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A Quick Guide to Onboarding (part 2 of 2)

Posted Dec 06, 2022 05:03 PM
Starting a new job triggers feelings of excitement but also some level of anxiety. Haphazard or nonexistent onboarding can be detrimental. It may portray the organization negatively (as not caring about its employees) or just being lackadaisical in all its operations. However, an official onboarding plan can alleviate feelings of discomfort and point new employees in the right direction as they begin their association with you.

Moreover, thorough and engaging onboarding practices will ultimately improve your organizational efficiency and lead to a healthier work environment and culture for all.

Although the process of bringing a new team member into the fold, or onboarding them, begins the moment they read your job posting, active onboarding starts with the first post-offer communication. This interaction should provide clear information to new hires about first-day logistics and any expectations for their initial week on the job.

This article is a continuation of the first part that addresses hiring and interviewing great job candidates. Let's dive into onboarding!

The Difference Between Orientation and Onboarding

New hire orientation should not be confused with onboarding. Orientation is part of the onboarding process and is a one-time delivery of standard, key information to all new employees. Typically, it involves a brief welcome, completion of key documents (legal, pay, and benefits), and sharing of other vital information. Some organizations include company swag in the welcome package.

On the other hand, onboarding is a longer process committed to acclimating new employees to their roles and immersing them in your company culture. It is the first step in making them part of the team and connecting them to your people and mission.

Onboarding is more individualized than orientation and varies from person to person and role to role. Generally, it includes various departments and levels of management, and may take several months to complete.

Key Elements of Onboarding Plans

When developing an onboarding plan, make sure that the strategy, activities planned, and timing of events stay true to your culture, values, and budget. However, characteristics of effective onboarding programs commonly include:

  • Setting up the new hire’s workspace, providing equipment, and identifying resources prior to the first day.
  • Arranging meetings to introduce coworkers, stakeholders, and other key people that the new hire may interact with on a regular basis.
  • Establishing responsibilities, expectations, and deadlines for the first few months on the job.
  • Reviewing lines of communication, internal structure, and other decision-making processes.
  • Scheduling necessary workplace training, on topics including health and safety, anti-discrimination and harassment, technology systems, and product or service-specific knowledge.
  • Planning frequent feedback sessions, which can be spaced out as the employee becomes more comfortable in their role.
  • Implementing a mentor or buddy system, so new team members can have a colleague to learn from and ask questions in addition to their supervisor.

Your goal is a successful hire. Often that success depends on whether the individual feels valued and that they made the right decision to join your organization. Investing time upfront to welcome and integrate new hires most often leads to a more committed, engaged workforce and better retention rates.

Virtual Onboarding: The New Frontier

More and more, organizations are onboarding employees who don’t live in the same state or even the same country. But that doesn’t mean your onboarding can’t be as effective (or more so) than if it was in-person.

If you have remote employees, adapt your onboarding plan to improve engagement and make them feel connected to your team. For best results, follow these recommendations:

  • Break up onboarding sessions. Screen fatigue is real. To avoid overwhelming new hires, break up the information and introductions over time.
  • Assign each new hire an onboarding buddy from another department. A friendly, unrelated employee can be key to helping new hires feel a sense of belonging.
  • Use an intranet to help new hires connect with each other during and after onboarding. Ask location-specific icebreaker prompts that help people learn about their worldwide teammates, such as: What’s your favorite thing about where you live? What do you do for fun on Fridays in the place you live?
  • Be flexible. If your new hires are in different time zones or just different schedules, consider recording orientation presentations that they can access on a timeline that works for them.
  • Humanize each other. Create a digital forum that asks new and old teammates to share their favorite music of the week or a new joke they’ve heard. Create community the same way you would in person, but facilitated by tech!
  • Document processes in a digital portal. Include onboarding tips, company information, recorded videos, and a way for new hires to ask follow-up questions.

While a deliberate use of technology is crucial for successful remote employee onboarding, it can play an important role in helping local employees, as well. Offering digital tools such as recorded videos, intranets, and employee portals can help all employees—local and remote—access the information they need without feeling hesitant about asking too many questions.

About the Author: Jill Krumholz

Jill brings to RealHR Solutions experience as a business owner, executive search consultant, and corporate HR professional. Throughout her career, she has had the ability to build strong relationships, identify client needs, and help companies find solutions. As a search professional, she used these strengths to source and identify talent. Before joining RealHR, Jill was a Principal at Charleston Partners, a global executive search and talent advisory firm for Fortune 500 companies. She was also a Partner at Hayden Resource and previously founded her own search firm. Her prior HR experience includes the retail and healthcare industries.

Jill holds a Masters in Industrial Social Work from Fordham University and a B.A. from CUNY City College. She is currently an active member of The Society of Human Resources Management both nationally and locally.