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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tips For Successful Onboarding

by Nettie Nitzberg

Employee onboarding is a critical initiative for any size organization to invest in--from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and your business should make absolutely sure that new hires feel welcomed, valued, and prepared for what lies ahead in their first few days.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor and Statistics, turnover can cost an organization 33 percent of an employee’s total compensation, which includes both salary and benefits. The last thing any organization wants to do is spend time, manpower sourcing, and money selecting the right person for the job only to have that person seek a new job within their first six months at the organization.

To avoid wasting time and resources, consider implementing an onboarding program that cultivates engaged, motivated, and happy new employees. To be most effective, this program should begin the moment the new hire agrees to come on board. At that point, new hires should be provided access to the company’s web portal, which will welcome them to the company; introduce them to the organization’s culture, history, and structure; and give them HR paperwork to review.  Providing the hiring manager and HR staff with a “New Hire Checklist” to prepare for a new employee’s first year of onboarding through administrative and development tasks--prior to the new hire’s first day on the job--can help set the right tone for this initiative.

A new employee should never feel like an afterthought, especially not on the first day. Post a welcome sign with the person’s name and title in the reception area, and ensure everyone is ready to welcome the new hire.  Additionally, set up a new hire’s desk, phone, computer and password logins before he or she arrives; also order business cards and arrange for systems training and other training pertinent to the job. Creating a “New Employee Welcome Toolkit” to outline their first year of onboarding can help set expectations as well.

On the first day at the company, arrange for the new hire to have lunch with the team or their manager.  Over the next several weeks, make sure that the new hire has meetings with key stakeholders. (Providing background information about these key stakeholders goes a long way toward putting a new hire at ease and allowing them to shine.)  Also identify a “transition mentor”-- someone who will be a go-to source for  – both formal and informal things related to the company.

On a quarterly basis--or perhaps more often--implement an onboarding workshop for new employees. This could cover information about new employees' roles within the global organization; an overview of mobility and career development within the organization; and education regarding training and development opportunities available to employees, including a focus on charitable giving. These workshops also help to create a community of new hires and allow new hires to meet one another and connect.

Additionally, it’s important to set both performance-based and personal goals for new hires. The hiring manager should have an initial conversation with the new hire so that they are on the same page and have follow-up meetings to ensure that goals are being achieved.

To gain the most from an onboarding initiative, make the process last one full year.  This way, the new hire has a full year of performance management tracking, goal setting, and acclimationand is positioned to succeed professionally and contribute to company goals. Remember, onboarding isn’t just for new hires; this initiative can be also be applied to those promoted internally, interns, co-op students, and especially senior-level executives.

Nettie Nitzberg is a recognized expert in helping global companies maximize their people investments, and is founder and principal of Boston-based West5 Consulting (, which focuses on solving people problems that impact business success.  She can be reached at

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