HR Management & Compliance, Learning & Development

What Makes for Successful Onboarding?

By Natasha Bowman, JD, SPHR
Yesterday’s Advisor presented the beginning of a concise guide to onboarding from guest columnist Natasha Bowman, JD, SPHR, including how onboarding is different from orientation. Today Bowman discusses several factors that make for successful onboarding.

Technology. After accepting the job offer, you will need to make the transition to your organization for the employee as smooth as possible and this includes using technology wherever possible. For example, have them sign all the prehire paperwork online rather than having to travel to the post office or to your office every other day.
Fun orientation. When starting in a new role, it is natural for employees to be nervous because they are outside of their comfort zone so you have to help them find it again. To help with this, having a theme around your orientation is a fun and innovative way to help employees realize that they have joined something special. For example, Google calls their new employees “Nooglers.”
Furthermore, you should eliminate lecture and presentation-based orientation models and replace them with engagement and interaction. Incorporating games, treasure hunts, and dialogues always results in memorable experiences. Another common mistake or misconception is that orientation should be led by the Human Resources department when, in fact, all leaders and even peers should have a role in orienting new employees.
Ongoing onboarding. When your new employee arrives at your department after orientation, you should be well prepared for their arrival. This includes having their workspace ready and e-mail and computer set up. Additionally, assigning the employee a buddy is also helpful for a new employee to become acclimated with his or her department.
Feedback. Many organizations make the mistake of ending their onboarding process at orientation. Employees should have the opportunity to provide feedback about their experience at your organization throughout their first year. While some organizations check in with their employees at the 90-day mark to give them feedback about their job performance, your new employee should also have the opportunity to give you feedback about your organization’s performance as an employer.
These feedback sessions should be conducted incrementally throughout the first year. Feedback can be given either electronically or in person. Although the latter can be time-consuming, it will provide you with optimal results. Some sample questions you can ask are:

  1. What do you like the most about your new role?
  2. What do you like least in your new role?
  3. Do you receive feedback often enough?
  4. Do you feel as though you have the resources and support to succeed with the company?

With these four questions, you will receive all the information you need to know. Amongst other things, this will encourage honesty and it promotes healthy growth.
In conclusion, if your organization is struggling with retaining employees, you should evaluate your onboarding program to ensure it contains all the components outlined here. Investing in your onboarding and orientation programs will not only increase retention, but it can also increase engagement and productivity.