Onboarding new employees

By Aditya Mishra | February 23, 2019

We had an open house yesterday. Someone suggested that we should welcome new joiners with a bouquet of flowers. I have seen organizations going to great lengths in conveying warmth to their new employee. Some go beyond bouquets; they organize team lunch, hand over welcome kit, give a bag of goodies, keep the desk ready along with all tools and supplies, offer meal voucher for two and so on.
We all understand the significance of welcoming new joiners well and inducting them into the mainstream of the business in a seamless manner. I was wondering if a bouquet or a meal voucher really delivers a significant impact in achieving this outcome. One could do all of these, yet fail to win the heart of the person and get her initiated quickly on the day to day work-related tasks. What do we do?

Let’s show who we are!

Each one of us are unique by our own personality; same is true for each organization. In an industry sector, there are hundreds of companies; however, what defines one and separates it from the rest in the industry is at its core – the personality defined by its beliefs and norms. So, each organization should welcome their new joiners in a way that is reflective of who they are.
There is no point trying to project an image of who one is not. No organization can keep masking their real persona for long. So, it is important that our actions need to reflect our identity.
When one is distinctively friendly and warm, we must show our friendliness and warmth right through the selection process till onboarding. The new employee must feel this through all our conversations and behaviours. Similarly, if you are disciplined, your rigour must show; if you are professional, your behaviours must reflect staying true to your words and quality in everything you do.

Define the norms and talk about them!

Off-sites and team meetings are commonplace for several organizations. The hardest task is not to hold these, rather it is the follow-through of the decisions made in the meetings. Many organizations, however well-intentioned their leaders may be, fail to put those change programmes into action.
All leaders and managers know that a new joiner in their team means, they have a new team in place. Unless the new team sits together, builds camaraderie and reiterates the operating norms, the team does not operate in harmony. Do our leaders practice this? Does the HR team insist on this? Do they gather feedback from the new joinees about their onboarding experience and feed the take-aways back to the leadership team? Do they track average tenure of new joiners over a period of time and draw insights from these?

Culture and OpMechs are equally critical

Peter Drucker quipped, culture eats strategy for breakfast. No organization can excel unless its culture and strategy are well-nourished. The faster we get a new joiner to appreciate both, the better it is.
We see high levels of curiosity in the initial days of a new employee. Hence, it is important that we talk about both culture and strategy in the first one or two days of their joining. This will help them absorb the information and appreciate the differences in the new workplace with respect to their previous employers.
Some leaders focus a lot on the culture and the values in the onboarding process. They believe, the new joiner will learn about the organization’s strategy, plans and processes along the way; culture and values are more important. And there are another set of organizations who believe that the op-mechs are most important; the soft aspects such as culture and beliefs are to be felt along the way. So, they focus on inducting the new joiner on the work processes, tools, equipment, targets and such brass tacks to put the person on live assignments quickly.
Experience shows, in either of the two approaches, the new joiner does not get fully immersed in the organization and develops his or her own style which may or may not align fully with what the top leaders have defined. Either the culture or the execution remain amorphous, heterogeneous and inconsistent. Customer satisfaction, employee experience and similar such dimensions of sustainability do not look as good as they should be. So, we have to make sure that both aspects are covered adequately in the induction process.
Richard Branson says, “By putting the employee first, the customer effectively comes first by default, and in the end, the shareholder comes first by default as well.” New joiners must be onboarded with care!
Ref: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/new-employee-onboarding-guide.aspx
Ref: https://hbr.org/2019/02/how-to-make-sure-a-new-hire-feels-included-from-day-one
Ref: https://hbr.org/2018/01/how-to-create-executive-team-norms-and-make-them-stick
Ref: https://www.mindtickle.com/blog/new-hire-orientation-template-every-new-hire-know/