Setting up your New Hires for Success

People Around Desk

Creating an optimal onboarding plan for new hires sets the tone for the entire employee experience and instantly helps the team member feel valued, motivated and engaged. Making a great first impression is crucial for employee retention and you only get one chance. Optimizing the employee experience before they start will increase your chances of successfully integrating the new employee into the company quickly and effectively.

It takes time for a new employee to get to know their colleagues and to understand how their role ties in with the business operations and objectives.  The new employee introduction challenge is bigger than any one person or the HR department alone.  Managers need to understand the importance of an inclusive onboarding process and should involve team members along the way.

The following are best practice guidelines that may augment or improve what you are currently doing:

Announce the new hire to the team:

This is a critical onboarding step as it keeps everyone informed about upcoming new hires and will establish credibility with the new employee and team. Ask the new hire if they are comfortable sharing a headshot photo of themselves which you can include in their announcement.  It is also helpful for other employees to recognize the new hire when they start.  If you have included key members of your team as part of the hiring decision, then you have already made the team feel valued and this can also make things easier when the candidate starts.

Send a Welcome Guide prior to start date:

Keep in touch with the candidate to keep them engaged and excited, especially if there is a long gap between the job acceptance and actual start date.  At this stage you most likely have a signed employment contract in place, but this doesn’t mean there should be minimal contact before they start.  A welcome package is a great onboarding opportunity.  It helps establish the company’s culture and builds momentum.  Consider adding key information about logistics such as your lunchroom and parking facilities as well as dress code requirements.  Make sure the welcome guide is a fun and exciting read by including pictures, social media links, company events, and other useful information which will get them inspired about being part of the company culture.

Put together an onboarding kit and be sure to include company swag:

Let’s face it – everyone appreciates corporate clothing and accessories. A cool bit of gear certainly makes a lasting impression. Gifts can include notebooks, coffee mugs, water bottles, keyring holders and pens.  Another idea is to provide a voucher to the popular bistro across the road or a nearby coffee shop. If the new hire has an office or workstation be sure to give them a few new stationary items like a notepad, post it notes and pens. Prepare a package that includes key information such as an extension list, organizational chart, health and safety information as well as training material or resource links available.

Develop a Q&A handout:

There are often questions that employees ask which are not clearly explained in the HR policy and procedure manual and this is a great opportunity to prepare a Q&A list that you can gives new hire upfront that addresses these queries.  This can include links to information material and resources that can be found on a shared public drive that your new hire won’t know about or only get to at a later stage but might forget with all they have to absorb the first few weeks.  It will also save you a lot of time in the long run.

Assign a New Hire Buddy:

Choose a dependable and positive employee that is willing to provide guidance and support to the new hire.  Their role is vital in helping with the smooth transition of the onboarding experience.  Having a memorable first day and week is important but assigning a mentor is an important next step, which ultimately reduces the chances of the new hire becoming unhappy.  Joining the new hire for lunch on their first day is a nice gesture and enables them to build relationships right away. A peer who is that go-to person for the new hire will help ease them into the job as the manager may not be always available to answer questions.  On a side note, for the right employees who exemplifies company values and your preferred culture, a formally assigned buddy role can also be an appointed title which comes with additional responsibilities and extra wages and/or incentives.

Administrative and other set-up tasks:

The first few weeks are usually packed with a lot of information.  There may be a few forms that need to be completed for payroll or other purposes prior to the start date.  Don’t send a ton of forms and expect policies and manuals to be read as the candidate is most likely working in their termination notice and even taking a few vacation days before they start their next full-time role.  Rather plan a simple schedule that’s not too overwhelming and arrange introductions, leadership presentations and videos that feature your company’s mission, history, products and stories.  These can be arranged in between time allocated for reading policies and completing documentation.

Appoint the new hire’s buddy and ensure they are prepared for their start date. There are the usual I.T. set up requirements that need to be arranged as well as office space, stationary, and first week or two of work schedules.  Ensure these are planned and have appropriate ownership within the existing team as I.T. tool changes are difficult, so a well-organized technical transition is always appreciated.

Other fun ideas include a kudos card from the team that the new hire receives on their first day or setting up their desk with all the new stationary and swag, even a balloon or two to make things festive. One simple idea is to plan for the employee to arrive a little later on the first day so that you have everything set up, and to ensure undivided attention with minimal sense of scrambling.

Offer constant support, feedback and follow-up:

Besides setting up a 30, 60 and 90-day review, schedule time to recap on training and expectations throughout the onboarding period.  Provide early feedback and clear up any misconceptions or concerns.  Probationary feedback is a great way to obtain feedback on how well the onboarding program works and gives you the opportunity to make improvements.

When it comes to getting new hires acquainted with the company and the job as quickly as possible, employee onboarding is a vital program, and your efforts will pay off with significantly increased employee engagement and retention.

Contact Bridge Legal & HR Solutions for a comprehensive onboarding checklist and best practice guide – (647) 794-5442 or at admin@bridgelegalhr.ca 

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