Improving your onboarding experience to give your new starters the best first impression can do a lot more good than you think. If your new team members feel valued, trusted and most importantly included, it can lead to a much higher long term staff retention rate, as well as increased productivity and better satisfaction.
Think of the onboarding process like a first date. If the conversation was one sided and all they talked about was themselves while dominating the evening, you would probably say that was a bad experience. It’s the same with the first day at work, it should be a two way street where you can get to know the new joiner in a personal way, and they can get to know the company, the office and the individuals they meet along the way.
It’s very easy to let onboarding go the other way and get carried away with wanting to tell them everything within the first few hours. Organisation, preparation and being open to adapting your plan are essential to avoid an onboarding process that is overwhelming and jam-packed.
Make it multimedia
As much as a new joiner will try, they absolutely won’t remember all the information they see and talk about. There are names to learn, processes and tools to get used to, and conduct to get to know. The first few days can be quite fast paced and so getting everything useful written down in their new branded notepad is not really realistic.
Follow up your meetings and introductions with ready to go PDF documents that you can email over so they can go through their onboarding at their own pace afterwards. You can also add everything to a ‘new joiner’ drive folder so they can access any useful information about the entire company and different teams, instead of just receiving documentation about their own team’s responsibilities.
Another good idea is to record all the online meetings that you hold, you’ll then build up a library of improvement onboarding videos for each department. Especially useful for walkthroughs or meetings about learning new tools or anything more complex. Everyone can then watch back and learn at their own pace without feeling like they have to keep asking questions that were already covered.
One really easy initiative to set up is the Buddy system. You can ask the more social, bubbly people in your organisation if they’d like to take part in actively welcoming new people into the team. The point of a buddy is mostly so that new joiners don’t feel like they’re asking any stupid questions and they can go to that person with any concerns or wonderings.
It works a little better if the buddy assigned to each person isn’t someone that’s in their immediate team so that they have a point of socialisation with different departments and people. It should also be very casual and personal, the buddy’s job is to make them feel as welcome as possible, show them the ropes and get to know them as friends.
Buddy’s should be proactive in organising lunches with groups of people so new joiners are exposed to as many team members as possible and generally be a positive source of influence.
For bonus points you can organise your new starters to begin in monthly or bi-monthly batches so that minimal people join by themselves. You can then organise team building activities a few weeks after you get new starters to encourage the best team spirit possible. If you’d like to learn why team building is so important for your company you can read our article here.
Tell your story
Paint a picture for your new team members – tell the story of how you got here. Were you working in a basement with just two other people? Do you remember when you got your first office space, or made that first sale? Tell them what your vision is, how you see the company progressing in the future and what their roles might be in that.
Include them in the new chapter of your company vision from day one, sometimes companies can drip-feed their new joiners important information because of a lack of trust, but unless it is very sensitive data – be open. They’re just as much a part of this journey now and trust can go a long way when it’s received both ways.
Make a plan and organise how you’ll improve your onboarding experience from day one right up until the new starters one year anniversary with you. Make sure everyone that’s part of the onboarding experience has a full understanding of how you want your new team members to feel when they start. One great way to improve your onboarding experience is to create a culture deck to make it clear from the beginning what the expectations are for social activities, communication and office etiquette.
Plan out the first few weeks with a schedule that you can send new starters before their first day, this way they know what to expect before they walk through the door on Monday morning. Remember – don’t group too much information all together. It’s better to go slower in the first few weeks, this way they’ll retain all the information you need to give them much easier. Otherwise it can be too intense and difficult to compartmentalise. Be kind, go slow.
Check your reputation
Something really useful to keep in mind is that you unfortunately no longer directly control your reputation. There are reviews of what it’s like working at your company all over the internet including interview questions, onboarding experiences and the practicalities of working for you in the long term.
That’s not to mention what people share on their personal social media accounts and through word of mouth. If you want the best talent on your team then you should focus on making your workspace a positive and enjoyable place to be which will in turn encourage great word of mouth, and then exponentially better hires.
Putting your best foot forward and showing you not only have a great office atmosphere, but upbeat and passionate people working with you too is going to be wonderful for everyone’s experience as well as your reputation.
Keep up the same energy that you displayed during the interview process, make them feel comfortable, show off but not too much. You want them to think they’ve made the right decision by your first impressions and first few weeks.
One of the most important steps after creating new processes – feedback! Ask the people that started recently how their experience was, find out what they would have changed or improved your onboarding experience and process. Be open to criticism and put into action new suggestions.
Make sure that your feedback rounds are little and often. At the end of the first week is a good time to ask for initial feedback, then you can do the same at the end of the first month. Keep in mind that people will give different feedback depending on who they’re speaking with, you probably won’t tell the same things to your boss as you would your buddy, so it’s good to include multiple people in the feedback rounds.