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6 key steps to take to build an employee onboarding plan

Companies can benefit from using an application that automates onboarding by not only streamlining the process, but by also ensuring that employees are set up for success.

Onboarding is a critical component of the hiring process; however, it is often neglected, or it is so limited that it leaves new hires wanting more.

Organizations spend a significant amount of time and money recruiting new employees, yet they often have few processes in place to ensure the new hire's first six months with the organization are effective and positive. If this is not done properly, new hires may be left wondering whether they made the right decision to leave their former company or if they should have chosen a different role.

Today, there are many applications that automate the employee onboarding process and that can help acclimatize new hires. These may be in a separate module within your human resources management system or it could be an application built specifically for this vital task.

There are many benefits to using an application to supplement the manual processes of onboarding an employee. Consider the following steps when building your employee onboarding plan.

Share company and team information

New employees have a lot to learn when they start working at a company. You can make their experience easier by proactively providing new hires with the information they need at a pace and timing that enables them to easily absorb it.

The flow of information can begin before the employee even starts. You can provide information such as the company's organizational structure, information about the new hire's co-workers, company events and company programs. You can also assign new hires a buddy or mentor and have them reach out to the new hire before they start to welcome them and help answer any questions they may have.

Planning

Many employees show up on their first day and discover that nothing has been prepared for them. Their manager is booked in meetings, their computer and phone are not available, and they are given a stack of printed material to read.

A formalized onboarding program can help avoid this scenario. Depending on your organization, these tips can help provide your new hires with a great onboarding experience:

  • Have an employee reach out to the new hire before their first day to inform them about parking, lunch options, the dress code and his start time.
  • On his first day, have key personnel greet the new hire and ensure he feels welcome.
  • Provide a schedule with employees that are assigned to meet with the new hire from the first day through the first few months.
  • Ensure that there is an opportunity to meet co-workers and to learn about the company and the employee's specific role.
  • Confirm that the new hire's workspace is prepared and that he has the necessary equipment available on day one.
  • Develop a knowledge transfer or training schedule indicating what he will learn during his first week, first month and first quarter. Staging the information flow will help with retention and also increase the time it takes for the employee to operate independently and effectively.
  • Set goals for the employee in the first couple of weeks so that he understands how he will be evaluated.
  • Notify internal teams and give them sufficient notice of the new employee's needs, such as finance, IT, security, communications and risk management.

Complete the required forms online

With an onboarding application, new hires can complete all the necessary forms, read policies and sign off on them right from their computer.

Today, there is an expectation that processes will be automated rather than handing employees printed forms and policies. The added benefit of completing forms online is that the data can also be automatically entered into your HR system, thereby avoiding the need to re-key information.

Also, make sure to provide an appropriate amount of time for an employee to review their options before signing the forms. Employees may have financial decisions to consider before signing off and may need some time in advance to speak to family members or a financial advisor.

Provide access to training

With an employee onboarding plan, you can also prepare a learning or training process for the new employee so that they know what training is required. For companies with a learning management system (LMS), employees can be granted access to the system before their start date if there are no legal implications of doing so.

Also, training done in an LMS can be tracked electronically. Even if your organization does not have an LMS, HR should consider developing a training plan that they can print and provide to new employees when they start.

Notifications and automated reminders

When a new employee is hired, there are many actions stakeholders, such as the hiring manager, the new employee, HR, IT, facilities, security and finance, should take. Once a candidate accepts a company's offer, a notification should be sent to everyone involved in the new hire process. If you are using an applicant tracking system or an onboarding system, these notifications can be automated.

You should also set up reminders in your calendaring system or use your HR systems to guarantee that the onboarding activities you've outlined are completed on time.

Incorporate experiences from previous new hires

You should get feedback from new hires at regular intervals following their start date. This will provide you with insight that can be used to improve the hiring and employee onboarding plan.

You may also want to consider incorporating AI applications to help with this process. For example, some companies set up chatbots to answer questions from new hires before or after their start date. Based on the rating of the answer provided, the chatbot can learn which answers are most applicable to candidates and improve its responses over time.

When a new employee is hired, there are many actions stakeholders, such as the hiring manager, the new employee, HR, IT, facilities, security and finance, should take.

Someone can also manually review the questions to ensure new hires are being provided with optimal answers and then incorporate the answers into training materials. Consider using an employee pulse survey with a short list of questions that correlate to the onboarding program at frequent intervals. Also, track your data and take action when necessary.

AI can also help by recommending the most popular policies and training programs based on actual employee usage. This provides employees with a reference point at which to start rather than making them wait to be told what they should look at first or spending valuable time searching your company's intranet.

A proper onboarding experience not only shows the new hire that you are organized, but it also helps internal teams schedule their time and meet proper deadlines. Making sure your employee onboarding plan is effective does take some effort; however, with the use of an onboarding system, you can streamline the process.

An employee onboarding plan is a great way to welcome new hires and ensure they are set up for success from day one.

This was last published in March 2019

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