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Is Your Organization Ready for an Onboarding Program?

New hires want to feel welcome, be included, and have a sense of belonging, so are you giving them what they want: an onboarding program?

It is not always easy being a public servant for the government. Some employers place a public servant in a situation proverbially to sink or swim without the proper tools, training, and guidance. Implementation of a well-developed program will help increase retention, build loyalty, and increase engagement with new employees.

Onboarding is a process that can promote human capital. Employees want to feel good while they are working. If employees feel happy, feel included, and trust their organization, they have more job satisfaction, commitment, and better job performance.

What does your agency’s onboarding program look like? Does onboarding stop when the employee completes the necessary paperwork with Human Resource, or after the supervisor gives a tour of the office? If onboarding stops after HR or supervisor’s tour, you have a new hire orientation, not an effective onboarding program. Developing a program can be as easy and done in five steps such as: assessment, design, development, implementation, and evaluation.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), for an effective program, an organization first assesses their needs. An organization learns where they are at and where it needs to be in three to five years from now. The next process is to understand where the gaps are and set relevant and realistic goals that will narrow the gaps. Goals for an onboarding program should include training mid-level management and receiving total commitment from upper-level management.

Questions to Ask:

  • When will onboarding start, and how long will it last?
  • What impression do you want new hires to have after their first day of work?
  • Is there a culture and work environment that employees need to know?
  • What role will HR, managers and colleagues play in the process?
  • Are you going to set goals for the new employee, what are they?
  • How will you gather feedback on the program and measure its success?

What Type of Program?

The mentorship or buddy design benefits the new employee with organization information, culture awareness, and social support. The buddy design also benefits the experienced employee with improved collaboration, wider networks, and leadership skills. Mentorship programs can be helpful in future strategic succession planning. Expertise and advice are reciprocated between the mentor-mentee relationship making a natural succession pathway.

Engaging employees early on increases productivity, builds trust, makes connections, and encourages open communication. Some preliminary steps towards an effective program can be as simple as creating a list of restaurants, daycare, and schools in the local area for the new employee. Another helpful hint is to provide a departmental flow chart with a list of contacts to the employee. This prevents the new employee from getting totally lost. Ensure the employee has access, access codes, and any necessary tools for completion of work assignments. An employee with a clear job description and detailed instructions on the first day is crucial.

Wrapping it Up

After the implementation of your onboarding program, make changes to suit your needs. When the program has run its course, more steps must be taken to ensure human capital is still being satisfied. Continual feedback, revision, and implementation is a process that will start with the first day of employment until the last day. Onboarding takes time and commitment. SHRM mentions an effective onboarding program utilizes management and other staff members up to one year.

Being proactive with your program will strengthen your organization, build better human capital, and increase your retention rate. Don’t let your new employee drown; instead give them swimming lessons until they learn how to swim on their own. As more government agencies are doing more with less, an onboarding program can capitalize on productivity. The key to any effective program is having complete support from the organization’s management team. Start small, let it grow, and take it where it is needed.

Angela Sheppard is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She started working with the State Attorney’s Office 23 years ago. She first started as the receptionist and then progressed to the Diversion Program Director. While in her current position, she has shown initiative in community outreach activities, advocacy in prevention, and revitalizing programs. While working with the State, she has earned her Public Administration Master Degree, Certification as a Certified Florida Family Mediator, and a Graduate Certificate for Human Resource Policy Management. Angela spends her spare time volunteering as Board Chair with AMIKids, a non-profit school. She enjoys enrichment programs such as Govloop.com and other educational media.

Maurer, Roy (2020). New Employee Onboarding Guide:  Proper onboarding is key to retaining, engaging talent. Retrieved from: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/new-employee-onboarding-guide.aspx

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