Remember the first time you walked into your high school cafeteria? In those first few moments, your brain reeled! Where should you sit? What if they don’t welcome you and you feel left out? What if you don’t like them? How will you find your people? If you were lucky, you knew someone already, but if not, that kid that sat next to you in English class suddenly looks like your new best friend.
Starting out at a new job can be just as intimidating. Companies can structure their onboarding to make it easier. Given that one third of new hires quit within their first 6 months (TLNT Survey), and the cost to replace an employee can be greater than 30% of their annual salary (US Department of Labor), it is something your cannot afford NOT to do.
Ensuring your new hire fits your organization should start long before you write the offer letter. Clearly articulating the company culture and the specifics of the working environment in your posting and throughout the hiring process will make it more likely that your new hire is aligned with your company.
It is also important to communicate about the new hire with the existing team, especially with their direct reports or supervisors. Some information about who has been hired and what they will be doing can encourage the team to absorb the new person more readily.
There are situations that can be more difficult for a new hire to integrate into, such as if a current employee applied for and did not get the position. If there is a touchy situation, it is better addressed before the new person starts.
A few days before the new hire starts, designate a “buddy.” This should be outside of the structured onboarding process, and is best someone who is outgoing and who knows the company well. This should be a defined role; the person should know what is expected of them and have the tools to be successful. For example, if they are going to have a “getting to know you” coffee break, there should be time blocked out in both schedules to enable that.
Remember that it will take time to fully integrate a new team member. While it is important to form relationships with coworkers, it is also important for them to form a relationship with the company. The onboarding should include the company values and mission. Information about events, patterns, customers and projects should be shared.
There should continue to be both formal and informal opportunities for team members to get to know each other throughout the first month. This can be a challenge in remote or partially- remote settings, but can be done well with a bit of forethought.
So much of our lives are spent at work, and so much of our happiness and job satisfaction come from our colleagues. Far too often, the focus of onboarding is just to get someone up and running on their responsibilities. Companies do well to remember that their new hire is a person. People do their best work when they are included, valued, and connected. The faster and more effectively they can join their team, the better for everyone involved.