We sometimes forget what a daunting task it is to start a new job at a new company. Try to remember what that was like: You’ve made it through the interview process; you gave all the right answers and even asked a few insightful questions. You prepped the night before and were excited to face this new challenge. You were ready, but was your new company ready for you?
As business leaders, it is imperative that we empathize with our newest hires and make sure their first day on the job makes a good impression of our company. Imagine, with all of the nerves swirling around as you enter the building you’ll call home during the working hours, arriving at the front desk and being greeted by someone in the company like this: “Oh, hello … I forgot you were coming today.”
It may seem like something like that couldn’t possibly happen, but it happens often, and it’s demoralizing. Nearly one-third of new hires become dissatisfied with their job and begin seeking new employment within the first six months, according to a recent study by Gartner. Our onboarding process is directly tied to our company’s culture, and it all starts with the first impression.
Our first impressions are the ground floor from which the culture of our company rises. This process should be a point of pride for us as a company and experienced by all new hires, regardless of their role. If we create a sense of belonging, people will want to stay. Making that first impression is both technical and relational, and it is a process – not just a meet-and-greet on their first day. This technical and relational onboarding process should happen in conjunction with one another, not separately and distinctly.
First, our onboarding process should be technical. Here, our new hires should learn the company – the ins and outs, the organizational chart, acronyms and the lingo used around the office. It should also include specifics on important clients, so new hires are up to speed and can hit the ground running. Pinterest is a company that does the technical aspect well. During its week-long orientation, it schedules time for leadership talks, IT setup and other essentials for success. The goal of every onboarding process should be helping the newest hire reach the greatest level of success as quickly as possible. If our new hires are successful at the start, it isn’t hard to see that it will translate to longer-term success.
There is a second leg to the onboarding process: the relational aspect. Take the retail company Zappos, for example. Through its month-long onboarding process, it focuses on growing the culture, building a stronger team and creating lasting relationships throughout the entire company. The process of onboarding should not be defined by the technical aspects of our company but should seek to create a welcoming environment through the building of relationships – best done through an onboarding team rather than a single individual. Creating a team tasked with answering questions, guiding the new hires around the office and even showing them where to go for after-work activities prevents a single individual from becoming overwhelmed and provides choices for the new hire.
If we take these steps to onboarding, it will drastically affect our company’s culture in a positive way. We’ll start to see working relationships evolve, and people will feel comfortable working in proximity to one other – not as individuals who are fending for themselves but as a team working toward a common goal. When morale is up and our employees are happy, retention is an easy outcome. People will want to be a part of the culture we’ve worked to create.
At the end of the day, it boils down to one question: What do we want people to say and think about our company? We should constantly strive to create a great place to work through our culture. Creating opportunities for employees to work toward the common goal and making sure they feel like they belong with us, not just work for us, starts with our onboarding process.