10 Employee Onboarding Tips

What was your best employee onboarding experience?

Certainly, your worst onboarding experience came to mind, too, am I right? How was it?

The onboarding stage is when the employee joins the Company up until 6 months or one year, depending on the complexity of the Company and the employee’s role itself.

I’ve seen an instance where 40% of employees in this stage left the Company, disengaged and probably regretted their decision to join. That’s a lot of waste in Recruitment and Training (if any, that is) cost and a dip in employee morale – both that employee who left and those who were left behind, time and again.

Why is that? Can something be done?

Yes! Employee onboarding experience need not be a gray area. Regardless, whether an employee decides to stay or leave, the onboarding experience is still very crucial to speed of adaptability, sense of belongingness and overall employee engagement to the team and the Company. 

So, let’s get started, shall we?

Special thanks to Leziel Ramos, my model for this blog post.

Pre-Onboarding Preparedness

Before any hiring could take place, a demand (in most Companies) has to be logged. It usually takes 30-60 days to actually hire a candidate. In between logging the demand and employee’s 1st day, both HR and the Hiring Manager are involved in the process – interviews to approval of compensation package. So, everything’s planned. Or should be.

Apart from recruitment activities, the Hiring Manager should also be mindful of the needed physical assets – workstation (clean and clear of anything from previous occupant), laptop, headset and phone requests, should be made as soon as a demand is logged. Can you imagine starting work only to find out that your laptop would arrive in 2 weeks to 2 months’ time? Well, believe me it has happened. If it has happened to you, your team or the project that you support, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to happen to your next hires.

Now, have a discussion with the employee again to set expectations – both what the employee can expect and what is generally expected from the employee. An example would be culture, dress code, schedule adherence or flexibility, etc. HRBP or Recruiter does this. The more thorough setting of expectations will be with his/her Manager.

Onboarding/Training Plan

In some Companies, the Training Plan is a requirement for Managers to submit so they can log a demand. I think that is a clever idea. This is very important, however often missed out.

A good onboarding/training plan has entries from employee’s day 1 to 6th month or 1st year. It does not have to be a daily run down of TO-DOs but can be weekly for the first 2-3 months to a monthly plan after the 3rd month of employment. It should incorporate required trainings, meet-and-greet, shadow/reverse-shadow exercises, goal setting, feedback, everything that’s important for the role.

This should be ready before employee joins.

Your Onboarding Plan should also include timelines, expected completion dates, owner/responsible and status. It is best for the employee, the hiring Manager and the buddy (if any), to each have his/her own copy for progress monitoring.

If you have budget, there are apps now that help you in the process, but you have to build it with content that you like.

HRythm is one such application.

This is not a sponsored post.

Day 1 Special

Nothing beats opening the door and being pleasantly surprised by what you see. A warm welcome always adds positive points to the Company and to your employee’s engagement.

One of the Companies I joined had my name on the LCD screen in the building lobby, with remark “Welcome Emile Bautista!” Now this does not cost any and very little is needed in terms of preparation, but that made me feel special + lunchout with my boss and client + some pancit (stir fried noodles) and team salu-salo (to enjoy a meal together) in the afternoon of the same day. Boy, did I make the right decision.

New Hire Swag

This is not really required but a great statement. A great way to advertise your Company, too.

What is the new hire swag? Here are some examples…

Be creative, whatever your budget maybe, you can come up with your own new hire swag. It doesn’t have to be as grand as these examples. Remember that any small thing you do will be greatly appreciated by your employees.

Network

Part of proper onboarding is helping them find their anchor, and part of that would mean helping them network with other employees who may have similar interests or background.

Usually, this takes the form of joining clubs or employee organizations. Sometimes, as simple as introductions will do. For Companies with big headcount, having new hire meet-and-greet activities is beneficial. This means all hires within the defined dates will be invited to this networking event where they have the opportunity to get to know others who share the same employment phase as themselves. Most new friendships develop from this activity.

