You’ve spent weeks advertising, cv sifting, interviewing (all through a pandemic!) and have finally found the person you want on your team! You may think your job as the hiring manager is done, but onboarding your new staff member is a vital step to their first impressions of the business and how well they will fit into the team. Get it wrong, and you could be recruiting all over again in a few months!

The last few months has seen a huge number of recruitment failures, excellent candidates starting roles and leaving within the first 3 months. Almost all of these mentioned poor onboard/first impressions as one of the main reasons for their departure. With Covid-19 being at the forefront of everyone’s minds, new starters have not been given the tools they need to succeed and feel valued and this has resulted in them exiting the business.
Follow our tips below to give your new team member a brilliant induction and let them spread the word about how fantastic their new workplace is.

Firstly – why is properly onboarding important?

Creating the right impression of your business from the outset assures candidates they’ve made the right decision in joining your organisation. If they see an organised, friendly and approachable business from the start, they will likely be engaged in the business and it’s ethos, eagerly adopting the culture and keen to crack on with their work and contribute towards team success. If you miss the mark, this will leave candidates questioning if they’ve made the right move, feeling unvalued and unimportant and, in the worst case scenario, will vote with their feet straight to a competitor’s door. This not only wastes a lot of time for you, but damages the reputation of the business and unsettles the existing team. In a recent survey by Gallup, only 12% of employees feel strongly that their employer provides a good onboarding experience – and this was before remote working so this number may be even lower currently.

According to Click Boarding, almost 7 in 10 employees will stay with their companies for three or more years if they had a positive onboarding experience, that’s especially important considering that a large share (possibly as much as 20%) of all employee departures happen in the first 45 days on the job.
With that in mind, the below steps will help navigate you through a comprehensive onboarding process:


Keep in touch during the notice period

It’s usual for candidates to have a month’s notice to give to employers and this time before starting with your business can be scary if there is no communication; with no contact between you, doubt can begin to creep in. To keep your new team member engaged keep in touch on a weekly basis, this can be to update them that their new car is on order, make sure they have received their offer through the post – any reason that’s suitable.

If there are any team meetings during this time, consider inviting them along so they can feel involved and get to meet their colleagues. If you’re completing video meetings with your team this is even more convenient for your new member to hop on and meet the team.

If your new starter has been virtually interviewed (phone or video), consider inviting them in for a walk round the office or meeting for a socially distanced coffee to introduce them to their working environment and company culture.

Before their start date, let your new employee know what to expect on their first day and what it will involve – this will help to dispel any nerves they may have.

First impressions – The First Day

Be ready for your new employee. Make sure they have everything they need for a desk set up – laptop, phone, chair, pens, note pads etc, everything to complete their role efficiently. Make sure all accounts are live and that the new starter has access to all necessary systems and emails. It’s very basic but too many companies fail at this hurdle – there are many reports of candidates who after 2 weeks still have no access to company computer systems and have been sat unable to work for a fortnight. Unsurprisingly many candidates choose to leave after such unorganised starts.

If you are still working remotely and the new starter will be home based, as well as ordering their laptop and other effects to their home, consider also sending some company merchandise and a welcome gift to arrive on their first day. This is a nice personal touch and will mean the candidate has all the essential supplies needed in their workplace. You could design a welcome pack to send to new starters which might include branded stationery, water bottles, coffee mugs and business cards etc. Some stand-out ideas include cakes iced with the employee’s name, vouchers for sprucing up home offices, and bouquets of flowers or a plant. Welcome packs are certainly something the candidate won’t forget.

Be organised – have a full plan for the first day and week which you talk through with your new starter. Walk them round the company, show them where the kitchen/toilets are, what facilities they can use, explain any COVID-19 measures in place so they feel confident in using the work environment.

Culture – demonstrate your company culture from the outset, the first day is a great time to do this. Be sure to show where company policies can be found on topics such as tolerance, inclusivity, team support mechanisms, holidays, sickness, communication methods and also if working remotely, how face to face meet ups work with your company’s distancing guidelines etc.


The first few weeks – steady does it

First Week

Plan in meetings with all colleagues and key employees for your starter to meet. You could ask your new recruit to find out what their colleagues do and present back at the end of the first week – specialisms and contact points etc. This way you know they have taken the time to find out and understand this important information.

