What Does A Good Employee On-boarding Experience Look Like In 2019?

1st March 2019

Employee onboarding, the process of bringing in a new employee and turning them from a bemused stranger into an up-to-speed member of the team, is more important than people often realise. If it’s done poorly, it doesn’t just slow things down — it causes broad damage to how the employee perceives the company (as well as how they interact with their new colleagues), and leaves them less likely to stick around for a long time as a vital member of staff.

But even if you know how important it is, how do you get it right? You need to be aware of what new employees are looking for, how teams are formed, and what factors can affect the success of. Here’s what a good employee onboarding experience looks like in 2019:

It has all the necessary IT systems ready from the start

The bulk of business these days runs on digital systems, and security standards demand that they have suitably-restricted access levels. This is absolutely fine, but you need to ensure that a new starter has everything they need to access the relevant files and systems from the very beginning — if they have to spend a good portion of their first week sitting around feeling ignored because they haven’t been given an account, it will leave a bad taste in their mouth.

This is something that gets easier the more times you do it because you’ll create a smooth system that the IT team can easily implement. It may be that your business is comparatively traditional in its operations, and you feel that you needn’t worry so much about IT, but here’s the problem: younger people, in particular, are going to want to work for tech-savvy companies, and if it becomes clear from the outset that you don’t know the first thing about IT, it won’t look good.

It has a clearly-established level of support

You’ve just started a new job, you’ve been given a task to do, and you don’t have the slightest clue about how to approach it. Whom do you ask? Where do you turn? You need to know your support structure with absolute certainty because even the slightest hint of doubt might make you clam up out of fear and try to carry on without any assistance.

That might sound dramatic, but it’s far from unknown for a managerial type to interpret a simple request for assistance as an effort to waste their valuable time, so you can’t really blame new employees for being skittish. They don’t want to be fired before they’ve had a real chance, so they’ll be reluctant to rock the boat early on. A great onboarding experience will have someone (a peer, ideally) assigned to support each new starter, checking up on them regularly and giving them any help they require.

It quickly gets people working on real projects

The first month of a new employee can easily go towards very little actual work. Whether because the company wasn’t prepared, or because they’ve yet to earn any trust, they can simply be left to turn up, sit around, and go home — just waiting for someone to acknowledge their presence and finally give them something useful to do.

This is a huge waste. If you’ve hired someone, then you clearly rate their abilities, and there’s no point in wasting them just because they’re new. Good onboarding involves real work on legitimate company projects — it doesn’t give them unlimited access to mission-critical files, of course, but it does find some small part they can play. As a result, they rapidly feel like part of the team and get some measure of pride from being able to help.

It prioritizes comfort over results

Being realistic, it’s very unlikely that a new employee is going to hit the ground running and start hitting regular productivity targets during their first month on the job. This isn’t an indictment of their determination or ability — it’s simply difficult to work effectively when you’re not yet familiar with the systems you’re using or the formats you’re handling. If you expect top-notch results from new starters, they’ll likely end up feeling quite stressed (quite reasonably, too) — and stress is really not something you want to encourage.

Instead of results, a really good onboarding experience creates a focus on things like team rapport, corporate culture, and the perks of the job. It’s not about letting people believe that the job is all fun and games: it’s a matter of giving them the opportunity to get settled in and catch their breath before the hard work starts in earnest. The more they grow to like the company in the first few weeks, the more likely they’ll be to endure a tough workload afterwards.

It’s easy for the corporate world to feel very impersonal and utilitarian, but a great onboarding experience can make a huge amount of difference when it comes to setting your company apart. Consider the qualities above when you work on your own onboarding experience, and you’ll have a much better chance of retaining your staff.