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Onboarding Guide: 5 Steps for New Employees

Effective onboarding is critical to employee success. This process ensures your new hires can assimilate into the company culture, get access to the tools they need to perform their job duties, align with company goals and begin to feel at home in their new role. A thorough onboarding process promotes greater productivity, increased efficiency, reduced turnover and a more satisfied workforce.

To help ensure your employee onboarding meets these objectives, here are a few things you should do.

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Start Onboarding Before the New Hire Begins

To ensure a smooth transition for your new hire and their team, start the employee onboarding process at least a week before your new hire’s start date. Work with the IT department, facilities management team and any other relevant personnel to make sure the new employee has a fully functioning workstation along with the login credentials to any systems or software they’ll need to perform their job. This will make for a seamless first day and a positive first impression.

When new employees don’t have to waste time chasing down passwords or waiting for their new manager to procure devices and equipment for their workspace, they can dive in and begin training immediately.

Celebrate New Employee Arrivals

Your onboarding process should include steps for giving your new employee a warm welcome. Here are a few things you can do to help celebrate new employees during their first few days at the company:

  • Make an announcement: Whether its an email, a shoutout during a company meeting, or both, it’s essential you recognize your new hire publicly. This will not only show the new employee you’re excited to have them aboard, but it also alerts others that there’s a new team member and may encourage others to extend a personal welcome, too.
  • Organize a team lunch: The new employees’ direct manager should organize a team lunch during their first week. This offsite team-building experience will give the new employee an opportunity to get to know their new teammates in a more comfortable, relax setting.
  • Decorate their workspace with company swag: Before the new employee arrives, gather a T-shirt, cups, pens, office supplies and other branded goodies you may have on hand. These small welcome gifts can make your new employee feel appreciated and supported from the moment they walk in the door.

Hold a New Hire Orientation

Most companies use orientation to handle paperwork, review the employee handbook and answer last-minute questions about compensation and benefits. While it’s important for HR to complete new hire paperwork as early as possible, orientation provides another opportunity to upgrade your onboarding process.

In addition to legal paperwork, consider scheduling time for a member of the executive leadership team to stop by, welcome your new hire and even offer a quick Q&A session. Orientation is an excellent time for a quick lesson on the company’s history and an introduction to the company culture. When employees start their first week with knowledge of the company’s background and a thorough understanding of its culture, they’ll be more likely to feel part of the team.

If you haven’t already, use orientation as a time to give your new hire a facility tour, a map of the building so they can find their way around and an organization chart, so they understand how each of the various teams or departments work with each other.

Finally, if you have multiple new hires starting the same week, consider turning orientation into a group training activity. Not only is this more efficient for the HR and recruiting team, but by giving new employees the opportunity to form bonds with each other early in the process, they’ll have at least a couple familiar faces around as they get acclimated to their new job.

Pair Each Hire with a Mentor

Assign each new employee with a buddy in their department — preferably someone at a similar level, and in a similar position, so the new hire will feel more comfortable confiding in them or admitting if there’s something they’re not sure how to do. This person will be their designated go-to, share tips for succeeding in the role, introduce them to people they’ll interact with frequently, and help them become more comfortable in their new surroundings.

While employees should be able to go to their new manager with any questions or concerns during their first few weeks, having a nearby peer who is ready and willing to show them the ropes can eliminate any feelings of uncertainty they may have as they begin to perform the job. An assigned mentor can bolster a new hire’s confidence and pass on valuable tribal knowledge, too.

Set up a System for Immediate and Frequent Feedback

Don’t wait too long to ask for employee feedback. The best way to identify areas for improvement in the employee onboarding process is to ask for an assessment of the program as soon as an employee has completed their training. From specific first day activities to more general experiences, be sure to ask the new hire if they see any gaps in the process.

Often the learning curve at a new job means it may be several weeks or months before an employee feels entirely up to speed. While they may have completed their training, it’s likely they’ll still have questions or face unfamiliar challenges throughout their first year.

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