A strong onboarding experience is essential for welcoming new employees into an organization, and helping them to successfully launch. Two thirds of companies have a formal onboarding process, including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google. 

A recent study found that 66 percent of companies with onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62 percent had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54 percent reported higher employee engagement.

A successful onboarding program:

  • Helps new hires understand how work is done in a company
  • Outlines the organizational structure, and explains where everyone fits in the framework
  • Re-enforces the company brand, and its values, mission, and vision
  • Acclimates new employees to their surroundings and environment, which helps them feel connected to others
  • Helps to build relationships with other new hires, and with those who are part of the onboarding process
  • Addresses the details of the company's daily operations
  • Reduces attrition, increases engagement, and helps to attract great talent

At the first company I built, Information Experts, we had an onboarding program, but we also made it clear in our interviewing process that we had a hit-the-ground-running culture.  In addition, we used what I called a "360-degree hiring process," which allowed candidates who made it past the first hiring round to interview with several other team members that they would be working with on a daily basis.

Properly vetting for cultural fit during the interviewing process is just as important as vetting for skills, experience, or knowledge alignment. 

Even when a company does a great job of properly vetting candidates, and has a strong onboarding program, responsibility still falls to the new employee to ensure they integrate well. Here are 5 ways they can achieve this:

  1.  Dress the Part.  During the interviewing process, take note of how employees dress so that you can blend in when you start working. While individuality is great, it's important to be aligned with the overall office vibe (casual, professional casual, professional). We once employed a project manager who had a Betty Boop alter ego. On days when Betty appeared, it was always a bit more interesting in the office. 
  2. Check out Office Decor. Is there a lot of creative license when it comes to decorating a personal space? If so, bring in personal items so that employees can learn about your personal side. 
  3. Ask About the Lunch Routines and Participate. Do people go out to lunch? Do they gather in a communal space? Do they collectively order in? Do they do some type of exercise during their lunch breaks?  Find out what people do, and join in. 
  4. Create Your Online Profile if Your Company Has a Platform. Many companies today use Yammer or another internal communications platform. New hires should jump into any online communities or conversations at their earliest opportunity. 
  5. Don't Be Shy. Remember that everyone was the newbie once. Reach out to get to know people, and in all meetings, be an engaged & present participant.

    If you don't understand something, or need more information, ask. Your new employer wants to set you up for success, but they aren't mind-readers, and they have a lot of obligations to juggle.

    People can't help you if you choose silence over support

    Getting to know someone" does not mean unloading all of your personal drama. While it is great to develop personal support systems at work, these take time to build, and must be done judiciously. It also doesn't mean immediately friending every employee you meet on Facebook.

Transitioning to a new position is challenging for anyone, regardless of level and title. Great energy goes into developing relationships with people that you are with for 150-200 hours a month. Making a smart, intentional effort to connect personally and professionally will go a long way to build trust and respect, and will set you up for long-term success.