New Hire Orientation Blog
A 7-Step Better Onboarding Plan
- April 25, 2019
- Posted by: Sherman Morrison
- Category: New Hire Orientation
Many smaller and even medium-sized businesses are missing out on all the great benefits to be gained with a solid onboarding program. How do I know this? Research has confirmed that nearly two-thirds of companies don’t have any formal onboarding program at all (source). I’m only guessing that it’s the smaller companies who feel like they don’t have the time or resources to put into creating a robust onboarding program. It’s a classic catch-22: You know you need better onboarding but feel you can’t invest in it, but without formal onboarding you’re doomed to keep experiencing higher turnover costs because of the lack of better onboarding. When you look at the orientation checklist and orientation template pages on this site with all the various elements that go into robust onboarding, it looks overwhelming, right? My goal in this article is to break it down into a series of baby steps – mini projects you can complete each month with minimal time so you end up with a great program over the course of seven months. I’m calling this the 7-Step Better Onboarding Plan – and you can do this!
Step 1: Your Better Onboarding Plan Begins with Pre-Boarding Contact
In your first month, all you have to tackle are some simple tasks to create a pre-boarding process each new hire completes in the time between accepting your offer and their first day of work. Your motivation for this first step is knowing that companies who do pre-boarding retain 81% of their first-year hires (source)! How does that compare to your companies retention rates for new hires? With that in mind, here are the step 1 tasks needed for having productive pre-boarding contact with a new hire:
- Paperwork: Convert as much of your HR paperwork as possible into Adobe PDF documents that can be signed using Adobe Sign, which includes a variety of ways to get a signature on the forms. If your company isn’t using Adobe Acrobat, start now! It’s very affordable and one of the most powerful tools available to make tasks like this easy.
- Employee Handbook: Overhaul your employee handbook to make it worthy of the digital era of the 21st century, and one your new hires will appreciate. Much of this can be outsourced by hiring one or more freelancers from any of the major online freelancing marketplaces such as Upwork. If your handbook doesn’t include an up-to-date organizational chart, include one as a separate attachment.
- Pre-Boarding Email: Take some time to craft a really upbeat email message welcoming the new hire to the company and outlining all the things they can do, including all the attached forms they can fill out and sign and the employee handbook. Point them to the company directory. Introduce them to their onboarding buddy (more on that in the next step) and give them the buddy’s contact information. Keep this introductory message on file as a Word document so you can bring it up and make necessary changes from time to time.
As you can see, I’ve set up the first month of your better onboarding plan to focus solely on what you need to have in place for effective pre-boarding contact with a new hire, all of which can easily be accomplished in one month with minimal time and effort.
Step 2: On-Site Internal Pre-Boarding Tasks to Plan
The beauty of taking this planning approach to better onboarding is that you only have to go through these steps once because then you’ll the systems in place needed to make sure it all happens with every new hire. Step 2 is where you figure out all the things that need to be set in motion well before a new hire shows up for their first day of work. Plan out the following tasks:
- Systems and Equipment: Designate a person who is responsible for making sure everything a new hire needs in terms of equipment and system accounts is set up and ready before their first day. This would include their workstation (desk, computer, phone, supplies, etc.), email/calendar/contacts account(s), including pre-populating their contacts list with helpful people and pre-populating their calendar with recurring meetings/events. If your IT department is slow in fulfilling requests, figure out what the safest amount of lead time is to ensure the job is done before the new hire’s first day.
- Designated Buddy: Find the right person and ask them to serve as the new hire’s “buddy” for the first several weeks to show them how things work, answer questions, etc. It’s a good idea to give the new hire’s contact information to the buddy so there is the opportunity for them to connect before the new hire begins work.
- Manager Tasks: Make sure the new hire’s team leader, manager, or direct supervisor serves as a point of contact for checking on the progress of all these pre-boarding tasks to verify everything is going to be in place. The manager should also have the responsibility of planning how the first day schedule for the new hire, though this could easily be a template used throughout the company for any new hire’s first day. A good approach includes 1) An early-morning team meeting with coffee and donuts to introduce the new hire to their team members, 2) Mid-morning focus on the company’s big picture elements such as vision, mission, goals, priorities, organization structure and so on, 3) Working lunch with their team so they can get a feel for how things go, what the team priorities and tasks are, getting to know all this through observation more than participation, 4) Afternoon one-one-one with manager to go through the specifics of the job in terms of roles and responsibilities, performance expectations, how training will occur and so forth, 5) Facility tour including introductions, 6) Wrap-up with another one-on-one sit-down to see what questions have come up for the new hire throughout the day.
- Day One Welcome: Find a pair of employees who are good at hospitality and put them in charge of decorating the new hire’s workstation with welcome decorations and company swag items, greeting the new employee when they arrive and leading them to their workstation, and making all the food arrangements needed for the day (morning coffee and donuts, working lunch).
This second month of the better onboarding plan is all about putting together systems and expectations to make sure everything that needs to be in place before the first day of work has been accomplished. These step 2 tasks will probably take a lot less time than step 1.
Now that you see what’s involved in the better onboarding plan, steps 3-7 coincide with the five elements covered on the orientation template page of this site. Take one of the five elements each month and plan out how to make it happen in a systematic way for every new hire.
Over the course of just seven months, with a very manageable amount of time and effort each month, you will have created a truly robust new hire orientation and onboarding program that will pay huge dividends to your company in the form of better retention and higher productivity for first-year employees. All you have to do is get started, so carpe diem!