How to Onboard for Employee Success: Hint (It’s Not With the Employee Manual)

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Nothing can quash the excitement of the first day on a new job quite like being set up at your new desk and having a big fat employee manual dropped in front of you.

“Read this until your manager is ready for you,” are nine all-too-familiar words to the new hire and they are among the many mistakes that HR and managers make when onboarding is treated like a thoughtless protocol instead of an experience. You want your new hires to leave their first few days on the job even more excited than they were when they received the offer and the impersonal approaches of many companies are anything but exciting.

Below are a few simple ways to make you’re the newest member of your team actually feel like a member of the team.

Limit Paperwork When Possible

One of the most fun zapping moments is the obligatory first day HR forms ritual.. yawn-a-tron, right?! Getting as much of this admin done prior to your new hire starting will allow them more time on their first day to get to know your team, your processes and will mean that they won’t be left alone signing a stack of documents. If there is paperwork to complete on site, sit with the new hire while they fill it out to make clear that you’re interested in keeping them engaged and making yourself available for questions. It’s a small but powerful gesture that indicates that you want them engaged.

Make Their Team Available

Too often the direct supervisor of a new hire has scheduled back-to-back meetings on their first day, making the newest member of the team feel like an afterthought, or worse yet, a burden. Your new hire’s first day should make them feel like the team has been waiting for them expectantly, which they likely have! Talk with their supervisor beforehand to identify a start date during which they’ll have ample time to talk with the new recruit and introduce them personally to their new colleagues. In addition to managers, colleagues and key employees from outside their department should be available in the first days to describe their role and what their future collaboration might look like. Better still, get the new hire involved with the team prior to them starting (if possible), for example, invite them out to company social events. Engaging them early will pay off and they will think twice about accepting an offer from another employer before they start with you!

Lead Training With Values, Not Rules

Lots of company training serves as legal protection for the business, so it is often delivered in very alienating and frightening legal language. But training can cover all the legal touch points without sounding like a long and elaborate warning about how new hires might lose their jobs. Lead grievance policies with a statement on the company’s commitment to the safety and value of all its employees…. lead conversations about probationary period policies with statements on the company’s commitment to training, development and career progression and that top-quality employees are it’s priority.

Extend a Perk

Extending your new hire a nice perk on their first day shows that you recognize that it is a stressful experience that warrants something special. Maybe that’s a free lunch with the team or just an opportunity to go home early (let’s face it, new hires rarely do any work on their first day) after a long day of training and introductions. Even a gesture like some flowers, a card on their desk, a personalized mug (basically something that you can’t get out of the stationary cupboard) makes your new hire know that they’re welcome and wanted. Having an organized, tailored and thought out ‘people-centric’ onboarding plan will give a great first impression and will confirm to the new hire – “yep. I’ve made the right decision… let’s do this!”

Andy Selway is the Founder of ‘Your HR Consultancy’ which provides HR & people solutions to start-ups and SMEs. Andy also runs Corporate and Cocktails, which is fast becoming one of London’s biggest growing HR communities with over 1,700 HR members.