Employee onboarding has become an essential process in corporate cultures. It is the process whereby new employees are integrated and acclimated into the company. The process aims at making new employees feel welcomed and comfortable at the company, and also settle down quickly and minimize the time taken by the new hires to become productive members of the company. It is basically the process where the new hires acquire the attitudes, behaviors and knowledge needed to successfully participate as effective and productive members of the company.

Statistics show that every year, nearly 25% of the working population undergoes some type of career transition, whether it is through changing of jobs or even departmental changes. Either way, these transitions require a mechanism through which the new employees can get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their jobs quickly and smoothly, and learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization.

Onboarding does not begin and end on the new employee’s first day, week or month. The period over which onboarding is conducted will vary, but it should not be considered complete until the employee has been successfully integrated into the workplace and is achieving an acceptable level of productivity. Orientation is part of the onboarding process. It focuses on the information that the new hires need to know to get started with their job duties-things such as information on the organizational and departmental structure, policies and procedure. It is the primary introduction of a new hire to the physical being of the company, including its employees, the buildings, the workstations and so on.  While orientation is an event that can take a day or two, onboarding on the other hand is a process that can last several months. The period taken for a successful employee onboarding process may depend on several factors, including but not limited to, the industry, the employee’s job description and experience. It is a continuous process that should be conducted in developmental stages and be followed up with regular progress evaluations, and may extend for weeks or months, rather than the usual few days for induction.

1. Socialization

Socialization of new hires is an important aspect of onboarding. This involves introducing the new employees to their peers, the managers and other staff in the company. This helps reduce their anxiety and to build rapport with colleagues so they can begin to assimilate into existing workgroups. It also helps create a sense of belonging for the new employees and cultivate high-quality work relationships. Existing employees can also be given the opportunity to mentor new employees as developmental activities. Companies should not make day one all about paperwork but instead they should prioritize interpersonal relationships with key colleagues in the work area. In this age of the Internet of Things, it is easy to forget the importance of face-to-face introductions.

2. Employer-employee relationship

Managers of a company have a more comprehensive understanding of the company’s goals and the roles played by each employee in achieving those goals. They can exert their influence by helping new employees understand their roles and duties. This helps reduce the bureaucracy in the company and makes new hires feel comfortable, prepared and supported. Most times new employees leave a company because of its supervisors and not because of the company itself. Fostering a good relationship between the managers and the new employees goes a long way in lowering employee turnover rates.

New hires can also be informed regarding their job expectations. By clearly explaining to them exactly what is expected upfront, there will be less confusion later on and subsequently less friction between the new hires and the managers.

3. Gamification

Gamification is the concept of applying game mechanics and game design techniques to engage and motivate people to achieve their goals. Rewards such as badges and points can be used to elevate status by showcasing the talents, expertise, and accomplishments of users. Not all employees have long attention spans and neither the employee nor the company will gain much from the onboarding experience if it is conducted as a lecture in the form of a corporate presentation.

Instead of having new employees watch videos or read through manuals, managers can have new hires seek information on their own. The managers could think of something simple like a digital checklist which during the onboarding process, the new employees check off items as they accomplish them. Tasks may be as simple as “Fill out tax paperwork” or “Get photo ID picture taken”.

Companies can also set up a list of actionable goals that new employees must accomplish before other responsibilities can be given to them. An example would be having a new employee make at least ten calls to potential clients before he or she can sit in on sales meetings. Little goals like these go a long way to motivate employees to keep pushing towards being more productive and to encourage innovation within the company.

Companies should strive to make the onboarding process and simple as possible, while still ensuring that the vital aspects of it are not neglected. There is a lot of information to be taken in by the new employee and they should not be bombarded with too much information all at once. They will be overwhelmed and will be unlikely to retain very much. Instead, information should be delivered in stages, depending on priority and relevance.

Opportunities should be created for feedback regarding the on-boarding process.  The new hires should be encouraged to note any ideas that they have for improving the operations, strategy, or culture of the organization. Companies should also identify each individual’s authentic strengths, which encompass the peoples’ skill sets, demeanor, attitude and willingness and ability to work with others. Onboarding conveys the company’s brand and values, explains its corporate culture, aligns institutional expectations and performance and provides the tools for the employee to be successfully assimilated into his or her position.

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