AB Thinks  →  21st September 2022

All Aboard! A guide to employee onboarding: best practices and top tips

At AB, the onboarding process spans from the moment we extend an offer letter to a new joiner, through to the first three months of their contract with us.

Sharing of values, training on systems and basic technical skills are just some checklist ticking points that come to mind when thinking of welcoming newbies into our organisation. But what does a successful onboarding process really entail?

I like to think of the onboarding process as if we were celebrating a 10-year-old’s birthday party. The person we are celebrating is excited, curious about what this new adventure will bring. Every relevant person in their life is invited: friends (or new colleagues), the wise grandparents (or leadership team/managers from which we expect to absorb experience, stories and overall strategy), and sometimes neighbours, (stakeholders not that involved on your day-to-day, but who also shape your journey).

Now, everything impacts the experience. From the style of the invites, the fun and camaraderie of the environment or culture and vibe you instil among the attendees. What is the party we are all aiming for?

The best conditions for work, play and learning ultimately impact fun and growth. Whether you decide to give them an itinerary, or party hat and a greatest hits playlist, the aim is that by the time they blow the candles, they have the tools, vision and motivation to have the best day ever.

The current hybrid model of work has opened conversations around onboarding design and how flexibility and nonparallel communication can be integrated in the day-to-day work dynamic. We understand that each organisation will personalise the process and training content according to their sector, specific team needs, and potential constraints. However, below are some general tips which we’ve found are essential to a good onboarding experience.

  • Make yourself and your company proud.
    The employee-life cycle is a holistic process that starts with onboarding and should not be undermined or taken for granted. Our company is ultimately our people and how we treat them from start to end of their journey is a representation of our true identity.
  • As an employer, take the time to do an insightful exercise.
    Ask what is important to us? Our priorities? What is the best impression we want to make on new joiners? How do we show up? Then partner with relevant stakeholders to make the magic happen, from internal comms reps, to marketing, from hiring managers to the CEO.
  • Don’t’ disappoint them.
    This is your opportunity to keep ‘charming’ your newbie after they have made a life changing decision to join your company. Act with integrity by ‘walking the talk’: show dedication by caring about the process and understanding the gravity of taking on a new role. Reinforce the positive behaviours you wish to spread across the organisation.
  • Our minds reward S.P.A.C.E.
    Hilary Scarlet, author of Neuroscience for Organizational Change explains there are six factors that make a difference to people motivation and engagement. Self-esteem, Purpose, Autonomy, Certainty, Equity and Social Connection. From day one build clear process, structure, and expectations. Both the new joiner and the wider team will be grateful for it.
  • Connection over tech.
    Focus on providing a great experience, you don’t need the latest software to provide a valuable onboarding experience. Aim to do more with less (more content, more integration, less chaos in the methodology). Template and structure the process and simplify.
  • Lean into learning curves.
    Everybody likes the feeling of progress and growth: show your employees you care by upskilling them from month one. As much as you can, promote technical and professional knowledge to boost the speed of their learning curves.
  • Share some soul.
    Show an authentic interest in new joiners’ personal hobbies and passions from day one. Ask them about their activities outside of work and use this research to share a piece of their soul with the rest of the team.
  • Remember, we are all only as successful as our individual people.
    Treat every employee as you would your best customer. Ultimately employees will be your harshest critics and biggest champions so acknowledging their value from day one is essential to the whole company’s shared success.

The days when we used to talk in terms of human capital or even human resources have long passed. Companies have realised that people are the most important asset in the organisations, and how we treat our people from our first interactions with them will impact their overall experience with us.

The onboarding process is not only an opportunity for communicating our organisational culture to new colleagues, but also to promote community bonding among the rest of the team working towards welcoming them. The process itself has become another platform for employers to embed their values across the organisation and scale a sense of ecosystem.

There are many motivators behind building an onboarding process that sets new-joiners up for success. Smooth and early integration of your organisational culture will translate into long-term fulfilment, a feeling of recognition and engagement for the new starter. This will ultimately impact in the speed they understand the dynamics of the organisation, start being productive, and pick up workload from current employees.

If you’re looking for advice on how to develop a rich and meaningful onboarding journey. Contact us.

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