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Onboarding is the procedure of integrating a new employee into a company. A strategic and consistent onboarding process is key to helping new hires integrate into your business.
Particularly in graduate recruitment, when candidates are likely to have limited experience in full-time employment, a clear onboarding plan or employee orientation checklist essential to help them settle in, integrate with your team, work effectively, and ultimately stay at your company. Find out more about Employee Retention Strategies.
But effective employee onboarding doesn’t just involve initial training and introductions – and it isn’t just something to tick off on a list of to-do’s. The onboarding process should begin when a candidate accepts their offer, and continue for at least their first year, helping to nurture and develop graduates to become engaged, motivated and productive employees.
Nowadays, virtual onboarding is more popular than ever. With many offices working from home and using technology to virtually communicate when working remotely, it is important to know how to onboard employees and keep the remote onboarding process proactive, engaging and productive as possible.
This will give your new employee the opportunity to talk about how they are finding the onboarding process. Having a one-to-one virtual meeting will give the employee the time to explain if there is anything they want to address and be a great opportunity for you to get feedback for the virtual process for onboarding new employees.
For fully remote workers and employee onboarding, creating an online community or virtual hub is a great way to boost morale in your company, help each other out and keep in contact during isolation.
This is great from a business perspective to have a dedicated space to share ideas and store information virtually, but it is also a good idea from a personal perspective.
Engage your new team members with unique onboarding ideas such as introducing them to the office with a fun competition, end of the week quiz (such as ‘Guess the baby photo’) and video calls.
Make the most of the virtual tools for remote onboarding which can be a great help to your virtual onboarding. Use remote training tools such as scheduling software, internal communications platforms and videoconferencing to ensure that all the tasks being completed by your new starter are clear and useful.
The best onboarding processes are the ones which are continuous and supportive throughout the entire employee journey. This is especially important for remote employees, because if they do not feel as though the virtual training was sufficient enough for them to perform the role, then they may not know who to contact about it, or might unknowingly be making mistakes.
A top tip for virtual onboarding is to ensure that you regularly checking in with your remote employee and consistently being a good manager to ensure their happiness and success from home.
What do your hires really need from you? The graduate recruitment process doesn't end when the candidate accepts your offer. When your new graduate hire arrives at your office, they’re probably going to be brimming with enthusiasm, nerves and a sense of disbelief that they’re officially entering the working world. By this stage, your induction process should already be in full flow.
Find out what you need to be doing to help them settle in to your organisation and excel in their new role, with our in depth sample new employee onboarding checklist below for the most effective onboarding strategy:
Send out offer letters, contracts and welcome packs. Keep your new hires in the loop about how often they can expect to hear from you in the time before they start, and include them in company-wide emails – a great way to make them feel involved before they’ve even started.
During the week leading up to their start date, set up their email address and ensure that all technology is in good working order. Make sure you have your employee’s desk set up and ready for them. Ensure their workplace is how you would want to find your own - clean and tidy, with business cards if they are going out to clients straight away, and maybe some company swag.
Remember the courage it took you to ask where the stationery supplies were kept on your first day of work? Make sure their desk is fully stocked with notebooks, pens and anything else they need.
Then, contact the candidate via phone or email, make sure they know what they need to bring (passport, bank details etc), and who to ask for on arrival. Especially with graduates who have little previous experience, their first day can be hugely daunting – so taking steps to ensure they feel comfortable and welcomed at your company is an important part of the process.
It is a good idea that new starters know they have a mentor to support them. Assign a member of your team who’ll act as your new recruit's buddy - ideally someone who has been at the company long enough to be able to answer questions, but also someone who hasnt been at the company too long - so they can empathise with them as a 'new starter'.
Create an induction plan so that your graduate’s first couple of days aren’t a lonely mix of refreshing their temporary inbox (nope, still just the automatic email welcoming them to Outlook) and looking around in the hope that someone will ask them to do something.
On their first day, introduce them to the team and take them on a tour of the office / building / surrounding area (showing them some of your favourite places!)
Arranging brief induction sessions with members of your team will help a new starter settle in, understand more about your business and get started on tasks that will be of value to them and to you.
Then, take 10-15 minutes to sit, have a tea or coffee, and explain what will be happening on their first day, and what they can expect from their first week.
Throughout the day, encourage them to ask as many questions as possible. Finally, we think it’s a nice touch to take them out for lunch or for a post-work drink - showing your graduate hires how much you value them from the start.
In their first week, create a clear and structured agenda for your new hire. If they are training, sitting in meetings, or working on projects, tell them when, where, and what they should bring to each one.
Then, encourage them to sit down with their line manager or supervisor to discuss their goals, ambitions and where they see the role developing. Finally, why not kick-off their first week by getting them to work on a meaningful task with other team members? This will give them great insight into what the role is going to involve.
Manage yours and your team’s expectations. Even though your graduate hire or new employee may have some previous work experience under their belt, the chances are they won’t have spent much time in a similar office environment. They may also be new to your industry.
Their first month is integral to the success of your new hire – so initiatives you set up when they joined, like matching them up with a mentor to confide in can be hugely valuable.
Giving ownership of a task, no matter how small, can boost your graduate hire’s confidence and engagement. How can you challenge them, stretch them and offer them experiences in their first few weeks they’ll feel are valuable and worthwhile?
Consider how you can enhance your graduate’s soft skills too. Could they be responsible for manning the phones for a few hours a day to improve their communication skills, or be working on multiple projects to strengthen their time management?
Then, at the end of the month, organise a check-in to ensure that they’re enjoying their new role. The check-in doesn’t need to be with a HR team - and can be conducted by a line manager, a team lead, or a mentor. Make sure to use this time to listen, too. The feedback they give can provide a real insight into your company culture, onboarding process and management styles.
Ask them to evaluate their onboarding experience: What was useful? What might need more clarification or attention? Is your buddy system working? Did they feel their induction was thorough enough? What new skills have they learnt so far? How could you improve the on-boarding of future hires?
Their evaluation will help you improve your process, as well as help improve employee morale in the workplace, as individuals like to have their voice heard!
The graduate recruitment process isn’t over once you’ve completed the initial onboarding program (up to their first month). More than 22% of new starters leave a firm within the first 45 days of employment due to a poor onboarding process.
Moving forward, you can retain your new hires by providing ongoing support, scheduling regular reviews and catch-ups, provide clear and constructive feedback, run through their achievements to date and set some objectives in place so they have clear goals to work towards.
Think about opportunities for growth and development, rewards and salary reviews, further mentoring schemes and company-wide perks.
If you're operating internationally, and you have teams in different parts of the world, the onboarding process can be even more challenging. In this case, you can outsource your HR services to a Professional Employer Organisation. For example Global PEO, or other providers local to where you are, which can oversee the onboarding process to ensure optimal international employee retention.
From the moment a candidate accepts their offer, to your new hire's first day, week, month and year, the onboarding process is a vital part of graduate recruitment - the key to ensuring that they integrate in to your business seamlessly and effectively.