When a new employee joins a company, the first few days (and weeks) are essential to make sure he/she will adapt properly and receive all necessary knowledge as soon as possible. This important process, previously known as ’employee’ orientation, is now called employee onboarding.
A few years back, companies – especially big ones – had a pre-established package of actions and information the HR department passed on to all new employees, literally orienting him/her on how to proceed for the first few weeks at the job.
Nowadays, employee onboarding is seen as a much more comprehensive process in which all employees, especially the new hire’s team members, are involved in ensuring he feels comfortable and confident to do his/her best.
A modern employee onboarding process goes way beyond a couple of meetings with HR to provide general information. Many studies have proven that these first moments are critical to the long-term development of an employee, that’s why companies are dedicating more time and resources to make the employee feel welcome and acclimated at their job.
What is employee onboarding?
Different from the old ‘orientation’ concept, employee onboarding goes way beyond providing generic information.
Even though the general onboarding structure may vary from company to company (or even from team to team), it normally includes training and mentoring sessions, achievements/milestones and interactive meetings.
It goes without saying that the employee’s experience during the first couple of weeks at a new job will leave a lasting impression. A well-structured employee onboarding process helps ensure this impression is positive.
Let’s begin with the new employee’s first day at work. You can set up a few standard steps for welcoming the new team member on his/her first day. Letting the receptionist know a new employee is arriving today or having a team member greet the new employee as he arrives and personally escorting him to the new workstation can go a great distance.
Always make sure to let the team know a new person is joining the team and introduce him to all his new colleagues. Don’t overwhelm the new team member with information on his first day, you’ll have the rest of the week properly introduce the company, how it works, the organizational structure and much more.
As most interviews are not exceptionally clear on explaining the new employee’s attributions at his position, you’ll be expected to provide specific orientation and explain what’s expected of him, what resources he’ll have to achieve his goals, etc.
Many managers make the mistake of believing that the employee onboarding process should last no longer that a week (it should last a lot longer, by the way).
Following up on the new employee’s initial performance, establishing benchmarks and scheduling meetings to give specific, more complex orientation as he proceeds with the learning process.
Always (and I stress, ALWAYS) make sure to ask the new employee how his onboarding process is going, if he has all necessary information to perform his activities, etc.
Take advantage of these scheduled meetings to get to know the new team member and get his feedback on each step of the onboarding process. This information are priceless to help improve your process continuously.