New Employee Onboarding Guide

6 min. read

When a new employee joins your team, a little creativity goes a long way to welcoming a colleague and keeping your company an amazing workplace.

Believe it or not, the onboarding process has a lot to do with employee retention. Excellent onboarding. not just going through the motions, box-ticking — but excellent onboarding — will make a great first impression when a new team member joins the ranks.

According to studies, nearly 70 percent of employees are likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced a great introduction. Other studies show that it could improve retention by as much as 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.That’s important to keep in mind, since replacing staff is so costly.

The challenge for HR Managers is introducing new employees in a way that makes them feel welcome and which generates interest across the organization. The go-to tactic is a generally dry new hire announcement email, and that just won’t make the grade unfortunately.

What follows are some ideas to make the welcome wagon as warm and appreciative as possible, to send a message to the new hire that they are valuable, and everyone in the firm is excited to have them. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so based on your company and the culture you’ve built it on, you might come up with some of your own ideas as well.

Old school introduction

In a smaller office or department, you can go with the old school approach of calling a meeting and personally introducing the new team member to everyone. This gives people a chance to put a face to a name, and have some interaction with your new colleague. While this may be somewhat old-fashioned, it certainly beats a boring email with no personal touch at all.

Digital approach

If your office has digital signage, use those screens to share your new hire announcement. This is a great way to capture interest when staff are waiting at printers or in common rooms, broadening awareness beyond just the immediate team.

Video intro

As an orientation, you can produce a video overview of your company, featuring any key personnel and points of interest, to bring it to life for new staff. This conveys company culture, adds interest and humanizes those at the top, plus with online tools available today it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to create.

Buddy system

Assign new staff an existing (preferably a veteran) employee to guide them in their first week or month, and answer any questions. Having a buddy like this helps form valuable personal connections and reduces any reluctance of new staff to ask questions of their manager. Make sure to give them a tour and have an open-door policy if they run into any snags. Having a helpful friend on your first day makes it much easier for them to feel comfortable and get grooved in to the work flow.

Welcome gifts

A personalized welcome gift waiting on a new employee’s desk is a great way to make them immediately appreciated and feel part of the team. This could be a coffee mug, stress ball, flowers, balloons, a welcome card from team members or anything else that lets them know they are welcome and valued. Creativity and a personal touch are key here.

Job descriptions

One thing that is often overlooked is a detailed description of what is expected of a new employee. When we talk about job descriptions, we’re not just talking about your generalized, vague, “must be proficient in Microsoft Office” blurbs. We’re talking about a fully comprehensive and detailed rundown of their new position.

In other words, a welcome packet that covers everything they need to know in order to take ownership of their new position and be effective at it. A write-up of sorts that covers things like a map of the office, a breakdown of who their immediate seniors and juniors are, a full organizational chart of the company, and the minutia of their daily tasks and deliverables as an employee in their specific position.

It would include how-to guides on important things that affect their ability to perform on the job. One can’t assume that just because they got hired for this position, that they’ll know everything there is to know about how to do the job at this particular office. Every office has its quirks and uniquenesses.

For every position in a company, there should be a complete (and succinct — it doesn’t have to be War and Peace) binder that goes over every aspect of the performance of that job. Here’s how you do such-and-such. Here’s who you talk to if you run into trouble with blah-blah-blah. What to do if yada-yada-yada happens. Here is the contact information for every person you need to be in touch with… You get the idea.

Why is this important? It is an often glossed-over aspect of the onboarding process, yet possibly the most important. Imagine if you can take out all the guess work and stumbles and falls from the equation. Wouldn’t it be in your own interest as a company to ensure that your new employees can quickly and adeptly step in to any new position and get to work?

Don’t leave job descriptions open for interpretation. You’ll be wasting everyone’s time. Detail out the specifics — duties, tasks, responsibilities and deliverables, etc. You need to know exactly what will be required of a person in this position on a daily basis. That’s the only way it can be clearly communicated to anyone who hopes to hold that position successfully.

The main problem that managers face is that job descriptions are themselves sometimes a little vague and don’t always illuminate easily measurable objectives and goals. What is the goal of this position? What is the purpose of this position? How does it relate to the company as a whole and the mission of the business? It is vital to spend time on detailing out the specifics when it comes to what is required of a particular job or position, leaving out any and all subjective factors that may enter the equation.

This is essentially a step-by-step guide for any new hire at your company. It makes it so much easier for them to get to work and short-circuits any long onboarding process. It just gets them to work. And isn’t that a great way to welcome someone to your office? It lets them know that they are valued, they are welcome, and they were hired for a reason — their talent to perform in this position — so go to it, new team member! Shoot for the stars.