It's their first day on their new job with your company. They're likely very nervous. You don't want your new employee to walk into a wall on their first day. They probably want to impress you and your team. As a result, they are afraid to ask any question.
Luckily your onboarding of new employees is carefully thought out, considered, re-iterated and improved. Or is it? Do you actually properly onboard new employees at all? And if it's at all done, it's often done hastily.
What is employee onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process of your new employee to become part of your current staff. Ideally in the shortest time possible. This is meant for every new employee so they better understand their role and the responsibilities their new job entails.
The next-generation companies think about this. They put the employee first. Consider their feelings. They know about their nerves for the first day. They make sure they have all the information they need, are well equipped, while at the same time don't overload them with information. They will know what is expected from you and what to work on. Which will result in them getting excited about the next day and many more days to come.
Why you need employee onboarding
It seems already obvious based on the previous paragraph. But in case you are not yet 100% sure. First impressions matter. You hired this person for a good reason. If their first day is an average experience, they are likely to 'churn' rather soon than later.
Bad first-day experience
- no introductions to (direct) teammates;
- no idea where to start;
- only interactions with other departments, eg. HR/legal;
- tons of papers to sign (paper, really?!);
- reading through documentation just to get their development machine ready;
- no concrete goal for the next 30/60/90 days;
- no clear goal for the first day and week.
Good first-day experience
- short and precise intro by CEO/manager to the rest of the team;
- (direct) teammates that are aware of the new hire;
- a buddy/mentor assigned, they can ask any question;
- clear for the day, the first week;
- a simple task they can finish on their first day.
Based on the size of your company and the processes, not all steps might apply or doable on the first day. What you should strive for at all time, is that they feel welcome. That they are not a number and their first-day is an afterthought. And most importantly that they have a clear goal on what to do.
I've found the things Netflix does for their onboarding, although could not find the original source.
- Netflix CEO meets with all new hires
- A mentor is set up for every new hire;
- even before you are at work, every aspect of your work is seamlessly taken care of from your desk to all the technology you will use while at work;
- new hires are given chance to work on meaningful projects.
It's pretty much the same as I listed before. But did you notice how their CEO takes time to meet with new employees! I think that's great and if he can, you surely can too!
Need ideas for better onboarding
Right, so let's get a bit more practical here. Here a few ideas ready for you to add to onboarding process.
Checklist for you
Have a reusable checklist for you. This makes sure that you don't forget anything (which you will!) when onboarding that new hire.
Have a clear onboarding guide for them
Have another reusable guide ready for your fresh hire. A list of items they can check-off really help giving them more purpose on this exciting new day.
Document vision and company culture
Have your company culture documented. Be sure they know about the greater vision of your company. Make it so they can relate to it and feel proud to be part of it.
Give access to everything they need
Make sure they are invited to all the tools you use for communication, email, code collaboration, CI and more.
Buddy / mentor
Assign every new employee a buddy. Someone in the same line of work. So they can ask questions work-specific or company-related.
Make this part of your company culture from the start so everybody knows how helpful this is and is happy to be a 'buddy' themselves.
Of course, you as the manager should always be available for questions their buddy cannot answer.
Do something 'real' on the first day
Nothing feels better for an employee to show his friends and family his first addition to your product. Even if it's a minimal, the feeling it gives when they pushed the 'big red button' on the first day is amazing. It could be as simple as adding themselves to the team's page.
Introduce them to the team
Being new is hard enough, so don't take the easy route and ask them to introduce themselves. Prepare a little, learn something about them and do the introduction yourself.
Lessen the amount of paperwork
You shouldn't be using paper to start with, but if you do, make it as little as possible. Any form of paperwork sucks the life out of anyone.
Check in on them
Make fresh recruits feel welcome by checking in on them. Be authentic though, let them know you want them to feel welcome and not being checked upon. Don't just do this the first day, but the following weeks (weekly) as well.
Welcome on the entrance
If you have an office, a welcoming note at the entrance is a nice touch. Otherwise, if you are a remote company, send a welcome email to them and the team.
Don't leave them in the dark
Make sure the new employee has access to all information needed and that they don't have to search for any documentation.
Take it a step further (or earlier actually)
Why should you leave everything to very first day if you can, in fact, do some of these things before that? This could mean they are introduced to their new team members, have signed their contract, have access to third-party tools and have access to your company's values and mission statement.
By doing this you can be sure that they will have an even more productive, and more importantly, a great sense of meaning for their job.
I've talked to many founders and managers. Lots of them had the same feeling you might have now. That's why I started Muna. It helps with almost all of the above.
It's free to try for 15 days. Every plan comes with concierge service, so you are up and running quickly.
Photo by Marius Christensen