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The Secrets Behind Successful Employee Onboarding

Even more critical than the hire itself is how you onboard, train and shepherd your recruit into their new role. Here's how do it right and avoid some pitfalls.

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With as much attention as most businesses put into hiring new employees, it's quite shocking to see how little focus is given to onboarding. Yet, I would argue that onboarding is equally important.

The right onboarding process creates a strong employee experience from the very start (at a time when the new hire is most impressionable). It also leads to higher employee engagement, a greater comfort level and a stronger company culture. Ultimately, it leads to better employee retention and less turnover within the company. Want to improve your employee onboarding process? You're in the right place.

But good onboarding requires strategic planning. (It's not something that just happens). And if you want to improve your own onboarding process, there are several "secrets" I recommend putting into action. Here are a few of them:

1. Assign a new hire buddy

My first suggestion is to give the new hire a buddy. This is an established employee at your company who is loyal to the business and knows it inside and out. Ideally, this person is also very personable, outgoing and friendly.

By assigning a buddy, you guarantee that the new hire knows at least one person outside of the team of people who hired them. It also creates some quick relational wins and shows your company off in the best light (people like working with people they like).

Related: Here's What Happens When You Improve Your Onboarding Process

2. Streamline the paperwork

Hiring a new employee usually means lots of paperwork. And while some of this paperwork is obviously required (legally), do your best to streamline the amount of documents new hires have to sift through. Find ways to shorten and combine documents. You can also make things easier on the new hire by condensing all of the paperwork signing into a single sitting, rather than constantly shoving papers and pens in front of them during the first week on the job.

3. Explain jargon and culture

Every business has its own language, tone and culture. This is part of what makes organizations attractive. New hires enjoy the opportunity to immerse themselves in fresh environments. However, don't underestimate how intimidating it can be to be the new person. New hires often feel like they're the only one who doesn't understand what's going on. If you aren't careful, this can induce anxiety.

Make new hires feel less intimidated by explaining the jargon and culture (as best you can). This includes company-specific language, buzzwords, traditions and even inside jokes. By giving your new hire this information on the front end, they won't feel nearly as much like an outcast.

Again, this is where having a buddy is invaluable. They can take the time to explain all of these things to the new hire, so that there's less confusion.

Related: Why It's Time to Dump Your Outdated and Impersonal Onboarding Process

4. Instill a sense of pride

You want a new hire to feel like they belong. Even more than that, you want them to feel a sense of pride that they're a part of your organization and culture. One of the quickest and most tangible ways to do this is by giving them physical tokens of their "membership" into the business.

Shortly after hiring, I'd encourage you to give new employees a "Welcome Box." Inside this box, include branded items and gear. This may include t-shirts, mugs, stickers, pens, notebooks, etc. You can get a lot of branded items for $100 (and it might be the best $100 you ever spend on a new employee).

5. Go easy on the communication

Good communication is essential during the onboarding process. However, don't confuse the idea of good communication with lots of communication. You don't want to overwhelm your new hire.

A constant barrage of emails, phone calls and visits from HR will have a negative impact on your new hire's experience. For better onboarding, give them the essential information during the first few days. Everything else can wait a week or two. By this point, the new hire will hopefully feel less overwhelmed.

Related: 4 Ways to Make Onboarding Happier for New Hires

6. Perform regular check-ins

New hires get the most support during the first week on the job. But after that first week, all of that support tends to disappear. Unfortunately, this can leave the new hire feeling under-supported. And because they're the new kid on the block, they may be hesitant to ask for help. You can prevent this from happening by performing regular check-ins over the course of the first 90 days.

At first, your check-ins might happen every day or two. Then, after the first few weeks, it might be once per week. Then once every two weeks, etc. The goal is to make sure the new hire has everything they need to feel comfortable. Your periodic check-ins give them a chance to ask for support or gather clarifying details without feeling needy.

There are plenty of good reasons to make an investment in a better employee onboarding process. However, at the end of the day, they all fuel one ultimate benefit: stronger retention.

Research shows that organizations with a strong onboarding process retain new hires at an 82% higher rate. And when you consider that 11% of candidates change their mind about an offer within several hours or days after the offer is signed, having a good onboarding process is a requirement. Let this article get you pointed in the right direction.

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