What Employee Onboarding Needs Most: Heart
Starting a new job is a huge deal, full of unforgettable moments like finding a team where you belong and envisioning your brand new career with the company you’ve just joined. These moments are the ones that pave the way for a new employee’s future at your organization.
Unfortunately, however, most onboarding processes focus on the totally forgettable aspects of starting a new job: payroll documents, computer logins, setting up your Google Drive, etc.
Of course, these mundane details are necessary for employee success, but we can’t let them overshadow the parts of onboarding that really matter for long-term employee happiness and engagement. The problem is that as managers focus making new employee onboarding as quick and efficient as possible, they forget to lead and inspire their new cadets.
Human connection is more powerful and inspiring than any training program will ever be. Don’t believe me? Let me prove it to you:
Give Them What They Want
Today’s employees are a peculiar bunch – and they are vastly more diverse than ever before. As the characteristics of the workforce continue to change, employers need to adapt their talent management strategies to the times. Employers and the workforce need to evolve together and for the better.
That’s exactly what should be happening during the onboarding process.
Here are some figures to consider:
- 53 percent of employees surveyed by Project ROI say that a “job where I can make an impact” is important to their happiness.
- According to SHRM’s 2015 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement Report, the top two contributors to employee job satisfaction in 2014 were respectful treatment of all employees at all levels (72 percent) and trust between employees and senior management (64 percent).
- 70 percent of employees who lack confidence in the abilities of their senior leaders are not fully engaged.
- 71 percent of employees who believe their managers can name their strengths feel engaged and energized by their work.
What these numbers tell us is that employees today want meaningful, honest, and mutually reciprocated relationships with their leaders. So, how can managers make this happen during onboarding?
It’s a Piece of Cake
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, HR expert, or relationship guru to cultivate strong work relationships as long as managers pay attention to what motivates employees (see above!) What’s so wonderful about today’s workforce is that, even though it’s made up of many workers with various backgrounds and vastly different needs, the desire to build trust and connect with others is consistent across the board.
Here’s what managers can do during onboarding to make a lasting impression:
1. Preparation: Have the new employee’s documents, training schedule, and other not-so-fun parts of onboarding ready so they can get those items out of the way as soon as possible. Throughout those early stages of onboarding, remember not to overload new employees with information. It’s also a good idea to prep the new employee’s workspace before they arrive, so that they will have a place to call their own in an unfamiliar territory.
2. Introductions: Make it a point in the first week to take the new employee around to meet different departments. This can help the new hire see the big picture and understand how all the working pieces of the company fit together. This is also a great opportunity for managers to recognize the strengths of the new employee by mentioning them during introductions. – for example, “Cody, I’d like you to meet Noelle. She’s a PR genius, and we can’t wait to see how she can help the team transform our current strategy.”
3. Check In: The length of the onboarding process varies. Some companies end it after just a few weeks, some after a few months, and some extend the process through the employee’s entire first year. Whatever the duration of your onboarding process, it is vital to check in regularly with the new hire. Whether you do through a one-on-one lunch, a quick message here and there, or a weekly face-to-face meeting, regular communication will provide new employees with a powerful foundation to build upon. It’s during these meetings that managers should be reinforcing the employee’s strengths. Go the extra mile by recognizing the employee’s accomplishments every week. This will makes the communication much more meaningful and personal.
4. Celebrate Milestones: Managers can make it a point to recognize new employees by celebrating milestones. These can be professional, like when an employee makes it through their probationary period, or they can be personal, like when a new employee has a birthday or completes a marathon. Celebrations can be even more frequent and arbitrary depending on the company culture. For example, having a short celebration every Friday to decompress with the team is great for team bonding and familiarizing new employees with their team members.
5. Be Human:Perhaps the most important element in building genuine and trusting relationships with new employees is simply remembering you are human and should act like you are. Managers should show new employees they are not only interested in their professional success, but also aware of the trials and tribulations of their personal lives, That’s not to say a manager should become the department psychiatrist, but being aware of what is going on outside of work can help managers better understand and support an employee’s performance in the office.
Great onboarding does wonders for productivity and retention. To make your onboarding process even more powerful, focus on building great relationships. Those relationships are what keep employees engaged and motivated for the long haul.
Make your onboarding whole by putting some heart into it!