Finding the best talent for your team can be time consuming and hard work (though we can help with that!) but it’s only half of the process of recruiting. What a lot of people don’t always consider, is that for companies looking to retain their best talent and have new joiners up and running as quickly as possible, the hard work continues until after the candidate arrives for their first day, not just when they sign their contract.
It’s not just a matter of opportunity cost when new joiners don’t contribute fully as soon as possible; OfficeVibe’s State of Employee Engagement report found that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with their company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.
If you don’t have a structured onboarding program already (or if perhaps you think it could be refreshed), we have pulled together the following advice from our own experience and that of our clients to get you started.
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PRE-OFFER AND AT THE POINT OF AN OFFER BEING MADE
What we often see being forgotten is that the candidate’s onboarding experience is closely tied up with their hiring experience – to ensure the successful candidate has a consistently positive experience and gets off to the best start, employers ought to treat all candidates in the process as if they are future joiners. So when thinking about on-boarding, start before they sign on the dotted line.
This means thinking about things such as:
- Regular communication – try not to leave applicants in the lurch while you’re making decisions. Share with them when you expect to be able to update them on their progress and keep to that schedule as best you can.
- Ensure that your job advert includes things such as company values and mission, progression opportunities, and working culture. This has the dual benefit of getting potential applicants really excited about your proposition, while also filtering out people whose ambitions and values do not align with what your company has to offer.
- It goes without saying that changing jobs is a big decision. So once you have communicated what is exciting about a role and the candidate is mulling over your offer, give them a reasonable amount of space to consider it. For most mid-level roles, it’s reasonable to wait 3-5 days before chasing their decision or enforcing a deadline.
BEFORE THE FIRST DAY
The goals here are to increase confidence, maintain excitement and to get new joiners off to the best possible start by cutting out inefficiency and confusion. This requires a fair bit of proactive preparation, and the more of the below you can share with the new team member before they start, the better.
The first step is to pin down what you would like them to be achieving and on approximately what time-scale – and you can work back from there to decide:
- Clear owners for different areas of responsibility (if being split across the existing team – for small start-ups without dedicated HR departments and formal onboarding structures, we recommend keeping a reusable check-list in a Google sheet or similar)
- Milestones and a check-in structure to help keep things on track
Other things you might want to consider include:
- Collating digital resources (such as quarterly/annual company updates) and pieces of training that are relevant for the new joiner to read through to get up to speed
- Deciding which team members it’s most important for the new joiner to meet one-on-one or in small groups early on, to understand their respective roles, team structures, and current priorities. For particularly busy diaries you might want to get these chats booked in advance
- Sending a small gift with a message to welcome the new team member can be a nice touch!
DURING THE FIRST WEEK AND BEYOND
Aside from the very basics (having the necessary equipment, email address etc.) ready, with the preparation of point 2 in place, you should already be in a good position for a smooth first few days. Here are a few more tips:
- To welcome the new joiner, a team lunch is a good idea to help everyone get to know each other
- Make sure the new person has access to info on policies around annual leave, working hours, flexible working, sickness, etc.
- For formal or semi-formal training sessions, it can be a good
opportunity to double these up as refreshers for existing members of the team or even get those team members to deliver the training themselves where appropriate. Be mindful of trainings that could be bottle-necks for getting started on work and prioritise those where you can (for us this is GDPR and data security)
- In the very early stages, daily check-ins with the new team member’s manager can be invaluable, for questions, progress checks and hearing feedback from them on their first impressions of the company, team and product. This helps the manager monitor how things are going, but new joiners also have the freshest perspective so their ideas and observations can be invaluable!
- For more junior hires at least, assigning a mentor / ‘buddy’ (at peer level) to help provide support with smaller day-to-day questions
- Continuing on from the onboarding milestones, ensure there are regular (monthly, every other month or at least quarterly) check-ins for two-way feedback, transitioning into a progression plan that looks at opportunities for development.
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