The Dos and Don’ts of Onboarding New Employees

There are a lot of moving parts to onboarding new employees, especially if you want to do it the right way. Whether you consider the onboarding process to be only the first few days or the first few months, there’s a lot of room for errors that could make your newest employee become your latest alumni. 

Let’s make sure those errors don’t happen and that we provide the best onboarding experience! Knowing some of the best things to do and not to do will give you an edge when planning out your process. It might even give you some ideas on how to improve your existing one.

Let’s jump in! This article will give you a quick look at the information you need to lay the foundation for a great onboarding process.  If you want something a little more in-depth, hit up my article on Proactive Onboarding.

The Dos

Do make onboarding fun. Onboarding doesn’t have to be boring and, honestly, should really be enjoyable. Think of a couple of different ways you can inject some fun and delight into your onboarding process. Some ideas you might want to play around with are things like a team lunch, a social outing after work or some kind of offsite to help your newest teammate get to know everyone a little better. If you can combine a fun activity with something that can foster relationships, you get the double jeopardy! 

Do pre-board your new hire. Pre-boarding takes a little planning and effort but can make onboarding a massive success, putting your new hire in a firm footing for their first day. Some information you might want to share with them before they show up is transit or parking options, dress-code, introduce them to their manager, and give them a heads up of what their first week will be like. If you have an essential project that they will start working on, give them a heads up! No one wants to be surprised on their first day, so the more information, the better. 

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Do check-in regularly with your new hire. Check-ins are a great way to see how your new employee is finding it at your company, but there are more benefits to check-ins than just the obvious. By checking in with new employees, you can start tweaking and adjusting your onboarding program to better suit the needs of employees and departments. Figuring out what works for some people and what doesn’t is instrumental in creating a great onboarding program. By all means, ensure that people are getting along well within your company, but make sure some questions will help you design the best onboarding program that you can.

Do make their first day short. I see more and more companies doing this in one way or another. For example, some companies ask the new employee to only come in an hour or two after everyone else starts. This gives the team a little bit of time to make sure everything is in place for their newest crew member. Any last-minute touches can be applied, and everyone can get on the same page. This also helps make the first day for the new hire go by a little faster. After all, the first day can wear people out really quickly, so the quicker, the better.

Do assign them a buddy or a mentor. Although mentors are an informal part of the organization, they play an essential role. They can help your new employee adjust to their position by answering some routine questions and help guide them in their professional development. They could also act as a social bridge to help invite the new employee into conversations or other social settings. If you don’t have a buddy or mentorship program, at least think about implementing one. We give you a head start with this Mentorship Handbook.

The Don’ts

Don’t stuff your new employee in a room with the policy manual on the first day. Yes, knowing the company policies is important, but no one enjoys flipping through a dry book. If you must make them read the policy, try to create a one-page summary of the most important things they should know. Better yet, send it to them during their pre-boarding phase and then they can peruse it at their own speed and time. Luckily, AllOnboard can confirm that they’ve read what you sent. 

Don’t throw them into a big project their first week. New employees need to be able to adjust to their new surroundings and new people. If you start throwing deadlines, tasks, and assignments at them before they get a good grounding, they will quickly feel overwhelmed. Start them off with an easy assignment, preferably if it involves them going to different departments to meet and talk with different people. The first week is about getting to know the office and the people in it. Sink or swim should not be your onboarding program.

Don’t forget to remind everyone when a new team member is starting. There is nothing more demoralizing than walking into the office on your first day, and no one even knows you’re starting that day. Preparation is vital for giving a great experience right off the bat. Remember, all that employer branding and culture you talked about during the hiring process is about to be put to the test when they walk through that door on the first day. A lot of companies fail that test, but you don’t have to.

Don’t forget what it’s all about. Onboarding is not just another thing to get done and out of the way. It is what forms the foundation for your employees and ultimately your culture. It helps determine if someone will stay or not. After all, 69% of employees are more like to stay if they get a great onboarding experience. Don’t obsess over policies and compliance. Focus on the relationships that make your company a great place to work. That will be more powerful than any employee manual.

Onboarding works. It works better when we do a great job of onboarding than missing the mark. Keep in mind that whether you plan on it or not, you onboard everyone. Everyone gets a taste of your culture, everyone gets to know the people they work with, everyone learns the silent rules that govern your company. The difference has to do with retention. Great onboarding makes retention easier and builds a stronger bond among employees. All you need to know is what to do and what not to do.