On-boarding is ‘secret sauce’ to cultivating great team

New hires frequently report that they don’t have enough to do, sitting at a desk and staring at a computer

Sixty-nine percent of employees who experience a proper on-boarding stay on the job for three years. If that’s not enough to catch your attention consider this: 20 percent of turnover happens in the first 45 days (Click Boarding).

We know that no business sets out to create an environment of chaos or one that is unwelcoming or even one that is boring, but new hires frequently report that their on-boarding is all three. New hires often report that they don’t have enough to do. Sitting at a desk or workstation staring at the computer with nothing to do to be productive is dreadful. And, it happens to new hires frequently.

An on-boarding plan is a method by which a company acclimates, engages and retains new employees (Society of Human Resource Management). On-boarding is the secret sauce to cultivating a great team.

What should be included in an on-boarding plan?

Before the First Day:

  • Stay connected to your new recruit between the offer and their first day.
  • Start on-boarding before your new team member’s first day by sending a welcome email or even a video greeting. This email will tell the employee what time and where to arrive on the first day of work, what they should wear and perhaps a bit about their first-day schedule. It will also convey how excited you are that the team member is coming to work for you.
  • Share the news with your current team about your new hire, their start date, and some details about their background. Proactive communication with your team will help create an inviting environment for the new hires’ first day and transparency for your workforce.
  • Mail a card to the new hire signed by the entire team.

First Day:

  • The ideal first day should have a fully booked agenda with minimal downtime. Okay, just a little to let the employee login to systems and email. But not too much or things get boring. Naturally, the first day will include a meeting with their manager and also Human Resources or Payroll for important first-day paperwork.
  • Show team members that you are expecting their arrival by creating a new hire welcome kit and have it sitting on their desk on the first day. Perhaps add some company swag in the form of a water bottle, coffee mug or company logo-wear to their welcome kit.
  • Power-up their workstation to include all necessary supplies, technology, usernames and passwords that will be important for their work. If applicable order business cards, name tag, and ID badge before their first day.
  • Provide a tour of the office along with introductions. Also, include a map of workstations so that they can easily find team members after the tour. Give new hires access to an employee directory and organizational chart.
  • Take the new hire to lunch. Make a plan to take the new team member to lunch either in a group or 1:1.
  • End of day wrap-up. Schedule a check-in at the end of the first day. Ask what went well and what could have gone better to gather insight as you plan for the remainder of their on-boarding. Repeat this check-in often.

Beyond the First Day:

  • Create a schedule for the first two to three weeks. Pre-set essential meetings throughout the first weeks so that the new hire knows what to expect. Ideas include: meetings with business leaders, meetings with peers, having them sit in or join a special task force or project.
  • Plan a formal sit down, or 1:1, with the manager and new employee at 30, 60 and 90 days.
  • Assign ramp-up goals. What should the new hire accomplish in the first 30, 60 and 90 days?
  • Schedule time for the new team member to train on all aspects of the business, not only their department. Cross-training and introductions to all departments in the first weeks can be helpful.
  • Ask the new hire to rate his/her on-boarding at the end of 90 days. What went well? What could have gone better?

How long is the on-boarding process?

A full 90 days. Yes, it is more intense upfront with the first day planned out by every hour. As the on-boarding progresses, you can check in and guide less frequently. Managers fail though when they stop engaging with their new hire after the first two to three weeks and assume they are all set.

The ideal scenario with on-boarding is that a business recruits a talented superstar and they meet their superstardom beginning on the first day. Engage them, train them and set them free to contribute their talents to the business. On-boarding can go one of two ways: an employee reports to their friends and family that “it’s fine,” or they report, perhaps even brag on social media, that they “made the best career decision ever.” It’s your choice.

Amy McGeachy, PHR, is an HR consultant in Southwest Washington and the founder of McGeachy Consulting and The Exceptional Workplace. She has spent nearly a decade working hands-on with small business owners to cultivate their workforce and create the kind of businesses they’re proud to lead.

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