Onboarding Best Practices

In this current employment crisis, employers are scrambling to hire employees.  There are more vacancies than applicants.  But congratulations! Your organization has just hired a great candidate! You may think your job is done.  To the contrary, it has just begun. Hiring is great, but that is the first step.  The second step is retaining great employees.  Onboarding is crucial to retaining top talent.  Onboarding is defined as “the act or process of orienting and training a new employee.”  (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).  Traditionally, onboarding new employees has been a function of only human resources departments.  While HR should lead this effort, it will take much more than HR to successfully onboard employees.  A group effort from the top down is essential for successful onboarding to occur.  Below are some best practices for your organization to follow:

During the Interview Process

  • The job description/post must be accurate and give examples of duties the new employee is expected to perform walking in the door.
  • Ask behavioral questions regarding the organization’s core values/mission statement to determine if the applicant can help the organization reach its goals. The immersion of core values does not begin with employment; it begins during the interview process.
  • Designate a person from HR to be the lead contact person for the onboarding process. New employees should not have to guess who to contact about what.  It should be a smooth process with one (1) clear go-to person.
  • Optional: Establish an onboarding committee if possible. Members should be creative, from multiple departments, with an interest in welcoming new employees and marketing the organization in the best light.

After the Candidate Accepts Final Offer but before the Employee’s First Day

  • Send the employee paperwork regarding the organization’s mission, vision, and/or core values.
  • Send the employee the Organizational Chart (preferably with faces), Employer Policies (Personnel Handbook), and Acknowledgement of Policies form.
  • All other employment paperwork should also be sent to the employee via email or fax. This includes the I-9, W-4, direct deposit form, social security paperwork, health insurance paperwork, retirement paperwork, etc. If feasible, the paperwork should be returned to the employer via fax or in-person, prior to the start date or on the start date.
  • Ensure IT has been notified of new employee’s start date. Ensure new employee’s technology is working prior to his/her start date.
  • Create a short video welcoming the new employee to the organization. The video should be brief (2-3 minutes), and the leader of the organization should be the main speaker.  The video should highlight the mission, vision, core values, and other important things to know about the organization.
  • Create the new employee’s schedule for the first day and first week. HR cannot do this alone; this must be done in conjunction with the employee’s immediate supervisor and colleagues.  Also, this should include the whole organization, as the employee should meet with employees from every department.

Employee’s First Day

  • Give the employee his/her own personalized packet/binder of important information (policies, mission, vision, values, organizational chart, Charter/Bylaws/foundational documents, etc.).
  • Reiterate core values throughout the day in word and deed. Give examples of how the organization lives and breathes the core values today and throughout the first week (and employment in general).
  • Give a tour of the facility(ies) and each department.
  • The employee’s immediate supervisor (or individuals from the onboarding committee) should take the person out to lunch if feasible.

The Employee’s First Week

  • Employees must demonstrate they live and breathe core values today throughout the remainder of their employment. The new employee must observe other employees “walk the walk” and “talk the talk.”
  • Have a casual, informal reception to welcome new hires.

Throughout the Remainder of the Employee’s Probationary Period

  • HR should check in with the employee every 30 days for three to four months.
  • At least one evaluation should take place during this time. However, informal evaluations/counseling should also occur during this time, to help ensure the new employee is meeting expectations.

After the Probationary Period Ends

  • Seek feedback from the new employee regarding the orientation process. Ask what s/he liked or did not like, and invite suggestions to improve the process.
  • Engage the employee in the orientation process for others.

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