Why Is An Effective Onboarding Process Important?
The employee onboarding experience can be a bit of a whirlwind. With so many new people, changes and things to remember it can be difficult to ensure this remains a positive and enjoyable first set of months.
In order to retain the best employees and to get the most effective performance out of them, an excellent employee onboarding experience is a must. Follow our guide to the optimum employee onboarding process to make the experience one that is a delight for yourself and all your future new hires.
10 Step Employee Onboarding Experience
1. Start of the Hiring Process
Crafting your job advert is one of the most important parts of the onboarding process. Whether in print, online or wherever else, ensure yours effectively communicates what the position is whilst also standing out from the many other job adverts out there.
Format appropriately, breaking long paragraphs into short, to-the-point sentences. Cover all the basics; the roles and responsibilities, the necessary candidate experience, salary and remunerations, who your company is and why it’s a great place to work.
Do your candidates require skills based tests in order to be considered for your role? These should be determined before your job advert goes live, so that they don’t change during recruitment and provide inaccurate results. They should also be made in conjunction with senior members of the department that’s hiring - they will know exactly what skills need to be tested.
Liaise With Departments
You may have an idea of what the perfect candidate would be, what experience and skills they should have. However, when hired they’ll likely be working across a number of areas, alongside a number of different colleagues. Ensure what you need from a candidate aligns with what other people in the department also expect from them.
Do they know a skills gap that you don’t? Are the individuals with experience overstretched and require more support? Discussing the position with the most junior to the most senior employees can help you understand the employee shaped hole you have in your business.
Define Interview Structure
It’s important to understand how many interview series you’d like to have before your advert goes live. Work out how these are structured, will some be telephone interviews, less formal interviews, interviews with different members of the department? Having this structure in place early helps to effectively compare different candidates, giving them an equal shot in showing you what they’re made of.
2. Hiring Process
This is where the all important interview process begins. Try to stick to your defined structure and only deviate when there’s a pressing need to. Make sure to keep candidates in the know of what stage they’re at and how the process will continue going forward.
Each candidate is likely interviewing at several places, you don’t want them accepting another position simply because they weren’t sure if they were really in the running for your role.
Effective interviewing relies on communication, not only from the candidate but also the interviewer. Make sure every candidate understands your aspirations of them, not only does this help to narrow down those that will be able to meet them, it also means they’re ready to hit the ground running when they start.
It’s not unusual to take potential employee’s on an office tour, even introducing potential colleagues. This can help make the position more tangible for them, if and when your candidate has to decide whether to accept or not. It’s an opportunity to show the enjoyable workplace you offer, helping you acquire the very best candidates.
When you’re down to the final 2-3 candidates, it may be time to call their references. Try to keep calls to the point, asking about the candidate’s strengths and experiences.
This is an attempt to check if your image of the person you’ve been interviewing matches with their references’ opinions. Can the most important points you’ve gathered be verified or not?
3. Offer Stage
Offer The Job
It’s time for the all important offer. Ideally try to offer the position over the phone or in person. Remember, a candidate may receive a number of offers, every interaction is an opportunity to promote your company and the position in a good light.
A salary discussion may have been started or even completed previously, however this is when the numbers are made official.
If your candidate wants to negotiate salary, don’t see this as an indictment on their passion for the position. Go into the offer discussion with a number of salaries in mind; the current offer, your negotiating window and your hard limit. These numbers would be formed from a number of different variables, such as; the average salary for this type of position, the scarcity of the candidate’s skills, your business’s economic position, your geographical area, etc.
Remember, career progression and planned future pay rises (possibly dependent on targets) can be used in the negotiation.
4. Offer Accepted
The offer has been accepted. Huzzah! Now it’s time to get to organising when your employee will start. If they have a notice period with their current position, work with them to find a suitable start date.
Ask if they have any vacations booked. As they weren’t able to get these authorised with you beforehand, you’ll have to work out how best to schedule work with them missing for a certain number of days.
You will have likely discussed roles and expectations during the interview phase. This is an opportunity to reiterate these, even possibly making these official through performance targets.
Inform Unsuccessful Candidates
The interview process can be nerve-wracking for many potential candidates, alleviating some of that anxiety by informing unsuccessful candidates as early as possible.
It also allows them to confirm other potential job offers, so they do not need to keep their career on hold unnecessarily.
5. Pre-First Day Planning (1/2 Weeks Prior)
Contracts & Documentation
Essential documentation should be identified early and sent to the new employee promptly. These may include:
- Employment contract
- I-9 employment eligibility form (US)
- W-4 (US)
- Any relevant insurance forms
- Any relevant direct deposit forms
- Non-disclosure agreement
Similarly, it may be necessary to collect copies of identity documents. You may also need to complete background checks or employment eligibility (e.g. e-verify in the US), these should be completed as early as possible, so any issues can be rectified quickly. Possible identity documents you may need include:
- United States
- Driver’s license
- Proof of address
- Social security card
- Banking information
- United Kingdom
- National insurance card
- Driving license
- Proof of address
- UK visa
- Banking information
Accounts and Workstations
An employee without the appropriate tools isn’t very effective. It’s important to get your employee’s workstation set up early, otherwise running out of time or encountering a technical issue can make for a poor first day experience. Whether this is sending PC equipment to a remote employee or getting another desk and computer in the office, be sure to set up an employee’s workstation in good time.
