Onboarding Best Practices

» Posted by on Mar 27, 2017 in consulting, work | Comments Off on Onboarding Best Practices

You’ve finally got that perfect candidate to accept the job. Whew! All the hard work is over, right?

Not so fast.

As I mentioned in my post on Onboarding: Your Secret Retention Tool, right now you’re in a critical time period with your new employee. Studies show employees leave organizations based on opinions they form in the first month on the job. So it’s more important than ever to pay attention to onboarding.

Start Early

#1 – Start before they start. I learned this one the hard way. After a hard fought battle with another firm for a stellar Manager, I relaxed. Then, I found out the day before he started work that he decided to rescind his acceptance with us and go with another firm. Apparently they had not relaxed when he told them No and kept up the communication.

When a candidate accepts an offer, immediately notify any of the people who were involved in the interview process. Give them the candidate’s email address, and ask them to send a quick welcome message. It will only take a minute, and it will start building trust and connection.

It is especially important to stay in touch with students you have hired while they are still in school. Nine months to a year can go between offer acceptance and start date. Use that time to invite your employee to community service events, holiday events, and firm sports teams. These are all low-key and low-stress ways for them to meet new colleagues. Send them emails about what’s going on in the firm so they get the sense of seasonal fluctuations in the office. Students appreciate being in the loop and knowing what’s happening, even when they aren’t in the office to see what’s going on.

Most importantly, for everyone, get some of that first day paperwork out of the way ahead of time. You can send payroll deduction and direct deposit forms to new employee’s homes ahead of time, and almost everything can be filled out and returned on the first day of work. Include a copy of their orientation or training schedule so they know what to expect in the first couple of days on the job.

Don’t Do It Alone

#2 – Involve managers. Onboarding often falls under Human Resources or the Training department. While it’s good to have either of those departments involved in the process, it’s important to have managers and supervisors take ownership of new employees early on in the game.

If you already have a new employee scheduled for their first job, make sure the manager on the job meets with the new employee (face-to-face is best) during their first week. The manager should set up some goals for the employee to accomplish on their first job, even if it’s simple things like using your firm software and entering their time. This gives the new employee some early wins so they can begin to feel successful from the start.

Make It Count

#3 – Include high impact activities in the first week. How many of us have been hired at a firm that promises an ‘open door policy’ and ‘full access to Partners’ and then spent our first week in a Training room filling out paperwork? It’s important to quickly include high impact activities with your new hire that fulfill the promises made to new recruits.

Tom Neff, Tax Stockholder at RINA, says “One thing we have tried is to immerse new staff in fairly high-level activities during their first week of work – for example, bringing them on a prospect meeting.  Not only does it wow the new staff but also piques the interest of the prospect as well!”

Mention the Unmentionables

 #4 – Discuss the “unwritten rules”. Years ago, during a tour on my first day of work, the person showing me around had pointed to the refrigerator and said “You can grab anything you need from there, and it’s free.” Wow, I thought. I spent the next three months having 2 or 3 juices, coffee drinks, and yogurts a day. Bonanza! One day a co-worker said to me “Aren’t you going to pay for your yogurt?” That’s when I learned that while the coffee accompaniments (cream and milk) were free, everything else in the fridge was to be paid for. Whoops.

We all have unwritten rules in our offices. Think about the protocol in your office around whether you knock on closed doors, what you wear on casual days, how you use the high importance flag on emails, or send messages to ‘All.’ These are things that people often learn only after doing it incorrectly and having a slew of people tell them they are doing it the wrong way.  Get your new hires off on the right foot, save them any embarrassment, and make sure they learn the unwritten rules early in the game. They’ll thank you for it and it will pay off in your retention efforts.


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