Welcoming and Supporting New Employees
New job jitters? Common on your first day. But sometimes, those jitters belong to the workplace. Without a dedicated strategy for welcoming and supporting new employees, onboarding can feel overwhelming and confusing (for the employee AND the employer).
Is your workplace prepared to welcome and support new employees beyond the first day? First month? First year? A strong internal communications and onboarding plan can improve employee retention and position you as an organization candidates are vying to join.
RETAINING NEW EMPLOYEES
Sending out a “congratulations, you’re hired!” email isn’t the end of the hiring process. Nearly one-third of candidates who have accepted a job offer will later back out before beginning work. And of those who stay through onboarding, around 22% will leave in the first 90 days.
What drives people to leave a new job? The top reasons include receiving a better offer elsewhere, receiving a solid counteroffer from their current job, and finding the job isn’t what they expected. Being transparent in your hiring processes is critical.
“Highlight the important contributions for the position, with a focus on results that align with a prospective candidate value,” advises Janet Swiecichowkski, Vice President at CEL Marketing PR Design. “An employee is looking for a good fit as much as you are. You don’t have to market every position as a ‘dream job’ just to get applications. Instead, share real information during the hiring process. The highlights, the less-than-glamourous parts of the job, and most importantly, the why. Why is this job important to the success of your mission? How does this job support your organization? Help a candidate see the bigger picture.”
Nothing sours a new relationship more than an employee starting a new job only to discover the hiring tactics misrepresented the actual work.
Your new employee accepted your job offer. Now what? You lose valuable relationship-building time if your onboarding process doesn’t begin before their first work day. Employee onboarding and training are not the same. Be sure you have a plan for both. Training is the day-to-day how-to. Onboarding is about integrating an employee into your workplace culture. Be sure to communicate they are valued and supported.
Before the First Day
The onboarding process isn’t just about the employee but also about ensuring that your organization has thoughtfully planned ways to incorporate and involve new hires. Develop an onboarding checklist that includes things like:
- Welcome note from their new supervisor.
- Provide benefits, insurance documents, and employee handbooks before the first day. The more they can sign things digitally in advance, the better.
- Share all policies, regulations, and procedures.
- Clarify first-day schedule and expectations: where to go, what time to show up, what to wear, who will be training/onboarding, etc. Don’t forget to explain lunch plans! Should they bring a lunch, expect to have free time to pick up their own, or will you be taking them out on the first day?
- Introduce your new hire to company culture and expectations.
- Prepare technology in advance so they can hit the ground running.
- Develop a mentorship plan to help your employees grow over time.
The first day is all about setting expectations and clarifying responsibilities. Everyone on the team should understand what role the new employee is expected to fill. Building rapport amongst team members is critical for a new employee, and clear roles and responsibilities will help your hire to understand how they fit into your organization.
Many organizations use a buddy system to introduce new employees to the company. An experienced employee can help to welcome and support new employees by answering questions (how do I…?), sharing unwritten company expectations (always refill the coffee pot if you take the last cup), and noting essential questions that the candidate may have forgotten to ask during hiring (do we get raises? when?). This slightly less formal relationship helps cement the relationship between your new employee and their coworkers, which is especially important if an outgoing employee does the bulk of their job training.
Importantly, onboarding is a multi-departmental process. Relationship building should span departments and involve colleagues, leaders, and stakeholders. HR can provide the necessary documentation and answer salary, benefit, and policy questions. Colleagues or outgoing employees can provide job duty training. A buddy can welcome and support your new employee. And leaders should be intentional in their welcome and vision for the future.
It’s easy to inundate your new hires with information in their first days and weeks on the job. Helping them to become productive quickly is vital to many organizations, but you risk overwhelming people, especially as they look out at job tasks and events over the year. The end of the first month is an excellent time to check on your onboarding goals.
- Review the onboarding checklist. What is the comfort level and what tools or tasks need additional teaching?
- Is your employee feeling successful in their position?
- Does your new employee understand work ethic expectations?
- What pain points have they come across? Now is an excellent time to listen to the concerns and confusion of a new employee—viewing internal processes from an outside perspective can bring insight and value.
- What support does your new employee need to be successful going forward?
- How does the management style work between you? Some employees desire regular meetings to ensure they’re meeting expectations, while others prefer a more hands-off approach. Level-set expectations at the end of the first month to ensure everyone is aware of and comfortable with the process moving forward.
Structured onboarding increases employee retention rates; the longer that process, the better. Many organizations provide onboarding for the first month or even the first 100 days, but even the best plans fizzle out over the first year. Luckily, having a full-year onboarding plan for employees doesn’t have to be a heavy lift. Your goals over the first year are to ensure that you’ve welcomed and supported new employees, given them clear expectations and milestones on how to be successful in their role, detailed when and how they will be evaluated, and shared growth opportunities.
To ensure those things, you can:
- Develop an internal communications strategy for all employees. How do employees receive internal news and updates? Consistent internal newsletters or emails help all employees to feel like a part of the larger organization.
- Contextualize your vision, mission, and goals. During orientation and onboarding, you shared overarching organizational goals. Have you made any progress toward those goals? Loop employees in on your strategic work and identify ways their work is a part of company success.
- Schedule evaluations far in advance. Share the process you follow during evaluations in advance and, if possible, your evaluation notes.. Allow your employees to review this information thoughtfully rather than be blindsided by comments in a meeting. Ensure this is a 2-way conversation: employees should have ample opportunity to share frustrations, concerns, and goals.
- Provide opportunities for professional growth. Work together to identify areas your employee would like to improve or a helpful new facet of professional learning.
- According to Gallup, new employees typically take around 12 months to reach peak performance potential. With that in mind, lean toward celebration, not correction, during the onboarding process. Publicly celebrate and acknowledge employee wins (and keep correction low-key and private.)
The more you need an onboarding process, the more difficult it may be to develop one. When you’re mired in a constant hiring process or hiring large numbers of employees, your HR team may be overwhelmed by simply processing applications, scheduling interviews, and organizing benefits. Ensure that onboarding tasks are split across multiple departments and that procedures and schedules are well-documented and clear for all participants.
In today’s tight labor market, it’s difficult and expensive to recruit great talent. When you’ve hired a new employee, protect your investment by prioritizing the onboarding experience.
Published on: July 27, 2022