Onboarding is close to my HR heart for many reasons. The main reason is that this is the single most important time to build a solid foundation of cooperation between your company and your new employee.
I think, to some degree, we all know that onboarding is incredibly important for new employees to succeed. However, in a recent Gallup poll, only 12% of employees strongly agreed that their organisation does a great job onboarding new employees. Worse still, less than 50% of companies even have a formal onboarding programme that goes beyond the first day orientation, a brief introduction to the company and the job description. Poor onboarding programmes negatively affect productivity, retentions, job satisfaction…..the list goes on.
When we look at the research about onboarding, there is so much unlocked potential in new joiners for HR, leaders and companies in general to benefit from. If you change one thing in your organisation this year maybe that should be to implement a killer onboarding programme?
The question is ‘how do I design a successful onboarding programme?’
My answer is simple: The first thing you need to do is to change your approach from the traditional
‘How do we ensure that new employees can handle the job they are hired to do?’
How do we ensure our new employee becomes successful?
In my experience, changing the approach leads to a real chance that onboarding will develop into a valuable and transformative period for new employees where they get the support and encouragement needed to unlock their full potential, building the foundation for their future success.
When your plan is to help someone become successful, you need to detail what it takes to become successful and develop the onboarding plan to implement this. I like to categorize onboarding in to four different categories to ensure all parts of a successful work-life are taken into consideration:
1. Role clarity and relevant training: It is essential for new employees to know what is expected of them in their role, as well as being equipped with the right competencies to perform in the role. So, consider the specific job and the candidate you have hired: What are the gaps that need to be filled?
2. Social integration: For all employees it is important to integrate socially with their colleagues. This does not necessarily mean you have to be best friends, but you need to have colleagues that you trust and can get along with professionally. As simple as it may seem, everyone needs someone to enjoy their lunch or coffee break with or someone they can talk to if they need to have a confidential conversation. Make sure to have activities planned to help social integration.
3. Cultural and political understanding: You can be an expert in a field, but without knowing your way around and how to get things done in an organisation, you will have a very hard time becoming successful. How do you ensure that your new employee knows who important stakeholders are and how decisions are made? Plan meetings, training and introductions accordingly.
4. Self-esteem: Last, but not least, your employee needs to believe they can succeed in their job – so set them up for success. This sounds simple, and it can be; Ensure the first things they do are achievable within a reasonable timeline – preferably 1-2 weeks, so they get an excellent start. As with anything else in life, if you believe you can do it, the chances of success are much higher.
This is a long list of what you need in an onboarding programme. However, the most important advice I can give to anyone planning onboarding for a new employee is:
Don´t wait to implement an onboarding programme until you have the perfect programme. An imperfect onboarding programme is better than no onboarding programme at all. You can build on it over time until it becomes perfect.
Author: Sine Ravn, Manager HR Consultancy, https://www.linkedin.com/in/sine-ravn-77a7013/
Sources: Gallup.com, shrm.com,