The first day at a new job can be a lot like the first day of school. There is the usual nerves and uncertainty that accompanies the unfamiliar and when a public setting is involved, those feelings only become heightened. On top of this, preparation is key to acclimating well to a new environment. In the classroom that meant having the right books, an understanding of the physical layout, and a schedule. Without these things, that first day could easily become a kid’s worst nightmare. While the downsides of being unprepared for that first day of a new job may not be as traumatic as the school example, no one wants the onboarding process to leave them feeling stranded. When this does happen, it becomes a double-edged sword that harms employees and employers. Sarah Wetzel, the director of human resources at engage:BDR, said as much “I truly believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee brings with them a potential to achieve and succeed. To lose the energy of a new hire through poor onboarding is an opportunity lost.”
Logically then, it falls to the leaders in a company to ensure their new hires can navigate and adjust to their new working environment. With all this in mind, it begs the question of, what are some tips for successfully onboarding new hires? We spoke with a few business experts to understand their thoughts on this.
Get them in early
Amanda E. Johnson is the Chief Marketing Officer of Nailboo, a brand offering dip powder kits that are easy to use. She believes that connecting new hires to the company as soon as possible is wise.
“Years ago, work and jobs only existed on the worksite. While that may have been for the better, the internet has brought us instant and unlimited connectivity. In business, this is a wonderful, though sometimes confusing, tool. If your new hire has no prior experience with a specific communication system, your company uses it’s best to get them in the system early so they have time to discover how the basics work. You don’t want them spending their first day sifting through technology problems because that’s a headache for everyone.”
The buddy system
Furnishr specializes in furnishing your entire home and handling everything from design to set-up. Their CEO, Michael Van, suggests pairing new hires with current hires to make the transition easier.
“In my opinion, there’s no better person to train another than one who is currently doing the job they’re training the other for. Now, I’m not suggesting that you have your accountants put your new employees through your company guidelines presentation, but I do think that a new accountant can benefit from the buddy system. For this, you want someone who has experience doing the same job for the company. The experienced employee knows most details associated with their job and information like this can make onboarding a breeze.”
Everyone has a place
The desire to be part of a group in a meaningful way is common. Tumble is a business providing washable and spill-proof rugs. Their Co-Founder, Justin Soleimani, considers it necessary to highlight and instruct around this idea.
“I would love to be able to read the minds of any new employees who are showing up for their first onboarding session or day of work. I must imagine those minds are racing and hundreds of miles an hour trying to make sense of numerous items simultaneously. But based on experience, I do know that one of the most common thoughts when people are in this situation is ‘Where is my place?’ It’s very open ended but people simply want to contribute while being themselves. One way to aid new employees in this area is to give them examples or concrete ideas for how they can get involved.”
Kevin Callahan is the Co-Founder & CEO of Flatline Van Co., a brand offering premium parts and accessories for Sprinter, Transit, and Promaster Adventure Vans. He advises others to design any messages around clarity and efficiency.
“There was a time in my friend’s life where he started a new job and spent the first 20 paid hours reviewing company training materials ranging from videos to lectures and tests. This is no way to get employees excited, let alone engaged in their new position. In fact, for him, it did quite the opposite as he didn’t stay in that position long. Obviously, you can’t let employees walk in the door and start working without some instructions and communication. However, if you’re burning the clock with endless jargon and specifics, you’re just wasting everyone’s time. You need to be succinct.”
Think of those in charge
Spot Pet Insurance specializes in pet insurance products. Their CEO, Trey Ferro, believes more than one party should be considered when bringing in new workers.
“It’s very apparent to anyone observing that the person joining a company is making an adjustment in their work life. What many don’t realize is that the effect a new person has on those already working for the company. Think about it this way, if a salesman is hired to an existing team of five, the team leader suddenly has more on their plate not only in terms of training and guidance but also work delegation. Take some time to think of those in charge and see if there are ways to support them in their work life adjustment. Don’t let them drown in more work than they’re used to.”
Whether they actively voice them or not, new employees have questions. Uprising Food is a business providing low-carb, gluten-free, superfood-packed keto chips and bread. Their Founder and CEO, William Schumacher, proposes answering these ahead of time.
“Interviews, and job descriptions especially, don’t exactly lend themselves to being representative of what the corresponding employee is expected to accomplish on a regular basis. But employees want to know this information so they can hit this mark as strongly as possible. From the get-go, tell them your expectations clearly for those first few weeks or months. This gives both of you a measuring stick for where the employee is at in terms of onboarding. Clarity is king here so don’t shy away from it.”
Russell Lieberman is the Founder and CEO of Altan Insights, a brand offering an alternative asset investment. He cautions leaders and content designers to consider the visuals associated with onboarding.
“There’s high-quality training and onboarding software out there but there’s still so many companies who put together materials that look like they could have been created in a high school computer class. Like it or not, most people are digitally literate and can see or feel when videos, slideshows or anything other media is poorly made or difficult to utilize. Your aim with this stuff is to create a presentation that extends a welcoming arm to those coming aboard while giving them any relevant information. Does your current onboarding material take work to use? It’s time to make a change.”
Lashkaraa specializes in Indian ethnic wear and jewelry styles. Their CEO, Sumeer Kaur, considers it imperative to gain insight into current employees’ perception of their onboarding process.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a single thing in any industry that cannot be improved. If you’re of the mindset that your product or service is the pinnacle and will never be outdone, you’ve already lost the battle. The same is true of your onboarding program. Do not assume it is effective and practical until you’ve found out for yourself if that is true. Seek feedback from your employees about how their experience was and if they had any complaints, critiques, or suggestions. Many times, you’ll be presented with ideas you may have never considered which is the inspiration of innovation.”
Employee onboarding is a requirement of any growing company, and it sets the tone for an employee’s time with the company. Laurent Reich, the director of internal learning practice at L’Oreal, stated what everyone company should be striving for, “Our objective…is to take our onboarding practices to the next level and to give each and every employee, from the moment they arrive, the keys to succeed in full alignment with company values such as multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion.”