A Guide to Properly Onboarding New Hires

Welcoming a new employee requires more effort than a quick introduction to coworkers and handing the new hire over to HR to get their paperwork in order. Taking the time to properly onboard a new hire can mean the difference between retaining your new employee and re-advertising the position within months.

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Employee Retention and Hiring Costs

The MIT Sloan Management Review reports 25 percent of the US working population makes a career transition every year. Hourly workers have a 50 percent probability of moving on within the first 150 days of employment, while half of all senior outside hires fail within 18 months.

Rapid employee turnover rates can spell chaos for a company’s productivity, and increase it’s hiring costs. Each new hire costs an average of $4,129.

Onboarding a new employee increases a company’s retention rates, reducing the risk of losing talent to competing interests and lowering hiring costs.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is much more than simply welcoming a new employee to the company; it’s an ongoing process to help new hires adjust to their roles within your organization as they learn about the company mission, culture, attitudes, and customers/stakeholders. Onboarding process new hires with the knowledge, skills, and expectations they need in order to succeed in their new position.

Often restricted to the first 90 days of work, onboarding is increasingly seen as a six month process involving the new hire, management, and coworkers. Some companies provide onboarding help and resources for the first year of work.

Onboarding Starts Before the First Day of Work

Onboarding a new employee strives to make career transitions as smooth as possible. Not so long ago the first day of work was a flurry of introductions followed by interminable document reading and signing.

An online onboarding portal helps new hires take care of much of the busywork associated with welcoming a new employee before the first day of work. Employees can use the portal to complete much of the busy work associated with first day orientations, including electronically submitting documentation for W-4 and I-9 paperwork, as well as setting up benefits and payroll. With this busy work out of the way, the first day of work can focus on welcoming the new employee.

Online Onboarding Programs

Online portals can also be used to create an onboarding checklist, where the new hire can look over information at his or her leisure. Information in the portal can include”

● An overview of the company and its mission,
● Lists of perks and benefits,
● Corporate policies,
● An explanation of company expectations and corporate culture,
● A directory of team members with photos,
● The complete employee handbook,
● An FAQ of common questions new hires ask.

An onboarding portal takes time to set up, but once complete can be used to help multiple new hires acclimatize to company culture and expectations. Such portals empower employees to check information for themselves before asking supervisors or managers.

The First Day of Work

Small details can have a profound effect on employee retention. When welcoming a new employee on his or her first day, for instance, are they given a warm greeting with a smile? Do management and coworkers seem happy to meet the new hire? Making the first day of work special can reinforce to new employees they made the right career choice.

Taking the new hire out for lunch, with or without coworkers, makes new employees feel valued. So too does having the new hire’s desk, phone, computer, and login passwords set up for the start of the first day.

Set Attainable Goals

Onboarding a new employee sets the employee up for success from the start. Provide the new hire with direction from the first day by identifying a number of easy-to-reach goals for immediate success, and introduce him to the resources and coworkers who can help him reach those goals.

A series of rapid successes in the first months of work builds an employee’s confidence and job satisfaction, increasing the possibility of long-term retention.

Give Consistent Feedback

For the first 90 days of onboarding, arrange short 15-minute meetings once a week with the new hire. These little meetings allow your to gauge the employee’s progress, offer constructive feedback, and give the new hire opportunity to ask questions about job responsibilities, corporate structure, and other concerns.

While once-a-week meetings end after 90 days, consider monthly check-ins for the next year to help complete the transition from new hire to established employee. After a year, the focus can shift from onboarding to retention, employee satisfaction, and future development.

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Onboarding a new employee takes time, but the alternative is another round of hiring and training, with all the attendant financial costs and work disruptions. Take time when welcoming a new employee, and you’ll both benefit.