Employee Onboarding: 5 Top Tips

27th March 2015

Starting a new job can be a stressful experience at the best of times. It might include giving up a good job to start anew with only the promises made in the recruitment process for comfort. People with mortgages and kids to support might have a pressing need for success, but in reality every new employee will be experiencing at least some nagging doubt about whether they’ve made the right decision.

That’s why it’s vital that new employees are eased into the new role conscientiously and reassuringly. Those first seconds, minutes and hours of employment will influence their first few weeks’ work, and if they don’t work out, there might be no going back – they could be looking for another job before their three-month appraisal is due.

So here are five things you can do during the onboarding process to increase the likelihood that they’ll settle in and stay for the long term.

One: Let Your Existing Employees Know the New One is Coming

Notify your employees of the new starter
It’s surprisingly common, even in smaller businesses, for staff to be alerted to the arrival of a new colleague on a “need to know” basis. Few things will put a new employee ill at ease like having to introduce themselves ten times throughout the day. While line managers will (hopefully) be fully aware of the newcomer’s name and role, it wouldn’t hurt to send a memo round to everyone saying her saying her name, job and any other relevant details (which can mean hobbies, favourite football team or any other conversation-starter).

Two: Let Them Start Late

Allow them to start late
If you run a nine-to-five office, it can be strange walking in with everyone else and sitting around reception while everyone goes through their morning routines. The first hour or so can often tie up managers with emails and work allocations, meaning they can’t deal with the new member of staff. Let them come in at 10 or 11. They’ll have your full attention, and missing the rush hour will reduce their stress levels.

Three: Do the Tour and Meet Colleagues

Introduce them to their new colleagues
The employee might have been in the building before, but they’re unlikely to know their way around. Show them all the offices, toilets, canteen areas, warehouses and storage rooms, even if they won’t necessarily be visiting them regularly. It gives a sense of orientation and size, which is reassuring. Make sure they meet everyone who’s in that day. While they’re unlikely to remember all the names, the existing employees will put a name to the new face and know they’re not a client or visitor.

Four: Show Them Where to Eat

Show them where to eat
Whether you’re in a town, a city or out in the sticks, they’ll need to know where is good to get their lunch. Make sure they’re not left alone on their first lunch hour; someone should show them around the area if there are shops, cafes etc. that are frequented by colleagues. If there’s a canteen where people eat their own food and no shops nearby, make sure you let the employee know before they come.

Five: Make the First Day Slow

Make the first day slow
Even if someone is an expert at the job they’ll be doing, don’t expect them to be up to speed straight away in a new building with different colleagues and unfamiliar machines or computers. Simple things take time to re-learn, so don’t overburden employees on their first day or two. Make sure managers and colleagues keep a check on their progress and are ready to answer any questions.

Know When You’re Onboarding

It’s worth noting that onboarding isn’t the same as inducting. The latter is ensuring the new employee is processed properly and legally and covers such matters as bank account details, fire safety and contracts being signed.

Onboarding is a softer discipline, which can be tailored to the individual and played by ear a little more. In essence, it’s about reassuring them that they made the right decision when they said yes to your job offer. Do this and you’re a step closer to keeping your best employees.