Can you remember your last first day at a new job? The nervous gulp as you pushed open the front door of your new building? The ‘ting’ of the elevator as it arrived at your floor? The being introduced to people whose names you instantly forget? The excitement of a new challenge? The wondering where the coffee machine is?
We’ve all experienced those feelings – and perhaps many more besides. We all know that joining a new business is one of the most stressful points in any career, and we all try to make each new joiners experience a good one – don’t we?
Of course, and when it’s done right, onboarding can be an inspiring process.
Why is it then that the fundamentally human behaviour of making someone new feel welcome in a group, often becomes no more than a tick box exercise, a business process to be nodded at? No different to offshoring customer service centres or outsourcing payroll.
Isn’t that a missed opportunity?
That first few days for a new employee sets the agenda for the rest of their time with you. It affects the relationship you’ll have with that person for a disproportionately long period of time. You only get one shot at this unique opportunity for your new employee to make the best possible start. It can make a huge impact on engagement, performance and attrition levels. And it can mean positive things for everyone involved.
So how do you make an onboarding process really matter? The answer is to look at your own personal experience. Remember the questions that mattered to you.
Questions like: “Who’s going to be in my team? Where and when do I eat my lunch? What does the MD look like? Would I know the boss if I passed them in the kitchen? Where are all the other newbies? Does everyone go for drinks on a Friday?” And not forgetting “Who can I talk to about all of this without looking silly?”
These are far from frivolous questions. Imagine you’ve been sold an employer brand that’s promised a ‘socially savvy environment with a laid back, open culture’; but reality is that this turns out to be completely untrue because no-one has engaged with you personally…
Make it human and engaging
An average onboarding initiative offers the basic support and information people need to get on with their job. Like floor plans, email policy, personal development and review plans.
That’s all well and good. But we’re missing something incredibly important here. The human element. The person to person interaction we all value more highly above all else. The social touch.
With this in mind, here are some tips to help you create a more engaging onboarding experience:
- First, make the practical stuff easy. Store all your information in one accessible place. GenY (and beyond), will not put up with substandard IT infrastructure or difficult to reach content. An app or a dedicated portal such as a microsite are easy to implement quick fixes.
- Make sure you include team members who don’t have continual access to a desktop PC. Make the solution mobile.
- Make the process as social as possible.
o Allow people to connect with senior leaders and team members
o Allow people to start connecting and talking before they join
o Organise events for all new starters
o Gamify. Create leaderboards or competitions to encourage people to achieve key objectives each.
- Give people a reason to keep coming back. Keep content dynamic, and allow people to develop their profile and connections over 6 to 12 months.
Balance the functional with the emotional.
Practical issues are part and parcel of joining a new business. But if your onboarding process addresses basic human needs too, you’ll make the shiny new person you’ve just hired a critical part of the team before they even start.
Getting to grips with the emotional elements can mean the difference between an employee leaving within six-months – or an incredibly skilled person coming out of their shell and achieving their full potential. That’s why a good onboarding process really matters.
If you’d like to hear more about our views on onboarding, or to learn about insights we gained from working with employers and how that might help you, get in touch. We’d love to tell you more.