How to Successfully Onboard New Employees

I am often surprised when I see companies going through the painful, and expensive process of hiring talented individuals into a company to leave them on day 1 to “sink or swim” in the new role. Over 25% of new employees leave – or do not pass probation – in the first 3 months of their employment. Losing people has a cost in lost productivity, management time as well as money. But there are some very simple and effective processes to put in place to minimise the chance of a good employees unnecessarily leave in the first 3 months of their employment.

Contact the employee ahead of their start date – It is normal for employees to feel a bit nervous before starting a new role or even having some “buyers’ remorse” wondering whether or not they made the right decision to join your business. So, a call from the hiring manager a week before starting can go a long way to making them feel more positive about this. It is an opportunity for the manager to say how excited they are to have the new employee join in addition to informing them who they will meet and what they can expect on the first day of joining. The new employee can ask any niggling questions they may have. First impressions count and this is an opportunity to reinforce with the employee that they have made a great decision in joining your company.

Plan the first day with the employee – Nothing looks worse than an employee arriving the first day and obvious things like computers or passes to the building not being ready. Another common issue is not having someone there ready to train them and the employee is asked to simply wait at their desk or read a company manual. Best practice would be to draw up a check list of everything that needs to be in place before the employee starts as well as an agenda for their first day. This should be the responsibility of the hiring manager and should be considered a core part of their appraisable work.

Buddy and/or Mentor – If the individual is joining a team then identifying a “work buddy” within that team to be the “go to person” for questions can help new employees settle in more quickly. They may feel more comfortable asking a question to a peer rather than a manager.

Build a 30-60-90 day plan – Build a clear plan for what the employee should do in relation to training, meeting key stakeholders as well as defined outputs and outcomes for each of the 30 day time periods. The manager should develop this plan but then share it with the employee and ask them to give input as to anything else they would like to learn or do in the first 90 days and where reasonable integrate this into the plan. Keep it simple – one page is ideal – and use SMART objectives. Then meet with the employee regularly to have an open discussion on their progress and for them to give any feedback and ask for any support needed.

Extend probation if needed – The option of extending probation is little used but extremely effective in trying to address employees that are not yet performing to expected levels. When extending the probation period, you should clearly detail where there are gaps in their performance against expectations and give them clear objectives and timelines to address these.

Businesses that have followed all the above steps and where the employee is still not performing by the end of an extended probation period can at this stage consider terminating the employment. However, organisations that terminate employment without investing the time to onboard their employees should think seriously about whether they have done everything possible in order to ensure new employees are successful as well as the emotional, productivity and economic cost of not doing so.

If you would like any help with an onboarding process or with any other HR topic please contact Optima HR for your FREE 30-minute HR consultation.