Do your incoming team members receive less prep for their roles than stripped, tool-deprived “Naked and Afraid” participants? That’s a problem. It’s also sadly common. Plenty of new hires are left on their own to navigate the wilderness of a new workplace. Is it any wonder that BambooHR research found that 31% quit before they hit the half-year mark?
Unless you enjoy frittering away your company’s money on recruitment efforts, you need to invest in your onboarding process. Not only does smart training reduce turnover, but it also builds a stronger, more cohesive team. When 91% of workers say proactive onboarding connected them to their teammates, it’s a stat to remember — and to inspire your training decisions.
Start with the Preboard
Ideally, onboarding should start before a hire officially becomes part of the pack. This preboarding period offers a tremendous opportunity for employers to assure their newest employees that both sides made a great choice.
Preboarding activities could include introducing recent hires to their colleagues via email or having them stop by for an in-office luncheon. Without preboarding, many employees hang in limbo for two weeks, wondering what they’ll do on their first day. Proper preboarding gives them a sense of belonging before they get their office key fob.
During team members’ first formal workdays, partner them with someone who can provide immediate help and reassurance, not to mention a smiling face. It’s hard to know whom to turn to for information when you’re in an unknown community. Having a mentor or buddy is something 56% of incoming workers say they value, according to BambooHR. That way, they don’t feel like they’re pestering anyone when they need to decode confusing office acronyms or figure out how to un-jam the buggy copier.
Of course, these ideas just scratch the surface. Without more focused, ongoing onboarding measures, new employees may still fall off the face of the earth. If you want to maximize the time and money you’ve spent seeking the right people for your openings, you have to put some skin and thinking in the game.
Below are several methods to help newcomers assimilate into your organization so they feel less like interlopers and more like valued team members.
1. Encourage intermingling.
Yes, you want work to happen. Just don’t let productivity overshadow the need to foster relationships. A full 40% of U.S. adults say they struggle with loneliness, per Harvard Business Review research. The sooner incoming workers feel a sense of belonging, the higher the chances they’ll stay. After all, why would someone want to go if she feels her success is intertwined with that of like-minded co-workers who care about her?
In fact, this process should start during hiring. Mike Monroe, digital strategy manager of Vector Marketing, advises interviewers to have deeper discussions to ensure a solid culture fit. He recommends asking questions like “‘What are your aspirations for the future, and what do you need to get there?’ Questions like these can unlock new levels of connection, loyalty, and relational equity.” Once you’ve made your matches, continue the education process on both sides by setting up lunch one-on-ones with new hires and a variety of seasoned and younger employees.
2. Provide (gentle) feedback early and often.
Walking into an unknown situation can be stressful. For the new kids on the block, the experience can also be worrisome. Are they living up to company standards? Prioritizing tasks correctly? Rather than assuming newbies can read your mind, give incoming personnel key performance indicators and metrics to reach. As they hit their targets, offer feedback and sincere kudos to fuel loyalty and enthusiasm. As Ron Carucci, co-founder and managing partner at organization consulting firm Navalent, notes, “New hires that feel grounded in their contribution and understand how it fits into the larger organization gain confidence and feel loyal faster.”
What happens if new hires don’t seem to be meeting the mark? Have a sit-down to discuss the hurdles they’re encountering. You might not realize that they simply don’t know the system shortcuts to make life easier or have never been told about a certain protocol. The more you can discover about what’s getting in their way, the sooner you can smooth a path toward clear wins.
3. Furnish paths for quick advancement.
Today’s workers expect opportunities to move up in a company, whether that means a pay raise, an increase in authority, or a change in hierarchy. Set up goals for your employees to hit, and explain what they’ll receive after meeting those objectives. At the same time, provide the tools and training necessary to upskill them for each level of responsibility.
WEX Inc.’s human resources practices show how mapping out paths to advancement can work in the real world. The company presents a variety of journeys for new hires to follow so they can get closer to their professional dreams. Adapt WEX career pathing to your own business model to keep newbies concentrating on a positive future at your organization.
We all know being the office greenhorn can be a tough role to play. Instead of letting your freshmen colleagues struggle to fit in, roll out the red carpet. Everyone will benefit — and so will your bottom line.