Listen, smile and don’t throw up on anyone. That’s the advice my mom gave me right before onboarding training started at my first afterschool job ringing up groceries as a cashier. In retrospect, not tossing your cookies on the first day of any new job sets a pretty low bar. Instead of new hires feeling relieved from simply not vomiting, they should leave work at the end of Day 1 feeling welcomed, empowered and motivated.
How you implement onboarding training has a ripple effect on employees and your company for years to come. Do it right, and you’re creating a positive work culture and loyal workers from the start. Do it wrong and your new hires will be quick to flip that LinkedIn notification switch, letting recruiters know they’re ready to be scooped up by another company, perhaps even by your competition.
Since organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent, according to the Brandon Hall Group, you can’t afford to have onboarding training that misses the mark. Here are some tips and tricks to take your onboarding training to the next level:
Send a “Know the Neighborhood” Packet
Your current onboarding process probably includes a tour around the building to show new hires the restrooms, breakroom and where they can store their lunches. Take it up a notch by creating a “Know the Neighborhood” packet that includes nearby lunch spots and coffee shops based on recommendations from coworkers. Include the coworkers’ full names, titles and pictures so the new hire can start getting to know people.
Email the packet a week before your new hire starts and ask him or her to pick a restaurant for lunch. The welcome lunch will let the new person meet and chat with coworkers in a more casual setting. Plus, your new employee will have a ready-made list of conversation starters since team members already vouched for their favorite spots in the packet.
Store Onboarding Training Documents in One Place
Your new hire has a lot to remember, from new names and login credentials to new tools to get the job done. Facilitate organization and structure by having all onboarding documents live in one digital home.
It should go beyond a shared drive folder, since workers may need to electronically sign documents, like giving their John Hancock to acknowledge they read and agreed to the rules in the employee handbook. This is also a good place for new hire training courses and videos to live. Consider a learning management system that automatically assigns onboarding training to new hires depending on their department, while also housing general onboarding information every employee will need.
Create a Buddy System
This may sound a bit juvenile, but a buddy system is a great way to bring new hires into the fold. No one likes to feel like an outsider! Onboarding shouldn’t just be up to HR or a department manager and it’s everyone’s job to make new employees feel welcomed.
Instead of forcing employees to show new hires the ropes, offer a small reward like a coffee gift card for volunteers. Buddies should help the new hire get acclimated to the workplace and answer any questions not covered in the official handbook. Instruct the buddy to quickly check in once a day for at least the first week.
Just make sure the buddy is teaching approved company protocols and isn’t cutting any corners. (Let’s all agree this tweet below is just a joke and no one would ever train a new hire incorrectly.)
Allow Time to Breathe
Even the most effective onboarding process can be overwhelming. New procedures, names, faces, acronyms and tasks are vying for your new hire’s mental energy and it can be exhausting. It may seem counterintuitive to leave new hires on their own for a few hours (especially with an eager buddy waiting in the wings), it’s important to give new employees time to absorb all the information and space to breathe.
Put aside about two hours on Day 1 after new hires have been set up with email, instant messaging and other tools to start poking around and figuring things out on their own. Give them time to get organized, start learning people’s names and even decorate their office or desk. Let them settle in before getting down to work.
Plan for Follow-Ups
Setting expectations is one the most critical components of onboarding training. New hires are motivated and eager to see a glimpse into the future with the company, even if those glimpses are only a month, 90 days, then six months ahead. Create one-on-one follow-ups with the new hires regularly to ensure expectations are clear and they are meeting milestones.
This is the best time to correct any issues that may arise in the future and build on good working habits. Be sure to pair continuous learning with these follow-ups so new hires know growth and development aren’t just encouraged at the beginning, but during their whole tenure at your company.
Onboarding Training Is Your Most Important Training
It costs an average of $4,000 to hire a new worker. Don’t spend all that time and effort recruiting new talent just to put them through an onboarding training process that doesn’t create loyal, motivated and capable new employees.