Successful onboarding for employees includes both technical and social training. Too often experienced folks are hired to “just do what you do” and given very little company specific training. Sometimes HR will give a company history lesson, but that does little to indoctrinate folks into the social norms. Sometimes even new hires with very little job experience are thrown into the job without much social guidance. Onboarding new employees should be addressed like any other project. Determine your goal, plan your project, approve the resources, track progress, and have a conclusion to the project/onboarding process.
The goal for onboarding a new colleague should be two fold.
- One to get the person contributing as quickly as possible
- Two to make them a long term engaged employee. A truly engaged employee. I mean an employee who is actively engaged in their organization and dedicated to its success.
This isn’t touchy-feely stuff to give everyone a participation ribbon. This is bottom-line, good for business, smart management.
Goal 1: Contributing as quickly as possible. This is what you hired them for. The cost justification for this job was already done, so the sooner you get value from the new colleague, the sooner you validate the need for said employee.
Goal 2: Long term engaged employee. There are numerous studies on the real financial benefits of engaged employees. You can also do your own calculations on what it costs to hire a new employee. The cost of not having that employee in place, and the cost of firing an employee.
Using the benefits and costs from the goals, a business plan can be developed for creating a successful on boarding process for each new hire. Each new hire. Not just the ones fresh out of college, not just the ones in exempt positions. Every single position in your company should have an on boarding plan. The same template can be used for a lot of different positions, but do not overlook any position. When you get really good at on boarding employees, you may extend the concept to both suppliers and customers. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Your plan should contain a mix of technical training, social interactions, and actual work. There is nothing more boring than spending your first weeks on the job in a powerpoint or computer training haze. A mix of actual job performance and background training is the best way to get employees excited about the job.
Create a checklist of activities and interactions that the new colleague must accomplish in a given time period. In addition, assign a mentor to the newbie. The mentors need to be trained in how to assist their new protegee.
By assigning the checklist to the new colleague (NC) to complete, with oversite from both boss and mentor, the NC is in charge of their own on boarding process. The NC helps balance the activities of the actual job with social integration.
At the conclusion of the on-boarding process, an after action review should be conducted. All NCs should give input on what worked well during their indoctrination, and give suggestions for improvement.
Bringing all this together:
- Create an on-boarding program office
- Create an oversite committee to ensure that on boarding is occurring for all new colleagues
- Create mentoring process, complete with training for mentors
- Develop checklists each job/job class
- Allow NC’s to manage their onboarding pace
- Ensure on boarding oversite of NC by both boss and mentor
- Close each on boarding process formally
The welcoming process should make new colleagues feel valued and excited about the workplace. Done properly, an onboarding process creates engaged employees and promotes productivity. Improper onboarding creates frustration and leads to high turnover.
Below is an example of an onboarding plan. The ROI for onboarding is high, if you don’t already have a program office to address employee engagement, consider starting one this quarter.