Onboarding:  Why Is It Frequently Done So Badly?

A Manage Onboarding An Employee - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agency

As a Toronto-based head-hunting firm, the majority of our focus is naturally on hiring. Many companies also give a lot of thought to hiring, but drop the ball when it comes to what happens after the new hire signs all of the paperwork. When a new employee joins the company, you want to make sure that their first impression is positive. This first impression is one that you might overlook, because hey, shouldn’t the new hire be grateful to be working there anyway? But, it’s more important than you think.

According to a study by the Academy of Management Journal1, the first 90 days are the most critical for employees to build significant relationships and lay a foundation for later work outcomes. Think of it this way. When an employee comes to work and feels stressed for the first month because they face issues as minor as not being able to print something, all the way up to not knowing what their duties are or who to invite to important meetings, do you think that they’re set up for success? Not really.

So, let’s talk about onboarding and how your company can create a process that works.

What is Onboarding?
Onboarding is not just training. Instead, think of it more like having a tour guide in a new country. You want to ensure that a new employee feels welcome and has access to every single thing that they need. Whether it’s where to park, getting the right badge, knowing where the lunch A Business Owner Holds an About Us Card for Onboarding Employees - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agencyroom is, meeting their team, or as important as having computer access and being invited to all upcoming team meetings.

Onboarding an employee shows that your company cares about their success. Regardless if it’s an entry-level job or a C-suite level job, every employee needs to be welcomed and shown the ropes. Setting the stage positively means that your new hires are set-up for success, have a positive impression of the company from the get-go, and are ready to be productive from the start.

Read More: Top 8 Common Recruiting Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

Why Should My Company Care?
Turnover costs companies a frightening amount of money every single year. It’s that simple. You want your new hires to stay and love working at your company. Good morale from day one is critical to the success of the employee, and it has a large impact on your entire team and company as a A Chart Ranging From Happy to Sad on How Onboarding Employees Feel About a Company - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agencywhole.

According to a study by The Aberdeen Group, a whopping 86% of people felt that a new hire’s decision to stay long-term with a company is made in the first six months of being on the job. That’s massive. A positive or negative onboarding experience is one of the things that will greatly impact that decision made within the first six months. So, that’s why your company should care!

How Do We Make a Great Onboarding Experience?
What happens next should be a streamlined onboarding process, but what does that look like exactly? There’s a few things that go into onboarding and it might look different depending on the organization and needs of the employee, but here are a few things to consider.

       1.  Logistics Before Their First Day
Onboarding should begin before the employee even steps foot on the property. Send through a welcome package via email, and include anything the employee might need to know.A New Message on a Phone - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agency

Some ideas:
•   Parking information
•   Sign-in/clock-in/security information
•   Who will be meeting them/where to find them
•   What time to come in, any notes about lunches or breaks
•   An employee handbook (including dress code, if there is one)
•   Any work uniform requirements

Basically, you want to ensure that your employee is excited to start their first day of work and knows what to expect. No one likes the feeling of showing up at 9:00 a.m. having no idea what to wear, who they are going to see, or how to prepare for their first day. It is hard to believe, but this happens far too often.

       2.  Equipment And Technology
It is more than a little upsetting to come into work on your first day, and not have the ability to actually log in or begin to do your job. We’ve all been there – having to A Computer Desk with Two Monitors and a Laptop - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agencyshadow someone all day because IT hasn’t got us access to the system, or sometimes not even a computer at all!  Don’t be that company!  As soon as you hire an employee, the process should be put in motion to have absolutely everything they need on their first day, including training for those bits of technology that are specific to the company.

Whether someone has been hired to be on the front-line at a plant, or working in sales, or even starting as a supervisor or manager, they want to have what they need to start their job.

       3.  Proper Training & Support
Set your employee up with their trainer or buddy, whether it’s a peer, supervisor, or someone they can go to anytime to ask questions. This person should be someone who your company has identified as the right kind of person to take on this type of role – someone personable, An Employee Examining a Chart On Their Computer - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agencyhelpful, approachable, and knowledgeable. This will be the person who can get the new hire off to a good start or a bad one, so you want to ensure they’re a role model that you want setting the proper stage for your new employee.

On the first day and during the first week, set appointments or meetings for your new hire to meet everyone they’ll be interacting with on a day-to-day basis. You want them to feel welcome and comfortable, and to also know who to approach if they need help.

       4.  Check-In
Onboarding goes beyond the first day or week. If you’re the direct supervisor or manager, or someone in HR who has the onboarding responsibility, then you want to set a schedule for 30, 60, and 90 days to touch base with your new hire to see how they’re settling in.
An Image of a Checklist - Kathbern Management Toronto Recruiting Agency
You want your new employee to know that you’re committed to their success, and if there is something they’re missing or uncomfortable about, that you’re committed to finding a solution.

If you’re wondering if your onboarding program is hitting the mark, you may want to periodically send an anonymous survey (free at Survey Monkey) to new hires with a few questions to see how they perceive the process.

Read More: Do Your Employees Respect You?

Finding What’s Right For Your Company
Onboarding looks different for every company. Whether you have a formal onboarding team, an HR office committed to onboarding or even just a supervisor you trust to ensure all new hires get the right welcome; it’s up to you and your company how much you invest in onboarding.

We encourage investing in onboarding because it is one that will pay your company back immensely as turnover is reduced and your great hires stay on for years to come.

1 ACAD MANAGE J August 2013 56:4 1104-1124; published ahead of print July 20, 2012



Kathbern Management is a Toronto-based executive recruiter focused on working with organizations who are seeking to find and hire the key people who are critical for their success.  

Contact us today for a free consultation about your key person search.

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