A new employee's immediate supervisor should also be present on the first day. 'The worst thing you can do is have new hires show up when their immediate supervisor isn't there for three or four days,' Sullivan says. 'It's like getting married and not having your spouse on your honeymoon.'
Dig Deeper: Mastering a New Employee's First Day
Onboarding a New Hire: Individualizing the Process
Unlike a traditional first-day orientation, where an employee generally spends a good chunk of time signing forms for Human Resources and reviewing the policies of the organization, onboarding is intended to be a multi-faceted approach. And while the list of things to consider for a new hire's first day applies to pretty much any employee, that doesn't mean you should forget about the unique needs of each individual. Quite the opposite, in fact.
For example, different people prefer different management styles, so why not ask a new employee from the start how he or she wants to be managed? 'Onboarding is a performance-based, customized approach,' Sullivan says. 'Why don't ask you upfront what is the best way to manage you?'
A more personal element to the process can engage new employees, giving them the ability to identify their personal goals with the overall success of the organization. Ari Weinzweig, CEO of the Zingerman's Community of Businesses, a group of food specialty businesses in Ann Arbor, Michigan, still personally teaches an orientation class to new staffers. 'By taking the time to teach the orientation, the clear message that comes across is that we value them and their work so highly that the head of the company is willing to sit with them to go over things,' he says.
Make sure a new staff member understands how he or she can individually contribute to the company. Explain to the employee how your performance appraisal system works, so he or she won't waste time on things that don't matter, and can quickly begin to work on key objectives. If you make a custom onboarding plan, 'you're leaving the individual with the impression that employees are very important assets to the organization, chosen from among many candidates, and that their talent and potential is recognized,' Jordan says. 'You want to make sure you develop their career path within the organization.'
How vested an employee feels to a company also has to do with the social relationships he or she makes with co-workers. An onboarding process should consider those relationships and facilitate them from the very beginning. Organize a lunch on the first day with the new employee's team or department the new employee. Or try giving your new employee a week's worth of gift certificates for lunch, so he or she can take a colleague to lunch each day.
Dig Deeper: How Hiring Rituals Build Company Culture
Onboarding a New Hire: Following Through on Your Plan
On-boarding doesn't end on the Friday of a new employee's first week on the job. The process should continue over the span of several months and, during that time, it is essential to solicit feedback from all constituents. A good way to do that is to assign a recruiting manager to keep track of the new hire's first few months on the job, Jordan says, because that individual will already have developed a relationship with the employee.
'I'm a big believer of surveying at every step of the process,' Perry says. She suggests surveying at the end of the first week and at the close of each of the employee's first three months, asking different questions at each stage. Begin with questions about the recruiting process, how the first day met the employee's expectations, and whether they are struggling with any issues related to technology. Then, start asking whether the employee has the necessary tools to complete his or her job and, finally, begin asking about an employee's strategic goals. You want to learn how engaged or connected the new hire feels to the organization.
You also want to make sure someone is accountable, preferably a line manager who realizes the cost savings to the business if a new employee gets up to speed quicker. You want managers to be very aware that you are measuring productivity through metrics. Make sure employees actually are becoming productive and, if they are not, figure out what is going wrong. Continually fine-tune how you onboard employees to make sure you can maximize the benefits of the process.
Once you've done that, you can begin to establish a general checklist of what you want to cover when you're onboarding. Even within that structured plan or process, make sure you leave room for those personal touches. 'Your employees are going to get orientated whether you plan for it or not," Perry observes. "But if you do plan it, it's a lot more likely to be successful."
Dig Deeper: How to Improve Employee Retention
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