there are any forms they can fill out ahead of time, send them via e-mail to save time on the always hectic first day.
Assign a mentor or sponsor to the new employee for at least the first year.
There’s a famous quote that we really like: “tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” A mentor/mentee relationship is an intentional matching of two employees with the goal of strengthening the new employee’s knowledge, giving them a go-to person, and creating a framework for more informal company conversations. Mentors are often the first people new employees meet. The mentor will develop professional relationships with the mentees and can help the organization develop talent by offering encouragement, constructive criticism and safe sounding boards for new ideas and challenges. They can also help introduce new team members to others in the company who may be helpful contacts.
Conduct entrance interviews at 30, 60 and 90 days.
Entrance interviews not only help managers identify de-motivators, but also provide an opportunity to demonstrate that they care. It’s important to continue to stay focused on the employee’s needs and give new employees a platform to share what they have learned, where they may need more training, while also providing an opportunity to give feedback in both directions. When there is plenty of opportunity for this at the beginning of a new career, it can help minimize surprises or negativity down the line.
Connecting with people and building rapport happens naturally for many. New employees may ‘hit it off’ with their new colleagues easily. Other times though, these skills need to be learned and practiced. Some people build relationships by finding common ground and by being empathetic. It’s important to remember that we must focus on the internal customers like we would if they were our external customers. Humor, empathy, patience, body language and, most importantly, listening skills are critical to developing a strong rapport with new colleagues. Ensure new people feel included, and not interrogated, during those first few conversations.
These are just a few examples of how you can strengthen the engagement of new employees from day one. We have written in the past about the importance of employee engagement, and we believe the best place for it to start is at the beginning.