Onboarding is often confused with orientation. Orientation is when the newly hired employees tour the office and complete the requisite paperwork. They spend the day learning about employee benefits, company policies, and where to find the best food truck. Onboarding is different. It is the total program in which a new employee participates to take them from a new hire to a productive team member. Onboarding includes orientation but also includes team meetings, learning sessions, performance planning and other activities that outline expectations, team and company goals, and how the new hire fits in to these goals.
The onboarding process can help new employees feel like they belong at your company. They become invested in their roles and in your company’s overall mission. Far too many human resources departments focus on the paperwork when they should be more concerned with the people they just hired. Here are a few innovative concepts in onboarding that will help your company successfully integrate your rookies into your team.
1. Digital Paperwork
Paperwork is a drain. It takes forever to fill out properly. If you try to save time by encouraging your new hires to complete the paperwork during the company’s video history or the new hire presentation, you risk errors. Instead, send new employees the required documents via email. Have them fill out the paperwork before the first day and email it back to you. You will still be able to go over the paperwork together, but this will save a massive chunk of time.
2. Short-Term Goals
People feel better when they have objectives. Giving new hires something to work toward is a great way to spark ambition. These goals can be professional (for example, an IT rep might be tasked with responding to X tickets within her first month) or casual (new junior attorneys at a law firm must introduce themselves to each partner during their first week).
3. Focus on Company Values
Company loyalty still matters, if you impress upon your staff why. Instilling company values is a major first step in this process. Likely, your corporate mission, vision, or values were something that attracted the new hire. By reinforcing those with personal stories from other employees, you can demonstrate how commitment goes both ways and engender loyalty from the start.
4. Support Systems
Linking a rookie with a veteran employee is a great way to encourage camaraderie. Mentorships not only help new employees learn soft skills and unofficial rules of the office, they enable leadership development for more established employees.
5. Self-Guided Training
If the role does not require much interaction with coworkers, self-guided training might be a great option. Employees will feel more in control of their training. Supervisors should remember, however, to check in with these employees frequently to make sure that they understand all the material and don’t feel isolated.
6. Customized Orientation
Orientation should be customized for each role and each department. After all, a new paralegal won’t face the same obstacles as a new marketing director. While ensuring the new employee is exposed to various departments and personnel, having a tailored program will increase the speed-to-competency and comfort level with the role.
7. Rating Your Onboarding Program
Contrary to what you might think, you can measure the success of your onboarding program. You could contrast the performance of new employees against employees in the same roles who underwent the previous program, comparing each team member’s three-, six-, and nine-month reviews. A robust evaluation and measurement program should be part of every development initiative in your company. That program can tell you when you have increased new employee retention, the hallmark of a successful onboarding process!
When done well, onboarding can lead to increased employee retention and improved time-to-competency. Following the ideas listed above can transform your employee orientation from a day-long session of paperwork into an engaging employee onboarding program.