Onboarding new employees can be difficult, especially for teams distributed among multiple locations and those working remotely. It is more important now than ever before to have a strong onboarding plan to ensure new employees are trained and prepared for their new role, and to build and maintain a strong workplace culture.
Onboarding is not just orientation. According to SHRM, ”While orientation might be necessary—paperwork and other routine tasks must be completed—onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.”
While a new employee may be highly experienced and have the skillsets needed to be successful in their new role, every organization operates differently so managers can’t assume an employee can just jump in and get started. A comprehensive training program is critical to ensuring new employees understand organizational policies, procedures and expectations. Training also helps the new employee to feel confident and engaged.
Take the time to introduce the new employee to the team. Schedule time for the new employee to meet with their new team members as well as representatives from teams across the organization. This will help the new team member understand how the organization operates and who does what. A high-level view of the organization is important in making the new employee feel comfortable and part of the team. No one wants to work alone in a quiet cubicle or in their home office and not know how their work fits into the bigger picture.
Onboarding shouldn’t focus on the new employee, but include other team members. Team dynamics can change when a new employee comes on board and when some employees may be insecure about their jobs, it is important to make sure the team understands the role of the new employee and how they will fit into the team.
Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, shared with SHRM, "Sometimes existing team members could feel threatened that someone new could take over their responsibilities. So it's a good idea to clarify the position of the new hire as well as [the positions of] other team members whose work is closely related, how they'll interact with each other, and how projects will run."
Finally, employee onboarding does not (and should not!) happen in one day or the first week. An effective onboarding strategy should last for several months and in some cases can last up to a year depending on the complexity of the position and the company. It is easy to quickly get comfortable with a new team member but it is important that managers remember that the employee is new and may not speak up if they are confused or feeling disengaged.
Managers should plan for ways to check-in, train and engage new employees and the team periodically. This will keep motivation and morale high and drive performance.
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