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How to onboard a new employee

Posted on Tuesday, September 06, 2022
Onboarding

Getting the recruitment process right and taking on a new employee is a big deal for any company, irrespective of its size. Well-oiled businesses churning out profits year after year are nothing without their staff!

Acclimatising a new employee to their role, the company's culture and values, and the services provided to clients and customers is key to successful onboarding. It's all part of investing in people as an organisation. You want to keep hold of your best staff and not haemorrhage talent to competitors. Recent research into satisfaction with the onboarding process amongst new employees in the UK and Ireland showed 21% of respondents were considering leaving their current role due to poor onboarding. This further proves the importance of focussing on the strong onboarding of new employees for modern businesses. 

You've taken the steps to screen your candidate thoroughly to ensure they are truly the right fit for your organisation - now you must assess how they perform in action right in the deep end! Here we have put together some advice on how to onboard a new employee. 

How long does it take to onboard a new employee?

Doing a good job of onboarding a new employee starts from the recruitment phase by attracting the brightest and best talents to come and work for you. Get the job description right in your job postings by covering everything in an engaging way to get candidates excited and to ensure they have a heads-up on what to expect in their role and your company culture.

A general rule in HR circles is that it should take 3 months (or 90 days) to onboard a new employee. It can, however, sometimes take a new employee longer to fully integrate and become acclimatised to their role. At the end of the onboarding stage, it's up to the employer to decide whether or not they have proven their worth as a new employee.  

Note that it takes new employees a fair bit longer than 3 months to get up to speed with their new colleagues. Research shows it takes new employees 8-12 months to become as efficient as their coworkers, so make sure you manage expectations and don't expect too much! 

Onboarding a new employee: checklist

Day one

Show them around

Signing and completing important paperwork and work contracts should all be out the way before day one of onboarding arrives. Try keeping a new employee's first day as relaxed and stress-free as possible by showing them around the office or workspace. Show them where the fire exits are, the social spaces and how to use the coffee machine! 

Introductions

Introducing a new employee to people they will be spending a lot of time working with on their first day is a big deal, but try not to make introductions daunting and scary! From day one and throughout the first week, pencil in friendly ‘get-to-know-you meetings' with key members of staff with that the new employee can expect to be in regular contact with. 

Company handbook

A company handbook should be a detailed overview of company best practices and how they wish employees to conduct themselves. It's potentially not the most exciting task of the day, but needs must! By asking new employees to read through a company handbook on their first day, you can clearly set out policies, rules and guidelines, and expectations. 

Social time

Some new employees may be more reserved than others, but from day one an employer should encourage social time between new and existing colleagues so that they can gel with the rest of the team from the off. Social time could include group events such as after-work drinks, spending lunch breaks together, or a team day out doing something adventurous such as paintballing or escape rooms!

Breathing space

Remember to allow new employees to have some breathing space on their first day and keep things chilled. Overloading a new employee with mountains of information to digest on their very first day will be too much. Hopefully, they will have years to come in the role, so there's no need to cram everything into day one.

Week one

Get started!

The first week should give a new employee a thorough introduction to the company, their core values, how things operate on a daily basis, expectations, and warm first hellos to who they will be working with. In week one, keep things light and relaxed, but perhaps start your new employee on a few basic tasks so that they can get a feel for the day-to-day. 

Onboarding

Appoint a buddy or mentor

Putting a mentor or work buddy in place in week one can be a vital step in the journey of successfully onboarding new employees. In fact, 56% of new hires prefer having a mentor or buddy to assist them. Learning from a member of the team who has ‘been there and done it' can really excel a new employee's progression and jump-start their learning.

Set goals and expectations

Communicating company goals and expectations in the very first week means new employees will be left under no illusions in terms of how they can meet company standards. When setting these goals, it's important to approach this in stages. There may be overall goals associated with their role, such as hitting a customer's KPIs but it's a good idea to also set achievable goals for their probationary period.

Tools and software training

Software and IT tools play a pivotal role in the workplace in today's digital tech era. They have transformed the way we work professionally, but new platforms can be a lot to get your head around! So, in the first week, introduce new employees to the tools and software needed for their role. Walk them through how to use them and give them time to play around and get to grips with them independently too.

