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13 Steps to a Powerful Employee Onboarding Strategy

August 16, 2018 by Soumil Kar

13 Steps to a Powerful Employee Onboarding Strategy

As we discussed in our previous post on employee onboarding, the onboarding process itself is a critical component to the overall employee experience and can have a drastic effect on an organization's productivity and even viability over the long-term. However, although the importance of successful onboarding is obvious for a wide variety of reasons – including a hedge against attrition, better performance from team members, and a more engaged and committed workforce – implementing a winning employee onboarding strategy can be anything but obvious, particularly for newer organizations or those just now committing themselves to cohesive, insightful, and impactful onboarding procedures.

 For that reason, Hyphen is providing a concise but instrumental series of steps that, when followed in an organized and deliberate manner, can help any organization establish a winning employee onboarding strategy, no matter the size of that organization or the industry it serves. Be meticulous with your strategy, employ feedback programs to continually inform your onboarding efforts, and this series of steps can help you develop an approach to onboarding that will serve your organization and every employee for years to come.


1. Begin by sharing a precisely worded, thorough description of all responsibilities and expectations required of the position, including the organization's desired results.

You've found a candidate that's a good fit for the vacancy, they agreed to accept your offer, and now the process of immersing them in the position, your workplace, and your culture begins. Now is the time to be open and frank with your new hire, clearly laying out what management expects of them and what the organization hopes to accomplish with their employment. Be cordial but straightforward, friendly without ambiguity to clearly establish mutual goals.

Download: Employee Experience Onboarding Survey Questions

2. Be cognizant of the new employee's perspective as onboarding commences, giving them as much time and attention necessary to feel comfortable in the onboarding environment.

Go out of your way to make your newest team member feel welcomed and an important part of the organization. Encouraging questions and productive interaction throughout onboarding makes them feel wanted and vital to your workforce, workplace, and organizational goals. Remember, this is a time where there are no silly questions, only helpful answers.


3. Establish a solid footing for the new hire and their team by preparing their soon-to-be coworkers for their arrival.

Of course, your new employee isn't the only one that will be experiencing a fair amount of change in the work environment. Existing team members should be coached on the latest addition to the team, reviewing roles and responsibilities, and reassigning tasks as needed to make the transition to a larger team as smooth as possible.

Assigning a current employee to mentor the new hire can also be extremely beneficial in clarifying team roles, sharing relevant knowledge and insight, and developing critical social connections. Remember, 60% of managers with insufficient onboarding procedures blame a lack of effective working relationships as the primary driver of turnover.


4. Clearly delineate the different responsibilities to be distributed by those involved in your onboarding strategy.

A winning employee onboarding strategy is a team effort that might be spearheaded by one or two but accomplished by many. Your strategy should explain in detail who is responsible for which tasks within your onboarding process. Any vagueness in those assignments could lead to essential details slipping through the cracks and have a negative impact on your onboarding.


5. Handle as many administrative tasks, paperwork in particular, on the first day of onboarding to get it out of the way so immersion into the position, workplace, and culture can continue unimpeded once complete.

While few see paperwork regarding benefits and payroll options as intriguing, it's obviously an important component of employment. Since paperwork isn't exactly dynamic by nature, however, assign an experienced HR representative to help the new hire with the paperwork and associated options on the very first day so the remaining aspects of onboarding can proceed without interruption and distraction.


6. Make certain the new hire’s workstation is up and running on their first day.

There's something to be said for sitting down at your new desk that's already neatly organized and fully stocked with everything you'll need. A well-prepared workstation inspires confidence within your new hire, removes unneeded confusion, and tells the employee that they can hit the ground running and the organization is happy to have them. If the goal of onboarding is to fully ramp-up a new worker as quickly and thoroughly as possible, the smallest of details can have a significant impact.


7. Set up any needed technology, subscriptions, or devices before onboarding begins.

Like a well-prepared workstation, having all technology-based requirements for the position in place before the new team member begins onboarding streamlines the process and assures the employee that the organization is excited to have them and looks forward to them becoming a productive part of the team. Also, since a significant portion of onboarding should be spent familiarizing the new worker on software, hardware, and other technology-based skills for the position, having everything prepared in advance empowers the employee and can expedite training.


8. Take an office tour and make introductions with new team members as well as people in other departments and organizational levels.

Depending on the size of your organization and workplace, a well-rounded introduction to as many co-workers as possible can help quickly eliminate the feeling of being a stranger in a strange land. Naturally, introductions should concentrate on immediate team members and supervisors so, if time is running short, focus on the people the new hire will be working with and for, following up with other departments if time permits.


