What went wrong: a lesson about onboarding

Companies with strong employment engagement usually have clearly defined employee onboarding programs. The best talent is drawn to environments where effective programs exist resulting in high levels of employee engagement and low employee turnover. While it seems like common sense to invest in creating and maintaining these programs, they are often overlooked.

Imagine a situation where a new hire has started at your company but there is no formal onboarding system in place. The new hire has a very important but sometimes undervalued role in the company as the Office Manager/Administrator.   The direct supervisor is a recently new hire themselves so there is no clear direction of what to do. The Office Manager has arrived with a job description in mind but no formal training occurs, nor do they have opportunities to receive weekly or even monthly reviews.  In addition, the busy sales company hasn’t had an Office Manager before as everyone just pitched in. It seemed like everyone assumes the new hire was clear on their job requirements and trained by the other team members.

The rest of the employees couldn’t draw upon history to assist the Office Manager in what to do. Frustration is building with the new hire and in a short time the Office Manager quits and everyone is in shock at what has happened.

This situation could create long-term damage to your corporate brand and could be prevented with an onboarding system in place. Ideally, companies need to plan their program before they start the hiring process. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Your company just needs a well thought out plan with a person accountable to see the new hire through a training-feedback process.

  • Have your new hire’s desk ready with computer log-in, e-mail account and telephone system all up. Don’t forget about business cards.
  • Assign a supervisor who is accountable for training the new hire.
  • Assign a buddy for the first month – nothing breaks the ice more than with a person familiar with the company’s culture and core values. Most importantly – to greet them when they arrive on their first day and show them around.
  • Take your new hire out for lunch on the first day – or coffee at very least
  • Train the new hire with a concise orientation book about your company
  • Seek feedback from the new hire- they can tell you where they need more assistance, clarity or direction
  • Communication is key – use monthly reviews to provide feedback and encourage feedback
  • Inform your employees in advance of the new hire’s arrival. Onboarding starts as soon as the offer letter is accepted, not simply just the new hire’s first day at the company.

Without an onboarding program, the investment in a new hire is likely to be wasted away. By simplifying the onboarding process, employers can expect new employees to hit the ground running, and be able to contribute more quickly to a corporation’s success.

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8 responses to “What went wrong: a lesson about onboarding

  1. You can lose a lot of people on the first day. Making them feel welcome is the key. Never let a new hire eat by themselves on their first day. If you can’t do it, get a volunteer to take them to lunch. The hiring process is expensive, don’t waste that investment. Great Post!

    • Cheryl Nakamoto

      Thanks for your comment. Great point re: lunch. We make sure a new hire to McNak doesn’t eat alone on their first day!

  2. Great post and such necessary steps to have in order for your new hire. I always try to put myself then my new hires position and ask “how would I want my first day at work to go?” It gets me headed in the right direction, along with continual open communication to set the tone that you really do care that they are there.
    Thank you for the reminders

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