Don’t Let Your New Hires Fail: 7 Steps To Awesome Onboarding

posted on June 5th 2017 in Hiring & News & Onboarding & Retention

You and your team have invested time to find the best person for your open role. You’ve interviewed them, and debated the pros and cons of bringing them on board. You’ve already talked about their strengths, weaknesses, and culture fit. They’ve accepted and signed the offer – but that’s just the beginning. Now what?

You need to find ways to make your new hire feel welcome even before s/he starts. A swag bag, hand written card, and lunch with the team on day one go a long way. Do you remember what it’s like to be new? That first day is just awkward, and the whole first week can be tough. New hires want to fit in, contribute right away, and get to know the team. You’re super busy, but you’ve invested a lot of time getting the right person on board, so don’t blow your new hire onboarding.

Make onboarding easy and repeatable by thinking it through and writing it down. Once you’ve onboarded a few folks, it gets easier. The CEO, manager, or new hire buddy can help out; if you all pitch in, soon you’ll be able to onboard new people with your eyes closed.

Use these 7 steps for amazing onboarding from the moment your offer is accepted.

One Month Ahead

Once your candidate accepts, send a welcome card or gift, even if it’s something small. In the past, Starbucks was known to send new hires coffee and a CD, and in the past Amazon sent “book bombs” – Hand-picked books that the candidate was sure to enjoy.

Two Weeks Ahead

Use automation to let your new hires complete paperwork before they arrive. If you can get things like I-9s, tax forms, and benefits enrollment done online, it frees up the first day for the new hire to spend time with the team and learn about your culture.

One Week Ahead

Have the workspace ready and tidy. Include basic office supplies, a copy of your employee handbook, and log-in instructions. Leave a welcome note, a plant, anything that will help personalize the space. Trust me, it pays to show you were ready and waiting.

Day One

Don’t forget the welcome email! As a new hire, it’s easy to feel adrift. Be ready to send a note to the team or company introducing your new hire, and include a few lines written by her about who she is and what she likes to do. This will speed up the process of everyone getting to know each other.

Deliver an amazing first-day experience. I’ve seen companies where new hires spend all day on paperwork and IT set up, and others where they watch videos about the company, meet their peers, and hear first hand from senior executives. We strongly suggest taking the new hire to lunch with the manager or team to break the ice.

Week One

Assign a buddy or mentor – newbies have lots of questions and want a safe place so they don’t have to bother the manager about where to find their mail and what time it’s ok to head home.

Use an onboarding plan to describe big projects, key people to meet, recommended training, and logistics like remote access and printer setup. If your plan is extensive, you can break it into 30/60/90 day chunks. Share a copy with the people who are on the list so they’re ready to help when your new hire reaches out.

Four to Six Weeks

It’s wise to check in early to see how your new employee is settling in. The manager or HR can do this, or both. Ask if he has any questions, is feeling stuck, and if there were any surprises. New folks can give you great tips to improve the onboarding experience so don’t forget to ask. Include ways to give anonymous feedback like a survey or suggestion box, in case your new hire (or others) have feedback they’re not comfortable sharing.

Three Months

Even if your company doesn’t already do quarterly check-ins, go ahead and do one anyway. This is a good time to confirm goals, share any feedback you have, and ask if your new hire needs anything from you in order to succeed. If you haven’t already, ask him about long term career goals and skills he wants to develop.

After 90 days, your new hire may not seem new anymore but remember it usually takes a year to get fully settled. Continue quarterly check-ins and make sure there’s time to connect informally for coffee or outside of work.

Is your team new to hiring? Don’t have a good interview or onboarding process? We can help. Contact us info@uniquelyhr.com.

Mikaela Kiner

Mikaela is a native Seattleite who’s spent the last fifteen years in HR leadership roles at iconic Northwest companies including Microsoft, Amazon, PopCap Games and Redfin. She has an MS in HR Management with a certificate in Organizational Development and is an ICF credentialed coach. Mikaela delivers results by building trust and engaging her clients in creative problem solving. Clients appreciate her strategic thinking and hands on execution.