Unanswered new hire questions are your arch enemy, if you want happy, productive, inspired new hires that turn into established employees and culture evangelists.
So let’s answer them.
Topic 1: What will my first day look like?
Even experienced new hires have first-day nerves. Your employee onboarding programme should address the practicalities of their first day, so new hires can stop worrying and focus on bringing their A-game:
When should I arrive?
Where do I go when I arrive?
Do I need a buzzer or key to get into the building?
Is someone expecting me?
Who do I call if I’m running late?
Is there on-site parking?
What should I wear?
What do I need with me?
What will my first day involve?
Should I bring lunch or do people eat out?
These questions seem small but they impact how your new hires feel on their very first day – which sets the tone for the rest of their career with you.
Topic 2: How does everything work?
Understanding the practicalities, processes and policies in a new organisation isn’t the most exciting part of starting a new job. But it’s one of the most important.
Simon Sinek’s now-famous TED talk, How great leaders inspire action, talks about the importance of knowing your Why. For Sinek, inspiration comes from purpose – so when employees understand WHY their job matters, they’re inspired to do better.
So to inspire your people to be happier, more engaged and more productive, answer these questions:
Why does this company exist?
What are the company’s goals?
What are the company’s challenges?
How does my job relate to those goals?
Why does my job matter?
Your employee onboarding programme should tell new hires about the business’ strategic priorities and challenges, and explain how their role relates to that. So employees are inspired towards a common purpose and understand how they can personally contribute.
Topic 4: What do you expect from me?
Whether interns, graduates, managers or C-Suite, all new hires want to have a positive impact. They want to know your expectations so they can meet – and exceed – them.
What are my performance goals for the month/quarter/year?
How is performance measured?
Who do I most need to impress?
Do most employees meet all their goals?
What standard are other new hires?
What happens if I don’t meet my performance goals?
Where can I get help, if I’m struggling?
Can I be involved in setting performance goals?
What would exceptional performance look like?
What happens if I achieve exceptional performance?
Are there any unspoken objectives here?
How can I go above and beyond?
One of your biggest priorities for employee onboarding should be showing new hires what success looks like and empowering them to achieve it.
Topic 5: Who can I talk to?
New hires need to know three key things:
Who can I ask if I have questions about my job or the company?
Who can I talk to if I have a problem or something bad has happened?
Who can I talk to if I have a cool idea outside my formal job remit?
Your employee onboarding programme should tell new hires how they can escalate ideas, thoughts, questions, fears and concerns. A mentor programme, confidential employee hotline and company-wide ideas portal are great ideas.
That way, employees have an outlet to express themselves – and because they trust you value their input, they feel heard and appreciated.
And this is a major plus for the wider business too. If employees can come to you with problems, you can get ahead of any potential issues quickly.
And you encourage a culture of creative, collaborative problem-solving. When employees have a clear mechanism to contribute outside their formal job function, the organisation becomes more agile, more creative and more responsive to change. Which is how HR justifies a seat at the table as a strategic business partner.
Onboarding isn’t just for new hires’ first few weeks but for their first several months and beyond.
This question is ideal to guide a one-month, three-month and six-month check-in, to ensure you’re giving employees everything they need to be productive. And prove you genuinely care, not just about performance but well-being too. Consider what questions to ask new employees down the road.
These check-ins are where the line between management and onboarding becomes blurred. Employee development should never fall off a cliff, but onboarding should gently merge with continuous development – so you and your employees can evolve together. That’s the key to happier, more fulfilled, more engaged and more productive employees.