Business meeting with young professionals

Is there any benefit of an onboarding program or an onboarding toolkit, OR is it just another HR buzzword?

The importance of the people’s experience has become far more pronounced in recent times. Have you ever honestly asked yourself or your employees how they are “experiencing” the company? Or how are new starters experiencing the company? If not, hopefully, this article will guide you into thinking along those lines.

The sooner a new employee becomes empowered in the job, the  “What must I do?” and “What is expected of me?” will turn into knowing the organisation’s culture. Questions that will be answered are “who are we?” as “how must I do it?” Then only can an employee become engaged, productive, and successful, all of which contribute to a company’s success?

So…….What is onboarding actually?

Onboarding is not just another tick-box exercise; in fact, onboarding starts during the acquisition process, typically lasts for up to three months after commencement of duties, and can even extend to a new employee’s first year. 

The purpose of onboarding is to provide critical information and context for the employee in areas such as their specific job role, company policies, business processes and work systems, and an often unspoken element, company culture. 

A well-planned, structured, and humanised onboarding program includes a holistic parting of knowledge related to the technical aspects of the job, which should include workflows and processes as well as the company’s culture, values, and the true heart of what the company stands for.

A final aspect that onboarding should cover is often neglected or at times only accidentally stumbled upon is the soft issues such as building and earning trust, team cohesion, and team dynamics. We spend so much time at work, and we often call our colleagues family….I guess the question here is, how would you welcome a newborn baby into your family? Let us celebrate that a new employee has chosen us, and we have chosen them to become part of the family.

One could as a guideline consider 3 main headings when it comes to onboarding; these topics below should then be contained in a strategically designed Onboarding Toolkit
1)     The Business Stuff
2)    The Practical Stuff
3)    The People Stuff
We will illustrate the 3 points above by means of unpacking them into short summarised aspects
The Business Stuff
– The “welcome letter” should be sent before the employee starts; consider thanking the new employee’s family and loved ones as they are part of this journey
– Always Complete the Paperwork, including the legally required documents, forms, beneficiaries etc., and ensure Employee Files are in place. (Again, this does not mean it’s a tick box exercise)
– Email Addresses, Laptops / Computers, access to printers, and Workstations should be ready before an employee starts. Ensure the area is clean, equipped with stationery and whatever else you would need to do the job
– Ensure that the crucial work-related training that a new employee would require is planned and ready….this includes reading material, access to IT Systems etc
– Day 1 Start Time, don’t let the employee start at 08:00 or when your workday starts on their first day, you are not ready yet, to welcome the employee, and there is nothing worse than sitting in a waiting room for two hours or so on your first day
– First Week Schedule – Schedule meetings with all applicable stakeholders in advance and have them ready and booked in diaries before the employee starts. It is advisable to send this itinerary a couple of days before the new employee starts
The Practical Stuff
– Prepare, share and agree to the Job Profile, which clearly contains the outcomes that are expected from the individual with the new employee as early as possible
– Ensure the training that a new employee would require to do the job is arranged upfront
– Regular follow up sessions on progress made to date should be done face to face, stumbling blocks or barriers should be addressed and dealt with early on.
– Feedback is a two-way street; ask for feedback, and incorporate that into the Toolkit 

The People Stuff 

  • Break the ice, let the people meet and mingle. This is the best way to get to know the people you work with. Use an informal yet professional business style to introduce co-workers, management and colleagues.
  • Consider the “buddy System” by appointing a designated individual who would be the first port of call for the newcomer if any need arises
  • Food is always welcomed; a breakfast, lunch or even a dinner with a new employee and their partner with Management can go a long way in getting to know the new employee and truly welcome them into the new family
  • As mentioned previously, schedule a plan for the first week, where all stakeholders or at least as many as possible are met and allow for proper engagement; nothing stops departments from sharing departmental presentations
Additional useful Tips
– Use a standardised but flexible employee onboarding Toolkit
– Standardised to help you plan and ensure nothing is missed
– Flexible enough to ensure onboarding happens but does not harm the operational aspects of others
– Try not to take the “info overload” route
– Constantly review and establish the effectiveness of the onboarding program, buy asking for feedback from new employees, managers and employees
Establish engagement levels of new incumbents at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of the process to determine if the program reached its objectives

Now that we have discussed the “How to?”, let’s turn our focus onto the “Why?

Proper onboarding processes have proven to attract top talent. Companies spend substantial time and money on employer branding, giving them a distinctive edge over their competitors. Attracting the best talent at the right time is a critical factor in the success of any organisation. Engaged employees stay longer, the cost of recruitment can be huge, especially if new recruits fall off early on in the process. Early engagement improves staff retention substantially. An employee equipped with the Business Stuff, The Practical Stuff, and The People stuff becomes more productive quicker, which directly impacts the business’s bottom line.

Companies should move back to the people aspect of the business; people are not assets but are critical to an organisation’s success. Early onboarding leads to early engagement and sustained growth by individuals, individuals in return as a collective drive the business’s success. Therefore, the answer is simple: spend the time to onboard a new employee properly and reap the benefits in the long run. Embrace the total value of employees, their holistic well-being and aim to enhance the Employee Experience in the workplace through sustained, targeted, best practice & innovative Employee onboarding programs.

Article by: Pierre Marneweck

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