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Insights

The Fixer-Upper Approach to Transforming Onboarding

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
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When someone comes into your home, you welcome them, not “onboard” them. It should also be true that when a new hire comes into our organization, we create conditions in which they feel welcomed and assured that they made the right choice to join our company and team. Just like if you were to fix up, remodel, or prepare to sell your house, when you revamp your onboarding program, you’ll need to pay attention to the comparisons (or “comps”), conduct a market analysis, assess your foundation, and create a blueprint or plan.

If you were to remodel a portion of your home, you would review the available options. You may wonder, for example, about the types of cabinets throughout the structure and how much they cost. So too should you review the options for a good welcome program. To do so, you can read books, blogs, magazine articles, and online posts that relate to best-in-class new hire welcome programs or post a question on social media to ask what people like and don’t like about programs they’ve experienced.

What are some of the things the best new employee programs do that others don’t?

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  • Welcome the employee even before they set foot onto the company’s campus on Day 1. Ideas include sending their welcome packet and new hire paperwork with company “swag” and a handwritten note from a senior manager or executive to their home address; sending a thank-you card to their significant other or family for “sharing” their loved one’s talents; sending a map that includes places nearby the office to eat; or putting an announcement online (LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook) and tagging them.
  • Create new hire training that is specific, relatable, and immediately applicable. The best new-hire training helps orient a new hire to the problem your company solves with its products and services and provides an overview of what those products and services are regardless of where the new hire will physically work or the role they’ll fill. After the 60,000-foot view, great new-hire training focuses on the “need to know” versus the “nice to know.” And it gets the new hire practicing in their soon-to-be workflow as quickly as possible.
  • Assign not just one “office buddy” but two. One buddy should be from the team the new hire will work in, and the other should be chosen from outside of the team so different perspectives are provided.
  • Help new hires assimilate quicker. To encourage interaction with newbies at one e-commerce company, desks for new employees are outfitted with a candy bowl and a handmade flag that reads, “I’m new. Come say hi!” At a construction company, new hires wear brightly colored hard hats during their first 30 days of employment so that everyone knows they are new to the company and can welcome them to the team. A law firm uses the game of BINGO to help new hires meet colleagues. Think of ways you can help your new hires meet people and quickly become part of the culture.
  • Consider onboarding a journey, not an event. Onboarding isn’t a one-day or one-week event; it’s the journey that takes place as a human being (not “new hire”) acclimates to your culture and company. It includes all of the nuances that we rarely speak of—how the person feels when they walk around and speak to others, what they learn along the way, how people collaborate (or don’t) with them, the amount of guidance they receive, and so forth. Some onboarding journeys last a few months; others last a year or more. Don’t shortchange your new employee’s experience by planning for and treating it like an event.

Conducting a market analysis when you’re planning to sell your home allows you to strategically position your property. Performing an analysis of your current new hire and onboarding process, systems, and approach to welcoming new employees is equally strategic. To do so, consider assembling a team of recent hires. Ask them what about the program did and didn’t prepared them well for their role(s) and the company cultural fit . Ask them if they can remember the experience of their first day with your company (you’ll likely be quite surprised at the responses). Use the information gathered as the basis for your next step: assessing your foundation.

Completing a gap analysis between your organization’s current approach and benchmarked companies who are doing onboarding well will enable you to craft a plan. In our home analogy, it is akin to creating a blueprint or architectural plan. This is where you get to pick and choose from the variety of ideas, activities, and other nuggets you learned when you did the comparative analysis. Choose what aligns with your company vision, value, and brand. If your company culture is innovative and fun, for example, you may choose whimsical ways in which to welcome your new hires. If, however, your company is more serious and conservative, you may opt for a more streamlined, formal program.

Whatever ways you choose to welcome your new hires, consider using the fixer-upper approach to designing your revamped program. Choose your own path and plan for getting there by researching who does it well. Even better, come learn hundreds of other ways to create a fantastic welcome program by joining our breakout session at the OrgDev Conference on November 5-6 in New Orleans.

Looking forward to seeing what you design and build (and please, do share)!

About the Author

Inspiring leaders has always been at the core of how Kerri Meyer functions. As a facilitator, coach, keynote speaker, and business executive, she offers over 20 years of experience in leadership development, program and project management, operations, global enablement, service, and sales. Across the globe, Kerri has led learners and leaders in a variety of experiential educational experiences in a way that is engaging yet has focused outcomes. She has designed, developed, and delivered programs and training for executives, managers, and associates in sales, support, technical, and soft skills, leveraging her knowledge and certifications in the art and science of communication and facilitation.

Kerri is the director of learning and performance at Veritas Technologies and the founder and CEO of Sync Learning. She has worked with some of the best and brightest leaders and teams—bringing them programs, tools, and skills to build their bench strength and amplify results.

Kerri’s work background includes holding leadership positions in the legal, payroll, and technology industries. She holds an undergraduate degree in political science (and a minor in Latin American studies) and an MBA with emphasis in e-business/global.

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I'm unable to attend the OrgDev Conference. I love your ideas. How can I expand on the great ideas you have?
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