Employee onboarding: making first impressions count

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It's your first day in your new job. You walk into the office and spot your name on a 'welcome' sign. The receptionist is expecting you and shows you through. You chat with your friendly new team and find your workstation already set up. Complete with branded merchandise and a green plant. Your team lead starts the day's agenda. You get the low-down on the company's culture, goals and systems. And when it comes to lunch? Your new buddies make sure you don't have to eat alone. How does this make you feel? Excited, motivated, valued?

First impressions matter. Positive employee onboarding experiences can increase retention by 80% and productivity by 70%. Here are some ideas to help your new hires hit the ground running.

Streamline the paperwork
Great employee onboarding starts the moment the contract is signed. And yet 58% of companies focus on paperwork and processes when their new employee starts. Consider which forms your new hire can fill in before starting. That way you can fill their first day with people time.

A pre-onboarding checklist can help your whole team to prepare. Our list has 13 items on but at its core it includes:

Got any team socials planned during pre-onboarding? Make sure to invite your new colleague.

Start right
Make the first day a day to remember, for all the right reasons. Invite creative suggestions from your team on how to add the 'wow' factor.

HR, Finance and IT often take up big chunks of time. But try to fit in a tour of the office, introductions with the wider team and, if possible, a chat with senior management. If your senior team are hard to pin down, why not record a video greeting? When I'm away on a new starter's first day, I'll always record a short 2m video welcoming them and promising a sit-down together at a later stage.

30-60-90
Setting clear expectations helps new hires understand what they need to achieve. Set out a 30-60-90 day development plan that defines key milestones and agreed goals. Ask them about their ideas for this role. Talk about review points and available support.

Depending on the size of your company, look at organising departmental inductions. This helps your new hire build a support network and understand how they/their role fit in.

Don't forget to celebrate successes together. You could try customisable real-time TV displays or even event flashes. And your existing team will love it too.

Fresh eyes
New hires can be your greatest asset in identifying opportunities for improvement. Invite them to question existing processes and suggest new ideas. You'll be surprised by what you can learn.

Be clear that feedback should go both ways. Employees who feel heard by managers are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. Peer mentoring is also a good idea. 87% of companies say that a buddy system helps to speed up the learning process for new team members.

Keep on learning
Creating re-usable training materials and checklists has many benefits. It streamlines the employee onboarding process, freeing up more time for people contact. It also means that you can look out for incremental improvement. At the end of the onboarding time, make sure to ask for feedback.

Think back to first days you've experienced. What made you feel valued and raring to go?

Photo by Samuel Zeller and Pablo Gentile on Unsplash