9. Tell your organization’s story, describe and explain it’s culture and narrative.

While onboarding needs to ramp-up the employee as quickly as possible to reach full productivity sooner rather than later, such a process should take place within an overall context. Meticulously explain the organization’s mission and goals, what it values within its culture, and how the employee fits into the entire picture. A detailed explanation not only helps the new hire understand their new employer from a more macro perspective but, just as importantly, also makes them feel like a valued part of the bigger picture.

Aside from that bigger picture, be sure to cover the basics, including dress code, conduct expectations, tardiness and sick policies, and any other information needed to be successful within your organization. A clear explanation of culture-related topics – paired with subjects more particular to the daily routine – helps create a well-rounded, comprehensive picture of the workplace, the general atmosphere and ethos of the office, and better defines the new employee’s place within the culture and team.


10. Don’t assume your new hire is proficient in all the necessary skills and knowledge to be successful in their new position. Set aside enough time to adequately train and educate your employee, even if you have to cover topics they are already familiar with.

In a perfect world, resumes are always accurate, the truth never stretched, and employees are entirely ramped up from the start. However, that’s simply not realistic, so it’s in an employer's best interest to be extremely detail oriented in the training and educational component of the onboarding process. This isn’t to say that spending the majority of the time in a classroom is necessary as that doesn’t always lend itself to the most efficient way to absorb the material.

Whether training is conducted outdoors when the weather is nice, in a designated training facility, or in a combination of venues, be sure it is comprehensive enough in scope and time to adequately prepare the employee for the rigors of the position and working within the team and organization.


11. All work and no play makes for a tedious onboarding experience. Carve out sufficient time to build camaraderie between your current team and your new employee, including team lunches or even meeting after work in a more social environment.

Although training is a critical component to the onboarding process as it equips the new employee with the tools necessary for success in the position, fostering camaraderie and facilitating a healthy, satisfying employee experience is just as important. Both are equally vital parts of successful employment, maximizing productivity, and minimizing attrition. Simply put, employees that enjoy the workplace and their co-workers are less likely to search for employment elsewhere.


12. Adopting a hands-on, real-world approach to a significant portion of the onboarding process can pay dividends in the near future.

As important as thoroughly covering all relevant topics is to the onboarding process, including skills, procedures, and cultural aspects of the workplace, taking a hands-on approach to training can accelerate absorption, level the learning curve, and cut down the time needed for an employee to reach full productivity levels. Don’t be afraid to sit down with them at their new workstation and walk them through the paces of actual work. This highly interactive approach develops familiarity with the job responsibilities, the employee’s immediate working environment, and creates an ideal forum for focused questions and conversations regarding the position and daily tasks.


13. Inform your onboarding, correct your course, refine your strategy with consistent, comprehensive feedback.

Traditionally, the onboarding process transitions into the retention and worker satisfaction phases of the employee experience at approximately one year of employment. Before that transition occurs, organizations should collect and analyze feedback from new employees at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks to measure the effectiveness of their onboarding processes and procedures. Afterward, quarterly surveys and polls can continue the process, again monitoring for inadequacies that could ultimately lead to unsatisfied employees and attrition.

Think of consistent feedback as GPS guidance through what would otherwise be a journey guided by intuition and best guesses. Although many generally think of satisfaction levels and overall happiness as qualitative concepts, technology-driven platforms like Hyphen’s can transform that people data into quantifiable metrics that management can use as invaluable, actionable insight. Such insight can better guide their onboarding approach as well as the subsequent stages of the employee experience. Without an effective feedback system, communication gaps can expand, information silos form to prevent efficient distribution of thought and knowledge, and inconsistencies in training can slow an employee’s development.

Read Next: Collecting Employee Feedback From New Hires During OnboardingA winning employee onboarding strategy is one that is well informed, deliberate in implementation, and takes full advantage of the technology and people available to an organization. Integrating these 13 steps into your onboarding approach will help create a solid foundation that will enhance employee satisfaction and productivity, decrease attrition, and improve the understanding of an organization’s culture, mission, and goals. With the guidance provided by Hyphen’s insightful feedback platform, management can consistently refine their onboarding procedures, identify and fix issues before they become systemic, and significantly improve organizational well-being and overall brand. In a crowded and eternally-shifting marketplace, such benefits can provide the competitive advantage needed to flourish well into the future.

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