Office Tour/Plant Tour

No matter how small or big your office or plant is, this is an important step. It is helpful from knowing the emergency exits, to where the rest rooms, the cafeteria, and other offices are. This is a good opportune time, too, for the new hire to meet his/her new officemates and visit the office of the Leads.

Welcome and Inspiring Talk from Top Leaders

A sense of purpose is very important and exactly is served and ignited by this conversation. Top Leaders to welcome the new hires, share with them the vision of the business, and how new hire’s role can contribute to fulfillment of this vision.

A recording from the Company President/CEO/COO/CHRO will be great! However the top leaders in the site would create more impact here especially because they can do so live and in person. This is what’s more important. It doesn’t have to be 1-1, it can be groups of new joiners for the month or so.

Sharing own career journey, engaging new hires with more getting to know you questions and sharing growth story of the Company are all excellent topics within this meet-and-greet and inspiring session.

Set Objectives/Goals

Now, within the first month the objectives or goals should have been defined. This is a non-negotiable. It has to be documented and agreed by both the manager and the employee. Again, a non-negotiable.

Feedback

Another non-negotiable. Managers should provide documented and acknowledged feedback on the employee’s 3rd month and 4th month. On employee’s 5th month a decision for regularization should have been made. Note that in the event that you would have to non-regularize the person, due to performance issues despite coaching and support from the manager, you would need these documentations or you run legal risks (following the Philippine labor standards, at least) or have to keep the employee for a longer period.

That’s the legal and real aspect. But please, don’t do this for that sole purpose. Remember that feedback is a gift. This is something that you also give your best performers and everyone else in between. It doesn’t have to only happen on the 3rd and 4th month. The best feedback are given real-time. Let’s not forget to emphasize the purpose, too. The purpose of the feedback is to help the employee improve. That’s that.

Celebrate and Recognize

They say work hard, party harder. I believe in that. Employees put in their fair share of efforts and contributions. Why not celebrate that during important milestones? Like employee’s 6th month or the graduation from probationary period, or 1st year anniversary.

An acknowledgement or recognition during Company townhalls, a greeting card, a petite cake or a congratulatory note from the leaders all make great ideas for this purpose.

Remember the app I mentioned earlier? The HRythm. It has news feature, too, where the milestones could be broadcast and also so you can “freeze” a portion of time for these celebrations.

Myself and Leziel last year on a random black and white day.

I hope you found this helpful. Thank you very much for visiting and feel free to check back in for anything workplace related – inspiration, health, financial and mental wellness, processes and employee engagement tips.

For your questions, topic suggestions and help needed in building your onboarding program, please reach out to me thru:

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I’s be happy to hear from you.

Let’s talk again soon! 🙂

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About Emile Therese

Emile Therese is a graduate of the University of Philippines in Diliman with a degree in Psychology. She is happily married. She and her husband, Dennis, are blessed with one amazing daughter (and hopefully at least one more child). She believes that values and character ought to be taught as early as possible and that these are key to community and nation building. This was also how she and her siblings were brought up by their two awesome parents! She is a Certified HR Professional who advocates employee engagement in its entirety. Emile believes that true employee engagement rests on the pillars of basic human needs and in ensuring that process and leadership basics are in place - the employee engagement imperatives. She hopes to contribute to making this world a better place for all of us now and the next generation. She loves sipping tea, conversations, reading and writing. The latter gave birth to two blogs - Purposeful Parenting Journey (purposefulparentingjourney.com) and Engagement Imperative (engagementimperative.com).

4 Responses

  1. I lead the onboarding (and off-boarding) efforts in our team and organization and I couldn’t agree more with your points. I love the idea of the “New Hire Swag” because it’s a level-up version of a new hire kit which aims to add further to the warmth we give upon welcoming the employee on his/her first day.

    If I may also share, one thing we also do as part of the whole journey is the administration of an Onboarding Survey which the new joiner responds to a month afer the join date. This is for our team to get feedback from the new resource around the overall experience (i.e. what went well, what could be improved, etc.). It helps our team identify some of the problem points which we try to improve on during Strat Planning.

    This is a really good article.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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