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David Richter

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Building an effective onboarding process

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This article was written by David Richter, Marketing Manager at Octopus HR.

Onboarding is about more than running an orientation day for new starters at your company. It’s a longer term, holistic approach that assimilates an employee into your organisation’s culture, reduces turnover and maximises an employee’s impact in their new role. The onboarding process does not just apply to external recruits but also to internal hires as well.

In an economic environment where efficiency translates into a competitive advantage, onboarding is a practice that’s gaining popularity. Below is a guide of key things you should be thinking about to build an effective onboarding process for your organisation.

Recruiting
During the recruitment process make sure you paint a realistic picture of the company, the culture, the role and requirements. It doesn’t matter how good the rest of your onboarding is – if you’ve over or undersold the role you’re unlikely to get the best out of the employee in the future.

Before They Start
Make sure you get the paperwork organised. If you use recruitment or HR software you’ll be able to set up an automated series of communications for all new starters reminding them about what they’ll need to bring with them on day one (NI number, bank account details, passport/driver’s license etc). If there is anything you need them to complete when they’re in the office then get that organised too.

It is also a good idea to give the new starter a head start. Again, if your company uses an online HR system you can probably set the new starter up with restricted access so that they can view the company handbook and familiarise themselves with key policies and procedures before they start. This shouldn’t be a static document but something that evolves over time. A good practice is to ask recent hires if there was anything they wished they knew on day one that wasn’t covered.

Depending on their role it can be incredibly useful to get their grey matter working before their official start date. For example, if a new starter is going to be involved in online marketing then giving them access to key website statistics before they start means they can identify issues and begin developing strategies sooner.

In the office ensure that you give everyone a heads up. It sounds obvious but make sure that everyone who will be working directly with the new starter is aware of who they are, when they’re joining and what they’re being brought in to do.

Also to help the new recruit settle in think about setting a schedule of meetings with key personnel as well as any external agencies that they are likely to be working with closely. The sooner you can get the new starter building these relationships the sooner they’ll start being able to gather information, understand the culture and become productive.

A new hire will be keen to get going on their first day so get their workplace organised. Make sure they’ve got access to everything they need to hit the ground running. Not only does it mean they can start being productive sooner it shows you’ve given their arrival some thought and gets everyone off on the right foot.

Once They Start
So that the new hire knows exactly what is expected of them, agree initial objectives for their role both short and long term. This is a two way process and can be updated in subsequent review meetings.

Also make sure you provide a mentor. Who this is depends on the role and the structure of the organisation. The role of the mentor is to be on hand to answer questions, help them to understand the culture within the company and provide focus and support to aid the new starter in achieving the objectives for their role.

On their first morning introduce them to people. Remember how it felt when you started your job. Nervous? Well that’s exactly how your new starter will be feeling too. You’ll go a long way to easing their first day nerves by making some initial introductions (outside of their formal meetings that you’ll have organised). This also helps people to start getting a feel for the organisation’s culture.

You should also encourage the new starter to take notes. Starting a new role can be overwhelming, there are a lot of people to meet, a lot of processes to understand. Not only does note taking avoid the recruit having to ask unnecessary questions but they can also keep a record of questions they have for their mentor.

To help them know how they are getting on in their new role, provide regular constructive feedback. Good practice incorporates feedback interviews at 30, 60 and 90 days after starting. During these meetings the manager and their recruit assess strengths, weaknesses, challenges and opportunities. It’s also an opportunity to reassess their objectives and identify any learning and development requirements.

Finally, help them achieve some quick wins. Not only is it good for their morale but seeing positive change happen can have an energising effect on the rest of their team. Particularly in the UK where we’re often shy about self-promotion the manager can help spread the word of early successes to the rest of the organisation.

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