Picture this – you and your family have relocated for a new job in a new city, struggled to find affordable housing, and had to say goodbye to familiar friends and sights. You haven’t yet found the local “creature comforts” and your first day has arrived faster than lightning. You start your day with kids waking up in a strange city, and a partner who is still piecing this new life together. When you arrive for your first day of work, you’re greeted by a less than enthusiastic team at the front desk. After explaining for 5 minutes who you are and what you’re doing there, they send you to Human Resources for paperwork and orientation.
Fast forward to 3 weeks later – you are immersed in a pile of work. Although you are somewhat of an expert in your field, there is still a learning curve you are trying to tackle. With minimal training, you are reinventing the wheel and ruffling a few feathers. Those feathers belong to your new teammates who no one took the time to formally introduce you to. You tell yourself that over time, this all will get better.
2 years later (and sometimes sooner) – you realize that your first impression is the lasting impression. The culture of the company was a replicate of the welcome you received. Unfriendly, unhelpful, unsupportive, and inhuman.
This may seem like a rather extreme example, but it’s sadly not that extreme and is in fact, very common. Proper onboarding is crucial, but, unfortunately, is an easy thing to overlook because managers tend to resist being pulled from their day to day routines. Some companies see onboarding as a large investment in time and resources, but if you focus on the minor details that can have a major impact, you’ll see great improvement in engagement, collaboration and overall success as a company. In this month’s blog we focus on the 3 key components for a successful onboarding program that should be easy for your company to implement.
You’re hiring more than just a person
Proper onboarding should start with the interview and the moment a candidate (and their family) decides to accept the position. Every step of the process is important, so we recommend that you connect the candidate with a local realtor, list of grocery stores, highly rated school districts, popular restaurants, community activities, and more to help the candidate’s family start to picture and set up their new lives there!
Pro Tip: Gift cards and flowers for the family score MAJOR brownie points. Additionally, mentoring programs are a great way to foster a collaborative and positive team culture for someone who has relocated, or even someone that has just transferred from a different department. The goal of onboarding is to truly make your new employee feel as if they are welcomed into not just a 9-5 routine, but a new life, surrounded by friends and positive support. Make it personal and make it an experience.
The little things are the BIG things
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” – John Wooden
Doing the little things can result in your new employee feeling valued and reassured that they made the right decision to join your team. Make sure their desk comes with all the necessary items – computer/laptop/docking station, phone, headset, login credentials, business cards, pens, notebooks, coffee cup, etc. Also be sure to give them a tour of the office as soon as they arrive and to introduce them to (at a minimum) everyone on their team.
Pro Tip: Take a personalized approach by paying attention to interests and hobbies during the interview and then customize their desk accessories. If budget is an issue, it’s OK to skip the custom order. Instead, take the new employee on a welcome tour around the office and to your supply closet to choose a mousepad, notebook, pens, etc. that the company already has in stock.
Technology & Training
Make sure your new employee is connected. Having an email account set up is crucial – but what about the 3rd party project management tools, ERP systems, and database tools? Setting up those accounts prior to their first day will showcase your company’s commitment to the new employee.
Pro Tip: As soon as the new employee is logged into their email account, invite your team (or the whole company) to send them a nice ‘welcome to the team!’ chat message (ie; through Google hangouts, or any chat agent you’re using as a team).
Now that we’ve shared a few onboarding tips, let’s paint a different picture – you accept an offer from a company and immediately receive a warm congratulations message (or phone call!), along with a small gift and card welcoming you (and your family) to the company. You are provided with a list of resources to assist with your relocation and transition. When you visit town again for your house hunting tours, your new boss invites you and your family out to dinner.
Your first day feels extremely informative and welcoming because your new teammates seem truly invested in making sure you know where everything is, how to log into everything, who to go to with questions and when the next company potluck will be! The training process is also well structured and very engaging, so your first 3 weeks fly by.
2 years later – you are part of the interviewing team, and are responsible for providing the same warm welcome you received when you onboarded to all new employees. You also regularly pull, analyze and share statistics on the company’s high employee retention rates. The culture was set the moment you walked through the door for your first interview, and has been replicated every step of the way. It is simple, yet contagious.
Many companies have alarmingly high turnover rates. Your managers have a lot of work to do every day as it is, so when they’re asked to onboard the 4th replacement Business Analyst this year, their enthusiasm for providing a really welcoming onboarding experience will wane. Then the new employee is less engaged, leaves in a few months and the downward spiral continues. However, if you focus on the little details that will shift the onboarding (and beyond!) culture of the company, over time, you’ll find yourself in a building pattern, rather than a rebuilding pattern.