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HR & culture

Welcome to the team! Smart onboarding, how does it work?

By Silke
02 Sep 2022

One of the biggest HR challenges right now is the recruiting (and retaining) of new talent. Eighty-five percent of employers find it difficult to fill vacancies: the war for talent’ is raging more than ever.

And once you’ve found the perfect employee, your troubles are far from over: although the Belgians and Dutch are very loyal to their employer, inter­na­tion­al research shows that 40 percent of employees leave their job after just six months. All the more reason to optimise your onboarding process, because this turns out to be a crucial factor for a successful rela­tion­ship between the new employee and your company.

The earlier, more strate­gi­cal­ly and personally you approach the onboarding process as an employer, the more successful it will be. The ultimate goal? Make your new recruit feel right at home in your organ­i­sa­tion. 

We’re happy to help you optimise your onboarding process!

Preboarding

Let’s take a step back. Onboarding doesn’t start on the first working day, but quite a bit before that. The new employee has made the decision to join your organ­i­sa­tion, but is now in an in-between phase having signed on the dotted line. This situation is often accom­pa­nied by a mix of emotions. They’re busy wrapping up projects and doing a handover for their current role, but they’re also excited and nervous about starting something new. They have expec­ta­tions and spend a lot of time thinking about their new job.

It’s important that their thoughts are filled with genuine enthusiasm for their very first day. If there’s a company event or team outing planned, invite the new joiner to come along. This is the perfect way for them to get to know their future teammates in an informal way. It also gives you something to talk about on their first day. Because remember when…?’ stories are excellent for bonding. A friendly video message from the (senior) management team and teammates, a virtual tour of the office or pairing them up with a buddy are some of the other good ways to increase engagement.

This pre­board­ing period is also the ideal time to con­grat­u­late your latest employee on their new job and to welcome them to the team. With a lovely card, for example, or a per­son­alised welcome pack. A nice surprise that’s easily done!

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Right before they start

It’s nearly their first day, but in the meantime there are plenty of practical things to sort out. Call your new colleague a few days in advance and tell them the exact time and place they need to meet you on their first day, where they can park their car or bike and whether or not they should bring lunch. Briefly outline how their first day will look and plan a few meetings with the other team members and/​or managers so that the new joiner can quickly meet as many people as possible face to face. It’s all about reducing those first-day nerves.

First working day(s)

Nobody forgets their first day at work. That’s why it’s so important to make a good impression as an employer! Take the time to welcome the new employee and make sure that all their equipment is ready so that they can dive straight in. Look at the next few days in the calendar together, let them know about any internal or external training courses that are about to start, and make sure that all the official paperwork is signed. It’s good to get this out of the way. 

A less tra­di­tion­al way to introduce someone to a company is via a buddy system. A colleague (whether or not chosen by you) takes the new employee under their wing and is their first point of contact for questions. This makes their onboarding experience unique and a lot more personal. An important check to do beforehand: does the buddy have enough time for this and are they a good ambassador for the company?

Don’t forget that the new joiner is becoming part of a team, so make sure you give them a friendly onboarding here too. Give a tour of the company and personally introduce the new starter to the people they will be working closest with. Or why not organise a team welcome lunch or after-work drink? At Kadonation, for example, we organise a team lunch with pizza on every new employee’s first day at work. All these small touches imme­di­ate­ly create a friendly atmosphere and will be remembered for a long time to come.

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The following weeks and months

Your job will slowly transition into supporting the further devel­op­ment of the new employee. Are there important internal and external stake­hold­ers that they need to meet? And perhaps more impor­tant­ly: make sure that the new joiner has a strategic under­stand­ing of the role, their respon­si­bil­i­ties, and the general direction of the company. The company’s values might be obvious to you, but are they for new recruits too?

Let your new starter discover all the internal tools and training oppor­tu­ni­ties open to them. Set up some goals together so that this new chapter becomes more and more tangible. Are there any unspoken rules in the workplace? By being upfront about these, you get rid of any awk­ward­ness. Your newest team member is now ready to make a sus­tain­able con­tri­bu­tion to the future of your organ­i­sa­tion. 

It takes about six months before a new joiner is fully onboarded. So watch out for second thoughts or questions and keep in touch with the employee through informal con­ver­sa­tions, short surveys or happiness checks. By asking how the onboarding process can be improved, you show that as a company you are open to feedback. And of course it’s also important you act on the infor­ma­tion you gather.

Regular check-ins are super important, as are a token of appre­ci­a­tion or an unexpected thank you. Celebrate special occasions together to increase motivation and job sat­is­fac­tion, and before you know it, your new employee will be cel­e­brat­ing their one-year anniver­sary. 

With the right onboarding, you stimulate engagement and give new employees the feeling that they belong. But what do you actually need to do to achieve this? Find out straight away with our free step-by-step plan for a smooth onboarding process! 

Checklist

Onboarding

Would you like to give your new colleague a warm welcome and get him or her ready to make a lasting con­tri­bu­tion to the future of your organ­i­sa­tion? This onboarding checklist sets out all the steps in a row! Good luck with it!
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