Create a Positive First Impression with an Employee Onboarding Plan

ThinkstockPhotos-75904164Congratulations!  After an extensive search and interview process, you found the perfect candidate with the skills, experience and traits to fit your company culture.  Your next superstar employee or contingent worker is ready to hit the ground running. But are you? In other words, do you have an onboarding plan that will make a great first impression?

Onboarding is the process of welcoming new employees or contingents into the company, ensuring they are set up with the right equipment and security access, and introducing them to colleagues, training and the company culture. In addition to creating a strong start, an onboarding plan:

  • Increases profitability by demonstrating how the new employee’s contributions directly impact the company’s financial goals
  • Improves retention by lowering the risk of an unsuccessful or disappointing transition
  • Engages the new employee by building relationships and setting expectations early and often
  • Ensures that every new employee’s initial experience is similar, regardless of position or department

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6 Onboarding Success Tips

The most effective onboarding programs are automated and have a defined process with checklists and a schedule.   Planning for the first day and beyond ensures that new employees have everything they need to be successful. Here are six onboarding best practices:

1. Don’t wait for the first day. There are no second chances at making a great first impression. Onboarding begins before the first day on the job. Before new employees start, call or email to confirm logistics such as parking, expected arrival time, dress code, plans for lunch on the first day, and who to ask for upon arrival.

On the first day, create a welcoming, “we’re ready for you” environment to help new hires feel confident about their decision to accept the job. There are a number of ways you can prepare for new hires, including:

  • Set up workstations, including computers and office supplies
  • Print business cards and nameplates for the offices/cubes
  • Have training materials and new employee paperwork ready
  • Assign someone to greet new hires upon arrival

2. Acclimate new employees to the team. It’s important for new hires to create meaningful connections with colleagues, management, and direct reports. Personally introduce new hires to the team during the first week (depending on the size of the team, you may want to spread this out over a few days). A team lunch is a great way for everyone to get to know each other on a personal and professional level.

To encourage strong working relationships, help new hires understand how they contribute to the team’s success. Identify early successes to establish a sense of value and belonging from the very beginning.

3. Use the buddy system. Assign mentors to new hires. A mentorship program makes an onboarding program more efficient and effective, and demonstrates a company’s commitment to employee success. Mentors serve as resources for questions, help new employees build a network, and offer key information about the company culture.

4. Map out a training plan and schedule. Create personalized training schedules that outline tasks to learn and who will teach them. Share the schedules and learning materials with the new hires so that they can prepare for each day of training. Make sure that your trainers block their schedules so that they can give their undivided attention – no phone, email, etc.

5. Define expectations. The last thing you want is confused and unsure new employees. Make sure that new hires have a clear understanding of their roles within the company and job duties. During the first week, new hires should meet with management to discuss expectations on deliverables, timelines, and performance. Explain the roles of key team members, how the team works together, and the company’s processes and procedures. To boost productivity and help new employees feel engaged, assign tasks that allow them to quickly make positive contributions to the team.

6. Schedule regular check-ins. Above all else, your daily interactions and conversations with new employees are the single most important factor to a successful onboarding experience. To set the stage for giving and receiving feedback, ask insightful questions, including:

  • How do you see the experience here fitting into your career development goals?
  • How can I best help you be successful?
  • How do you best learn?
  • What motivates you?
  • What type of management style do you work with well?
  • What do you feel is important for me to know that I may not already know about you as it pertains to work?

Continue to check in with new hires on a regular basis to make sure the job fits their expectations. As a rule of thumb, check in every day for the first week and then weekly for the first 90 days. This will lay a foundation of trust and respect and establish open dialogue and communication with new employees from the very start.

Following these six onboarding best practices will help you guide new hires toward productivity and peak performance, while providing the resources they need to be successful. As a result, not only will you create a positive first impression, you’ll have a solid foundation to build lasting working relationships.

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Candice Winterringer

Candice Winterringer
Candice Winterringer is the senior vice president of strategic solutions for Atterro Human Capital Group. With 30 years of experience in the staffing industry, she helps organizations increase recruiting productivity, attract qualified new employees, and improve retention and performance.

Candice Winterringer

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