First impressions are crucial in just about every aspect of our world. And while they aren’t everything, they definitely impact our future decisions and feelings toward everything from a new coworker, to a hiring manager, and even toward a new workplace.
That is one of the main points that Dr. Tim Lagan, Director of Professional Services at Monster, made during GovLoop’s most recent online training, Adopting a Holistic Approach to Onboarding.
Lagan, along with Julian Roberts, Strategy Program Manager at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, discussed the importance of viewing onboarding as a crucial mechanism for maintaining high levels of employee satisfaction, as well as fostering positive first impressions that will last beyond the onboarding period.
To ensure that the onboarding process takes a comprehensive approach to fully assimilating new employees, Lagan and Roberts shared eight useful ways to make the most of your onboarding tactics.
1. Understand the Importance of the Onboarding Process. Onboarding is crucial for both the individual employee’s success and for the success of the organization as a whole. According to Lagan, onboarding should have two main objectives: the “purely administrative functions of completing tasks” and HR paperwork and the performance-focused priority. Being performance-focused is basically making sure you “don’t throw new hires to the wolves.” Things like assigning a buddy or mentor, providing adequate training, and making project guidelines clear are all essential to establishing a new hire’s confidence in her future performance. Roberts even mentions that he actually assigns each new employee a buddy before day one. Because a successful onboarding operation has the power to lead to less turnover, more productivity, and a stronger sense of job satisfaction, coming to terms with the gravity of onboarding is an important step to improving the overall experience.
2. Connect the Recruiting and Onboarding Processes. Recruiting is a laborious process, and there is a lot of effort that goes into finding the perfect employee. Agencies place a lot of value on recruitment, and Roberts asserts that the “value should be reflected in each part of the onboarding phase.” If you’ve made it clear that you appreciate what your new employees has to offer, then you need to translate that appreciation over to the onboarding process. Doing so will make sure that individual feels more assured that she is in the right place, and that initial impression will equate into a hard-working employee.
3. Make it Personal. Roberts touched on millennials in the workforce with this point. “Our culture treats young people as machines, money-making machines,” he noted, adding that there are many ways the onboarding process can be altered to ensure that younger employees don’t get taken advantage of. Having person-specific conversations with new employees about their career goals, what they want to get out of this job, and what they think they can bring to the table is a significant tactic in approaching onboarding holistically.
4. Provide Tools and Knowledge to Succeed. The first day, week and month at a new job can be completely overwhelming. A holistic and successful onboarding process, according to Roberts, requires not only equipping new employees with an understanding of the technical tools used in the office but also some familiarity with the culture of the organization, its history, office hierarchies and more. Doing so makes certain that a new employee is not only ready for work tasks but also a new office environment.
5. Integrate Technology Into the Onboarding Process. It’s important to take care of HR tasks and paperwork as quickly and efficiently. The best way to streamline all of these clerical functions is to automate as much paperwork as possible. Lagan even suggests using a “pre-populating data system, where data is matched through fields across the board.”
6. Ensure Stakeholder Engagement. Onboarding includes many different aspects and key players, and it’s easy to lose track of how everything is working together. However, by making sure that all stakeholders are engaged in the process, agencies can increase the likelihood that new hires will have a much more positive onboarding experience. Communication is key, Lagan explained. Even before day one, reaching out to new employees will cause them to see the agency as professional as well as efficient, not to mention helping to bolster excitement for their new job. For example, the prescription eyeglasses company Warby Parker sends electronic welcome packets before employees’ first day and works to engage every stakeholder in the onboarding process, Lagan noted.
7. It’s Not Too Late. Sometimes an agency isn’t prepared to provide an excellent onboarding process for a new employee. It isn’t ideal, but it does happen. Those employees who have been hurt or negatively affected by an imperfect onboarding experience can occasionally fade into the background. However, it’s important to not let this happen. It’s not too late to reach out to an employee who experienced a less than perfect onboarding process, and it’s also crucial. Roberts explained that “a poor onboarding experience can lead to morale or engagement issues,” and reaching out to these employees and communicating with them about their experience and any input they have can be healing in a way.
8. Create a Holistic Model. Onboarding “extends well beyond an employee’s first day on the job,” Lagan said. “There is a difference between orientation and onboarding. The onboarding process is preparing them for future success” and is crucial to every employee’s future at the agency. Giving solid feedback, setting goals and learning objectives, and helping to foster a peer perspective for new employees are vital to creating a holistic onboarding process. Every piece of the onboarding process contributes to the success of the employee and the organization.