Your Onboarding Process Sucks (How To Master Employee Onboarding)

your onboarding process sucks! how to master employee onboarding

You got a cool new job.

Your excitement can barely be contained. You’re on to greener pastures. Hasta la vista, everyone you’re leaving in the dust!

Even the barista who makes your morning latte knows how much better life will be at your new gig. There’s an extra spring in your step.

And then you show up on your first day.

Whoops, your boss is on vacation and you didn’t know it. Okay, no big deal. You’re a pro from way back…you got this.

After all, the environment at your last company was pretty rough. Which is why you left.

Return: spring in step.

Next, you take the lift up to your new office.


No computer. No phone.

Hey, you think, at least you have an office. But guess what? You need a badge to get to the restroom and your boss needs to be there to approve it. Foiled again.

Your Onboarding Process Sucks (How To Master Employee Onboarding)

So, someone who is your peer signs you into the network and leaves you to search the intranet, where you get to explore compelling facts like how many weird acronyms your new employer has.

Their parting words to you? Call if you need to use the restroom. The boss will be back tomorrow. Wow. The spring in your step shifts to the sound of feet dragging on stubby corporate carpet.

What a difference from feeling like a star contributor to feeling like a total and ineffectual outsider.

It’s A Common Story

I hear these stories all the time from clients. And sadly, it doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re joining a startup or a Fortune 500.

The truth is, very few companies seem to have mastered onboarding —whether we’re talking about Day One or the first six months.

And yet, the transition from recruiting to becoming fully productive is critical if you want your employees to stay engaged.

Some quick statistics:

· Within the first six months of a new job 86% of employees decide whether they’ll stay or go.

· Another 69% are likely to stay for at least three years if HR, IT and their hiring manager coordinate their onboarding details well.

· The cost of replacing an employee can be between 25-50% of their annual salary. Definite motivation to do onboarding right.

How Is Your Onboarding?

Now it’s time to turn the tables. From you as a new hire, to you as a leader.

How effective are you at onboarding new talent?

Unless you’re constantly hiring, maybe you’re not entirely sure how skilled you are in this area. Plus, as I mentioned before, not many companies seem to have the silver bullet.

So let’s talk it through.

Consider that there are two distinct dimensions to an employee’s onboarding experience – the one corporate HR delivers, and the one that you provide as their leader.

How To Master Employee Onboarding

And because those lines blur, here are 5 tips to help you onboard like a rock star.

1. Avoid the Bait and Switch

Find out what your recruiter is saying about the role, your management style and the culture—both the company’s and your team’s. Is it accurate?

The worst thing you can do is have your recruiter setting cultural expectations that will never manifest. If your company has defined its Employee Value Proposition, make sure your recruiters know how to talk about it.

2. Conquer the Void

The “void” is the space between offer acceptance and your new hire’s first day. If you’re not crystal clear on how HR handles this time period, educate yourself.

For example, can your new hire sign up for their benefits online ahead of time, or do they have to fill out forms on their first day? Is there a place for new hires to connect before they show up for work (think a Facebook or Yammer page)?

Is there a Day One training they need to attend? Don’t underestimate the power of these details.

If you thoroughly understand what your employee will be experiencing, you can play a key role in their transition and establish yourself as their source of truth.

3. Befriend It

Ask your new hire what technical tools they need to do their job, and then scope out how to get them.

Is there an online form to fill out? Someone you can bug in person? What are the typical turn times for new equipment to arrive?

Pad your timelines whenever possible to allow for error and discover early on if your request is a rush. As for office or cube space, how do you secure it? Learn the ropes.

Make sure you have a spot for your new employee to settle in as soon as they arrive if at all possible.

4. Connect Them With the Right People

While your company may not be as hip as Netflix—whose new hires are greeted by CEO Reed Hastings and other senior leaders in their first month—I highly recommend creating a networking plan for your new folks.

Make sure that everyone is aware of everyone’s tasks and responsibilities before anything else.

Then consider setting up an onboarding support group that lasts between 3-6 months. Choose 3-5 people across the organisation that will be interacting with your new person on a regular basis.

Ask the senior-most member of the circle to set up a monthly lunch to allow for informal knowledge sharing. Have your new hire report out on their experience. Use their stories to improve your next onboarding.

Make Time for Your New Talent

As you digested the previous 4 steps, no doubt a sense of overwhelm set in. Leading people takes a lot of time and energy.

And it starts before they walk in your door. Don’t skimp. Do whatever it takes to be there for your new talent.

Remember, replacing them in 6 months is much more costly than being there wholeheartedly throughout the experience. Don’t let it be an afterthought.

My last bit of advice: Be yourself. Develop a personal onboarding philosophy. Start your own trends.

Brainstorm with other leaders you respect. Share your perspectives and experiences on LinkedIn—and with your company’s C-Suite.

Become a thought leader.

Without going too Gandhi, be the change your new employee wants to see in their career.

Otherwise you might earn the dubious reputation of a boss captured in lyrics by The Who:

“Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.”

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Irene McConell (née Kotov)

Irene McConnell (nee Kotov) has 10 years of HR and Recruitment experience, having worked in HR for Louis Vuitton and Caltex. She is also the founder of Arielle Careers, a personal branding agency which specialises in LinkedIn profile optimisation, resume writing and online presence creation. You can connect with her via Google+


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