Making sure, that a new hire fits into the company, should begin at the recruitment stage, sure.
But sometimes, things don’t go as expected making us feel like we’ve made the wrong choice.
This usually happens, when you’ve had a bad start at a new company. Not being heard or appreciated, can lower your perceptions about the company and make it easy for you to leave.
This is why we have the first three month probation period, during which time both an employee and an employer are assessing each other.
Employee will look at how well the organization meets the expectations promised during the recruitment phase and employer will look at how well a new recruit performs and gets along with others.
Why is employee onboarding important?
Employee onboarding or employee integration, is a process of helping new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviours to become effective members of an organization.
According to the research conducted by Aberdeen Group in 2009, new employees make the decision whether to stay or leave, within the first 6 months.
First impression is important, because it sets the tone for the whole employment.
Unfortunately, in many companies, formal onboarding process either covers solely the first day induction, exist only on paper or is absent altogether.
The problem is, good employees are abundant with choice and qualified applicants are often “headhunted” by rival companies.
Highly competitive labour market is the reason a well-managed employee integration process is important.
My problem with employee onboarding
My biggest caveat with employee onboarding, is when managers default to a mechanical and routine approach, without actually trying to understand the person in front of them.
In my opinion, it is crucial to have a private discussion between the new staff and their immediate supervisor about what really needs to be done and what skills and attitudes are required to achieve the results.
Because … often, the advertised job description doesn’t give a full picture of the actual day-to-day work, so it’s important to have that transparent conversation within the first few days of joining and define clear expectations.
These should become regular two-way discussions, and not monologues from the manager.
Many new recruits tend to hover around in the background for some time, before they express their opinions or share their ideas with the group. A good manager should encourage involvement from day one, which will help to create a communicative, open and friendly atmosphere in the office.
Employee onboarding tactics
Below are some commonly used employee onboarding tactics for a successful integration.
First day: Induction
Induction is the first day at work, which aims to provide a new employee with basic information about the company.
Employee is given a tour of the office, they are introduced to colleagues, clients, operational processes and procedures, contracts and payroll.
Ideally, existing employees would know the name and the role of the new employee. The simple way to do this, is to have employees meet the new person right away. For some, meeting many people at once on already nervous first day, can be too overwhelming, so you could instead choose to wear name badges, which help with avoiding the awkwardness of office icebreakers.
Induction is the most admin-heavy part of employee integration and is primarly handled by HR manager.
First week: Understanding the company culture
Company culture is something that is hard to put into words.
It is a set of unwritten rules that all people of the company live by. Culture gives us understanding about what is normal, appropriate and expected, but also what is inappropriate and unaccepted.
Understanding the culture is what sets “us” (the insiders) apart from “them” (outsiders). When others don’t meet our expectations, it is often a cue that our cultures don’t fit.
No matter how natural your culture might seem to you, you can’t assume that anybody, who walks into your company, will immediately understand it.
This is why new employees should be briefed on internal rules, organizational structure and work ethics within the first week of joining.
Special attention should be given to explaining basic policies on breaks, working late, working from home, timeliness, holidays etc.
These issues are likely to arise quickly and the new employee will appreciate not having to unknowingly break a rule.
Probation: Getting a mentor
Many companies have found that mentoring, i.e. pairing the new employee with a more experienced colleague, can be effective for training and transferring an understanding of the organizational culture.
Mentors can be line or department managers, but also external subject matter experts, who are able to pass on the vision of the leadership and understanding of new markets.
In addition, partnering younger workers with their more seasoned colleagues, can be a very positive for sharing specific market expertise.
Cross generational or reverse mentoring recognizes that both younger and older employees can learn from each other, older people possess a business acumen and tricks of the trade and younger people understand digital technology and new age consumers.
Finding ways to leverage uniqueness of each generation will be a 21st-century competitive advantage.