Published 22 December, 2020

12 Ways to Create a Positive Onboarding Experience (6 Mins Read)

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team. An effective onboarding process will help your new hires feel more valued, better understand their role and increase their productivity and performance, resulting in increased engagement. Part of creating an inclusive onboarding experience is recognizing that not everyone takes in the information in the same way. Giving each new hire the time and space to hear and digest all the new information about their role and the company is one of the best ways to give them a warm welcome to the company.

According to a study, 4% of new hires quit after a disastrous first day, while 22% of turnover happens within the first 45 days. So, we see that onboarding matters. It matters not only because employees are 58% more likely to remain in the organization after 3 years if onboarding is done right. It also matters because not doing it right will cost you a lot. This is the cost incurred as a result of  your employees’ lack of understanding of “company policies, business processes, job function or a combination of all the three.” A bad onboarding experience not only leaves a negative impression on your new employee, but it also slows down their time to productivity and can result in a shorter stay at the company.

How to create a positive onboarding experience

You won’t get a second chance to create a first impression. So, please make sure that you have an onboarding process in place that leaves your new hires feeling welcome, valued and prepared. You can create a great onboarding experience following these 12 tips:

  1. Start before Day1: Why should you wait for the new employee’s first day to put them under the pressure of all the paperwork and info you could possibly think of? There’ll be plenty of pressure on their shoulders, as it is. Your job is to make that smooth for them and ensure it becomes a worthwhile experience. So, before they cross your doorstep, sign them up for your learning management system tool, or whichever internal communication app you use. Then send them straight out a message from the CEO, in video form. Get the CEO to not only speak briefly about the company mission, vision and values, but also about that employee who was chosen, what was it that the company saw in them. Chances are, on your first CEO session during the onboarding, there will be several other new hires in the room. So this is your chance to make it special for each and every one of them before they’re even there.
  2. Keep it simple: There’s no need to make the new hires learn the hard way. Keep things simple and engaging as far as possible. Your communication and collaboration tools can help here. Add new hires to a ‘new starters’ group that uses pinned posts and file sharingto help people get up to speed quickly.
  3. Make it personal: Every new hire is an individual. So their onboarding experiences should be too. Make sure that each one feels unique, excited and above all relevant. Simple steps to do this include assigning mentors to new hires to help build employee relations and develop professional plans. Go on treating them like the valuable assets that you saw in them, when you were still courting them for recruitment. For starters, simply ask them – either in session or after, through a short questionnaire – how distinctive they felt throughout the onboarding process. Feedback is something you would have asked for either way. So why not make it about them, instead and show them that you really care about them?
  4. Introducing yourself at every step: You should not miss an opportunity to tell the new person more about the other employees and the company culture even before they start. Chances are, they will be pretty excited and you have to keep those excitement levels up. Feed them with regular videos, podcasts, or employee testimonialsabout the company and what working there means. They’ll feel that they are getting an insider’s perspective and that they are, indeed, stepping into a family.
  5. Coordinate to facilitate: When a new person joins the team, a lot of departments will have a little bit to chip in with. Instead of having them all jump on the person on the first day, get them to funnel info via an app at pre scheduled times and dates. That way, your new hire will have a clear calendar of when they’ll be dealing with whom and they’ll be able to properly take in all the info they’re given.
  6. Talking about the necessary evils: Nothing is worse than having a person not know what are the criteria they will judged by, for their work. At some point during onboarding, you’ll have to discuss performance appraisal systems and how the performance evaluation is done. So instead of having them frustrating in confusion, set the records straight from the very beginning. It’ll show you as a professional and very dedicated company and it’ll set their benchmarks up front. How a company evaluates its employees, most often that also defines its values and what it stands for.
  7. Day 1 Bonanza: It’s quite odd that we only celebrate people when they leave a job. Instead, why not make the Day 1 of a new hire a celebration in itself? Throw a welcome party for them, give them a T-shirt just like all the other department members have. Go the extra mile, and have a welcome dinner in their first week, where spouses and family is also invited. That would get them all pumped up for the foreseeable future.
  8. Create memorable moments: First day Lunch. For a lot of employees, old and new ones included, lunch is usually designated as a socializing and bonding time. Your new hire will probably be under quite some stress, trying to figure out where to go for lunch or who they can hang out with. Sort that out for them by having their line manager take them out for lunch. It’ll be way easier for them to bond, given that they’re all new to the place.
  9. Right Mentoring: The new employees will be eager to impress their new manager and colleagues. They’ll be at pains to figure out their way around the office in the first few days. But you can solve all of that by pairing them up with a buddy or a mentor, at least for their first month. Provide a context for them to be in constant communication and make sure the newbie knows who their go to person is, in case of need. Take this chance to also turn it more widely into a mentorship program. Have the buddy or mentor monitor the new hire’s experience and offer feedback regularly. Set up timelines and objectives for the first month’s workload and then check in with both of them regularly to see how it goes.
  10. Take constant feedback: Start asking for feedback right from the day one. Send out a questionnaire to all the new employees asking them how would they like to be managed, what they react to best and what would make them most productive. This will be the first step towards the get to know each other phase that begins as soon as they cross your doorstep and continue throughout, at least for the first three months. Feedback will also allow you to keep track of their first steps in the company. It will accompany and complete that occasional check in by their desk, asking ‘Hey, how’s it going?’. So long as they feel they are being regularly asked for their opinions and feelings and their answers really make a difference – there is nothing to worry about. You will know exactly how to tailor their initial experience with the company and they will feel truly welcome in the team.
  11. Set up the proper training schedule: Take these first few days to also set up a training schedule that answers their needs. This will also help plan out their path within the company and it will clarify their development path, so they feel motivated to deliver and perform. Use your learning management system to push notifications on deadlines or check progress with them. Of course, everyone will be happy to get the benefits and other perks. But investing in their training while also explaining why and how that fits in with the company vision will make all the difference in the world.
  12. Let them have fun: If you have people to sit through endless PowerPoint presentations about the company, then you’ll lose them within seconds. If you have a batch of new hires, then mix info about the company with some fun activities that help in the team building. Of course, these could be competitions and contests that relate to the values of the company. That way you present some heavy stuff in a way that sticks. Team building activities help people relax and enjoy themselves while working in a competitive environment.

Takeaway: A great onboarding experience isn’t only about the feel good feeling it creates but it’s important for the employee engagement, retention and recruiting—all of which affect the bottom line and have the potential to improve your business results. Most importantly, an amazing onboarding experience sets up each employee for the success, regardless of their background, experience or personality. Once onboarded, employees should feel that they made the right decision to join your company and they belong to that place.


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