Setting employees up for success
An article written by Matt Johns, Humankind, for Southern Cross, June 2018
Health and wellbeing workplace solutions are valued employee benefits so it’s crucial to communicate these effectively at the time of induction. We know that onboarding of new employees can be a challenge so we’ve asked Humankind, our BeingWell associated experts, for their insights.
At a recent conference I presented at, I asked the audience a number of questions relating to their experience as employees. One of these questions directly related to onboarding – the process of providing new employees the tools, context and information they need to best prepare them for their new role.
I asked “please raise your hand if you believed you had a great onboarding experience at your current place of employment?” There were about 300 people in the room, and admittedly the lights were bright, but I saw no more than half a dozen hands go up.
Unfortunately this is not unusual. It seems all too often the process of employee onboarding is either left to chance or, at best, left to the last minute. The result is often a series of out of context presentations from multiple leaders, hurried introductions, an avalanche of jargon, a print out of the company hierarchy and some new technology – that might work if you’re lucky.
It sounds crazy, but this is the norm - and the immediate damage this does to the employee experience is significant and long lasting.
Onboarding is crucial for setting new employees up for success. In fact, overseas articles suggest great onboarding can have a direct impact on the success of business.
- As TLNT suggest, up to one third of American employees decide within their first week whether they will be staying long term.
- An Urban Bound report demonstrates that organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity.
To create a truly great onboarding experience, consider the following tips:
Pre-communicationOnboarding starts before day one. Consider what information would be useful to share before your new employee starts. Is there a book or article they could read or a video to watch that helps them get prepared?
This is also a great time to gather information on individuals from their recruitment process that can help with personalising their onboarding experience. Small token gestures based on this knowledge will help to create a lasting memory.
Human connectionThe number one goal of onboarding should focus on connecting your new employee to the team. Start with relaxed introductions and let people talk openly. A great tip here is to avoid the trap of being their chaperone – just let them mingle and relax.
Focus on the importantStick to the most important pieces of information that your new employee needs to be successful in week one. This could include helping them find their way around the internal policies, or time-critical information about joining your subsidised health insurance scheme. Avoid extras that can wait till later.
This is also a good time to consider questions new employees probably have and answer them proactively. This should include the names and ideally photos of the people they will be working with.
Consider the volumeConsider how much information a typical person can absorb in one sitting. Realistically, it’s probably a lot less that we would care to admit. In fact, studies show that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for making decisions and controlling emotions, will essentially shut down when overloaded. Onboarding should be spread over multiple days or even weeks to be truly successful.
Two way communicationIt is hard to keep absorbing information when you’re not part of the conversation. Encourage debate and discussion and if more than one person is starting, take the opportunity to workshop ideas.
Time to reflectConsider creating space in the onboarding process to let new employees simply absorb all the new information and reset. 30 to 45 minutes is a good amount of time to set aside.
Have fun!This is an exciting time – tap into that excitement and consider what you can do to make things a little more fun. From simple games to time offsite – your newbies will love you for it!
Most importantly, remember that the onboarding process never really ends. It’s a good idea to diarise time for regular catch ups with new employees to let them ask questions and air any concerns they may have.
Onboarding is a very important first introduction to any new organisation. Whatever you do, don’t leave it to chance!
Having worked in experience design and strategy for the past decade, Matt brings a unique perspective on what he calls, Employee Experience. Matt has worked with organisations across the world connecting business strategy with deliberately designed customer and employee experience strategy. He uses his diverse background to push leaders beyond the obvious to make clear, commercially astute, strategic choices.