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The employee onboarding guide: 15 steps for an amazing first week

New hire orientation week: it’s the best of times or the worst of times. For companies with a successful, structured employee onboarding program, it tends to be the best of times—another opportunity to welcome new hires and send them down the path toward long-term success. For organizations that struggle to engage recent joiners, however, orientation week can often be a major drag.

If your company falls into the latter category, all of us at Talmundo are pitching in to give your new hire onboarding process a free makeover. Simply follow our employee onboarding guide 15 steps process to build a world-class employee orientation program that leads to stronger employee engagement, faster productivity, and higher retention rates!

1. Crowdsource ideas from your most engaged team members

Whether or not your company has formal onboarding process steps in place, you probably go through informal onboarding rituals. These organic habits could be as simple as going out to lunch together on every new hire’s first day. While they may not seem like a lot, these moments can actually be some of the most memorable and effective onboarding activities for your company.

Find out via an unofficial survey of your most engaged team members. What made them feel at home within their first week? How did they know they wanted to stay with your organization? If you see a pattern among the answers, then you know that those little gems should make it into your formal onboarding process steps to win the hearts of your newest employees.

2. Create an agenda for their first week

With these ideas in hand, sketch out a schedule for your new hire’s first week. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many companies forget about this “detail.” Creating an agenda ensures that your excited employee doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and quickly lose their new hire enthusiasm… you know, the enthusiasm that’s going to keep them engaged on the job after their start date.

Plus, let’s be real: you’re going to have a million things on your mind during that first jam-packed week. Life will be much easier when you can glance at your agenda and know exactly what you need to do and where to be. Feel free to color code your calendar—we won’t judge you.

3. Let them know what to expect

After you’ve outlined an agenda, share your thoughts with the man or woman of the hour. Simply give them a heads-up about what to expect during their first few days, from anticipated departure times to any special accommodations that they should make (like wearing comfortable shoes for a lot of walking—aka a cool scavenger hunt—on day two).

That’s not to say that you have to ruin all the surprises! Feel free to play your cards close to the vest, providing just enough information to make them feel comfortable when they walk through the office door.

4. Clue in your team (and anyone else who will listen)

As you may have already guessed, employee onboarding shouldn’t be exclusively an HR or direct manager’s task. At the very least, your new hire’s team should know about their first day in advance. Better yet, get everyone in on it and send a companywide email (containing the new hire’s photo if possible, so people can match the name to the face) or make an announcement at the weekly executive meeting.

And feel free to let your goofy side shine. Lever, for example, sends welcome GIFs (little animated clips) made by the new hire’s entire team—a tradition they have kept going since the company’s inception.

5. Be Real

Of course you want employees to love your company but that’s no reason to put on a mask. It’s time to integrate your new joiners with the real company culture, not make them think that working at your company is something that it’s not. Be sure that new hire orientation reflects the attitude and atmosphere that employees will experience in the months to follow so they don’t suffer from a case of bait-and-switch.

6. Add a homey touch

Nothing says “we don’t care about your start date” more than a dusty, lifeless desk. Don’t forget to design a comfortable, well-stocked workstation for new team members before they arrive. This includes setting up their computer, email, and other accounts they might need to access, as well as stashing stationary, office supplies, and maybe even a coffee mug and employee handbook in their desk drawers.

Tip: If you’re feeling ambitious, hang an organizational chart or office phone number cheat sheet on the wall to familiarize them with the company structure and who to reach out to for various needs. Tech-savvy HR professionals or managers, try making these documents available online or via smartphone and tablet.

7. Schedule real meetings

Participating in team or project meetings may be asking a little much from recent joiners, but that doesn’t mean that they should be excluded. Let them sit in to get a feel for how teams actually run their projects as well as the different personalities they will be working with, and make it clear that they are welcome to provide a fresh perspective, contribute new ideas, and raise important questions that no one else thought of!

8. Pair them with a buddy or mentor

No one likes to be the “new kid.” With a buddy or mentor, your new hire won’t be the odd (wo)man out! Give them someone to turn to in times of need, someone who may also become a good friend and connection beyond their team.

Tip: Your choice of buddies is important! Use our brief guide to build a mentorship program that pairs the right people for the highest odds of success.

9. Drop the formalities

We’re not advocating that you should be unprofessional. However, there is a time and place to be more casual and get to know new hires when they’re free to be themselves. Try going out for a team lunch or hosting a happy hour during employee orientation week. These are great moments to bond in a more relaxed environment!

10. Set aside training time

Nearly 50% of employers believe that in-demand skills are lacking among candidates, and more than half of workers think that inadequate on-the-job training is the culprit. Help your latest employees be the best they can be with consistent training starting in week one, starting with these five strategies.

Tip: One thing you may not think of as “training”: teaching new grad hires about the office terms they should know. Provide this lexicon for reference!

11. Go over expectations and objectives

If this meeting doesn’t happen within the orientation week, the chances of it being forever postponed are very high. Arrange a sit-down between the new hire and their manager to review expectations, ask and answer questions, and set objectives together for long-term success. Don’t sweat it if you’ve never conducted a goal-setting meeting before; these three step-by-step recipes can make you seem like a pro. This should be an integral piece of your onboarding process steps!

12. Make it fun

You snooze, you lose. And by that we mean that if you make your new hire onboarding snooze-worthy, you’re more likely to lose employees. Have fun with it! Forget completing paperwork and going through mandatory training in the same old ways. Even if these tasks have to be done, you can still spice them up. Explore this list of 10 fun employee onboarding and team-building activities to entertain your newest team members.

Tip: Add a little workplace gamification in the mix for some extra fun!

13. Don’t leave them empty-handed

Who doesn’t love swag? From free branded hats and shirts to a welcome box of candy, even the smallest gifts can make employees feel welcome. It’s not bribery, we promise! Just one more way to celebrate their orientation week and show that you value their addition to the group.

14. Send them home sure

Most employees decide within 10 days whether they’ll stay, and 33% of new employees quit within their first six months. Don’t leave them guessing after day or week one! Sit down and address their questions and concerns every afternoon before they leave the office so that they go home knowing that they want to return.

Tip: Check out these effective strategies for fighting burnout and maintaining employee engagement past the six-month mark.

15. Go beyond the first week

If you implement all of the new hire orientation ideas above, rest assured that you’re already creating a better employee cultureboarding program than most companies out there. Take that final step toward best-in-class employee onboarding by extending it past week one. Research shows that new hires who undergo longer onboarding processes become productive 34% faster than those in the shortest programs.



So you've planned out an amazing first week. But onboarding goes far beyond (and starts well before) week one...

Learn to reinvent your new hire journey, automate your processes, and elevate your business with our 2020 onboarding whitepaper!

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Topics: Onboarding , Reinvent
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