Onboarding New Employees: How, and Why, to Engage Them from Day One
Your organisation’s onboarding process for new hires will be the difference between a successful employee and one that either isn’t effective, or moves on sooner.
This has always been difficult to get right, but the introduction of increased remote and hybrid working has made an effective onboarding process more important than ever before.
In this article we’re going to look at why a good onboarding process is important, the benefits to the business of getting it right, and some of the elements that are required to ensure it’s effective.
Why is a good onboarding process needed for new employees?
The most effective new hires aren’t just a good fit for the role — they also need to be bought into the company as a whole.
This means understanding the organisation’s mission, values and culture, and how what they do directly contributes to its success.
The onboarding process helps new starters get up to speed with their job, but it also engages the employee, creating workers who are more committed to the company’s success.
The onboarding process has a significant impact on staff retention too. A survey found that a poor onboarding experience was responsible for nearly one in ten (9%) employee departures.
How is a good onboarding process useful for a business?
Onboarding new employees can take time, but committing the resources to getting it right can offer a number of great benefits for organisations.
Improve employee retention
We’ve already touched on how the onboarding process impacts employee retention, but there have been other studies that support this too.
Acquire the best talent
Your reputation as a good employer has never been more important for acquiring the best talent.
Review sites like Glassdoor, WorkAdvisor and The Job Crowd are being used increasingly by candidates ahead of interviewing. More than two thirds (70%) of candidates are looking at company reviews before making career decisions, while they’re reading six reviews on average before forming an opinion about a business.
Build a stronger company culture
For an organisation to have a strong company culture it needs its employees to understand it and be bought into it. This is impossible if it’s not a part of the onboarding process.
Understanding an organisation’s goals and values is strongly associated with higher long-term staff commitment and satisfaction.
More productive employees
The onboarding process helps new hires to understand how the company works and why what they do matters, so it’s unsurprising that it’s been shown to improve productivity by more than 70%.
What does a good onboarding process look like?
Let’s take a look in detail at how to onboard a new employee and the steps required to make sure it’s a success.
During the interview process
Onboarding a new hire doesn’t start the moment they accept the job offer — it should influence the hiring process too.
It’s during the interview stage that a candidate will first get an idea of the company and its values. With this in mind, the hiring process should be as thoughtful and welcoming as the rest of the onboarding.
Make sure the job description is clear and easy to understand, explain the hiring process structure and the stages involved, and follow-up with candidates early and often. Poor communication at this stage can make a candidate feel as though their time and efforts during the interview process aren’t appreciated.
After you’ve made a job offer
If possible make the job offer over the phone rather than by email alone. This is more personal and makes it easier to communicate how enthusiastic you are about them starting. This should be followed up by an official offer letter, which again should be enthusiastic and warm.
If there’s a need to negotiate starting salary make sure you’re courteous. When done poorly it’s a tense conversation for both parties, and makes it seem like you’re trying to undermine the value they’ll offer the organisation when they join.
Once the start date is agreed, communicate this with the new hire’s team so they can start getting things ready for when they join.
Two weeks before their first day
Ahead of their first day, make sure all of your new hire’s paperwork is in order, for example their employment contract and non-disclosure agreement if required.
Make sure they’re going to have everything set up and ready for them from day one too, such as their email and software they’ll be using, as well as their tech,
One day before they start
This is your last chance to make sure they’ve got everything they need:
- Print out their welcome letter and also send via email so it’s waiting in their inbox for them.
- Remind your new hire’s team that they’re starting tomorrow so they can set time aside to introduce themselves.
- Make sure their email address is added to relevant distribution lists and that their phone number is published in the right places.
- Finalise their first week’s itinerary.
On their first day
A new hire’s first day is vital for how well they’ll settle into the organisation.
Task someone with welcoming them when they arrive and providing a tour of the office, including where they’ll be working, where the toilets and communal facilities are, the fire exits etc.
They should also be meeting their line manager and team mates during the first day, so make sure everyone has made time for this and stress the importance of keeping the meetings in the diary. It’ll be worth arranging a team lunch too so the new hire can get to know their new colleagues in more of a social setting.
If the new employee is going to be working remotely you still need to put just as much thought into their first day. It’s even more important that they get to meet with each member of the team, and their manager should pay extra attention to them to ensure they settle in okay.
During their first week
The first week is the time to set the new hire’s short and long-term objectives. Provide an overview of the projects they’ll be working on in the first three months.
There’s a lot of admin to do in that first week, but make sure you’re setting them meaningful tasks to get them up-and-running. Make sure you’re providing clear feedback on those initial tasks and establish expectations early.
The key for that first week is checking in regularly and making sure any questions or concerns they have are being resolved.
During the first three months
You should be maintaining regular one-to-ones with new hires throughout their first three months, making sure they’re settling in well, they fully understand their role and what’s expected of them, and that any issues are being tackled.
It’s also worth asking for feedback on your onboarding process so you can improve it for future hires.
How to keep a new employee happy and engaged in their new role
Want to make sure new hires remain engaged during and after their first few months? Here are five tips for keeping them motivated:
1. Encourage personal development
Organisations don’t want employees that aren’t improving over time, but you need to encourage that personal development too. Make sure they’re given the time and resources for learning and professional training.
2. Create psychological ‘safety’
Don’t shut down ideas or creativity - management needs to foster an environment where people feel ‘safe’ in expressing themselves and putting things forward without the risk of judgement or ridicule.
3. Recognise and reward hard work
Don’t let hard work or successes go unnoticed. If employees aren’t seeing the benefit of going above and beyond, why would they keep doing so?
Sometimes something as simple as a thank you will be enough, but consider implementing an employee recognition platform. This empowers management at all levels to make recognition a part of the everyday, and drives the behaviour needed to create a successful business.
4. Encourage teamwork and collaboration
Don’t allow members of specific teams to become siloed. Poor teamwork doesn’t just lead to poorer outcomes, but staff who are less engaged with the organisation. Encouraging team members to socialise and organising work events is a great way of cultivating stronger teams and work relationships.
5. Encourage creativity
No-one likes to be doing the same things day in, day out. Encouraging and rewarding creative thinking keeps employees engaged and helps to identify new ways of solving old challenges, while it also contributes to the professional development of a new hire.
Successfully onboarding new employees is all about building strong employee engagement. At Sodexo Engage we offer a wide range of solutions designed to make your people feel valued, including:
- An Employee Recognition Platform that rewards success. This is perfect for recognising new hires who have performed well in their first few months of employment.
- Employee discounts and other financial rewards, such as salary sacrifice schemes, that demonstrate to new hires you care about their financial wellbeing.
- An Employee Assistance Programme that connects employees with fully accredited counsellors.
With the onboarding process making such a significant difference to staff retention and the engagement levels of a new employee, particularly for remote workers, it’s essential you get it right
Our range of employee benefits and engagement solutions make it easy to build a culture of support and recognition, while clearly demonstrating the organisation cares about the physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of its workforce.
Want to find out more about making sure your new hires have a fantastic employee experience from day one? Get in touch today.