Successful Employee Onboarding: Tips and Mistakes

May 25, 2015

Employee onboarding is a vital process in any organization or business because it helps new employees adjust to the social aspects of their roles. Onboarding assists employees with becoming productive more quickly. Many companies do not invest resources into this level of onboarding, which may lead to lower retention rates. According to Allied Workforce Mobility, almost 35% of companies have a zero budget for onboarding new employees. This means that one third of companies do not have resources to ensure their new employees are integrated in the right manner. This is crazy considering employees are the most valuable resource in any company. As a manager, you should not put all your focus on whom you hire, but also on how new employees get integrated.

3 Employee Onboarding Tips for Success

Tip #1: Start Onboarding Before the First Day

To ensure that new employees are integrated in an effective way, it is vital to prepare for them before they come. You should develop an agenda for the first week in order to clarify what is expected of them from the start. It is also advisable to use this moment to inform other employees on what they should expect when the new employee starts to work with them.

Create a good workstation for new employees with all the required supplies. Several studies have shown that new hires get demotivated when they get assigned to a dirty and disorganized desk, which makes them feel like they are not important. By having a pleasing workspace with ample room, you show them they are appreciated and of great worth to your company, thus keeping their motivation levels high.

To help new hires feel welcome in your company, you could prepare a few branded gifts for them. Such gifts may include pens, a custom shirt or a cup with the company logo. As part of the employee onboarding process, make sure you inform new employees what is required of them on the first day. Such details may include parking, the dress code, and who to contact when they arrive.

Tip #2: Orientation in the First Week

When new employees arrive, make them feel comfortable by giving them a tour if you haven’t already done so. Introduce them to other employees and supervisors. Despite your urge to allow new hires to begin working on different projects right away, you should allow them a few days to ease into their new position. They will be more productive in their different roles if they feel comfortable and have a strong connection to what the job entails before they start carrying out their different roles or projects.

During the first week of employee onboarding, create time for the new hires to interact with fellow coworkers to build relationships. One great way to do this is to take the team out to lunch at the end of the first week.

Within the first three days of employee onboarding, you should go through crucial work processes. Ensure that your new hires understand the expectations you have. Let them meet with their direct supervisors, so that they can have a discussion about short and long term goals, communication and management styles used.

Tip #3: Create a 30-90 Ramp-up Period

Most managers provide new employees with full reign over their new responsibilities after one week. However, this is one of the greatest mistakes you need to avoid in the employee onboarding process. Provide a 30-day time period to really get in the groove of things. Assess their tasks and see if they can handle more responsibilities. This period is necessary to ensure that they can meet deadlines and have some time to achieve goals. A ramp-up period is also crucial for you to get feedback from new employees. It will give them time to make suggestions, share new ideas, and discuss challenges they face.

It may be tempting to expect immediate results, but it is necessary to take enough time to invest in training. New hires not only need to learn their own job duties, but they also need to learn all about the company’s products, their brand, and procedural policies. If you find it appropriate, allow job shadowing for cross training opportunities. At 90 days, carry out a basic performance review. By this time, they should be fully integrated into the company and you can expect them to give 100%.

3 Employee Onboarding Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake #1: Lack of Structure

Most companies do not have an employee onboarding structure to use when they are integrating new employees into the company culture. Every company should have its own onboarding structure. When undertaking the onboarding process for the first time, develop a form to show what you did to assist the new employee. Document what worked and what did not work. This should be the basis for all future onboarding processes within your company.

Mistake #2: Lack of Focus on Company Culture

Most managers limit their employee onboarding to job roles and paperwork alone. The success employees have in their jobs mostly depends on the way they appreciate the company’s culture. A huge part of this is how employees develop relationships with their coworkers. Encourage employees to develop strong working relationships with each other through company activities. Promote healthy socialization because it leads to happy and highly motivated employees.

Mistake #3: Unrealistic Time Expectations

Expecting immediate results such as higher profits is unrealistic. It takes time to build and grow companies. New employees who have unrealistic expectations set on them will likely not stick around long enough to see any growth. So don’t rush through the training process. If you do, you will end up having uncomfortable and frustrated workers who will burn out before they could ever give a true and accurate 100%. Give new employees time and within a short period they will provide the results you expect to see and more.

The Bottom Line

Hiring new employees is not a plug and play process. If you do not have an employee onboarding structure, it is time you create one. Set aside enough resources for this process and ensure it is undertaken in the right manner. By doing this, you will be amazed at the results.

Think back to when YOU were hired. What was the #1 thing your supervisor did to help you get acclimated? What was the #1 thing that made you want to stick around for the long haul? Share your comments below!

About the Author

Charlie Kimmel

As President and CEO, Charlie has dedicated his 25+ year career to executive search at Kimmel & Associates. Charlie began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1990 as a Recruiter. In 1993, he graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, where he received a BA in History.

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