Questions Your On-boarding Programme Should Answer

When your new hire has had a month with your organisation if their reasons for joining are not affirmed there is every reason to expect that they are considering other options.

Every organisation has an onboarding process of sorts – their method for integrating new employees into their culture.  The onboarding methods vary from “find your own way” to “follow this precise plan”.  However, according to a Gallup Survey few onboarding systems are effective . . . at least from the perspective of those who are coming onboard.

Gallup analytics found only one in ten employees . . . including managers and leaders . . . strongly agree their organisation does a good job of onboarding new employees.

If the new hire’s reasons for joining your organisation are not affirmed within their first month on the job, they may have other options to explore, or may develop a bad image of your organisation that stays with them as long as they work for you.  Most employees, especially millennials, will not wait a year to feel out an employer’s culture.  That means organisations really need to think deep and long about the purpose.

In real terms, onboarding should do two important things:

  1. Fulfil the promises made during the hiring process
  2. Lay the foundation for long-term engagement and performance.

Here are five questions every new employee needs to have answered for an exceptional onboarding experience:

  • What do we believe in around here?”

Naturally there’s a lot of operational things that must be communicated during induction.  However, all those bitzy things are expressions of your company culture.

How you explain your benefits, time off, and other policies . . . and what those policies actually are . . . tell new hires more about what you actually believe than a PowerPoint slide displaying your core values.

When employees strongly agree that they have a good understanding of “how we do things in this organisation”, they are 4.7 times more likely to strongly agree their on-boarding process was exceptional.

  • “What are my strengths?”

To be successful employees need to know what they are really good at, and what they are not so good at.  Managers and team mates need to know where a new employee can perform well too.

Employers should invest in strengths-based learning and development as part of the onboarding programme.  A genuine investment in new employees sends the message “We care about you.  We want to know you personally.  We want to see you succeed here in the long term”.

Employees who strongly agree they can apply their strengths every day at work are 3.5 times more likely to strongly agree they’re on-board.

  • “What is my role?”

In many cases there is a large difference between the external job advertisement, the internal job description and the work that actually needs to be done.

As a result, only about 50% of employees strongly indicate they know what is expected of them at work.

However, it’s nearly impossible to be successful at something with unclear expectations.  Setting realistic job expectations during the hiring process is important, but line managers play the most important role in setting expectations for new employees.

“When employees strongly agree they are confident in their ability to excel in their role, they are 1.8 times more likely to strongly agree their on-boarding process was exceptional.”

  • Who are my partners?”

Socialisation is an important part of being human  . . . and during starting a new job is no exception.  New employees may feel very welcome in the first week, only to feel increasingly isolated as the weeks increase.

Getting work done depends on collaboration within and across departments.  Each person’s influence on the overall organisation depends on the quality of their partnerships.

New hires can extend their reputation and influence through early interactions with others . . . their reputation can also be hurt if they don’t have the right support partners.

Managers are critical catalysts to relationship building opportunities in the early days of a new hire.  They can be instrumental in expanding a new hires social network through the first year of employment by making introductions and through advocacy.

When employees strongly agree they have partners they can always rely on at work, they are 1.9 times more likely to strongly agree their on-boarding process was exception.

  • What does my future here look like?”

We all have an innate need to learn and grow, particularly today’s millennials, and to see our future opportunities.  This is true, particularly those who see your organisation as a career opportunity rather than a pay cheque.

Onboard is not too soon for managers to have their conversations with employees about their hopes and dreams.

Even if promotions aren’t on the horizon just yet, organisations can align learning and development with onboarding so that when the honeymoon ends, there are plenty of ways to continue to develop professionally.

Employees who strongly agree they have a clear plan for their professional development are 3.5 times more likely to agree that their on-boarding process was exceptional.

When these five questions are answered clearly, it paints a satisfying picture for new employees.

As a result, organisations get the most out of their hard-won talent as quickly as possible.

[The quotations in italics are from a Gallup Survey]