7 new-hire onboarding tips

Though sometimes neglected in organizations, employee onboarding is essential to acclimating new hires to their work environment and helping them succeed long term. In fact, one 2018 study shows that organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54 percent greater new hire productivity

To help you get your onboarding process on track and give your new hires the best chance at success, check out the onboarding best practices below.

1. Leverage what you’ve learned from hiring past employees

Robert C. Satterwhite, Ph.D., partner and head of the leadership and organizational effectiveness practice at Odgers Berndtson, says your experience with past hires can offer useful insights for onboarding new hires. 

Whether you hired a new cashier or a new CEO, you can use what you learned previously to identify ways to refine your onboarding process. “Use job-relevant data collected during the talent acquisition process to accurately identify a new hire’s strengths you can cultivate and gaps you need to address in the future,” Satterwhite says.

2. Design an onboarding plan

The insights you gain from past experiences don’t negate the potential need for a tailored approach with each new hire. Some roles — such as executives and specialized personnel — may require more training time and effort to reach optimal performance. Unlike a line-worker position, these leadership roles require strategic thinking and a firm grasp of numerous aspects and areas of the organization.

In any case, Satterwhite advises meeting with all new hires soon after their start date to discuss their needs. This should be a collaborative, candid discussion with a clear deliverable: an onboarding and early development plan that identifies three to four goals the employee should strive for, each supported by relevant activities, resources, timelines, and metrics required for achieving those goals. 

“A first-time manager, for example, should have a goal to build skills related to performance evaluation and feedback to ensure their team can be successful over the long term,” Satterwhite explains.

3. Use onboarding to inform ongoing development

“It can take up to a year for a new hire to have a significant impact with their work, and many things can go wrong along the way,” says Satterwhite. 

To maximize their likelihood of success, regularly review their onboarding plan over the first six months, fine-tuning as needed. Deliberately seek out positive and constructive feedback from the new hire’s internal and external customers, and use this information to update the plan. 

Eventually, you can roll the insights from the onboarding process and plan into your ongoing talent development process.

4. Create an onboarding FAQ document

New hires will have a lot of the same questions during the onboarding process. “You can either say the same thing 50 times or write it down once,” says Morgan Taylor, CMO of LetMeBank

Instead of repeating yourself, create an FAQ document you can share with new hires and update over time. Of course, new employees may have follow-up questions that reflect their unique needs, but the FAQ document should provide most of the answers they need and enable you to focus on things like company culture.

5. Use video to save time

Using video in the onboarding process can not only save time but can also ensure you’ve covered all pertinent information. In addition, it lets new hires review what you’ve said instead of hoping they connected with everything the first time. 

“We use video a lot during onboarding,” Taylor says. “We also follow these videos with a Zoom conference, where new hires are able to ask informed questions and connect with the team.”

6. Use gamification to engage new hires

Kenny Trinh, managing editor of Netbooknews, says many employee onboarding software solutions offer a great opportunity to make training fun for new employees through gamification. You can use gamification to encourage new employees to continue their learning journey. 

“For example,” Trinh says, “you can give out rewards like digital badges when they’ve completed a specific training module. You may also use a leaderboard to show who got the highest score on a training exam.”

7. Provide a brand-centric onboarding kit

An employee onboarding kit can be a marketing tool that enhances your organization’s brand. For example, you can give your new employee company t-shirts, water bottles, or other items they can use in their work and personal life. 

“You can turn employees into proud promoters and champions of your brand even outside the office,” Trinh says.

Want the full rundown on employee onboarding? Check out the complete guide we created on the topic.

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