Close

Sign up to get the latest news and stories on the future of work.

Subscribe Search

Search form

Businesses that do a good job of onboarding have higher engagement and retention rates than those that don’t, and it doesn’t take long for new hires to decide whether or not they’re going to stick around.

The first few months are critical, so you really need to make sure your onboarding programs are pulling their weight.

Onboarding isn’t orientation

Onboarding goes beyond simply introducing your company to new hires (and vice versa). It’s not all about paperwork, and it’s not over in a day. Along with basic compliance and safety information, new employees need to know about your people, your culture: what makes your company tick.

Start at before the very beginning: the employee handbook

Use your handbook* to tell the story of your company and its values, define your particular brand of success, and describe your ideal employees. Then:

  • Recruit for these ideal characteristics
  • Design your onboarding to communicate & reinforce your values and expectations
  • Use your performance management system to see how people are measuring up
  • It doesn’t have to be an actual book. Get creative.

Reach out early...

Start onboarding from the time the job offer is accepted. Send out information packs and orientation material so new hires are ready to hit the ground running on day one.

...and often

Onboarding doesn’t stop after the first day, or even the first week. Touch base regularly during the first 6-12 months to show you’re still invested in your new hires, and to check you’re still aligned. And make sure all of your onboarding information is available all the time – uploading to your intranet is a great way to make sure everyone can get to it when they need it.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Get as much admin done behind the scenes as you can – and ideally before the start date. Do the obvious things like getting desks and computers sorted before the first day, and automate what you can: standardized training can easily be delivered online instead of in a classroom.

Set clear expectations on all sides

Make sure your hires know what’s expected of them in their roles from day one; if goals are unclear and resources hard to find, employees will struggle to engage. And find out what they hope to achieve during their time with you – investing in employee development boosts engagement and productivity.

Celebrate beginnings, not endings

Have cake when people start, not when they leave – after all, what are you really more excited about? Provide social opportunities and make introductions early; scheduled lunches with various departments helps build networks and makes the first weeks a little less lonely.

With well-designed, effective onboarding programs it’s easy to build solid foundations for future success. You know it makes sense!

If you're a member of HR.com, come along to this free webinar on October 29 and hear what CSOD's very own Engagement Manager Rachel Light has to say about getting – and staying - engaged.