Three months 

Regular one-to-one reviews

Regular one-to-one reviews with a line manager are a great way to monitor and appraise a new employee's performance. These reviews during the first three months should be part of a personal development plan (PDP) - a structured framework which reviews short and long-term career goals for new hires. Providing feedback on performance to new staff from the off is essential to tracking their progress and letting them know how they're getting on.

Pinpoint training needs

As the weeks go by, you should begin to have a better idea of where your new employee's strengths and weaknesses are. Are they lacking in a certain area? Perhaps their data security skills are under par? In this case, highlight these training needs and guide them on how to access these.

Set post-probation goals

Time flies in a new role! As the probation period comes to an end, ensure goals are in place to think longer term and envisage the bigger picture careerwise. Look forward to the next nine months and assess whether any of the goals set for the probation period need extending. These will formulate the next phase of your new employee's PDP. 

How to onboard a new employee remotely 

Your onboarding process must reflect the current workplace model. So, if you have opted for a remote working setup for your employees, this will heavily influence your onboarding process. 

Onboarding a remote employee is distinctly different from the traditional in-office onboarding process. It usually takes considerably longer to onboard a new employee remotely because processes and tools cannot be demonstrated face-to-face. You can make remote onboarding easier by: 

  • Setting up informal virtual meetings to introduce new employees to their coworkers
  • Explaining the work processes and projects they will be using through video calls, screen sharing, and interacting over business communication software such as Slack
  • Organising fun things and encouraging social time on video calls every now and then with their coworkers, such as quizzes
  • Bringing in virtual training through engaging online courses or virtual calls with experienced members of staff to upskill new employees
  • Asking for honest feedback from new remote recruits during the onboarding process to keep communication open and pick up on any difficulties they may be having
  • Arranging a meeting in person if a new employee lives nearby or introducing them to the team at an organised (non-virtual!) work social event.

Onboarding

What not to do when onboarding a new employee

A substandard company wide onboarding process breeds low staff retention rates and high employee turnover, causing a critical lack of company continuity. Frequently losing people with valuable skills and experience can easily result in a downturn in team morale, and you must strive to keep team spirits as high as possible. 

Here are a few things employers should avoid when onboarding a new employee:

  • Don't provide feedback that is non-constructive and overly critical early on. This could break a new employee's confidence
  • We're all busy, but don't hand your new employee a laptop and a company handbook and leave them alone all morning on day one. Whilst it's important to give breathing space, a new employee needs your time! Showing willingness to put time aside to ensure a smooth onboarding is key
  • On the other hand, don't micro-manage a new employee. This can be intense and off putting. There is a reason why you employed this person - give them the trust and freedom to figure everything out independently
  • Don't throw them in at the deep end. Customer meetings or even too many internal meetings within the first few days may not be the best move. Feed work and responsibilities in gradually, constantly checking in to ensure you're moving at a suitable speed
  • Don't leave your existing colleagues in the dark. A new employee means change for everyone! Prepare your team for the transition and organise a social event for them to get to know your new employee
  • Don't forget the pre-onboarding process! Onboarding starts in recruitment. Enlist the help of a professional screening provider to set the standards before day one. Show new employees that you are dedicated to finding the right people by screening your candidates with Secure Screening Services.

What happens when you get onboarding right?

Great things happen when you get onboarding right! There is a multitude of benefits to focussing on nailing this part of recruitment. For starters, it makes for a more enjoyable employee experience. Starting a new role can be daunting and often quite stressful. Good onboarding makes this time easier for new employees, allowing them to put their best foot forward.

Getting onboarding right also results in higher staff retention rates. Give new employees a positive onboarding experience that encourages them to stay put for years to come. Happy and satisfied staff won't leave. The average turnover rate for companies in the UK is 15%, so anything below this and you're doing well.

Good onboarding also creates a positive company culture. It shows that your company cares and invests in its people. Never underestimate the importance of impressing a new employee with your company culture and what you stand for from the start.

And speaking of culture, retention rates rise from 30% to 50% for companies with a great learning culture. Good onboarding allows you to create an environment where staff can learn and develop as much as possible is crucial. 

Onboarding is daunting not only for a new employee but for an employer too! However, if you have thoroughly screened your new employee, you know you've got the right person for the job and onboarding should be a breeze. 

Interested to learn more about screening? Speak to us at Secure Screening Services and let us help. Our screening portal is easy to use and provides employers with an automated service with a human touch. Contact us by sending an email to [email protected] or by calling 01243 767 868.

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