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10 Tips for Successfully Onboarding New Employees

Imagine it’s your first day at a new job. You show up early, butterflies in your stomach, adrenaline coursing through your veins. This is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for, and you can’t wait to show your new boss what you’ve got. Only your boss isn’t there. She’s on a business trip that no one bothered to tell you about, and you’re not sure who is the next point of contact. When someone finally shows you to your desk, you spend all morning waiting for an IT person to set up your computer. By the time lunch rolls around, your enthusiasm’s deflated. You wonder whether this job was the right move after all. If you’ve experienced this situation, you know how disheartening it feels. If you haven’t, well, good for you. But you can surmise that it’s demoralizing, and you know you don’t want to put your new hires in this position. Yet many companies do just that – and they lose great employees because of it. During the recruiting phase, candidates bend over backward to impress potential employers. But once a contract is signed, employers are the ones who need to make a good impression. The first two weeks with a new company are crucial for talent retention, as employees look for confirmation that they’ve made the right decision. Ensuring that their computers are set up and that someone is there to greet them on day one tells them you’re invested in their success. When they feel like an afterthought and their “welcome” is chaotic or half-hearted, they will rethink their commitment to your company. At BVOH, we’ve seen this happen many times. When we check in with candidates, they often tell us the company seemed unprepared. That doesn’t bode well for long-term employee loyalty. In fact, 40 percent of employees quit within their first months on the job. They don’t hate the actual work – they’ve hardly had time to settle into their roles, after all. But they don’t feel welcome or supported, so they seek other opportunities. However, companies that have thoughtful onboarding processes see 91 percent retention rates. Here’s how to become one of them:

1. Make a personal connection.

Reach out to new employees before they start. Congratulate them and let them know the lines of communication are open. Once they’ve started, add personal touches that set them at ease. Putting flowers on their desks or inviting them to lunch enhances a sense of appreciation and camaraderie. A happy hour is also a great way to introduce new employees to the team. Those details help establish loyalty and goodwill.

2. Give them the specifics.

Don’t leave new hires scrambling to figure out the logistics of their start dates. Get in touch well in advance to let them know what time to arrive, where to park, and what to expect on their first day. Provide them with an orientation schedule, as well as an outline of tasks and meetings for their first week. No one likes to feel lost and directionless, especially at a new job.

3. Organize your onboarding forms.

There’s no way around the paperwork that comes with hiring new employees. But you can make the process less of a nightmare by organizing the necessary forms ahead of time. You can ask new hires to complete the paperwork before they start, or schedule a meeting with HR so they can ask questions about their contracts and benefits.

4. Assign a point of contact.

Designate a manager or peer to be the new hire’s buddy. That is their go-to person for questions about where to find different departments, company policies, and logistics. This person should also help them navigate the culture. All kinds of questions crop up when you start a new job – Where do people eat lunch? Where do they grab a drink after work? You want new employees to feel included right away, so appoint a cultural guide who will invite them to happy hours and get them involved in the company softball team. The social aspect is as important as the professional during this early stage.

5. Be in the office when they arrive.

Hiring managers often assume that their jobs are done once the contracts are signed. But that’s not the case. You should be there when your hires first show up for work, if only to provide a friendly face and introduce them to their other important contacts. If you’ve already scheduled your vacation and it conflicts with their start dates, push their first day back by a week. Your presence is critical to the onboarding process.

6. Help them transition into their role.

The first week of a new hire’s tenure is about helping them adjust to the new environment. The second is transitioning them into their new job. Facilitate initial collaboration between the new employee and the rest of the team, and check in to make sure they’re integrating well.

7. Document FAQs.

Every hire has some unique needs, but you’ll hear many of the same questions come up every time you onboard a new employee. How do I request time off? How do I submit expense reports? Where are the office supplies? How do I place an IT request? Those are questions every new hire needs answered, so compile a reference guide that addresses common queries.

8. Schedule regular check-ins.

Plan daily meetings with new hires for the first couple of weeks, and weekly check-ins after that. It may seem difficult to balance such meetings with your other responsibilities, but you must carve out time for these employees. Having a standing meeting gives people a forum to raise questions or concerns. And it gives you a chance to spot problems early on. Maybe the person isn’t adjusting as well as you expected or has become overwhelmed by their workload. Instead of letting the situation deteriorate to the point where they quit, you can offer solutions and guide them back on course. You want new hires to integrate with the team, so don’t undertake the onboarding process on your own. Involve other managers and employees in the effort, and distribute the cultural integration and welcome activities. The more people who are involved, the more welcome new employees will feel – and the more likely they’ll stay with your company.

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