Welcoming a new team member is one of the most common and repetitive jobs HR people have to do, and yet we sometimes forget how important onboarding really is.
So even though you might be tempted to rush it, always remind yourself this is a crucial step that will make your new hire feel at ease and help them succeed in their new role.
To understand why onboarding really matters to you and your team, I put together a summary of the five reasons why we, at Charlie, see it as something you should never dismiss (specifically relevant if you do onboarding at a startup or small business). Read on!
1. Effective onboarding prepares new hires to contribute to business goals
As much as you want your new starters to hit the ground running straight away, you have to think about onboarding as a long-term tactic – your new hire is unlikely to change the situation you’re in or the processes you have on their first day, and to be completely honest, expecting them to would probably set them up for failure.
So even if you need a rapid return on investment for your new hire, don’t rush training and onboard them properly. In fact, the way you onboard your new team member is crucial to make sure they can later contribute to your business goals and move your metrics.
At Charlie, we prefer seeing onboarding as the foundation of the work they’ll be accomplishing and we want our new employees to be fully prepared for what’s to come next.
Here’s how we do it:
- We make sure there is an onboarding program ready when new hires start
- We craft careful onboarding steps with their line manager to understand what can be achieved in a certain amount of time
- We complete employee onboarding checklists for new hires and managers can go through them together
Giving your new hires the right pace might even bring a good surprise, and who knows? They may be ready to tackle challenges before the end of their probation, but whatever happens, don’t lose focus and remind yourself of the importance of onboarding them.
“The onboarding experience has been 10/10 — I've really enjoyed the process and communication from the team” Rob W. Business Development Representative
2. Employee onboarding helps make sure you hired the right person
I would usually advise onboarding to last around 90 days (which should be the duration of the probation period as well).
It’s true that interview processes can indicate new hires are ready to start straight away when people have the right skills set, however, every company works differently and they need to get familiar with it before diving into the work.
To avoid this kind of situation, you need to give them a holistic view of the business through a series of onboarding process steps and define a set of expectations to make sure you hired the right person.
Here are a few pieces of advice on setting time-bound goals and checking on your new hire:
- Set realistic goals and start with small tasks such as day-to-day jobs before pushing them to take on bigger projects – for example, you could ask a content marketer to have written two blog posts by the end of their first month and a sales representative to have reached a certain revenue target.
- Follow the onboarding plan you put together and don’t rush it. Give time for your new hire to adjust.
- Have a catch up every week and go through the goals you set together to see what’s been achieved and what needs to be adjusted
- Always flag any issues straight away so you give new hires a chance to correct their behaviour and don’t let it build up into a major problem
At Charlie, we make these expectations as transparent as possible by setting goals in our company software.
“It’s been great — all the information I was sent was really helpful and the pace has been really good” Maisie M. Customer Success Strategist
3. Employee onboarding gives you time to get to know your new hire and create a sense of connection
That might seem like an abstract idea, but communication is key so new hires don’t feel isolated in their new role.
So although making sure the onboarding process can be standardised and duplicated is your first concern, you still need to adjust to the style of communication and feedback depending on your new hire’s personality and preferences.
For this, I can recommend creating a Manual of Me – this is a useful document that will help you understand how new hires like to work, be given feedback or be trained through a set of questions that outlines their motivations and needs.
At Charlie, we ask our new hires and managers to complete this so they can better understand each other and work together. As an idea, here are the kind of questions you’ll encounter through it:
- Best way to communicate with the team member (this is applicable when remote)
- Preferred methods to get and give feedback
- When they like to take time off
Once you’ve done this, there are myriad ways you can think of connecting with your new team members, but perhaps one of the most challenging will be if you’re both working remotely.
The occasions to meet for a coffee or lunch will be scarce or non-existent, and that’s when you’ll need to make the effort to get to know them and interact with them online.
Of course, that can be as simple as scheduling regular meetings that are less “official” and about work so you get to chat together, but that can also be sending a Slack message.
Reinforcing this sense of belonging will also mean ensuring other team members in your function reach out to the new hires, so maybe organise a lunch or an online event so everyone gets to interact together.
That will be key to many aspects, but it will be a way to ensure your new hire doesn’t feel siloed in their role and feel like they belong straight away.
4. Onboarding is key to promoting employee engagement and retention
Getting team members excited about their new job might sound like it’s something you don’t need to worry about, but it’s also part of your onboarding job.
It’s super important for your new hires to have a good first impression of the business they’re joining and not just the other way around.
In the long run, providing a great onboarding experience will promote employee retention and engagement. It will be your first contribution to how your team member feels in the workplace, and what can influence how they perform in the long run. Here are some examples of what team members genuinely care about when it comes to the environment they evolve in:
- Collaborating efficiently with other team members
- Enjoying the transparency and lack of secrecy provided by business leaders
- Feeling like they’re in good hands and there’s a clear direction to follow
- Wanting to perform at a high level because of motivation towards business and career goals
“With an onboarding process that’s fulfilling and reassuring, Charlie offers a good premise to the future work you’ll be doing. It’s important to make you look forward to it. ” Oliver B. Marketing Designer
So how do you include all of this in your onboarding? For me, there are a few ways you can ensure this:
- Create a space where people are encouraged to ask questions and give feedback
- Make essential information about the business easily available
- Have a smooth and compliant onboarding process in place
To do this, perhaps using onboarding software could help. With CharlieHR, onboarding new team members can be done in a breeze on one platform where they can upload their passport and P45, get access to your company policies and get familiar with their coworkers’ faces through a directory.
You can also choose to create tailored checklists for each team member so onboarding steps are missed.
Start a free 14-day trial with Charlie today to completely automate your onboarding process and set your new starters up for success.
5. A great onboarding experience helps foster career development
At Charlie, we don’t just want our team members to contribute to revenue goals. We also want them to evolve within the company and make sure we pay particular attention to their development.
It might not look like it’s the case in the first few months, but you’ll soon realise that a good onboarding experience will make all the difference in your team member’s future performance.
By giving them the time to absorb all the knowledge about the company and its processes, it won’t be a surprise that they’re quickly adapting and becoming an invaluable assets to your team.
With a strong onboarding process, your new hires are more likely to “care” about how the company is doing and engage in discretionary effort – meaning your team members won’t just be here for a paycheck, but want to go the extra mile for your business.
That’s an aspect you want to foster, especially in small businesses and startups, and one that will ultimately lead to your new hires taking on new responsibilities, learning new skills and evolving in their career.
“I like a business that takes my long-term career goals into account, and Charlie has been doing that from day one.” Giulia T. Content Marketing Manager
To encourage this, I would advise making a learning and development budget available right after probation has been passed, as a natural continuation of their onboarding, making sure there are no blockers to their progression.
Leading on from this, a carefully crafted career progression framework as well as regular review meetings with their managers will be key to understanding what your team member’s career aspirations are and what that may look like in your business. In fact, it shouldn’t be too much of a novelty as managers will have been by your new hire’s side the whole time during onboarding.
Hopefully, this short guide has helped you understand how important onboarding really is to your business, and if you think you need to hear more about it, why not have a look at our guide on what is onboarding for a complete overview?
And perhaps get some inspiration from some of the best onboarding experiences out there.