We've all been there - a terrible first day, week or even month that leaves you feeling disengaged and less than enthused about your latest career move.
Welcome to the employee onboarding 'how NOT to' guide, bringing you the bad and the ugly of new hire orientation and outlining solutions for common onboarding mistakes.
|Say 'no' to: Making onboarding a communal responsibility|
Nothing shouts "you are going to enjoy working here" more than arbitrarily assigning an untrained mentor from a pool of equally disoriented colleagues to take around an already agitated new hire. Who doesn't like feeling like a liability and a distraction stuck right in the middle of someone else's busy day, raise your hand!
Having a strong team welcome in mind is all good and well but communal responsibility distribution means no one will be personally responsible for the new hire's long-term well-being, or the logistics of orientation activities on their very first day at work.
|Instead: Empower onboarding ambassadors|
Even if your organization is just starting off with employee onboarding, you will be better curating the necessary activities yourself and building up a team of designated, trained and keen "Onboarding Ambassadors".
Inspire and educate your employees about the importance of proper new hire orientation before said new hire's day one - and when the time comes, you will have a pool of pre-vetted onboarding stars to choose from to take your new hire around for what has to be one of the most engaging days of their office life.
|Say 'no' to: Information-heavy orientations|
"Hello, welcome, we are so excited to have you on board - hope you are excited too and have enough patience to read this 200-page company manual, sit through 2 or 3 corporate presentations and last long enough to achieve the recognition required for us to entrust you with some actual work some day. Oh, and the coffee machine isn't working today. Don't forget to submit your feedback form when all this is behind you! Enjoy!"
The familiar scenario raises one crucial question: why would you do this to new hires if you would never let them do it to you? Piling up paperwork and arbitrary training activities regardless of the employee's seniority or profile builds up to a blatantly boring start.
|Instead: Drip-feed content over time|
Delayed gratification of thoughtfully spaced out documentation presented throughout their training and orientation period will yield higher read-through rates at the very minimum, and produce 100% less extremely bored new hires overall.
|Say 'no' to: One-size-fits-all induction programmes|
From your newest CTO to your last-minute incoming intern - your HR department has gone to great lengths to scout, source, interview and keep the latest hire. Your marketing department has been working tirelessly on building the perfect employer brand online, your highly sought after candidate has signed the contract after hard negotiations and... There you are giving them that same welcome pack you haven't had time to neither update, nor, realistically, even read through since 2015.
You know what new employees don't have time for? Doing orientation activities that are not related to their role, department or seniority levels.
|Instead: Leverage preboarding and tailor your processes|
Going through the assigned corporate motions is crucial for signing documents and getting the paperwork out of the way, but it can and should be done during the pre-boarding phase, while leaving new and exciting bits and pieces for Day 1. Tailor your Day 1 on a departmental level and get the new hires team involved for maximum impact.
|Say 'no' to: Casual and unfocussed introductions|
Letting your newest employee stroll in unnoticed and unannounced may seem like a good plan that won't interrupt your existing employees' activities, but most likely having a way-too-relaxed Day 1 on the job will just make your newest hire feel unsure whether the company needed their skills and expertise in the first place.
There is comfortable and friendly, then there is plain sloppy and disorganized - you want your new hires to feel at home, but lack of structured employee onboarding during the first few weeks can make any newcomer feel disoriented instead of welcome.
|Instead: Structure and streamline|
First day on the job should include both welcome events and opportunities to jump start on tackling real job responsibilities. Make sure to include 1:1 meetings into their first week, as well as present the first of many long-term projects to give new hires the taste for their future day-to-day in the office from the get-go.
|Say 'no' to: Over-promoting brand advocacy on social media|
You want your new graduate hires in particular to become your brand advocates some day, but you also want to control your brand image. If you are looking for your new hires to produce relevant digital content for your organization, you need to dedicate time and effort first.
|Instead: Promote organic advocacy|
Try this to start: Arrange your new hires desk with welcome gifts and signs, offer to take a photo with the CEO or at some of the orientation activities if you have a number of newbies joining at once.
In case if a social media opportunity hasn't presented itself on Day 1, wouldn't it be better to wait until your new colleagues are fully acclimated and genuinely happy to snap away without the pressures of having just walked into a new office?
Treat your new hires like you would like to be treated yourself. Over prepare, don't overwhelm, and you'll be sure to prevent orientation flops and faux pas.