Don’t Tip the Boat! Keys to Successful Onboarding

An efficient organization operates like the row-crew of a racing scull, with each member pulling against the water in synchronized harmony and the coxswain providing navigational guidance. When you bring on and onboard a new team member, if they are not appropriately acclimatized, the results can be chaotic not only for the stability of the corporate boat but can also affect the long-term morale of the team as a whole.

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An efficient organization operates like the row-crew of a racing scull.

What is the Challenge?

According to the Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, companies lose 25% of their new hires within a year (http://hriq.allied.com/surveys/#results). The average cost to search and hire, according to this study, is $11,000 per employee, and a third of the companies surveyed reported that a minimum of one year was required for that new hire to reach full productivity. New hires represent a significant investment in time and expenditure and the managerial pressure to bring them to productivity, to maximize a return on talent investment, is perpetually escalating. These days, employees are seldom loyal to one particular employer, but seek opportunities and organizations where they can constantly build their own skills and experiences. So what is a manager to do? How does one successfully onboard new talent in such a way that these individuals become enthusiastic performers and long-term assets to your organization?

Let’s Start at the Beginning…

Successful onboarding starts before the first day of work. As the coxswain in this metaphor, you are responsible for directing your departmental boat; to ensure your new recruit is comfortable on their first day, some advance prep is always required.

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Ensure that the employee’s desk is thoroughly equipped and fully functional with all the essential items.

Send them a welcome email that includes an orientation schedule for their first day, new-hire paperwork, an explanation of their benefits package, tax, and parking information. Record a video clip from the company’s executive management specifically tailored for new hires, welcoming them to the team and introducing them to the corporate vision; assign a go-to buddy to the incoming employee, someone who is warm, friendly and willing to provide day-to-day guidance. This buddy-system not only provides a comfortable resource for the new hire (a go-to option for those ‘silly’ questions he or she may be reluctant to ask management), but also enables the buddy to exercise his or her own leadership skills and alleviates some of the managerial responsibilities in the days to come.

Coordinate with IT to ensure that the employee’s desk is thoroughly equipped and fully functional with all the items that might be required during their workday – from pens and notebooks, an email address and a phone extension. Leave them a little personal welcome note and a chocolate or two.

The First Day

The most critical requirement on an employee’s first day of work is to make them feel welcome. While there will be the inevitable paperwork to complete, take care of that first-thing so that the new-hire’s end-of-day impression is more than just a thick stack of forms and an aching signing hand. Introduce them to the team with which they will be working and schedule a half hour coffee break so that everyone can get to know the new employee in a more informal setting; make time with their go-to buddy to familiarize them with the location of the printer, the bathroom, and the gym.

You will also need to set aside time to discuss your employee’s role within the organization, their responsibilities and your expectations, the desired results of their productivity and the rate at which you expect them to meet those goals.

While there will undoubtedly be a great deal to cover on your new recruit’s first day, schedule tasks strategically so that he or she is not utterly overwhelmed. Add some leisure time in-between each scheduled event and treat them to lunch with a colleague or two that they will be working with. Not only do you want your new hire to feel welcome and appreciated in their new environment, but you want to inspire they to become long-term brand advocates of your organization.

Long-term Brand Advocates

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Make sure that new rowers are well-equipped and confident in their own ability to contribute to the task.

Successful onboarding of new hires is critical to the long-term success of any organization. Many organizations understand the technical process, the forms, the paperwork, the nuts and bolts of bringing on new staff. However, few truly understand the importance of nourishing the emotional connection – a seed which is planted before the first day of work.

So when you work hard to cultivate a team, when everyone comes together in happy harmony to reach a mutual goal, in doing so you ensure that new rowers are well-equipped and confident in their own ability to contribute to the task.

Article contributions by Jaynie Royal and Jordan Eller

 

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