The employee onboarding challenge: Getting new hires to hit the ground running

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

By Henry Brown

Starting a new job can be akin to the first day of school: a mixture of anxiety, excitement, uncertainty, and potential. As businesses, it’s crucial that we recognize the critical window of opportunity that is the onboarding phase. Properly managed, this phase can convert the new recruit’s tentative steps into confident strides, enabling them to contribute faster and more effectively. So, what does it take to get new hires to hit the ground running? Let’s delve into actionable strategies to tackle this challenge head-on.

#1 Comprehensive pre-boarding process 

Even before the first day, lay the groundwork. Sending a welcome package, an organizational overview, and even a brief about the company culture can make the first day less intimidating. This ensures the new hire doesn’t spend day one just trying to navigate the basics.

#2 First day orientation 

A warm, structured welcome can set the tone for the entire tenure of an employee. Introduce them to their teams, give them a tour of the facility, and ensure all logistical matters, like ID cards and email setup, are promptly addressed. Remember that first impressions matter. The first day will show the employee who and what your company is.

#3 Dedicated buddy or mentor 

Pairing a new employee with a ‘buddy’ from their team can be immensely beneficial. This person can serve as a point of contact for all questions, provide work-related guidance, and even introduce the newbie to the workplace culture.

#4 Interactive training modules 

Traditional training, with its lengthy manuals and monotonous sessions, is rarely effective. Embrace e-learning platforms or create interactive training modules that allow employees to learn at their own pace while also engaging with the material. Most learning and development professionals promote a blended learning approach for new employees as an online-only onboarding can often feel very lonely.

#5 Regular check-ins and feedback 

This isn’t just a one-week process. Continuously check-in during the initial months. Immediate feedback can correct course swiftly and ensures that the new hire feels valued and heard. The key to success is that feedback should be used to close the loop. Unfortunately, many companies seek feedback for the sake of it. Leadership must consult the feedback and make decisions based on past experiences.

#6 Clear roadmap and expectations 

One of the main reasons new employees stumble is unclear expectations. Have a clear 30, 60, and 90-day plan outlining what they should be achieving at each stage. This is very similar to a KPI model, yet with less pressure.

#7 Immersion in company culture 

This is about more than just knowing the company’s mission statement. Activities like team lunches, company outings, and team-building exercises can go a long way in ensuring that the new hire feels like a part of the community.

#8 Employer branding: Making the brand tangible 

Let’s talk about a potent tool, promotional products. Think of these as tangible embodiments of your company’s ethos and brand. For new hires, receiving company-branded items can enhance a sense of belonging. These items can range from apparel to tech gadgets. Beyond the functional use, every time they use or wear the product, they’re reminded of the organization’s identity and their role within it.

Many businesses consider an onboarding process a formality and a tick-box exercise, without seeing the value of what a world class onboarding process can bring to their business. We’re not talking about rocket science here, think about how you would like your first days in a business to be if you were to join a new team tomorrow.

Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop, he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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