Now that the list has narrowed down, the resumes vetted, the questions asked, the pertinent documents signed, and the hands shaken, it’s time to begin the extremely important process of onboarding the newest hire. What can HR do to best acclimate a worker and get him socialized to the inner workings and performance requirements of his new workplace and keep the turnover rate (which can go as high as 50% of senior hires within the first 18 months) to a minimum?
- First impressions: First days in a new place always elicit a combination of excitement and a bit of fear as we face something new, whether you are a child starting school or an adult at that new job. It may seem almost stereotypical, but establishing a positive first day goes a long way to setting a good standard for those days that follow. Does the new person have a mentor or someone to show her around? Are the other staff welcoming? Does she have somewhere to sit/a proper workstation? Is someone taking her out to lunch that first day or first week? To borrow from an old maxim, first impressions cannot be undone; they set the tone.
- Take out the guesswork: Successful onboarding does not ensure only that an employee fills out all the necessary paperwork promptly and that protocols are clearly set out and spelled out, although established compliance goes a long way toward helping a new hire. Equally important, make sure that all expectations of the position are also made clear immediately: Job duties should match prior established expectations to avoid alienating or confusing a new worker. It also means he can slip more easily into his role as part of a team.
- A job is not just about work: Another key part of onboarding involves social integration: Make sure the employee meets those she’s working with and knows who to go to for needs and questions, as well as who the organizational “insiders” are. Make sure as well that she feels comfortable around her peers and superiors — this helps increase her job satisfaction, performance, and commitment to her new organization. Allow her opportunities to do her onboarding as well by letting her have time for small talk with fellow employees, providing volunteer opportunities at community functions, and letting her connect with a supervisor by taking on a project or new responsibilities.
- Company culture: On that same end, an employee who fully understands his employer’s unique culture in terms of values, politics, and goals will also come on board more readily. It is up to HR to help the employee navigate all of this and understand his position within it. If an employee feels he is truly part of the company and knows its inner workings, this will increase his satisfaction and commitment.