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4 Ways to Make Onboarding Happier for New Hires Companies spend freely to find and hire talent, then leave them adrift when they start work. That's not smart.

By Matt Straz Edited by Dan Bova

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There are certain aspects of the onboarding process that every company sticks to: giving new hires a tour of the office space, introducing them to their new coworkers and spending some time training them for the job at hand. There's no denying onboarding essentials, but the whole process is much more than handbooks and company tours.

Too often, companies resort to quick introductions and impersonal job training (i.e. stacks of paperwork and handbooks), and they hurry back to work thinking the new hire will ask all questions as needed. Onboarding from a distance is flawed.

Employers spend a pretty penny on recruiting and hiring new employees, so it's important for them to get their new hire process down pat. But, according to Aberdeen's 2014 Talent Acquisition Report, even though 71 percent of companies say they plan to increase hiring over the next 12 months, only 32 percent of companies have a formal onboarding process in place. That's their first mistake.

Employee retention starts the moment a new employee sets foot in the office, so taking a holistic approach to new hire training is essential. To create an onboarding process that engages and retains, find out what the strategy is missing:

1. Workplace emergency preparation.

It's unlikely that the company kitchen will burst into flames on a new hire's first week (although judging by some employees' cooking, you never know). But it's better to be safe than sorry. Workplace emergencies are unexpected and sudden, and they require preparation.

Unfortunately, a CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,000 employees released last month revealed that one in four workers say they would not know what to do to protect themselves if there was an emergency in the office that posed a physical threat. What's more, one in five workers report their company does not have an emergency plan in place in case of a fire, flood or other emergency.

Employers owe it to their employees to provide a safe work environment, and that includes ensuring that employees are well-versed in what to do in the event of an emergency. Workplace emergency policies and procedures should be discussed in detail during the early stages of the onboarding process. Better yet, have employees take a work from home "emergency" day so they know their personal backup plan is firmly in place.

Related: Your New Employees Will Want These 6 Things When They Come on Board

2. Prepared employees.

Employers aren't the only ones that need to prepare for the arrival of a new employee. It's equally important (if not more so) for current staff to be prepared to welcome new hires. After all, there's nothing worse than being gawked at or ignored on the first day on the job. Sending out a company-wide email or newsletter with information about the new team member is one way to spread the word quickly. Or, if you have a company news feed, announce the new hire's arrival so everyone can welcome him or her.

Most importantly, the new hire's team members need to be trained to train others. The nature of today's onboarding process is often impersonal (and boring) and can leave new hires with a bad taste in their mouth. The most effective way to train new employees is to get their colleagues involved. After all, there are some things a handbook just can't tell you. Employees who have the knowledge and experience to train others can help get new hires off to a great start.

Related: 4 Tips on How to Bring Out the Best in Your New Hires

3. Automated benefits enrollment.

One of the most tedious aspects of starting a new job is filling out benefits-related paperwork. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil -- but it doesn't have to take hours or cause papercuts. To simplify the process for both employers and new hires, it's time to trash the stacks of paperwork and instead implement an automated system for benefits enrollment.

Modern enrollment technology guides new hires throughout the process and enables them to select and manage their benefits anytime, anywhere. Not only does automated benefits enrollment save time (and trees), but it also shows new hires that the company is innovative and receptive to new ideas and technologies.

4. Hyper-local information.

A company's onboarding process should be unique to the company's city and office location. It should cover hyper-local information about public transportation, parking, local schools and neighborhoods, nearby childcare services and where to grab lunch or a happy hour drink after work.

This is especially valuable for any new hires who have relocated and may not know the area very well. Rather than leaving employees to their own devices (ahem, the Internet), give employees vetted advice and information on everything they need to know about the office location and nearby community.

Related: 10 Tips for Successfully Onboarding Your New Hire

Matt Straz

Founder and CEO of Namely

Matt Straz is the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world's most exciting companies.

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