How to Set Your New Hires Up for Success

Mary Lorenz

When you consider all the time, effort and money you invest in hiring a new employee, you want to be sure that once your new employee finally signs on, they’re going to stick around for a while. That’s why proper onboarding is critical, because a new hire’s first few days can make or break their decision to stay with the company long-term. One study found that more than 40 percent of workers leave within the first month of starting a new job, and another 10 percent leave within a year.

That’s where a formal onboarding program can help. A 2017 CareerBuilder study found that small businesses with a structured onboarding process see more engaged employees, higher levels or morale and productivity, and lower turnover. And yet only 50 percent of the small businesses surveyed had a formal onboarding process. If you have yet to create a formal onboarding process, now is the time to implement one. Here are some tips for getting started.

What a Successful Onboarding Program Looks Like

Use the following tips to establish an onboarding process that sets new hires up for success.

Establish Goals

Approach onboarding as you would any other business initiative, and set goals for what you want to get out of it. The goal of any successful onboarding program should be to instill confidence in new hires and set a foundation for success by:

  • Welcoming new hires and familiarizing them with the company.
  • Clarifying their roles, establishing goals and setting expectations.
  • Helping them understand and make informed decisions about their benefits.
  • Giving them the necessary resources to do their jobs successfully.
  • Answering any lingering questions about the role or the company.

Start Before Day One

Onboarding should begin as soon as your employee signs the offer letter. Send the new employee a welcome email with information on when and where to show up, how to dress, what they should bring, the orientation schedule and any paperwork they need to fill out. (If possible, enable them to fill out and sign forms electronically to ease the burden of having to print forms themselves and remember to bring them in.) Give employees everything you can ahead of time to ensure the employee arrives prepared and ready to “hit the ground running.”

Don’t Confuse Onboarding With Orientation

It’s important to understand that, unlike employee orientation, which is usually a one-and-done event, onboarding should be an ongoing process that could last anywhere from 90 days to a year, with regular check-ins along the way to review performance, provide feedback and identify any challenges the employee may be encountering.

Make Sure Managers Play a Key Role

The employee/manager relationship is one of the biggest predictors of on-the-job satisfaction, and the onboarding process sets the tone for the rest of the employee’s tenure. Therefore, managers’ involvement in the onboarding process is critical. They should check in early and often to show new hires they are respected, valued and appreciated by offering regular encouragement, guidance and performance feedback.

Seek Input from Those Who Know

When designing your onboarding program, it’s important you work with their managers; however, it is just as crucial that you ask current employees for their input and advice as well. Ask employees what they would have changed their experience and what you could do to improve the process. Gathering feedback from those who have been in their shoes will help ensure new hires get the information and assistance they truly need to succeed.

The Bottom Line

While onboarding can be an intensive undertaking for both employer and new hire, the benefits outweigh the costs. Taking the time to onboard new hires properly shows that you care about their success, which not only reaffirms their decision to join your company, but instills confidence in their ability to do their job.

Want to ease the new hire transition and streamline the onboarding process? Check out The Benefits of Using Technology in Your Onboarding Process.


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