IMPROVING THE ONBOARDING PROCESSWe’ve all been there.  You walk through the employee entrance of your new employer with a combination of excitement and anxiety.  What is this place really like?  It’s your first day on the job.

You’ve done your research on the company and of course you’ve gone through the entire interviewing process so you at least you have an idea of what the work environment might be like, but now comes the moment of truth.  The moment when the “rubber meets the road.”  Will this organization actually “walk the talk?” Will you actually enjoy spending each day with your new manager (and co-workers)?

I still remember my first day on the job at a former employer.  They had what I believe was an exemplary method of onboarding.  The entire first week was dedicated to acclimating all new employee(s) to the company, its’ history, and how it operated.  We also spent about an hour each with key members of various departments.  The departments were chosen based upon what role that department would play in our new jobs.  In this way we not only got an opportunity to learn about the company, we were made to feel welcome and had the opportunity to meet their new co-workers.  I can’t tell you how impressed I was with how well that onboarding process was handled.

On the other hand, I also remember a completely different onboarding episode.  This particular employer seemed completely disengaged with my arrival.  It was almost as if I’d come in off the streets and interrupted their workday.  A co-worker pulled me aside the first day and provided some pointers regarding various places to eat in the area.  It wasn’t her job.  She was just being nice.  It would have been even nicer if it had come from the company itself.  Needless to say, I was left with a much less favorable opinion of that company.

There are few things worse than being dumped into a work area with an empty desk, few or no supplies, very few functioning office tools and co-workers that are “too busy” to be bothered with you.  Excuse me.  Why did you hire me?  Maybe I should come back at a more convenient time.  Nothing could ever give off a worse initial impression in the mind of a new employee.  It amazes me that this sort of scenario ever happens.  We all know the old saying, “You only get one opportunity to make a good first impression.”  Onboarding is a critical component of how companies manage their talent.  I’m sure that all companies are aware of how expensive employee turnover is.


For companies that want to improve their onboarding process, here are some key things to consider:

1. Have the proper office tools available and functional on the first day: A desk, a computer, and an e-mail address for starters.

2. Try not to overwhelm new employees with information on their first day.  They are likely already stressed enough.

3. Provide new hires with a welcome message from key manager(s) along with details regarding the onboarding process BEFORE the first work day.

4. If possible, go over information regarding employee benefits, in person, BEFORE the employee’s first day of work.

5. Any unique details that would not be immediately obvious to someone who wasn’t already working there such as how to enter a secure building, where to eat, what time to arrive on the first day, etc.

Organizations exert so much effort to identifying, selecting, negotiating and ultimately hiring talented individuals.  It would be a shame to spoil it all on the first day of work.

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