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How (and why) to nail your onboarding

According to Forbes, last year “88% of employees weren’t thrilled with their onboarding experience.” But does it matter? They’ve got the job after all, and there’s a desk ready for them with a stack of resources waiting in their inbox. Onboarding complete.

Some of the most common complaints from employees are that either there was virtually no onboarding and in fact, perhaps neither their desk or their computer weren’t even ready when they arrived. Or that they were completely inundated with information on the first day and left feeling overwhelmed and bewildered with no clear sense of the company values or why they’d got the job.

And yes, it matters because according to Gallup, “a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%”. Those statistics do tend to vary according to the source but nevertheless, they create a compelling case for ensuring your onboarding is top drawer. And there are so many things you can do to get your new hires off to a flying start:

Personalised welcome videos

We all know that the weeks and days before you start a new job are nerve-wracking. Have you made the right decision? What will it be like? What about the boss? But a very simple way to ease some of this anxiety and to make a good impression right from the start is with personalised welcome videos. These could be from the CEO or the team, or both.

The videos don’t have to be long but what a great way to illustrate who you are and what you’re about, as well as putting a new hire at ease and making them feel welcome and valued. The great thing is with todays’ technology, even personalised welcome videos can be easy and quick to put together and by the time the new hire starts, they should already recognise a few key people.

Branded welcome kits

Who doesn’t love a bit of kit? And again, a branded welcome kit makes your new employee feel valued and welcome, creating the impression some effort has gone into planning their arrival. More importantly, it’s a great way to give them stuff that they need to help settle in. Along with their lanyard, you might include a reusable water bottle, pens and notebooks but also a fact sheet, and to do list for the first few days. And with some careful thought, you can start to embed the organisation’s values from the absolute get-go.

Induction activities

Last month, I was writing about the importance of creating a good first impression. Because the impressions and opinions we have of someone or something are normally formed within the first few seconds and yet can last a long time. For a new hire, that means the impression they form of your business on the first day, morning or even hour could be long lasting.

So, when they arrive, fresh faced and keen, full enthusiasm and excitement about their new job, rather than sit them at a desk with a pile of resources to read, why not get them involved in an induction activity? An activity that reflects your business and values.

The activities don’t have to be complicated, but the key is to make them a combination of related training as well as getting to know people personally and building trust. The great thing is that technology has made induction activities easy, and affordable with Apps and other platforms that make it simple and fun to record and share data.

Conversation starters

As the name suggests, icebreakers are all about helping employees get to know each other and the business. These games could include anything from a game of Truths and Lies which can be a lot of fun but has the advantage of encouraging employees to share interesting facts about themselves and start conversations. Another idea could be to try a personality quiz, either with a more formal Myers-Briggs style, or just informal questions such as what’s the most unusual job you’ve had or what skill do you have that people would be surprised about, and what’s your greatest achievement.

Inclusion activities

Games are also a great way to promote inclusion and a sense of belonging. There are lots of ways you can make this both fun but also effective. “What do we have in common” games (where teams are given three minutes to find three things they have in common), “Potluck lunch” is another great idea where employees bring in a dish inspired by their cultural background or just putting a team play list together with a favourite tune from everyone on the team.

Gamification and scavenger hunts

There are so many ways you can gamify your induction process and make it both fun and memorable. Consider industry and product trivia or winning points for attending a certain number of workshops or meeting key personnel.

The secret to the success of all these activities is to make sure they are well thought out. The activities should have clearly defined aims such as training or socialising, but you should also have some process for evaluating their success.

Informal Q&A sessions

Apart from the fun stuff, make sure you set aside time for the CEO or team and the new hire to meet to help them learn about the company and ask any questions. It’s all very well reading about it in the staff manual, but a personal meeting is going to be much more memorable and of course is completely tailored to the individual. There is no right or wrong time to host this meeting, but it needs to be carefully thought through so that it’s not too early (when the new hire is still getting to grips with the very basics) or too late.

Mentoring or a buddy system

Never underestimate the power of mentoring. Research shows that it significantly increases retention rates as well as inspiring employees to develop and grow their careers and making them feel welcome. And of course, there are the other benefits such as acquiring new skills and expertise.

As with everything, a mentoring or buddy system needs careful planning and there are different approaches to consider such as - 2- 1 mentoring, group mentoring or peer mentoring. There should always be a defined goal and a clear strategy for connecting mentors and mentees. Once that is in place, the mentoring process will nearly always benefit from having a defined structure such as having an agenda, regular meetings and feedback.

Onboarding feedback

Often forgotten but always important is asking for feedback from your new employees about how they found your onboarding process.

If you’d like advice about developing or improving your onboarding process, I can work with you to audit what you are currently doing and develop and plan a goal-driven strategy.

Contact me if you would like to chat further!


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