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Conversations, thoughts, and insights

Onboarding Practices to Get Employees Engaged on Day One

By Team PF May 23, 2018

The first day on the job is difficult for everyone, no matter how long they’ve been in the workforce. More importantly, day one sets the tone for an employee’s entire tenure at your company. Getting employees excited and engaged on day one is essential for a successful, long-term employment. 

A study by Gallup showed that businesses with the best employee engagement are 21% more profitable, 17% more productive, have 10% better customer ratings and experience 41% less absenteeism than companies with lower employee engagement. After accepting an offer, your employee is excited to be a part of what you’re doing and she wants to hit the ground running on day one. This is especially true when onboarding leadership positions.

So while a welcome letter or employee mug filled with candy are great, it’s vital to put together a comprehensive onboarding process and new hire checklist to ensure new employees are up to speed, welcome and ready to contribute to your organization right away. Here are few things to do on day one to ensure your employee wraps up the day excited and not questioning why she took the job.

Host a New Hire Orientation

Putting together a new employee orientation requires a lot of work, but it’s much easier than heading back to the drawing board if your newest hire leaves because she wasn’t properly onboarded. Ideally, a new hire orientation should include multiple sessions throughout the day and, in some cases, over the course of a week because there’s a lot to cover whether you’re onboarding your summer interns or the new CEO. Whether through formal group sessions or one-on-one meetings, the following orientation seminars should take place on a new employee’s first day.

  • Company overview – You’ve probably covered some of this in interviews, but to get everyone on the same page, schedule a meeting to go over the company history, the intricacies of your product, the company vision, your target audience, competitors and, most importantly, your team and org structure. Get everyone on the same page day one.
  • Individual role expectations – The onboarding manager should collaborate with the new hire’s direct report to set up a meeting to discuss role expectations and responsibilities, as well as go over the tools, systems and processes the new hire will use on a day-to-day basis. Any misinterpretation here could lead an employee feeling unsupported or confused as to how they can contribute to your organization.
  • Office tour – As you’re going through your new hire checklist, don’t forget the basics of office layout. Show her where the bathrooms, kitchen, supply closet and conference rooms are. For employees that are new to the area, this is also a great time to give them a list or map of nearby lunch spots. And if you’re onboarding leadership roles, make sure they know about the best local spots for entertaining clients and partners. Anything you do to make them feel welcome and at home will go a long way.
  • Company culture overview – Don’t forget to walk through the less official, cultural aspects of your company. Show her how to use the coffee maker and let her know which food is communal. Go over the dress code and typical hours. If your work is complete at 5 p.m., is it frowned upon to leave? Do people typically take a lunch break? While you shouldn’t overemphasize how demanding the job is, you should make sure expectations are clearly set.
  • HR paperwork – Though it’s not the most exciting to review, make sure you cover the basics of PTO, sick days, who to call in an emergency, what the insurance plan looks like, how to set up or transfer 401ks, employee perks and your harassment policy.
  • Team-building activity – Don’t underestimate the power of a team-building activity, company happy hour or team lunch on day one. Starting a new job is a struggle and it takes time for a person to get to know her co-workers. Help speed the process along with an event that forces people to step away from their desks and actually get to know their new co-worker.

Properly Introduce Your New Hire

20161019004731-woman-leading-business-meetingSpeaking of getting to know co-workers, everyone’s surely familiar with the day-one whirlwind of being paraded around the office and hearing the 40 names associated with faces you see for a brief second before they turn around to get back to work. While most companies opt for these speed introductions, you’ll have more success in your onboarding process if you take a little more time with introductions.

As you’re walking your new hire through the office, introduce them by their name, title, something she has proven to excel at and how she can help the team you’re introducing her to. Your new hire will immediately feel valuable and other employees have more context as to who she is. It’s also important not to refer to someone as “the new Carol”. Each person has a unique set of skills that might differ from the person she’s replacing. Introduce an individual, not a role.

Your new hire just came from a place where she knows her boss and teammates on a very personal level. Schedule time with the new hire’s direct report and team to let her get to know the personal and professional versions of her team. Then schedule 30-minute meetings with your new hire and any stakeholders she should get to know to do her job well.

Onboarding Leadership

While all these strategies can and should be applied to onboarding new employees at every level of your organization, further steps should be taken when onboarding leadership. Some companies fall into the trap of thinking executives don’t need onboarding because of their extensive experience, but this logic is flawed. According to a study by Center for Creative Leadership, 38 percent executives fail in the first 18 months on the job, and one of the leading causes is a poor or non-existent onboarding process.

interview-questions-for-managersSetting up a comprehensive onboarding process for leadership roles is crucial because they have a greater impact on your organization and need to feel empowered to make change quickly. In order to do make big decisions, they need to be armed with information, including a deep understanding of your organization, history and culture, as well as the support of other executive team members.

In addition to the tactics already outlined, include these two phases in your onboarding process for leadership.

  • The “soft skills” questionnaire – To help new executives quickly grasp the company’s culture, put together a questionnaire to compare the executive’s prior work practices, habits and management styles with those typically used in your office. If she’s coming from a relaxed, entrepreneurial setting where every employee is empowered to make big decisions, her management style may not work in your more structured, hierarchical company. Or if she’s coming from an organization that moves slowly, making very calculated decisions and her new reports are used to taking risks and moving at breakneck speed, both parties may get frustrated and feel less empowered. By creating this survey, you can identify gaps and work with her to ease the transition.
  • The elevator pitch – Ask the newest member of your leadership team to prepare a quick elevator speech to present during her first meeting with the rest of the team. It should sum up her new role and what she hopes to accomplish during the first few weeks or months on the job. This helps her to develop a concise message that she can communicate to the company during her first week on the job and it quickly gets everyone in the company on board with her vision.

Though it may seem like a lot of work, a thoughtful onboarding process saves you a lot of time down the road. Your new employee will feel like you’re invested in her success and she’ll leave the office smiling rather than dreading the new role she just accepted. And by properly engaging your new hires on day one, you’re increasing the chances for productivity on day two and beyond.

If you need help with your hiring or onboarding processes for leadership and other employees, reach out to the team at PeopleFoundry. We’d love to help.