Starting a new job used to mean confirming a start date and hoping there was an available desk when you arrived. But now, onboarding is often a much more detailed and thoughtful process — or at least it should be. Giving newcomers the support they need upfront helps them quickly ramp up in their role and strengthens company culture by making people feel welcome and valued.
Designing and implementing a great onboarding program takes work, but it is well worth it to boost your employees’ productivity and morale. It also provides continuity between the recruiting process that convinced them to join and the reality of the job — prospects are often looking for red flags and inconsistency or disorganization is one of them.
Here are some great onboarding principles that will help employees get a running start in contributing to your business goals.
It’s never a good idea to ask employees to start working before their first day, but there are things you can have them do in advance that will help everyone involved.
This works well for tasks such as filling out payroll and benefits paperwork, which will get important information into your systems and prevent delays in employee paychecks and perks. Before the start date is also a good time to schedule a team lunch (virtual or in person) for the new member’s first week, and you should prepare and send a preliminary schedule for their first few days so they know what to expect.
Another benefit of productive advance communication is that it signals to your new employees that your company is organized and excited for them to join the team.
New employees need to get up to speed on many things quickly, but it is both overwhelming and ineffective to rely on written material you hope they’ll read and absorb. Instead, create a more dynamic learning program that includes some combination of 1:1 meetings with leaders and/or team members, workshops on topics important to the business and a clear picture of your expectations for their first week, month and three months.
At the same time, it’s important for new employees to feel that they’re adding value even as they’re on a learning curve. Identify projects they can own and deliver a piece of within their first week or two. This doesn’t mean throwing them into the deep end without support, but it does set them up for an early win that can build confidence and enable ongoing success.
Everyone expects new employees to have a lot of questions, but the newest team members might not know whom or how to ask. This is why every newcomer should be paired with a more tenured colleague they can turn to with everything from “Where’s the coffee?” to “What could my career path look like here?”
Ideally, a mentor is someone with more experience both at the company and in the industry who doesn’t directly manage the new employee. The official relationship could last for a week, a month or a year, but there’s no better way to establish a positive, career-nurturing culture and integrate new employees from the get-go.