Making a new employee feel welcome is the first step in onboarding and is an integral part of the process. This “orientation” portion of onboarding is a way of introducing new employees to the company. Orientation generally lasts two days to five days, during which time new employees will complete their new hire paperwork, be provided information on company benefits, receive their security and login information, review company policies and processes, learn work schedules, safety requirements, and other content that pertains to their new employment position; this can include any training the new employee may need to complete prior to starting their job. And while the orientation portion of onboarding may only last a couple of days, it’s important to ensure new employees are not forgotten after they complete this stage. Onboarding can set the tone for the new employee to be a successful part of the company’s workforce so the full process should last several weeks, months, or even a full year.
Familiarizing the new employee with various aspects of information is essential, but you don’t want to overwhelm them. Onboarding is a process that takes time. Give the employee time to absorb all the material and information they’re being provided. Assign a mentor who can show them their job station, introduce them to co-workers, show them where the restrooms and breakrooms are, and be a source for guidance and answers to questions that may arise.
Ensure your onboarding program is perceived as fair by employees and others. Your initial process should be the same for all new hires. The differences should only be at the actual job level. The onboarding may be modified depending on the position of the new hire since responsibilities of each job position may vary and each department or manager/supervisor may have specific ideas or process that the new hire will need to learn, but there shouldn’t be an instance in a department or similar position where an employee claims they “never heard that” or were “never shown that.”
Schedule regular check-ins with new employees. At least once a month during the first six months of employment, take an opportunity to meet with new employees to see how they’re getting along. This shows a sign of support to the employee that you are concerned about their success in the company; it may also be a great opportunity for management to learn something new. A new employee is a fresh set of eyes and may provide an idea as how to streamline a process or better accomplish a mission, or point out something that could be a potential safety hazard. Answer their questions and listen to their suggestions and comments.
Set short-term and long-term goals with new employees. You can get a better idea of how the new employee is coming along if they are meeting the short-term goals they have been assigned. If they are having difficulty, management needs to know about it so they can address how to correct or assist the new employee. Once the short-term goals have been met, the long-term goals are easier to achieve.
Create a roadmap to see where they would like to go within the company. In your routine check-ins, find out if the employee has personal goals of where they see themselves in three or five years. Do they want more training, do they see themselves in a team lead position and eventually a management position? By knowing what their goals are, you can be better equipped to help them down the road to success. At the end of their first year, sit down with the now-not-so-new-employee and find out what their experience has been working for the company. Are they satisfied? Do they have suggestions?
Stay involved in the employee’s professional life. Assist with training – don’t let them learn through trial and error. Provide feedback more than once a year. Employees need to know on an ongoing basis if there is an issue with their performance at the time of concern. They should also know if they’re doing a good job. Positive and negative feedback can improve an employee’s performance as well as their morale.
Remember – onboarding is ongoing. Having multiple members of leadership participate helps new employees learn who they can go to for questions or concerns and who handles different situations that may arise during the course of their employment. The more interest the company shows in the employee’s lifecycle, the more the employee will enjoy working and performing their job duties. HR, managers, supervisors and other leaders should all be involved in the onboarding process.
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