A well planned new employee on-boarding strategy for your company can not only save you time and future issues, but can also save you money. How so? Even if you take into account all expenses, including the salary of the person handling the on-boarding process, the time to prepare a plan, a handbook and some ice-breakers and the slight delay for the new employee’s training start, still bottom line you will earn more than you spent.
It is actually a simple principle, the sooner and the better new employees learn how your company works and why it does what it does, the way it does it, the newcomer will become a valuable and well performing part of the team. Just imagine avoiding the majority of the mistakes newbies do their first weeks!
Step 1: Company Introduction
Include the on-boarding process in the training. This way you can gradually intensify the training and provide the new employee with much needed information and reasoning for the tasks he or she will be doing in the next weeks. Introducing your company is so basic one would think all companies must do it, but you will be surprised how many small and large businesses skip that step. This first step of the on-boarding process should take long (about an hour), depending on your company’s profile. At this stage many details would be confusing for the newcomer, so stick to the main activities and project and sure enough mention some important points of the company history.
Step 2: Company Culture & Values
Once you have completed the first step you can precede with explaining your company’s culture and values. Start from the very beginning what was the idea behind the company, how did it evolve along the years, how is it integrated in products of your company? It is best to have a few values phrased shortly and memorably and to elaborate on that. You have the freedom to freestyle – describe a working day, how and when people usually take their breaks. What is permitted and what not. You can also speak about your expectations and the new employee’s expectations.
Step 3: Company Goals
Now is the time to explain how the company has achieved its goals in the past and how the current culture and values help the company and its employees achieve easier and faster those goals. Start from the bigger picture and break it down as you go along. Explain the long term main goals of the company include BHAG, if you have one and get to the team goals. Make sure to mention how important the job of the new employee is for achieving these goals, in a way that he or she will feel included and involved.
Step 4: Company Structure
Who is the boss? The new employee sure must be aware who are his colleagues, team leaders, managers and the owners of the company. Explain the exact structure of your company – which departments deal with what and what type of teams are included. The newbie should be aware in case of an issue, or information or administrative help needed who to turn to? It would be quit silly to turn to the accountant for technical problems, or to require contract details from the IT support.
Step 5: The Team Members
Now the newcomer is aware of the overall picture in the company, the on-boarding process may continue with the team. Short description of his colleagues, their professional abilities and preferences, as well as neutral personal information would be appreciated. Ant it can go a long way for conflict management – imagine the new employee has no information about his colleagues and asks a vegan, whether he or she desires to try this new super tasty burger? In case the team manager differs from the person doing the on-boarding, than here is the moment for an introduction.
Step 6: Team Culture & Values
Yes, we did cover company culture and values in the second step, but there might be additional team culture and values to be talked about. Within the same company, there can often be found, various departments, dealing with very different issues. It is clear that working in the IT department wouldn’t be the same as working in the sales department. Explain clearly how the team behaves as an organism, what is permitted and what not, such as dress code, personal calls, eating at the office, etc.
Step 7: The Team Goals
Now that the new employee is aware of the company goals, it will be much easier to explain the team goals. Although all will become clearer in the working process, it is advisable to get into some details at this point. Which are the team goals and which will be the personal goals of the new employee? You may also include which tools are used to accomplish the goals, although this is rather a part of the actual training.
Step 8: Communication
It is wise to say communication is the core of the working process and as much as good communication can improve performance, bad communication can destroy your company. Since good communication is an issue that many companies deal with daily, there are different strategies to do so. Whatever strategy your company employs it is best to have a structured approach. Explain communication channels and in which cases official communication is required and when it is safe to be a bit more casual. For example, an official technical issue e-mail usually is based on a template, while a team skype conversation may be casual. Make sure at this time to provide the new employee with all the contact information he may need – e-mails, telephone numbers and even their physical placement.
Step 9: Ice-breaking Games
It can be a bit erroneous to place Ice-breaking games as step number 9 of the on-boarding process, because ice-breakers are useful along the rest of the whole on-boarding process. There are many ice-breakers to choose from, but mainly their purpose is to lessen the distance between the newcomer and the rest of the group, all the while those are disguised as funny games. Most ice-breaking games are designed by psychologists and can tell a lot about someone’s personality to the trained eye.
Step 10: The Handbook
The last step of the on-boarding process can as well be the first. The Handbook of your company can ideally contain all the information we mentioned so far. You can include pictures of the managers and the employees and contact details. The handbook will play the role of a reference point for the new employee. Besides the fact it is very professional to have a handbook, this digital or paper tool will help you avoid repeating the same information multiple times and answering unnecessarily questions. But perhaps most of all will give your new employee much needed security at the very beginning of his or hers journey in your company.