Welcoming New Hires Onboard

Recruiting new staff is a general practice of every company. Having new hires around from time to time is more common for some companies than others. Blame it on turnover rates or other variables; it is not a smooth process to have a new staff onboard. Companies need to go the extra mile to ensure the processes from recruitment to integration of a new employee are as seamless as possible.

Employee onboarding, being one of the most crucial aspects in HR, is not given enough of an importance as it should. The practice mostly follows a standard, traditional guideline that is seldom re-evaluated for its effectiveness and impact in the present times. The use of bookish, theoretical techniques is redundant since each company follows a different ethos and each new hire is a unique individual. Hence, it’s high time for companies to attempt at making the process more personal. The main concern should no longer be communication of facts such as policies, benefits, pay as well as having the employee complete oodles of paperwork. It instead needs to be geared towards addressing key competencies and expectations of the role. Once companies realize the sensitivity surrounding the first few months for a new employee, they will take a step back to re-assess their approaches.

Companies should strive to ensure that they make a new hire’s first day memorable in a positive way. It becomes necessary for companies to place themselves in the new hire’s shoes and go about planning their onboarding strategies from there. When the new hire is asked how his first day went by, he should have something more exciting to report than saying “I filled out over 30 forms today”. Ultimately, the main objective is to preserve the conviction with which the new hire decided to join the company.
An effective onboarding strategy ideally addresses 3 main concerns:

First would be defining Roles, Responsibilities and Expectations with optimum clarity. Enabling a new hire to gain robust understanding of how to function within and productively contribute to the organization requires a more pragmatic approach. It would not be realistic to entirely depend on job descriptions as lists of tasks and responsibilities in the current corporate scene are continuously evolving.  It is ideal to involve everyone, including co-workers and most importantly direct managers, to help the employee go about thriving in their role. There needs to be a collective agreement to not rest the burden solely on the HR and work as a team in making the new hire part of the organization family. Formal and informal training discussions would be the next best step to further boost the new hire’s confidence. The icing on the cake would be conceiving plans of long-term employee development with which the new hire could envision their future in the organization.

Secondly, it is important to focus on strategizing coordination between direct managers and the new hire. As Michael Watkins suggests, the first ninety days are extremely crucial and during this time, managers must take enough of an initiative to establish a mutual feedback-sharing culture. Aberdeen Group suggests that 86% of new hires make their decision to leave or stay within the first 6 months and over 50% leave because of lack of appreciation from direct managers. Efficiently communicating to new hires how much value they are bringing to the table, generates a sense of belongingness and allows for a committed relationship to be built right from the beginning. Realizing the importance of early and continuous recognition, PepsiAmerica took the initiative to include manager training as part of their onboarding program. Managing could be tricky if managers do not have the aptitude for certain soft skills. This is where direct managers could benefit from receiving specific training on ways to interact with new hires. Subsequently, the onboarding program should be able to fill the gap of building strong manager-employee relationship.

Finally, the key premise of an onboarding program is integrating new hires to the unique company culture. The largest determinant of a new hires’ performance in the company is culture fit. Corporate culture is a factor that gives the company a distinct, competitive advantage. Culture needs to adopt the central premise at the very beginning itself. Companies can have total control in determining the course of its organization culture by hiring for fit and bringing cultural amalgamation at the forefront of its onboarding efforts. Typically, companies aim to align the vision of it’s’ people to that of its’ own. At the end of it, new employees should be committed to the same cause and whether companies achieve it by orientation or rather, indoctrination, the job is done (Bradt, 2015).

All in all, a successful onboarding program manages to accommodate the new hire’s needs, assimilate them into the organization and accelerate their progress. It is a practice which is most effective when simplified.

Take a look at your onboarding practices. Is it designed for your company? Do you solicit feedback and in hindsight, re-evaluate its effectiveness? How is it relevant in the ever-changing corporate landscape?
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