How To: Onboarding

from Silk Helix
Photograph of Jenefer Livings, Founder of Silk Helix Ltd
UPDATED 16 March 2023
First Published: 27 May 2020
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Onboarding or Induction (both terms mean the same thing) is about welcoming and settling new people into the organisation. Research has shown that successful onboarding increases employee retention and job satisfaction whilst also reducing absence. Getting it right is not complicated but does require some thought and planning.

Starting a new role can be an anxious time. There can be a lot to learn, even for an experienced hire. The onboarding process should aim to reduce these anxieties and recognise the learning process. Introduce people to their team and the company culture to enable them to settle in quickly.

Start Early

The onboarding process starts during recruitment. Right from the start your new employee has been taking on information about your company culture and you’ve been getting to know them. Make sure your recruitment process reflects your company culture and that you accurately reflect the expectations of the person doing the role. Use the information you have gathered during the recruitment process to tailor your onboarding to meet the needs of the individual.

There is nothing to stop you sending out terms and conditions along with your policies and procedures ahead of the person starting, in fact it’s a good idea. As of April 2020 you are required to issue all workers and employees with a statement of particulars by the end of their first day. This is a lot of information for someone to take in on day one and they may have questions so send this out in advance to give them the opportunity to do so. Sending the key terms and conditions along with policies or an Employee Handbook before the individual starts allows them to read and digest the information in their own time. These documents should reflect your company culture and start to provide key information to reassure them they have made the right decision as well as saving time on day one.

At the same time new starter forms can be sent out, allowing the individual to bring them in already completed to save time and admin work on their first day. If you’ve not already collected right to work evidence in the recruitment process, provide clear instructions of the documents your new employee should bring with them on day one.

This could be quite a bulky bundle of information you’re sending out so send it with a friendly and welcoming covering letter, all aimed at making day one in their new role as easy as possible.

Make Day One Welcoming

Be ready to greet your new employee and make sure you are ready for them. This may mean asking them to arrive a little later on their first day to allow the person greeting them to have arrived, settled themselves, dealt with anything urgent and otherwise just be prepared for the new starter.

Your new employee should feel like you were expecting them. If they’re office based this might mean ensuring their desk is clean, there is a chair and the equipment they need. Where access needs to be granted to buildings or systems this should be prepared for their arrival.

Increasingly companies are welcoming people with gifts. A branded mug or notepad might be sitting on their desk. These little things make people feel welcome and provide them with the key things they need for their first few days.

Getting to Know People

Tell your current workforce about the new starter. Make sure people are expecting them and know to say “hello”. Organise introductions and meetings with relevant people but ensure both parties know the purpose of the meeting. It is particularly important the existing person knows what information they are meant to be sharing with the new employee. Often these types of meetings are aimed at sharing information important to the job role, understanding the role of others and where collaboration might happen. Social events such as team lunch can be an ideal way to enable people to get to know each other better.

Consider how much meeting of people needs to happen in the first day or two and what can be spread out. There is a lot to take in during the first week of a new job. Everything is new, from learning new faces and names, to taking on all sorts of often unrelated information. On top of that your new employee is trying to make a good impression, staying alert as to what they say as much as what they take in. All of this can make taking in information difficult so slow the process down where you can, allowing your new employee time to reflect, take in information, make notes, peruse systems and ask questions.

Buddy System

A buddy system may sound a little like something you would encounter in a school, but it can be invaluable. When starting a new role in a new company, even if we have done a similar role before elsewhere, we still don’t know this company. We don’t know its culture, where information can be found and who is the right person to ask for what. A buddy doesn’t have to be the person with all the answers, but they should be someone your new employee can ask and who can point them in the right direction.

The buddy should check in and make sure that your new employee is comfortable asking questions. They should be someone who can share the company culture and help with introductions that may not be formally organised.

Company Culture

Everything we have recommended so far is about the company culture and sharing this with your new employee, but to add to that make sure you share your company values, mission and vision. It may not even be noticed by long serving team members but you probably have a company language, acronyms and names that those outside your company may not be aware of.

Set expectations, discuss the organisation goals and how this translates to team and individual goals. Help your new employee immerse themselves in the company and everything they have learnt by getting working. Make sure you have reasonable and practical tasks they can do in those early days and weeks. These will start to make them feel part of the team and that they are having an impact.

Practical Tips

Top Tip: Create an onboarding checklist, a template document which can then be adapted to individual hires. Start with the very basics, a tour of the building and new starter paperwork. Detail what they should know by the end of week one, month one, month three and possibly even month six.

Schedule key meetings, including probationary meetings, to ensure they happen in a timely manner. Don’t leave your new employee feeling like an afterthought.

If you’re hiring a lot of people at the same sort of time, consider ways to ensure they all get the right information without having to repeat it to everyone. The person sharing the information will have heard it before so it is easy to forget this is new information to the receiver. Produce information in a written format that can be referred back to or make videos that can be shared. Not only is this efficient and ensures consistency but it also produces a resource that can be referred back to. Whilst this works for some information, don’t go overboard with documents and videos as too much content delivered like this can result in forgetting the human touch!

Review and evaluate your process. Once your new starter is settled and has been with the company a while, ask them how they found the process and if anything could be done better. Act on the feedback you get and keep improving.

While this guide covers the basics, every situation has its own complexities so you should always seek professional advice.
We can help, so book a Free Advice Call .

Article last updated: 16 March 2023

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