Onboarding: Helping New Employees Start Strong

To help new employees start off on the right foot, more companies are offering enhanced onboarding programs. Many organizations have found that conducting a more thorough orientation process designed to both empower employees and put them at ease makes a positive and lasting impression on their workers.

Onboarding can enable new hires to start making contributions to the firm more quickly. In fact, research from Robert Half found most workers who went through a formal orientation process said they felt the experience prepared them to succeed at their new company.

To be effective, the onboarding process does not need to be overly time-consuming or costly. Following are some tips for building a strong program:
> Help relieve day-one pressure
On an employee’s first day of work, making him or her feel welcome should be a top priority for you and your staff. Use the first day to review office logistics, and schedule a special lunch to provide the new hire an opportunity to build rapport with colleagues.

Company leadership also should participate early in the orientation process. Even if they cannot appear in person, their involvement will add credibility.

> Connect new hires with a support system
A valuable component to onboarding is providing new hires with opportunities to establish relationships with their colleagues. In addition to making introductions, be sure to follow up later to ensure regular communication between the employee and his or her key organizational contacts is occurring.

Consider creating a buddy system for staff members going through the onboarding process. Let them know which people in the department they should go to with questions – no matter how big or small.

> Promote mentoring relationships
Assigning a mentor who can provide hands-on guidance and real-world advice to a new hire is good practice. These relationships also help build rapport among all staff and encourage knowledge-sharing within the team.

> Don’t stop checking in
A key part of the onboarding process is following up – early and often. Meeting with staff members at regular intervals will help you reinforce what they’ve learned so far and provide timely feedback. These meetings also will allow you to work directly with employees to set goals for their performance and professional development.

While your approach to the orientation process will depend on the unique needs of your organization, the end goals are always the same. A well-structured orientation program should help workers feel more comfortable, understand expectations, and connect with the resources and ongoing support they’ll need to deliver their best performance.

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