Similarly, your new employee will likely need access to a number of platforms/systems that your business uses. Again, get this sorted early so that your employee isn’t waiting on you to get invites sent. Set up their email address, work through your master list of SaaS systems and send invites to the new address. Work out what permissions your employee will need now. Nothing’s worse than constantly being pestered to update an account permission because some feature is inaccessible.
For remote employees, get them set up on the conferencing/video calling systems you use. These will likely be the very first thing they log in to, so ideally they should be set up and ready for their first day.
6. Employee’s First Day - Morning
It’s your new employee’s first day! Make sure they can access the office easily (maybe leave a key fob at reception or make sure they have contact details of someone who can let them in).
A good tip is to ask your employee to start a little later on their first day, ideally an hour. That gives you a little bit of time to get settled and ensure everything is set up ready for them.
You can start with a short office tour, letting them know the basics such as toilets, kitchen, meeting rooms, break room, etc. You can also do short introductions with some or all of the team members. They’ll be getting to know their direct colleagues, but it can be worth pleasantly chatting with the rest of the team just to warm them to the company.
Get them to log in to their workstation and set up, allow them to get acquainted with the systems they’ll use and to make their workspace their own. If there’s any relevant training platforms/programs they’ll be using, get them set up on these too. As their to-do list might be a little small right now, these platforms are great for when they’re waiting on something to be assigned to them - so there’s never any wasted downtime.
7. Employee’s First Day - Afternoon
By this point there should be a basic itinerary of work for your employee’s first week, ideally the first day will be more in depth with the later days of the week more broad as work requirements change. Now that your new employee is all set up, it’s time to set them on your initial task(s). These ideally would be smaller tasks than they’ll likely complete as they progress in the role, but should very much still be inline with their job description.
A tip for improving the onboarding experience is to assign a “buddy”. This could be yourself or a colleague at the same level as your new employee, however they should have a good idea of how the company works and experience in the employee’s specific role.
There’ll likely be times when your new employee will have questions, maybe they are not sure how to complete a task that requires another department. They could have a simple work related issue, like being unsure of how to request vacation time. Whatever the question may be, having a go-to person they can ask massively helps the onboarding experience. The employee doesn’t waste time trying to find the best person to ask the question out of a selection of people they don’t know very well.
A great way to warm the employee to their new colleagues is through an informal lunch/coffee with their direct team. This is an opportunity to get to know each other better, outside of the work environment. Helping to cement the employee’s position as a valued and liked member of the company.
8. Employee’s First Day - End of Day
An important end of day task is to complete a short check in meeting. This isn’t formal but rather a way of addressing any concerns or questions your new employee may have.
You can ask how their first day went, how they managed with the work itinerary and if there were any suggestions they had. This is also the time to go through the goals and aspirations for the next week, next month and 3 months. These can cover anything from work tasks you’d like to see completed to training and skills you’d like to see being improved.
Schedule check in meetings for the end of the first week, end of the first month and the end of the first three months now. These are likely to be a little more formal, so having them set in the diary helps to ensure consistent improvements.
9. Employee’s First Week
Throughout the week, your new employee can use their basic itinerary to help understand what tasks they should be completing. As they become more comfortable in their role, this itinerary may evolve. However, having a general idea of the areas your new starter should be covering helps eliminate any wasted downtime.
Throughout the week, it’s a good idea to check in with your employee daily. These need not be full meetings and can be as simple as a quick conversation. The first week is where the most pressing issues will arise, if they do at all. Being available to respond to them helps improve the onboarding experience for your employee. These check in’s can cover the basics; how work is going, do they have everything they need, are there any questions/issues, are they on track for meeting their set goals, etc.
Meet Other Departments
While your employee may be getting acquainted with their direct department, it can be beneficial to set up meetings with one or two individuals from other areas of the business. If your employee will likely be liaising with these other departments, a short meeting to get to know the team and how the wider business works can help keep inter-department communication smooth.
All Set Up
By now, all the important documentation should be signed and all the necessary checks completed. Go through the master list of new employee documentation requirements to double check this, it’s important things such as adding them to payroll is completed before it becomes an issue.
If the employee was given skills based training, then this first week is a good time to get started. The first week is likely to be a little less organised than normal, but it’s recommended to make a start on any assigned training so that it’s part of the employee’s regular working schedule.
10. Going Forward
These are meetings set over a number of months (ideally at the end of the first week, first month and third month) where the employee’s onboarding experience and performance can be reviewed. These are more formal than the check in meetings that have been done previously, so it’s worth scheduling in some time to really dig in deep.
This is an opportunity to discuss the goals that were set during the early stages of onboarding, asking whether the employee has reached them or if they require adapting them to the new role they have undertaken. This is also a great time to review how the employee felt the onboarding experience went, whether they have any points for improvement, helping to make the experience even better for the next cohort of hires.
This meeting allows you and your employee to discuss how they see themselves fitting in this company, what their role is and how they’d like to progress. It’s also a chance to review any and all skills based training and discuss possible continued learning and education.