What is onboarding?

Chances are, you’ve read the word onboarding on your favorite go-to medium blog about seven times this morning, and rightfully so. The more we dive into and improve the practice we notice that onboarding meaning in HR has evolved into something greater than just walking a new starter into the office front door. Some may wake up ask themselves what does onboarding mean for today’s daily-changing HR landscape, but in order to properly define onboarding, we need to first understand why it’s so important.

Why is onboarding important?

Having a bad onboarding process can cost you a talented employee. It can make you look unorganised and show that you don’t care about the experience of your new member of staff. Having a great onboarding process can mean reduced turnover and happy employees. It has been reported that new staff who go through a structured onboarding programme are 58% more likely to be with the organisation after three years (The Wynhurst Group).

Here Are some tips for a great onboarding process

1. Don’t go cold on them

You’ve sent your offer and received the new starter’s letter of acceptance… it goes quiet from there. This is mistake number one.

Keep in touch with them until their first day. If you don’t, they are going to feel a great sense of anxiety before their start date as they will have no clue of what to expect. This doesn’t need to be frequent emails but perhaps one per week if they don’t start for a month. The emails could include:

  1. What to expect in the first week
  2. Any company news
  3. Anything they may want to read up on before they start (voluntary, not compulsory, you don’t want to come across as too pushy).
  4. Company calendar with social events on
  5. Office perks or tips such as cake on Fika Thursdays, bagels in the morning or top tip to join the “lunch bunch” slack group if you want some lunch buddies to join you for a midday meal, etc.

2. Direction breakfast

Get one of your founders or senior members of the team to take the new-starter for breakfast. This is a great opportunity to tell them about the history, purpose, and the direction of the company without it seeming like a boring lecture. After all, employee engagement happens when staff know the purpose of their role in the business.

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3. Don’t make them feel awkward

It is your job to have everything prepared for the new starter. You have known they are starting so there is no excuse to not have things ready. Don’t leave them waiting, have new starter packs, equipment, stationery etc. all waiting for them. Have a step by step guide of their itinerary, with what you would like them to do and who with, this saves them hanging around feeling awkward about not knowing what they are doing.

4. Get everyone involved

It can be tough introducing your new starter to everyone in the business, a good way to get them to work with different departments is to locate buddies from each division to help them with each task on their itinerary. This is more useful than just a ‘hello’ ‘goodbye’ introduction and allows them to talk whilst using the time to go through the onboarding tasks.

5. Make them feel appreciated

Your first day can feel daunting not knowing any of your teammates and beginning a new career. It is a nice idea to provide your new starters with things that show you value them. These could include:

  1. A card with messages from teammates welcoming them on their first day.
  2. Personalised gifts e.g. A luggage tag if you know they will be travelling a lot, new slippers for them to take home if you know they are going to be on their feet all day or a new phone case if you have a BYOD policy at work.
  3. Arrange a company lunch for them to go on with their new teammates, this will give them a chance to get to know them outside of a work setting. It will also let them show the new starter where they can go at lunch, rather than them trying to figure it out for themselves.

6. Give them some downtime

After all of the breakfast, lunches, and meeting of people, it can become quite overwhelming. Give your new starter a chance to sit and reflect and work independently, this will make them feel more relaxed. It is a good opportunity for them to fill out forms or read through company policies, procedures or how-to guides.

7. Gamify your learning

Create games out of your onboarding process by using cutting edge technology. You could create speedy games which make it easy for the new employee to learn about the company and different products. Have these games accessible on their own device, so they can play at home or on their way to work. This gives them the freedom to boost their knowledge and confidence. Let them take control of their learning. Having a live leaderboard can help them earn their place and give them a chance to show their knowledge and ability to their teammates, providing a healthy amount of competition.

To reiterate as to what is the meaning of onboarding along with its subsequent practices, we can confidently say that it is the positive and effective integration of a new starter to a company. To elaborate though, proper staff onboarding should always present a new starter with purpose and a sense that they have a position or place within the company that is contributive. So what are you waiting for, start making your new employees feel like one of the family from the day they say yes. Reduce turnover and improve engagement now.

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From Hayley Lloyd

Hayley is a Marketing Coordinator at Oplift. Her mission is to make the workplace better for employees by making them engaged, happy, motivated and confident. Oplift is a Digital Operations Platform dedicated to improving workforce performance, compliance and culture.