The Importance of On-boarding

Posted on May 30, 2013.

Early on in my management career, for a new hire I would give them a desk and a phone and move on. I never even knew the term: “on-boarding”. But as the WSJ recently pointed out, there may be only two workdays you really remember, your first and your last. So why do so many companies put such little effort into someone’s first impression?

Later on I started putting a lot of effort into making sure new hires didn’t have a “rude awaking” and actually had a positive first day experience.  The WSJ article outlines some fun and interesting ways to give your new employee a positive experience like scavenger hunts, but it doesn’t need to be that complicated.  Here are some basic tips to insure your new hire gets on board quickly:

·      Make sure they’re technically enabled. At my old firm, it could sometimes take a month to get a new computer online.  So put the order for your phone, computer, email address and mobile device in the second your offer is accepted. There’s nothing more frustrating than coming in and having to sit around and do nothing for days because you can’t get online.

·      Make sure they have the office supplies they need. This sounds simple enough but office supplies should include business cards, keycards, parking passes, pens, paper, stapler, etc.  It’s nice to include a basket of branded merchandise. Most companies have mugs or t-shirts with their logo. Make your new hire feels really welcome by giving them a gift.

·      Make sure they have a copy of their job description. You should also include samples of the appraisal or feedback forms you use.  Haven’t assigned goals yet? That’s okay, at least let them know what the metrics will be.

·      Make sure to assign them a “buddy”.  Have one of their peers team up with your new hire and give them the lay of the land. People want to know the informal rules of the office, the dress codes, where to eat, what the expected hours of work really are.  It’s a lot easier to ask someone at his or her level than the boss. If you can’t go yourself, have the buddy take them to lunch their first day.

·      Make sure training is part of the process. There is no room for a “sink or swim” mentality anymore. Everyone needs to be trained. And the training process should be committed to formal documentation. Having a consistent approach will help you later if the person doesn’t work out and blames lack of training for their poor performance. Believe me when I say I learned that lesson the hard way.

The on-boarding process is so critical to employee satisfaction and retention that it should never be left to chance. Every company should have a formal on-boarding process.  You don’t have to be overly effusive and have games, but you should make sure your can get your new hire as productive as possible as quickly as possible.

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