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Get on board

By:
  • Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM
- Posted: September 4, 2018
For new employees, onboarding starts with the first impression of a company and, like all first interactions, should be the best possible impression. Unfortunately, many companies fail to make the most of this opportunity. Maximizing an employee onboarding process leads to higher employee engagement and contributes to overall company culture. To help craft the perfect process, here are the top five ways that companies tend to miss the mark.

1. Not being prepared
The first and most immediate way in which companies fail to properly onboard employees is simply not being prepared. No one is ever more excited than on their first day of work and not having basic, essential tools is the quickest way to take the wind out of a new employee’s sails. Companies should prove they care about a new hire by ensuring every relevant detail is as perfect as possible.

These may include having ready a company email, phone, business cards, clothing or uniform, computer username and password, or vehicle. If they work in an office, make sure it is ready with a computer, chairs and nameplate. Consider basic supplies like pens, notepads, sticky notes, etc.

Not being prepared at best creates a panicked scramble that wastes productivity and at worst tells a new employee that they weren’t worth the effort to think about the week before they started. On the occasion that an employee may be hired to begin work immediately, time should be scheduled to take care of essential tasks as quickly as possible. Onboarding provides the chance to show a company cares about an employee - if the company plans ahead.

2. Not being welcoming
Feeling like an outsider is never fun, and companies that don’t provide a dedicated person to introduce a new hire to all company personnel prolongs the uncomfortable situation of feeling left out. One of the best ways to ensure that new hires feel welcome is to have scheduled introductions to avoid having to search for key company employees or to try to fit it in between meetings. Making an employee feel welcome sets the tone that they are a valued part of the team.

3. Not being thorough
Any new hire at any level will require extensive training on company processes and procedures. Companies generally fail to provide thorough enough training for new employees, leading to mutual frustration and wasted productivity. No matter how training is delivered, whether by written manuals, video training or one-on-one instruction, ensuring that training is sufficient to orient an employee is critical. This may require continuous refinement for future employees; but as questions are raised, add them to future training materials so they are covered for future new employees. No matter how good training is, however, new hires will certainly have questions. This presents an opportunity for the fourth failure point of employee onboarding.

4. Not being available
New hires will have lots of questions. It may be impossible to predict whether questions will be related to job responsibilities, company processes, company culture, reporting structure, employee paperwork, compensation package or any other area. As a result, it is necessary for a variety of people to be available to answer these when a new hire seeks them out to limit the confusion they will experience.

It isn’t reasonable to assume that a new hire will feel comfortable reaching out with every question, since many people will be shy or fearful to ask. Companies should schedule various representatives to check in with a new employee several times during the first day, week and month to receive questions by inviting them through conversation. This process of continuing conversation should never end. If it does, a company has made the worst possible mistake of all.

5. Not being consistent
Onboarding an employee is not a single event. It requires a consistent approach over time. The biggest mistake that companies make is ending accommodating conversations and reverting to annual reviews as the defining moments to manage performance. It is ridiculous to think that a single conversation can possibly influence an entire year’s performance. In fact, Gallup reports that only 14% of employees feel inspired to do better after an annual review.

Great companies don’t end onboarding - they simply transition the supportive, welcoming approach to high-performance coaching. These companies empower their leaders to sit regularly with direct reports, have clear and collaborative discussions, and drive accountability through regular feedback. So long as an employee is on board with a company, onboarding should never end. 

Neal Glatt, CSP, ASM is managing partner of GrowTheBench.com, which provides online education and training to the green and snow industries. Email him at neal@growthebench.com.
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