Good employee onboarding can increase new hire productivity and retention by more than 70%.
But a third of businesses aren’t doing it right. And a fifth are doing employee onboarding so badly that new hires change their mind about the job – before they even start.
Instead of feeling excited, appreciated and confident, new hires feel lost. Their minds are full of unanswered questions.
And that matters, because unanswered questions mean two things.
1 Barriers to productivity. Your new hires won’t know what they need to know to start adding value quickly. That’s why 49% of new hires who miss their first performance milestones never had formal onboarding training.
2 Engagement-driven attrition. Your new hires won’t feel looked after. Doubts start to creep in. Is this where they really want to work? Are you really committed to their career progression? And that’s why one third of new hires quit within their first six months.
Unanswered new hire questions are HR's arch enemy if you want happy, productive, inspired new hires that turn into established employees and company ambassadors.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:
|1.||When should I arrive?|
|2.||Where do I go when I arrive?|
|3.||Do I need a buzzer or key to get into the building?|
|4.||Is someone expecting me?|
|5.||Who do I call if I’m running late?|
|6.||Is there on-site parking?|
|7.||What should I wear?|
|8.||What do I need with me?|
|9.||What will my first day involve?|
|10.||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?|
Your employee onboarding programme should pre-empt questions like:
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.
In fact, nearly 75% of new hires rank reviewing company policies as a top onboarding priority. Company tour, equipment set-up and procedure review is close behind, a top priority for nearly 60% of new employees.
|11.||When and how do I get paid?|
|12.||What expenses am I allowed and how do I claim?|
|13.||What benefits do I get?|
|14.||How does holiday work?|
|15.||How much notice should I give to book holiday?|
|16.||What’s the process if I’m sick?|
|17.||Can I work from home occasionally?|
|18.||Do I get a laptop, and can I take it home?|
|19.||Will I get in trouble if I answer personal emails or calls?|
|20.||How do I connect to the internet and intranet?|
|21.||What’s my email address?|
|22.||Where can I find colleagues’ email addresses?|
|23.||Should I use a company email signature?|
|24.||What should I write on my LinkedIn profile?|
|25.||Am I allowed to talk about work on social media?|
|26.||How long do I get for breaks and lunch?|
|27.||Can I eat whenever I want?|
|28.||Can I eat at my desk?|
|29.||Can I leave the office to eat?|
|30.||What in the kitchen is for sharing?|
An employee handbook – something 28% of HR folks believe needs updating – can be a fantastic way to communicate these things.
|Topic 3: How do I fit into the bigger picture?|
Simon Sinek’s now-famous TED talk, 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:
|31.||Why does this company exist?|
|32.||What are the company’s goals?|
|33.||What are the company’s challenges?|
|34.||How does my job relate to those goals?|
|35.||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.
That’s why on-the-job training is the most important onboarding priority for 76% of new hires. Your new employees just want to start doing a great job fast, and need you to empower them to do so:
|36.||How much on-the-job training is there?|
|37.||What are my performance goals for the month/quarter/year?|
|38.||How is performance measured?|
|39.||Who do I most need to impress?|
|40.||Do most employees meet all their goals?|
|41.||What standard are other new hires?|
|42.||What happens if I don’t meet my performance goals?|
|43.||Where can I get help, if I’m struggling?|
|44.||Can I be involved in setting performance goals?|
|45.||What would exceptional performance look like?|
|46.||What happens if I achieve exceptional performance?|
|47.||Are there any unspoken objectives here?|
|48.||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:
|49.||Who can I ask if I have questions about my job or the company?|
|50.||Who can I talk to if I have a problem or something bad has happened?|
|51.||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.
|Topic 6: Will I make friends?|
Even the most hardened senior hires ask this question, although they might never admit it. In fact, a whopping 70% of employees consider having friends at work the most important element to a happy work life. (And happy employees are more productive employees, of course).
It’s a multi-faceted question, with both cultural and practical elements. New hires are thinking:
|52.||Are there people like me here?|
|53.||Are people open and welcoming?|
|54.||Will people understand if I’m socially anxious?|
|55.||When will I meet people?|
|56.||Do people socialise together?|
|57.||If so, when and how?|
|58.||How can I integrate socially?|
|59.||Can I meet my team before we start?|
|60.||How will I remember everyone’s name?|
Your employee onboarding programme should address these questions before new hires start, on their first day and beyond.
|Topic 7: What’s the culture here?|
Cultureboarding is a huge part of employee onboarding. Best-practice employee onboarding starts early, showing new hires what to expect and helping them embed before Day 1.
Answer questions like:
|61.||What are people like?|
|62.||What’s the office like?|
|63.||Which office lingo do people use?|
|64.||What time do people really arrive?|
|65.||What time do people really leave?|
|66.||Will I be judged if I leave on-time?|
|67.||Am I expected to answer emails out-of-hours?|
|68.||What are the unspoken no-no’s?|
|69.||Does my boss/the department head/the CEO have any pet hates?|
|70.||Do we celebrate birthdays?|
|71.||Do we have a Christmas party?|
|72.||How should I behave to fit in?|
Employee profiles and testimonials are a fantastic way to give new hires the inside scoop, to build their excitement and sense of inclusion before they join you.
|Topic 8: How will I grow?|
87% of millennials rate professional development as very important in their job – and that’s not exclusive to millennials. Professional development is hugely important to new hires from any generation – so your onboarding programme needs to prove your commitment by answering these questions:
|73.||How do I get promoted?|
|74.||Is there a minimum time-frame for promotion?|
|75.||What potential hurdles to promotion are there?|
|76.||What extra responsibilities can I take on?|
|77.||Will you pay for external training, like an MA or course?|
|78.||How much training can I expect and when?|
|79.||Can I request extra training?|
|80.||Will I get experience in different areas if I want it?|
|81.||What projects will I work on?|
|82.||What could my career look like in a year/two years/five years?|
Your employee onboarding programme should show new hires you’re committed to their career growth, and inspire them with a vision of their career future with you.
|BONUS: One question you must ask new employees|
HOW ELSE CAN WE SUPPORT YOU?
The thing is, most organisations abandon new hires way too soon with many HR experts believing only 15% of companies continue onboarding beyond six months
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.
Remember, employee development should never fall off a cliff, and a well structured onboarding can 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.
We’ve spent over 8 years helping the world's leading enterprise companies ask the RIGHT questions with great onboarding. And we’re here to help you too.
Watch our free on-demand webinar and let our onboarding specialist, Steve Stoop, show you how to reinvent your new hire processes for success!