Onboarding: Best Practices to Inspire New Employees

Jillian Grachan

The first few days on the job are crucial for new employees to acclimate to their surroundings and set a precedent for success at the company. They also mark the beginning of the onboarding process. That said, isn’t it backward that many people use words like scary, nerve-racking, overwhelming and other similar adjectives to describe this experience?

For employers who understand the impact that onboarding has on employee retention, productivity and ROI, any of the above descriptors would be very alarming. Instead, these employers want their new employees to feel inspired: inspired to learn and grow, inspired to connect with colleagues and inspired to produce quality work each and every day.

As the newest member of the Persio Inc family, my current onboarding process has prompted me to reflect on my previous onboarding experiences. I’ve taken some time to evaluate how these processes have differed from company to company and identified five key factors in creating an inspirational onboarding experience for new employees.

Set Expectations

First and foremost, it is extremely important to set expectations for new employees right off the bat. This includes individual goals and performance metrics as well as the company’s overall mission and goals. Working with your new employee on 30/60/90 day plans can be a great way to establish expectations and provide milestones to work toward.

In the very beginning, a weekly exercise called 3x3 can serve as a stepping stone to 30/60/90’s. A 3x3 asks the new employee to jot down 3 takeaways, 3 challenges and 3 growth opportunities from the previous week. This helps to keep goals and performance top of mind and prepare milestones for long-term plans.

Buddy System

Assigning a mentor or buddy is a great way to help new employees become acclimated quickly. It’s not always easy for new hires to find their place among new colleagues, so designating one person to be their go-to for questions, training or even just lunch can relieve some pressure.

Additionally, I would suggest asking your current employees (especially those who will be working closely with your new employee) to send welcome messages prior to the new employee’s start date. This provides a brief introduction to the team and amps up the new hire’s excitement about their new role and team.

Manager Involvement

Open communication between a new employee and their manager should be established right away to kick off a positive relationship. Schedule time to discuss goals, expectations, ideas and questions to establish a working foundation. Make sure an open door policy is communicated and the new team member feels comfortable asking questions and offering ideas.

It can also be helpful to schedule coaching sessions between managers and new employees. These sessions will help the new employee to ramp up more quickly and grow the employee-manager relationship.

Schedule Variation

It’s important to understand that onboarding and training are not one in the same. While the onboarding process should include training, your new employee’s schedule should also include a nice mix of pre-scheduled meetings and trainings, impromptu meet and greets, team lunches and office tours.

A calendar full of pre-scheduled trainings can be daunting and prompt those feelings of overwhelmingness. Peppering in a few informal meetings and group lunches will provide well-deserved breaks and allow your new employee to be inspired by their new colleagues’ stories.

Continued Learning

Introducing continued learning as a priority for new (and current) employees is a great way to keep employees engaged and inspired. Some examples of this might be to ask your employees to read a professional development book once a quarter, facilitate the sign-up for online courses, cross-train employees across departments and participate in the company blog.

Encouraging employees to take part in these activities pushes them to continuously develop professional skills, like writing and critical thinking, that can be integrated into their day-to-day tasks. They will also provide new inspiration and prevent these day-to-day tasks from becoming mundane.

All of these tips truly boil down to one key takeaway: the onboarding process can and should be inspirational. I know from personal experience that this is the key to a successful onboarding experience as well as employee retention. If employees are continuously developing professionally, forming strong relationships with colleagues and superiors and feel confident in their task preparedness, chances are they will feel inspired to provide great work and a positive attitude for the long-term.

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