Streetwise: Properly Onboarding Staff For Success

July 17, 2021

From our friends at Eure Consulting:

People often don’t realize how difficult it can be for new employees to become contributing members of an organization. Helping new employees get on board is much more challenging than most companies think. It’s common to adopt the attitude, “Well, they’re on board and making good money, now let’s see how they do!”

But, according to BambooHR, 31% of people quit a job within the first six months.

When asked what would have helped them stay at a job 23% of respondents said “receiving clear guidelines to what my responsibilities were.” And 21% said they wanted “more effective training.”

According to 1,000 people interviewed in the BambooHR survey:

  • 76% want on the job training
  • 73% want to understand company policies
  • 59% want a company tour, equipment set up, and to know what procedures are important
  • 56% want a buddy or mentor

Making a new hire costs way too much time and money to lose someone simply because the company isn’t committed to helping an employee become engaged and excited. Leaders tend to invest a lot of time recruiting new employees, but not nearly as much time helping them settle in.

Every new employee comes to the table ready to blow their manager away. Usually, it’s the manager who deflates that enthusiasm. You need to make new staff orientation a commitment, not just a checklist.

New hires have a lot to process when they start a job.

They are nervous, anxious, and possibly even fearful that they won’t fit in or won’t live up to their manager’s expectations. It’s critical that managers stay in close touch with each new employee and conduct a review of everything they’ve learned.

Managers have to be intentional about their communication with new staff. Encourage them to find opportunities to engage the new employee on an ongoing basis and really listen to what they’re saying and what they’re not. Review their job description with them regularly to make sure they know what is expected of them and that they have the tools and resources needed to complete their work.

Here are 5 questions managers can ask new employees every week:

  1. How do you feel about becoming a part of our company?
  2. What has been your greatest challenge?
  3. Do you have any questions or are there any questions you’re not asking?
  4. Did anything create confusion this week?
  5. What can I do right now to help?

But a new hire’s success is not only about how well the employee performs on the job.

Just because they can do their job well doesn’t mean they’ll want to stay. It’s also about how well they integrate with the team. And it’s about helping them feel like they are a part of the company’s culture and are helping the company move towards its goals.

Basically, culture is how your people treat each other. The unspoken ways that work gets done. Whether you have formally defined your culture or not, you have one at your company. If you haven’t formally defined it, look around and observe your employees’ interactions. You’ll start to see which behaviors are tolerated and which behaviors aren’t acceptable. This is your company culture.

If it’s not something you’re proud of, the good news is you can fix it. Changing it will take work, but it can be done. Get started right away!

If it is something you’re proud of, make sure new hires experience the culture in action. Help them to see and understand how your company does its work, day-in and day-out. These are the interactions that happen in between meetings. The “watercooler” conversations. Without an intentional understanding of these subtle work habits, a new hire can feel intimidated.

To help a new hire become a part of the informal aspects of working at the company you can assign a peer mentor or buddy. This is someone who knows the company well and will be able to help the new employee adjust to life in the organization. The responsibility of properly onboarding a new employee does not have to lie solely with their manager.

In addition to the informal peer-to-peer learning, it’s also important to include a more formal new staff orientation program.

A program where people have the chance to learn about the company “on paper”. This allows new hires to learn the ropes as well as company lingo before being thrown into the deep end. It also helps them to buy into the vision and gives them a sense of the bigger picture. Make sure to cover company history, what you do, how you do it, how you make money, how you spend money, and any industry or company jargon.

Give them as much information as you possibly can. No detail is too insignificant. Don’t assume that they know anything about your company, even if they’ve been working in the same industry. Different companies use different terms and processes. Truly start from scratch so that you know your new employee has all the information they need to be successful.

Make it a company priority to stay on top of how each new employee is assimilating into the culture. No one should allow new hires to become disenfranchised simply because people were too busy to care.

Don’t lose the great employees you worked so hard to hire.

Make sure to properly onboard and engage your new staff so that they feel a part of the team from day one. This includes both formal and informal onboarding processes. Peer buddies or mentors can help employees learn the ropes of the company’s everyday culture. While managers will help them understand their roles and their place in the larger organization.

And this isn’t a one-and-done check-in at the 30-day mark. Make sure your managers and the new hire’s peers are checking in on a regular and ongoing basis. They’ll need consistent check-ins to know that they are valued and that they’re not alone.

Why would you leave the success of your hiring up to chance? Be intentional about helping to onboard new staff and they’ll be more likely to succeed.