When it comes to onboarding new team members, putting the best foot forward is important.
While you might have a deep connection and understanding of your company, the new employee probably knows very little about the team, culture, and various nuances of the way you work.
When onboarding new staff, it is important to be aware of all this and to have a clear and actionable set of procedures in place to help them hit the ground running.
Here are 9 best practices for onboarding new employees – a Raven360-designed checklist that you can apply and actively use in your business’ HR department – methods that we’ve seen improve for new hires as well as employers.
1. Have A Plan
Can you recall becoming a new employee and having to read and sign a three-inch-thick folder of documents? For many businesses, this is still the scope of their onboarding and recruitment process.
Mapping out further steps beyond will not only make onboarding more time-efficient; it’ll make it a lot more effective and memorable for new employees – giving them a better understanding of how things work and integrate as quickly as possible into your company.
While many businesses have different processes in place, many of them are simple and built to meet the needs of the company rather than the needs of the employees.
A successful plan will be well-structured, diverse, and most importantly relevant – giving them a clear insight into where their role lies within the business; an overview of who, what, and where; and information of someone they can turn to for guidance.
2. Give Insight Into Your Company Culture
Onboarding a new employee effectively also means giving them a crystal clear insight into your company culture. This means helping them to understand its goals, objectives, and mission statements – which developed over time as the company grew.
This should cover everything from how the business aims to provide the best for its customers as well as how it wants to be seen worldwide.
For instance, your company has a preferred or nominated charity for which you've raised money in the past. Communicating these efforts and establishing relationships with new employees is important.
It's not only to show that the company has a moral compass but also to show that the company has a wider sense of culture and camaraderie. They would also be able to involve them positively in the culture of the business.
Another idea would be to ask new employees about their own interests outside of work and to give them an opportunity to pursue these – whether sports, hobbies, or volunteering – alongside other staff.
I talked with Tom Morrill on our Training-Led Growth Podcast about growing your company culture when working from home. To have more ideas on how to do it when working remotely, you can listen here.
3. Let Your Teams Know About The New Starter
Successful onboarding is not just about preparing material for the newbie – it's all about getting them into a team as quickly as possible, in a way that makes them feel comfortable, settled, and efficient.
This is why it makes sense to prepare the team they’re joining ahead of time. As a new employee, it is nice to meet people who already know your name and is keen to welcome you into the fold. This shows them that they already have value, enough that the business has prepared a warm welcome.
There’s nothing worse than turning up on your first day to meet people who don’t even know why you are there. It can be disheartening – which is likely to sour a new starter’s first day and dampen their enthusiasm for their new role.
4. Build Team Bonds
It's natural for someone who joins a team to feel like an outsider simply because they're up before they join. It is important to balance this with integrating into the new company culture and potentially changes in job roles, making a new employee comfortable with the people with whom they will work.
It is also a good way to treat the new starter and their team to lunch. In a more relaxed atmosphere, everyone gets to introduce themselves informally, where everybody can find it easier to bond and chat more openly.
It’s also a great way to ease someone into a new group of people, plus, it also offers a break from the workplace setting for the team– which levels the playing field for everyone concerned.
5. Offer Remote Onboarding
Whether it’s in response to a global pandemic or an active shift in company culture – remote work and virtual learning are only going to become more popular.
And while your current onboarding process can work well in person, is the much-needed bond lost when new hires and their teams can't meet face to face? It’s something which companies have struggled with in 2020 – but it doesn't have to be the case.
Ensuring that you can offer good quality video conferencing – via a platform like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or Skype – to connect the new hires and their teams are vital.
And while it’s not a true substitute for face to face interaction, it offers the best solution and is far better than a phone call. It’s also a great way of ensuring constant, on-demand communication - as most of these platforms have a chat function.
This also helps HRs give clear lines of communication for the first few weeks of a new employee’s time – and enables them to feel supported at all times.
6. Equipment Setup
Whether your new starter is going to be office-based or working remotely, providing them with an environment that’s conducive to productivity should be a priority.
A desk and chair are often overlooked parts of an employee’s equipment, but their workstation is going to be the place where they generate the most value for your company. Even if you can’t afford to buy the latest equipment, making sure it is up to the task and helps promote healthy conditions for posture and position is essential.
Working remotely comes with its own challenges especially when it comes to staff feeling connected to one another.
Make sure that any new employee is provided with their logins for email and user accounts as soon as they start. This is especially important for platforms like Slack and Teams where they are going to need to communicate with their colleagues as soon as possible so that they can hit the ground running.
7. Digitize Your Documentation
This may be a small point, but it’s an important one when it comes to empowering new starters. Someone being onboarded will also sit through an induction process, perhaps read a company or employee handbook, and confirm that they understand what/s required of them – in terms of conduct and their rights as a member of your organization.
There is a lot of knowledge, but for the first viewing, it is quite likely that it won't all be taken in.
That's why, through a digital platform (like a learning management system), making all the induction and introductory material accessible to new workers on demand would ensure that all the hard work you have put into developing consistent instructions is not wasted.
It’ll also allow employees to access everything they need remotely, so they can refer back to the fine print when they need to.
8. Make Professional Development Clear From The Outset
You’ve gone through the expense of creating a great onboarding experience and committed to the cost of training a new employee. Don’t let that go to waste.
Don’t underestimate the need for employees to regularly up-skill and enhance their job skills and soft skills. Knowing where they can access professional development-focused materials and follow a clear progression path should be visible early on.
Encouraging them to learn and providing a dedicated LMS platform will help keep new recruits focused and engaged – and as new positions come up in your company – as well as skilled and dedicated.
It’s also a great way of gauging their progress internally, ensuring they feel valued, and letting them know that the business is dedicated to investing in them.
9. Touch Base Regularly
Finally, don’t let your first chat with a new employee be your last. This is more likely to happen in larger organizations where staff roles are more defined and narrower, but it is something all businesses can suffer from. A simple ‘how are you getting on?’ can go a long way to making someone feel noticed and recognized as a member of the team.
Whether check-ins are formal or informal will depend on the type of onboarding process that you operate – but making your HR and learning teams available to new starters from the outset, and offering guidance or assistance will help them feel looked after. And even if they are getting on brilliantly it’s nice to receive feedback to confirm this.
Everything They Need in One Place
At Raven360 we want to help you provide the best onboarding and training experience possible. And in our experience, it’s clear that success relies on looking at the entire onboarding process through the eyes of the new employee.
Whether onboarding in person or remotely, access to a corporate learning management system is an excellent way of ensuring everything’s available in one place, and that it’s available any time of day or night. And moving forward, an LMS can be used to deploy a range of additional learning materials to individual teams, departments, or the entire organization.
In all cases, flexibility and accessibility are key to getting onboarding right. And while it’s great to have a process in place, it is also necessary to meet the needs of each employee and ensure that they are taken care of.