I recently had a conversation with an executive who had just started her dream job with a Fortune 100 company and was asking for advice. Her new organization had done a great job during the recruitment process of selling her on the opportunity, educating her on the challenges of the role, and illuminating why the position would be a great career opportunity. Before she started, her excitement about the career transition was palpable. Yet, four months after starting her new role, she was feeling ineffective and questioning whether she had made the right professional move.
What went wrong? The initial momentum dissipated when her boss was absent on her first day, and no clear performance expectations were set for her role. The executive was also hampered by a disjointed onboarding process that included not getting a computer for the first two months, meaning she had to use her personal laptop.
Unfortunately, her experience wasn’t an anomaly. We find that many organizations fail to have a strategic process in place for onboarding team members. On average, companies lose 17 percent of their new hires during the first three months, according to the Society of Human Resources. After investing significant time and resources in the recruitment process, it is critical that organizations capitalize on the momentum and excitement of new hires, and effectively onboard team members.
Onboarding doesn’t start on day one, and it doesn’t end once the pre-employment screening and required forms have been completed. Effective onboarding is a process that starts at offer acceptance and continues on through year one; it reduces the time it takes for a new hire to be effective and integrated into their new organization. By focusing on these five key areas, organizations can capitalize on their recruitment investment, set new employees up to succeed, and have higher retention rates.
Set the stage for successful onboarding before the employee starts.
How is that done? By taking the following steps:
- Ensure Human Resources has provided information about company policies, organizational structure, benefits information, and required forms.
- Establish communication with the new hire during the transition by providing an onboarding plan and encouraging an open dialogue
- Send the employee their first week’s schedule ahead of time so they know what to expect
- Provide logistics information including where to park, where to get their company ID, and where they need to go on their first day
- Send out an email to everyone in the department or organization with the new hire’s name and a brief bio so they are prepared to welcome the new employee
- Show that you are ready for the new hire to hit the ground running by setting up their workspace, phone system, cell phone, a provisioned computer before their first day
Make the employee’s first day special
The new hire should leave work on the first day convinced they made a great decision. Make sure they have something better to report than, “I sat through an orientation video and completed 23 forms today.” Here’s how employers can ensure that:
- Make sure their workspace is fully stocked with supplies and feels welcoming (some organizations put up decorations and welcome signs)
- Carve out as much time as your schedule allows to spend time with your new employee on the day they start
- Spend time with your new employee talking about their new role, introducing them to the team, and helping them get acclimated
- Take them out to lunch
- Consider leaving a welcome basket with snacks or items with your organization’s brand
Clearly communicate performance expectations starting in week one.
A common complaint from new hires is that they don’t have clearly defined expectations and success metrics. During the first week:
- Provide a copy of your company’s performance review template and communicate which elements are most important for their role
- Set aside time to discuss strategy, organizational structure, formal and informal policies
- Clearly communicate the expected contributions and KPIs
- Explain short-term and long-term goals
- Establish when you’ll be having check-in meetings with the employee
Help the new hire build a social network and establish relationships critical to success.
Three ways to do that are as follows:
- Schedule a social event to allow colleagues to meet the new hire
- Designate a mentor for the new hire (ideally, someone that you’d like the new employee to emulate)
- Set-up meet and greets with peers and key team members
Facilitate cultural and political awareness
Here are five ways to do that:
- Communicate the values, norms, and guiding assumptions that define acceptable behavior in the your organization
- Share communication protocols (both for communication with you and other senior leaders)
- Organize meetings with relevant peers and leaders to accelerate a transfer of deeper knowledge about the business, the team, the culture, and strategic priorities
- Help the employee understand who the key stakeholders and decision makers are for their projects
- Provide a list and definitions of commonly encountered buzzwords and acronyms
Bryan Kirby is VP and Executive Recruiter with Kirby Partners, an executive search firm specializing in cyber security and healthcare leadership recruiting. To learn more about Kirby Partners and executive-level healthcare positions around the country, visit www.kirbypartners.com or connect with them on LinkedIn.