7 Keys to Successful Onboarding

Replacing a team member is an expensive time-pit, so losing a new hire is hugely disappointing. Successful onboarding ensures that new hires are prepared and excited to do their jobs. Despite this, roughly 35 percent of companies spend $0 on onboarding, according to Allied HRIQ’s “2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey.” Investing in onboarding can save your company tens of thousands of dollars, as well as foster an engaged, productive, and happy workforce. Here are the seven keys to successfully onboarding a new team member.

Onboarding New Employees
  1.  Think ahead.

We study for exams, train for races, and rehearse before speeches. The onboarding process requires preparation just like everything else that we want to succeed at. “To ensure your new employees integrate smoothly into your company, it’s important that you start preparing for them before the first day” says Sujan Patel, co-founder of ContentMarketer.io. “For starters, you’ll want to create an agenda for their first week, which will help clarify for you and the new hire what you expect right away.” Sharing that agenda with your new hire before their first day can help ease jitters and make them more comfortable and ready to learn from the start.

  1. Take responsibility for training.

According to a CareerBuilder report, 60% of employees feel that skills will be learned on the job, but only 49% of employers feel that training is a responsibility that is equally shared by employees and employers. Take ownership of training to keep turnover of new hires low. Well trained employees are also more productive workers, so you benefit twice. “Top companies don’t view adding sales headcount as hiring, but rather as an investment in revenuesays Lee B. Salz, sales management strategist at Sales Architects. “Onboarding is the key to a high return on that investment.”

So what should you include in your training?  “Training should cover programs, best practices, technology and equipment and have goals clearly stated; onboarding doesn’t stop at company policies, facility tours and department introductions.” says Maren Hogan, CEO of Red Branch Media. Proper training costs time and money upfront, but it saves both in the long haul.

  1. Don’t forget about culture.

Cultural fit should factor into a hiring decision, but that doesn’t mean attention to culture can end there. “When you train your new employees in the ethos of the company while simultaneously showing them how to do their job, everyone wins,” says Hogan. Making sure that your new hires are in the loop with your company culture improves workplace morale and team collaboration.

  1. Assign peer mentors.

When new hires have to reinvent the wheel, you see big inefficiencies. But new employees, who are eager to appear capable, may be reluctant to ask their superiors for help. “Assign a more seasoned employee to every new employee, not a boss or superior, but someone they can feel safe taking their questions and concerns to.” says Barbara Ashton, President of Ashton & Associates Recruiting. Mentorships can also contribute to faster integration of the new hire onto a team. “A mentorship-style program can assist and reinforce the training and policies as well as encourage office relationships.” says Hogan.

  1. Be transparent about expectations.

It’s hard to meet goals if you don’t know what they are. “Your new employees will need to learn about your expectations and internal decision-making processes” says Patel. “A meeting with the direct supervisor should also happen during the first week, allowing the employees and their new bosses to discuss short-term and long-term goals – as well as management and communication styles.”

  1. Have regular check-ins.

Keep communication open and check in at regular intervals to make sure that onboarding is going as well as you think it is. “Be sure to have a 30-60-90 day check in with your new employee to ensure they are feeling on track.” says Ashton.

New employees need some time to learn the ropes and get into a groove at your company, but hold them accountable early on to avoid wasting more time and money on hires who aren’t performing. “After 90 days, conduct your first performance review to determine whether or not new employees are progressing as expected” says Patel. “By then, they should be fully integrated into your team and can be expected to perform at 100% proficiency.”

  1. Remember that one size doesn’t fit all.

There are different metrics for measuring a leader’s success than there are for lower level employees. Similarly, onboarding should be tailored. “Those coming in at middle levels should dig into understanding the business while learning about the culture,”  says Alejandra Aranda, President of Humanitas Executive Search. “But those at the organization’s highest levels must focus on culture first. What matters is not so much what they do, but how they lead.”

That new leaders learn the culture is important even for companies who would like to see their corporate culture move in a different direction. “The closer to the CEO a leader is, the higher the relative importance of converging into and then evolving the culture.” says George Bradt, Chairman of PrimeGenesis.

You can’t afford not to onboard new team members or to onboard ineffectively. Keep your teams strong, connected, and productive by employing these seven keys to seamlessly integrating new hires.

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Danai Kadzere

Danai Kadzere

Danai is a Content Marketer at Happie. Before Happie, she worked as a freelance writer, ghostwriter, and children's book author, after graduating from Harvard University with a BS in Human Evolutionary Biology. If she's not working, she's probably reading, baking, or getting lost.