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ALL ABOARD! Steering the New Employee in the Right Direction

December 13, 2012

I used to wonder what “Onboarding and Orientation” was all about.  What do you mean I need to board a company ship and orient myself into unchartered waters?  I am sure this is exactly how a lot of new employees feel when they first start their new job and are introduced to the Onboarding and Orientation program.  If not properly structured this experience can be overwhelming at the very least, and tends to become a whirlwind of places, names, and processes.  This lack of structure may very well explain why 22% of staff turnover occurs in the first forty-five days of employment.

I had heard the term ‘onboarding’ fly around previous offices, but it was not until I started at Conroy Ross 12 months ago that I really learned what it was.  I had no clue what people were describing when they spoke about onboarding.  But, I figured that it must be some sort of training or orientation process to help new employees “Jump On Board” with the company and become an invested employee who is able to add value, and generate revenue as soon as possible.  You know what?  Turns out, I was (somewhat) right!

While at first glance, onboarding may seem like a laundry list of safety information, building amenities, security protocols and trying to understand a million names, login ID’s, and bathroom locations; this can’t be farther from the truth.  Many believe that onboarding is a term that can be swapped with what we believe is a new employee introduction.  But in actual fact onboarding starts from the job offer through to the new employee setting sail in their new position.  And when done well, actually takes about six months to complete. It’s much more than just a checklist… it’s about reinforcing the new employee’s decision to join your company and become a valued team member.  Onboarding will empower them with information to understand the company and vision, while reinforcing the attitude and behaviours needed to set them up for success on the job.

My onboarding experience at Conroy Ross was almost seamless and involved many best practices that can benefit any organization.  I did not have the stress and worry that I had felt when starting with previous companies, largely due to the well-planned and executed onboarding process – which actually began before my first day.  The process was integrated with hiring and I felt welcome on my first day.  I had my own personalized ‘onboarding roadmap’ so everything was organized, scheduled, and easy to follow.  Yes, there were still a lot of names and other things to remember, but it was clear that the onboarding experience was more than a checklist and I always had a team member that was available to assist me during the onboarding experience.  Through the process I was able to relax, utilize different delivery mediums like one-on-one meetings and electronic training sessions, and retain the information I needed.

90% of companies believe that their employees make their decision to stay at the company within the first six months, and a company’s onboarding process can make the difference between whether you stay or go.  My advice to an onboardee is to welcome and enjoy your new role and space while leaving the onboarding to the experts.  Effective onboarding should guide you and support you to integrate with the organization while making your voyage smooth.

As for the onboarders out there, here are some thoughts to consider that can make your employee’s onboarding experience effective:

–       The first day is the first real experience (but not the first impression) that the new team member has from which to form an opinion of their new company.  They will go home after day one with one of two sentiments – doubt or reassurance. The details matter on day one, so don’t miss anything.  An easy first step is to ensure that someone is expecting the new employee, and ready to welcome them upon arrival.

–       Set a schedule, or if you already have a schedule, stick to it!  A strong, well-made schedule shows new employees you care about their development and want to guide them through the process.  Sticking to the schedule also provides a new employee with structure and comfort during an early transition period.

–       Remember to set goals to ensure that both employer and employee understand what is expected of each of them throughout the process.  Have a goal path to follow for 30, 60, 90 days to one year.  These goals will help both the new employee and employer plan into the future, and will assist the new employee in understanding their importance to the growth of the company.

–       Make sure that you don’t cram too many things into one day.  Spreading out the onboarding and orientation process over the weeks and months, rather than days, makes things a lot easier to handle and understand as well as providing a new employee with a clear development roadmap into their future.

–       Be organized, and monitor success.  People don’t all learn the same way and it can take time to bring a fresh employee up to speed.  Using learning milestones and measuring competency understanding can be an effective tool to allow new employees and managers to measure a new hire’s progress.

–       Patience, a smile, and a friendly face can go a long way.  A mentor for a new employee can act as a confidant for questions and/or concerns about the role and the company and provide guidance on development.  This can get your rookie feeling excited about the new adventure they are about to embark on!

I hope that whether you are a new employee or an employer that this will help you to understand, cope with, and see the value in the onboarding and orientation process.  For employers, I do hope that you can utilize some of these tips in your onboarding and orientation process to help your new employees set sail and become a statistic for productivity and success.

_ Lisa

We help organizations thrive by building strong leadership teams & driving sustainable growth.

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