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Onboarding for New Hires – The time that makes or breaks them

by on Apr.29, 2016, under Workforce and Work Ethics

Your organisation was recently hiring. This process in itself is stressful for all employees that will be interacting with the new colleague. There’s a lot of anticipation and excitement. What will the new person belike, what will they bring to add value, what can we teach them, what can we learn from them? Many questions that will promptly be answered during the onboarding process, provided you do it right.

There are several documents your new employee will have to clear with your HR department. Employment Contract is the first step and it is usually discussed in detail during the negotiations, when the decision to hire is being made. Employment Contract should contain all the general terms of the employment like salary, benefits, annual leave, medical leave, maternity/paternity leave and so on. There is one strange clause employers like to sneak in here, which is about employee not allowed to take a job with the competition afterwards so I would conveniently like to demystify this clause once and for all: it is a human right to be employed anywhere – and the clause doesn’t hold in any court. So don’t waste your time with it.

Next piece of paper is a Job Description. True value of your new employee is described here and onboarding should pay serious attention to covering all aspects of the job description for the newcomer. It is very common that employees, who are left to their own devices at the new workplace, settle in and perform the obviously required duties while completely neglecting the less obvious ones. At the end of the day, non-performance of duties on the job description is really the responsibility of the manager who failed to activate the employee, not the other way around.

Employee Handbook should contain all the rules of the workplace. Great organisations have very detailed Employee Handbooks that incorporate Codes of Business Conduct, Anti-Corruption Policy and so many other good things. Each business tells its own story and builds its own culture so make sure your Employee Handbook describes your culture accurately in as much detail as possible. Employee Handbook should contain all company policies, rules and regulations and you should request each employee to confirm in writing that they have read and internalized the complete Employee Handbook. Each employee, goes without say, should spend time on reading on the rules and asking their immediate managers for additional guidance.

Most important thought when developing the Employee Handbook is ‘assume nothing’. If you don’t want alcohol and drugs at the workplace, spell it out. If you have a particular dress code, describe it to finest details. If you have rules for personal telephone and internet use, define them clearly. Many a good employees have failed to bond with their workplace due to unclear and obscure rules. Make it easier for your newcomers to settle by spelling it out for them.

This pretty much covers the paperwork, now what about people? It is essential that your new employee is assigned a ‘buddy’ for the onboarding period. Yes, there will be the onboarding period and you have to decide how long this will be. In most cases one month is enough but if you are providing specialized training to your new employee, it may take two, three, even up to six months. Going through this period knowing there is an office ‘friend’ to rely on will be much easier for the new recruit.

Buddy has a very big role to play. He will be the one to demystify all issues the newcomer will face during the onboarding period. He’s also responsible for ensuring newcomer has all the documents, signed off access to all areas of operation, company Identity Card, keys, logons and passwords that the newcomer requires for their job and so on. Buddy also has his own job to do so the stretch to cope with his own responsibilities and having to introduce someone new to all aspects of their job and organisation is not a small feat. This is why the role of a buddy is so important and delicate. Choose the buddy wisely, this should be a strong, communicative and capable person with no fear of failure, someone diligent and passionate about your organisation. Rare to find!

Onboarding has to have a set duration as well as the predetermined milestones that newbie and buddy have to achieve in order to make the process successful. If you are onboarding a call centre employee, you need to think about the type of calls he will handle, measurement for success, type on information he is required to understand and provide, lines of reporting, lines of escalation, when to escalate issues etc. All aspects of the job have to be covered during onboarding. It all has to happen.

If you are onboarding a restaurant waiter, think of serving him dinner at your restaurant. Let your best servers deliver exceptional service and explain that the establishment expects nothing less through their actions. Then the buddy can take over and deliver the micro-training that covers all procedures and finer details.

Throughout the onboarding process, you are required to have regular interaction with the newbie in order to give and receive feedback that will guide the rest of the onboarding process.

As you can see, as a manager of people you are expected to be structured, knowledgeable and innovative, able to tailor action to the nature of the person you are onboarding, able to receive feedback and adjust the onboarding process adequately and timely. As a manager, you don’t just employ the right people. You don’t throw them to the deep end. You help them build the knowledge base and confidence to do their job and do a great job. The more you immerse yourself in the onboarding process, the more rewarding the results: confident employees who feel respected, valued and proud to be treated as valuable contributors from the very first day of onboarding.





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