Participate in our Employee Benefits Survey, and you’ll receive the full report free! Start the survey here.

Person working on laptop with Onboarding bubble graphicBy: The KMA Consulting Team

Employee onboarding is a critical process that sets the tone for a new hire’s experience at your organization. A well-executed onboarding program not only helps employees comfortably acclimate to their roles, but also contributes to long-term job satisfaction and productivity. Alternatively, an onboarding process that lacks focus and support may lead to an increased rate of turnover. A recent Gallup survey found that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees. In this article, we highlight strategies to help retain employees through the onboarding process.

The Importance of Preboarding

Preboarding involves engaging with new hires before their official start date to prepare them for their upcoming role. This initial phase sets the stage for the employee’s journey within the organization and shapes their perception of the company culture. Preboarding can also address any concerns or uncertainties new hires may have from the start. At this stage, make sure to dedicate time to communicating your organizations’ Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which is everything of value employers provide to their employees in return for their time, skills and efforts. Elements of an EVP include financial incentives and any other company perks or lifestyle opportunities for employees. If you would like help examining your total employee offerings and developing or refining your EVP, reach out to the compensation experts at KMA.

What to Do Before the First Day

Reach out to your new hire with a personalized welcome email. This sets a positive tone and helps the new hire start feeling connected to the organization before even stepping foot in the office. You can also encourage other team members to reach out to the new employee and welcome them. Prepare your new hire by sending them an onboarding schedule detailing what will happen on their first day, or even their first week. The first day can be overwhelming for new employees, especially when faced with new paperwork and administrative processes. Setting clear expectations is key to easing any pre-start jitters and ensuring that the new hire knows what to expect.

What to Plan on the First Day

The goal is to create a soft landing for the new hire, while also ensuring they have everything they need within reach by providing an orientation packet. This packet should include:

  • Handbook, and/or company policies, and safety guidelines
  • All new hire forms such as tax forms, direct deposit information, and benefit enrollments
  • A culture and communications guide that outlines your company’s mission, vision and values

Provide ample time for your new employee to fill out the paperwork and digest the orientation packet. If the position is in-person, your employee’s first day should also include a tour of the office and their workspace or desk. Make sure to include other areas of interest, such as bathrooms and break rooms so they can be comfortable in their new environment.

Additional Creative Onboarding Techniques to Consider

Fostering team connections during the onboarding process is vital for creating a supportive and inclusive environment for new hires. Here are a few creative ways to make your new employee feel connected to the rest of the team.

  • Implement a buddy system: A buddy system matches each new employee with a seasoned team member, and facilitates mentorship and connection with someone who understands the ins and outs of the organization. Buddies not only offer practical advice and answer questions, but also serve as a source of support and encouragement as new employees acclimate to their roles. Encouraging regular check-ins between buddies and new hires further strengthens these connections, providing opportunities for camaraderie to develop naturally and for new employees to feel more integrated into the team.
  • Include a welcome package: A warm and personalized welcome package can make new employees feel valued and appreciated as they join the team. This welcome package could include company swag such as mugs, notepads, a tote bag, etc. Alongside these branded items, a personalized note expressing genuine excitement about their arrival adds a personal touch and sets a positive tone for their onboarding experience.
  • Schedule a team lunch: This informal gathering provides new hires with the opportunity to interact with their colleagues in a relaxed setting, facilitating relationship-building and social integration within the team. Feeling connected to their peers early on can significantly impact an employee’s sense of belonging and job satisfaction, ultimately increasing their likelihood of staying with the company long-term.

Technology Considerations

Don’t underestimate the time it takes for a new hire to feel comfortable with their day-to-day technology and tools. Set aside time to walk them through setting up their hardware and software, ensuring they have access to necessary tools and permissions. Depending on the role, additional training sessions may be necessary. This section of onboarding also includes understanding team dynamics, fostering connections and collaboration. Get them acquainted with your company’s team messaging software, like Microsoft Teams or Slack, along with best practices on how to use each communication tool. Throughout the process, include continuous support provided through documentation, resources, and regular check-ins with mentors or supervisors.

Onboarding is a Continuous Process

Onboarding doesn’t conclude after the initial week; in fact, an onboarding process can last up to 6 weeks, or longer! Employers should prioritize ongoing support and communication to ensure that new hires feel welcomed and included into the team. Check-in sessions at 6 weeks, 3 months and 6 months can play a crucial role in creating an ongoing support system, and provide opportunities to discuss progress, get ahead of any challenges or concerns, and collaboratively set goals for development.

Flexibility is also key in maintaining effective onboarding. Each new hire you onboard may have unique needs and preferences, and employers should be adaptable and willing to adjust the onboarding process accordingly. By soliciting feedback and actively responding to it, employers can tailor the onboarding experience to better meet the individual requirements of new employees.

Reach out to KMA today to create a customized onboarding plan that will set your new employees up for success, and help retain top talent.