Source: Apex Systems
Have you ever heard the phrase, "It's the little things that count?" Well, when it comes to successfully onboarding new employees, this phrase is 100% true! Yet, with most work environments having gone virtual, there are added challenges that managers face. Managers can strive to make sure a new employee's first impressions are positive by instilling excitement about them starting their new position. But, as a manager, what else can you do?
Let's start by focusing on three essential onboarding phases that are often overlooked. Within each stage, we have added virtual elements for the following: planning; the first day; ongoing communication and acclimation; and assessment of the process.
The planning stage is often forgotten or poorly implemented, yet it is the most critical step managers can take. Preparing helps ensure a smooth transition from the accepted offer to starting a new employee. A manager's first steps should include the following:
Being remote is challenging for many, but remembering these little things and doing the pre-work will help guarantee a successful first impression. It helps ease first-day anxieties for everyone involved. It helps team members with welcoming and orienting their new peer. And if you’re working with a talent firm, don’t forget to keep communication open. The best firms have a lot of experience with onboarding new employees. The more they know, the better they can help you!
A quality first day drastically shapes a new employee’s impression of the manager, team, culture, and the company! It also helps set the tone for their first couple of months on the job. Here are some recommended best practices for a positive and productive first day:
Don’t overlook demonstrating your excitement to have them on board and outlining why you’re excited they joined and what value they’ll bring to the team or project! Give them multiple opportunities to ask questions or pose concerns. Keep in mind; most new employees have questions around their exact priorities, expectations, success criteria, and how they’ll contribute to the bigger picture, i.e., the company’s goals. A couple of extra minutes is valuable in the long run, and being clear on their “why” is a significant contributor to job satisfaction, performance, and retention.
Ongoing Communication and Team Acclimation
Throughout the first week, managers should have check-in meetings with the new employee. We recommend video calls to have the best means for communicating verbally and gauging facial expressions and body language. The goal is to ensure they’re picking up on new information, meeting who they need to meet, and getting answers to their questions. If they don’t have questions, have topics to discuss. New employees might not know where to start or what questions to ask. Help open the lines of communication and build good work relationships with the new employee. If you’re used to physically walking throughout the office checking in on the team, set up individual video conferences paced throughout the day. Brief meetings, a simple catch-up, or check-ins make a huge difference in keeping the team engaged and on track.
Managers or mentors should schedule an informal meet and greet with the new employee and a few team members at a time. It allows the new employee to know their peers better. Strong peer-to-peer relationships are among the top contributors to job satisfaction, so don’t skip this crucial step!
Assessing the Onboarding Process
After 4-6 weeks with the company, it’s essential to share and gather feedback from your new employee to assess your onboarding process. How can you do this?
Have open discussions with the employee, “How is the job aligning with your expectations? Has the orientation and training given you the information and knowledge to do your job? What else do you need to be successful? Has anything been a surprise or caused any concern for you?”
Send out an anonymous survey encouraging new employees to participate, including questions about the mentor program, the effectiveness of the training tools, the content delivered, and their overall experience rating. It’s a great way to continue to grow, develop, and build on your orientation process, especially if any of it has gone virtual or remote.
Provide the new employee feedback. It’s human nature to want feedback and validation on our performance. Managers should highlight strengths, other traits they’ve noticed that they appreciate, and any improvement areas observed during the onboarding process.
From there, we suggest scheduling regular one on ones, at least bi-weekly, where you are sharing feedback, clarifying expectations, gauging progress, and identifying their questions and concerns.