Why all leaders need employee onboarding plans

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If I ask the majority of my clients what their on-boarding process is they will tell me that when the employees arrives on day one, they are put in a room with all the documents they need to fill out, a lovely HR person welcoming them to the team and then either left there for a whole day of training or brought to their desk, introduced and left to work.  I typically sit there stunned, mostly because I can’t understand how they can’t understand why they are having a problem with employee engagement but also because I can’t help thinking how I would feel if this is how I was on-boarded.

Think about Day One for a new employee as actually Day Zero.   Day Zero should be welcoming, fun, warm, engaging and positive.  Day One should be more pragmatic, more about process, set up and the start to a great career.

Here are some ideas for Day Zero

Greet new employees
  • Greet the new employee upon arrival, be there waiting before they get there, no one wants to be left alone in reception feeling awkward. This person does not need to start at 9am, 10am is perfectly acceptable for Day Zero.
  • Give them a tour of the office, not a quick one, a real stop and chat one across all departments. Start with the kitchen so they can grab a coffee.
  • Show them their work station, make sure it’s properly set up and everything they need is there. Don’t make them sit there and wait.  Do let them put stuff away if they have anything.

Some more ideas

Ideas to make new employees feel welcome
  • Call a team meeting beforehand for that morning (maybe even have snacks!). Welcome the newcomer to the team, have everyone go around and introduce themselves and tell a little bit about what they do and how they might work together.  Have the new person talk about themselves a bit.
  • Have a lunch plan booked for either just the new employee and their manager, the whole team or just a couple of colleagues (depending on the volume of hiring on a team, you may want to have one or two people take out the new employee so you can spread the wealth!).
    • Don’t talk about work, just get to know them, make a connection.
  • Once back at the office, their Manager should now have a quick one on one to address a few things
    • How happy they are to have them on their team
    • A quick run-down of what Day One will look like, so they feel prepared for the next day.
  • And finally…go home. Day Zero is a happy day, it’s a day for the new employee to start to feel like they have some idea of what they’ve gotten into.  Getting a chance to meet the team, learn where the bathrooms are and which direction to turn when they walk through the front door.  That’s all that’s needed on Day Zero.  Home they go!  If you do this well you’re looking at a great day of 10am-3pm.

Day One has finally come, all that traditional on-boarding can finally happen.  But remember, you’ve built really positive momentum with this new hire, don’t let Day One crush it.  Pop in on them if they are in training all day, working through the employee manual (a typically very depressing and negative document)? get it done in between more exciting activities.  

Have a proper agenda for them to follow and ensure everyone on it sticks to their piece.   At the end of the day, they should grab a coffee/tea/water in a casual spot around the office (not on either side of a desk) with their manager, talk through the day, let them ask their questions.  This will end their Day One on a high, knowing their new company and new manager actually cares.

Remember, Employee Retention starts on Day Zero.

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This post was written by Lianne Vineberg.

Lianne Vineberg is the technical talent lead at Toronto fintech startup Wealthsimple. This post originally appeared on her blog, Talent in the 6ix.