Have planned training sessions for all computer systems, a mixture of 121 training, webinar training and practice tasks. People learn in different ways so showing someone once and leaving them to it may be stressful for your new starter. Have process documents for key parts of the role for starters to refer to, giving them the ability to be self sufficient and not totally reliant on colleagues in these first few weeks.

Assign the starter a buddy and work mentor – A work mentor will help with their workload and show them the ropes. A buddy is someone who may work for another team who they will interact with, the function here is they can communicate culture and quirks of the company while providing an alternative confidant to your starter as well as the mentor. Schedule in time with both in the first week.

Clear Communication

Establish a remote process - in the office, if people have a question they can just come over and ask without much interruption, however when remote working, video calling someone however for a quick question seems more of a big deal. Establish communication parameters early so your employee feels comfortable to contact rather than sitting at home stressed if they don’t understand something. If your company has an internal messenger system for quick questions then encourage use of that. If the new starter is working on a shared project, consider using a virtual shared whiteboard the whole team has access to so they can contribute and see how other staff are doing things. As well as their line manager, schedule buddies and mentors to check in with video calls. This is especially important if the candidate hasn’t worked remotely before.

Be clear and push emphasis onto the candidate to reach out if they are stuck or need anything. This said, don’t be afraid to re-communicate things, it’s better to over-engage initially than have a new starter feeling isolated and unsure of what’s expected of them.

Plan in Reviews

In the first couple of weeks the main focus for the new starter should be building relationships, learning their new roles and responsibilities and understanding the company and its culture.

Set an outline for performance review meetings after week 1, 1 month and 3 months, sit down for an informal coffee and at each point discuss how the employee is adjusting to processes and ways of working as well as setting targets and expectations for the next few weeks. This will highlight any further training needs and give the opportunity for you to feedback your initial impressions on how they’re doing. New employees don’t ask for feedback often, so keeping them updated with how they’re doing against your expectations can help candidates to feel stable and on track and curbs any performance anxiety they might have.

After the week 1 meeting, ask for some feedback on their induction – are they missing anything? Could anything have been done better? Encourage honest feedback so you can improve for the future. Be open and don’t get defensive, taking constructive criticism will strengthen your processes.

Continue with ongoing training and encourage candidates to join calls/meetings across the business that you feel will increase their understanding of their role and the wider company.

You may find it helpful to write out an onboarding plan which you can tweak as needed. At 300 North we have a plan that’s tailored for each specific job role but the starting template is the same for each new hire. This template saves a lot of time and ensures a start quality with each new employee.


Be mindful of personal circumstances

Like other employees, your new starter may be balancing many priorities beyond their responsibilities at work. During this time of uncertainty, new hires may be managing a lack of childcare, ill partner, caring for a shielding family member, or any number of personal challenges that may affect their life. Speak to your new starter about being open about issues they may face so you can support them and help them to achieve the best work-life balance possible, keeping their mental health as a priority throughout.


Creating culture

One of the main reasons people join a company is their culture so it’s important to make this prominent from the outset. Creating a team bond and positive environment is key to getting the new staff member integrated as soon as possible.

Get your new employee to write about themselves to feature on the company website or LinkedIn page to officially introduce them as a new key player in the business.

Try and have a social event in the first few weeks of your new employee starting, this way they can get to know their colleagues in a more informal setting and find out more about their personal lives as well as work roles to create a deeper connection. If you’re remote working try a quiz night or perhaps you could host a pizza night in their honour where the company pays for and orders everyone a pizza so they can all eat together and chat.

It’s a bit cheesy but ice breaker games such as 2 truths and a lie are always fun and staff find out more about each other -even established teams! Did you know I’ve swum with sharks? Or have I….?
For remote workers, try and create virtual coffee breaks where the team have small casual breaks together throughout the day, this will recreate the traditional water cooler chat and bonding. New starters learn a lot about their company culture and about their colleagues through informal hallway conversations so it’s important to re-create these interactions virtually.


In summary

The failure of new hires within a business is largely due to poor onboarding processes and negative first impressions made. Getting this stage right, though a little extra effort, will pay dividends in the long run with a motivated and knowledgeable employee being engaged in your company. Get this stage wrong and you’re back to square one reviewing cv’s so investing time and process into onboarding will be highly beneficial for your company in the long run. Hopefully these hints and tips can help you to formulate your own onboarding excellence guide for your team.