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The tortoise and the hare had a race. The hare, convinced that it would win, sped ahead and stopped to take breaks. The tortoise, on the other hand, kept up a steady pace and ultimately won the race.
Many of us know this fable well. And it holds a lot of truth for many initiatives in the corporate world – one of them being how to train new employees. The hares make a quick sprint in spurts and take “rest” periods in between, allowing new employees to assimilate on their own. The tortoise, on the other hand, has a plan for steady, regular, and ongoing onboarding activities.
Which do you think is the better plan?
If you chose the latter, you are correct.
Given that 5.6 million employees in the U.S. separate from employment each year, and that the average cost of a new hire runs an average of almost $4,000, it makes sense to have an onboarding process that provides new employees with training as well as emotional satisfaction.
The following onboarding best practices will not only satisfy organizational goals but also boost employee retention.
1. Start the process before day one
Once an employee is hired, but before they start, call or email them with a word of welcome from the organization. This would also be a good time to email some of the required paperwork so the employee can get ahead of admin before they officially start and ask if the new employee has any questions. After all, who wants to spend their first day filling out forms?
2. Focus on introductions and relationship-building
If you've ever moved schools as a kid or jobs as an adult, you might be familiar with the mix of excitement and mild-anxiety that comes with your first day.
As someone who is training new employees – it's essential to make that first day one of relationship-building, instead of one filled with paperwork and HR. The new employee should be given a tour, introduced to relevant department heads and managers, and then to peers with whom they will be working with. Scheduling lunch with peers or organizing a welcome gift at this point would be a nice touch, too. Where appropriate, breakfast with the CEO or a top-level executive might be a good idea
First impressions are essential – and the more welcome and comfortable a new hire is, the better that impression is. According to HRDive, 28% of new employees quit within the first 90 days because of a poor onboarding experience.
3. Consider a mentorship program
The saying, “It takes a village to raise a child” might be a bit cliched, but it rings true when training new employees. Your organization may have established employees who can mentor new hires. This makes up a part of the social acceptance that a new hire needs to feel. Introducing a new hire to a team of veteran employees, perhaps through a relaxed lunch, will help new employees feel like they are a part of the team.
Once the initial onboarding process is done, it’s essential for any new hire to have one person in whom they can confide. One of the most effective onboarding processes is to assign a mentor from the new hire’s department. An ideal candidate for a mentor is someone who is a leader in the department, is outgoing, and can answer questions as the new hire acclimates to their new responsibilities and company culture.
4. Create a tight schedule
Nothing is worse than a new hire sitting at their desk wondering what they should do next. It sends a message that those responsible for onboarding and training are not well-organized.
Providing a tight schedule offers security to the new hire and gives them a sense that they matter.
One cool feature of onboarding software is that a schedule can be created for both the new hire and those responsible for onboarding. When selecting a digital onboarding solution, look for one that provides a clear agenda of activities and a timeline. This can be an excellent time-saver for new hires and HR managers.
5. Schedule a cross-departmental meeting
One thing that many onboarding programs do not include is a meeting with representatives from all departments of the organization. Without this, the new hire will not get the full picture of what each department does and how they all fit into the organizational goals.
Seeing the bigger picture is vital for new hires. Otherwise, they will not come to feel a part of the entire organization and its long-term visions. By doing this, the new hire will also know who to turn to when any issues arise – personnel, IT, etc.
Susan Samuels, an HR manager for Top Writers Review, confirms the importance of this aspect of onboarding. “Because we have a distributed workforce, we use video chat software to accomplish this goal. Since implementing this, we have received a notable uptick in positive responses when we survey new hires about our onboarding process. Positive communication between business areas is helpful in building a team mentality.”
6. Don’t overwhelm new hires with paperwork
Nothing is worse for a new hire than to spend the first day or two, completing cumbersome and tedious paperwork. If you can get some of this accomplished in advance, as suggested earlier, do it. Otherwise, spread it out over several days. A new employee wants to become acclimated to the culture and expectations as quickly as possible.
Reams of paperwork do not allow this. Giving an employee a window of time to complete it instead will give them some much-appreciated breathing room.
7. Set clear short- and long-term expectations
When do you expect your new hire to complete their onboarding process and start working on tasks? What do you expect them to achieve over the next 3 – 6 months?
Setting a schedule for responsibilities sets a clear benchmark for new hires to strive toward and measure success. Ensure to check in often on progress being made, and assure the new hire that, if there are any issues, there is a list of people to seek clarification from and help.
8. Get feedback
Nothing improves an onboarding program more than getting honest feedback from every new hire. After all, they are the ones going through it and who can point out areas in need of improvement. Ensure that the feedback session is informal, so the new employee feels comfortable to speak freely.
Make sure that your new hires are not timid about giving honest and open feedback. A practical approach is to have some of your veteran employees contact the new hires as peers and ask them about their experiences. This results in more accurate descriptions of issues and areas where the HR team could improve.
Some organizations use anonymous surveys to query new employees. Of course, if there is only one new hire, then anonymity is not always possible. However, if that survey can be administered to newer employees once a year when several have been onboard, a survey can be anonymous.
9. Train new hires in bite-sized chunks
As mentioned earlier, training should be a steady, ongoing process. Employing the use of microlearning can help HR teams ensure that new hires continuously engaged in training without detracting from their duties.
Onboarding teams can assign bite-sized courses, such as the ones on GoSkills, to bridge the digital skills gap facing workplaces today. Using the GoSkills LMS, admins can manage and track progress and pin-point high-achievers.
10. Make it fun
There are a number of ways to add an element of fun when training and onboarding new employees.
Meetings and catch-ups can be held at restaurants and coffee shops to create a more relaxed atmosphere.
Training can be gamified to add an element of fun. GoSkills online courses allow learners to earn badges and track their learning streaks, which mimics the point structure of role player games – something employees may already be familiar with.
Joining a new company can be intimidating, but creating a fun atmosphere will enable new employees to relax and settle in quicker.
Over to you
It is tempting to get new employees hitting the ground right away.
However, trying to be the hare instead of the tortoise may cause anxiety, frustration, and unhappiness for new employees. Onboarding is a long-term process, and these eleven tips will serve to improve that process.
A lot of training can be done digitally. Such training allows the new hire to work at her own pace and within a time frame that works best. It also allows you to spend more time on the human aspects of onboarding and creating an emotionally supportive environment for a new employee.
If you are looking for an excellent place to offer training for your team, then check out the GoSkills LMS, which makes it easy for both managers and employees to develop their abilities and learn new skills. Customize learning for every employee with just a few clicks, quickly create groups and assign specific courses to them, and monitor their progress at a glance with easy to understand reporting and analytics.
Try the GoSkills training platform for free today to effectively train your team.