5 Ways to Improve New Employee Orientation

by Chad Harrington
20 August 2015


The first 45 days after onboarding a new employee are clutch, because 22 percent of turnovers happen within the first month and a half of a new job. As I wrote earlier this week, this transitional period is vital for retaining new employees. Improving the new employee experience could save your company thousands of dollars and countless hours of time.

I offer five ways to integrate your next hire better than you did last time. Once you read this blog, I’m confident you’ll save your company time and money by improving your hiring process.

Image credit: Ben Rosett / Pixabay

Image credit: Ben Rosett / Pixabay

1. Make a solid plan ahead of time. 

Some people recommend coming up with an extensive planning schedule: a plan for the day prior, the first day, the initial week, the first thirty days, the initial 90 days, the 90 day mark, and the first year.

Whoa, that’s exhausting! If you have time, go for it.

Instead of starting extensive, begin with a plan for the first day, the first week, and the first 90 days. That's if you don’t have anything solid yet. Whatever you decide, come up with a plan for your new employee orientation.

At Relode, we're working through our onboarding plan for new agents, so that when we have our next software launch in coming months. For us, this involves creating great processes, videos, and tutorials.

 
 

Your plan will depend on your industry, so do your homework, put a plan in place, and then redo the plan, as Guy Kawasaki recommends. That way, once you have a few new recruits come on board, you can always improve your processes.

Here's one example of a very simple new employee checklist (1 page) from SHRM.

2. Make a game plan for team building.  

New employees aren't robots; they are relational beings, and if you don't "create meaningful connection" up front, you risk losing them as employees.

This means that their hiring manager, department manager, and colleagues should have a least one personal conversation getting to know their new team member on a surface level. This isn't touchy feely time, but it's time to relationally welcome your new colleague. The only way all those people involved in the process is if you emphasize the importance of relationship in the onboarding process. Which leads me to my next point: communicate clearly.

3. Communicate clearly about the job and the company.

David Almeda, chief people officer of workforce management software company Kronos, told business news daily that onboarding strategies come down to the four Cs (with my summaries of each).

  1. Company. Communicate clearly about the company as a whole—with all its goals and missions.
  2. Career. Discuss the new employee's career and personal objectives.
  3. Culture. Share the company culture and values with them.
  4. Connection. Ensure relational connections and opportunities with their new colleagues. 
Excuses-money

You must communicate clearly with all levels of your org chart. Communicate up to your superiors, down to entry level positions, and across to your department heads about the orientee. The responsibility of clear communication is yours, hiring manager, and not anyone else’s responsibility. No more excuses if you want to get it done. If you are onboarding the new recruit, then you must ensure that all company goals are communicated clearly. It's no one else's job but yours.

Good communication involves listening, too, so make sure, as Almeda says above, to discuss the career goals and aspirations of your employee, because that helps the onboarding process.

With regard to career planning, if you learn to listen (part of good communication), you will retain employees better too!

For example, during my interview with expert nursing recruiter Mitchell Bush, I discovered a gem of a tool that he uses to retain nurses. He calls it a "career plan," and it can be adapted to various industries. Check it out and download it for free through the link below.

Mitchell Bush's Career Plan

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Bush has an incredibly successful track record of retaining Nashville nurses with 11 years experience doing just that. Check out the full report by following the link directly below.

Read more about Mitchell Bush and recruiting nurses in Nashville.

4. Teach, teach, teach.

My colleague, Jen, told me that she had experience with a manager in recruiting that was not an optimal teaching process. Okay, the manager didn't teach at all. They showed her a desk, gave her a phone, and said, "Okay see you later!" No teaching, just release into the wild world of recruiting.

She didn't like that, but she made the best of it anyway. 

Teaching may be the most important part of your onboarding process, and in my experience, teaching is the most neglected part of new employee orientation.

Photo credit: Markus Spiske / Flickr

Photo credit: Markus Spiske / Flickr

Teach and teach well, but be careful that you don't teach your new employees cynicism in the process.

My first job out of college was shredding paper, and the teaching part of the orientation process was terrible, short, and scary: My trainer told me that if I wasn't careful I could lose my hand! Then, I had to learn how to drive a 28-foot truck, use the GPS to navigate a new town, and find where all these businesses their paper for shredding... all on my own!

After the "You could lose your hand" scare tactic, he peaced out. I was on my own. 

Whatever industry you're in, don't use scare tactics to train your employees.

Take time to teach the skills necessary for the job. Even if the orientee is not an experienced worker, you need to clearly teach how they fit within their new role. Don't assume anything until after the new employee has proven their faithfulness. I didn't lose my hand in the paper shredding business, but neither did I enjoy the training process. I even thought about leaving because I thought my boss was a little crazy!

Take away: Keep new employees with solid training.

5. Offer specific expectations (and encouragement) early on.

Everyone needs personal encouragement, and this is especially important in the orientation process.

I love what Jeff Haden of Inc. recommends for employers to say to new hires by way of encouragment: "Few statements are more motivating and set the stage better than, 'I hired you because you are absolutely awesome at X... and we're all counting on you to crush X.'”

What better way to inspire your new hire than to tell them that!

After a certain number of days (say 45-90 days), then give them specific feedback on their job performance. This could save your new employee from running away after a short period of time on the job. 

Saving resources through the orientation process

Your challenge is to bring new employees onboard with no extra expenses and no wasted time. While you’re in the orientation period of transition—the liminal period—it will be hard.

But if you have a good plan, implement your strategy, and maintain consistency throughout this transitional time, you will carry your new employees across the threshold of hiring and save time, money, and headaches along the way.