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Employee Onboarding: One Chance for a Positive New Employee Experience

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Smiling coworkers discussing project on computer
Thomas Barwick/ Stone/ Getty images

In the talent management universe, the new employee orientation and mainstreaming process is known as “employee onboarding.” Keeping in mind that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, your business should make absolutely sure that new hires feel welcomed, valued, and prepared for what lies ahead during your new employee orientation or onboarding process.

The following four key points will help you get your newest team members on track, up to speed and “on board” so they can start contributing to your success as soon as possible.

Familiarity Breeds Contentment

A friend recently married into a large family and was overwhelmed with the sea of new faces, names and relationships. To ease her transition, a well-meaning uncle prepared a set of flashcards, complete with photos, names, hometowns and professions. Thanks to his efforts, she knew that the woman making the tearful toast at the wedding was her mother-in-law’s first cousin.

A similar approach will help familiarize new hires with the corporate family tree and could help avert embarrassing situations such as the new hire who asks a stranger for help with the fax machine, only to discover later that he was the CFO.

Rather than flashcards, a “who’s who” area with photos, names and titles on your company Intranet will do the trick. Offline, a simple bulletin board with staff pictures, names, and positions will get the job done.

Let New Employee Orientation Be - Simple and Interesting

The employee onboarding period can be quite complex and uncertain. Consider the experience from the employee’s perspective, and then make an effort to make it fun, interesting, exciting, painless, and as simple as possible. If you do, you will make your new team member feel valued, wanted, interested and excited. By engendering these positive emotions from the word go, you make the new employee want to do great work and add great value to your organization.

One easy solution is to post new employee orientation schedules, materials, benefits forms, and an extensive FAQ about the company on an Intranet that is accessible to new hires fom a link in a welcome email before their first day on the job. By providing some information in advance, you eliminate a common source of new hire angst and give them a better chance to start off on the right foot.

Don’t Make New Employees Learn “The Hard Way”

Every workplace comes with its own set of rules and regulations, benefits and bonuses, nuances and traditions. Don’t make your new employees learn these things the hard way. If your company observes a “casual Friday” rule, make sure all new employees know this before they show up at the office on their first Friday in a neatly-pressed suit.

Every company offers a range of benefits and perks. They’ll seem even more valuable if you make sure your new employees know about them from the onset. Give new employees an easy way to keep track of exactly what they’re eligible for, and how they can take advantage of these benefits.

This applies to social functions as well as benefits packages. If your company plays in a corporate softball league, let the new guy know right away. Welcoming the whole person, rather than just a set of job functions, will help new hires more quickly assimilate to your corporate culture. And you never know – maybe that unassuming new financial analyst will be the secret weapon that your team needs to shut out your fiercest rival.

Again, post policies and procedures in writing somewhere convenient. Verbal mentions during a marathon new employee orientation session can easily go unheard, especially on a new hire’s first day in the office. Similarly, a stack of papers and reminders can easily get lost in the shuffle. An online resource that is regularly updated, and always accessible, is the best practice when it comes to information sharing.

Make New Employee Orientation Personal

Don’t make day one all about paperwork. Instead, prioritize interpersonal relationships with key colleagues. Consider assigning welcome mentors to each new hire, so they can immediately get a feel for the personality of your organization. This day of first impressions will have an enormous impact on the employee experience, so make it a good one.

Of course, some paperwork must be handled on or before the start date. Keep in mind that when your new hire goes home to tell his family about his first day on the job, he would rather have something more exciting to report than, “I filled out over 30 forms.”

When it comes to documentation, get the key documentation on file in advance or as quickly as you can on day one. For everything else, create an online hub where new hires can find materials as they need them. Once they’ve settled into their new job, send a reminder email that certain materials are available online, and encourage them to frequently visit the Intranet for information.

When it comes to onboarding new talent at your company, the Internet is the most powerful tool in your toolbox. A web-based employee onboarding system will let you standardize, streamline, track, and coordinate every step of the process, all while making your company’s most recent hires feel valued and supported.

It’s been proven that happy employees are more productive employees. So, if you’re looking to drive bottom line results with state of the art talent management tactics, it’s time to get “onboard.”

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Brian Platz is the Executive Vice President and General Manager of SilkRoad Technology, a web-based talent management solutions provider. Using SilkRoad’s Life Suite™, an integrated set of management solutions, companies are able to hire better employees, identify high and low performers, drive a pay-for-performance culture, and improve employee tenure. Platz has more than a decade of experience developing Internet products, e-business initiatives and e-commerce solutions.

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