33% of employees decide to start looking for a new job within 6 months of joining a new company and the overwhelming reason for this, is a poor onboarding experience. Organisations need to ensure they do all they can to set their new employees up for success, and this starts with an effective first week onboarding experience. If they have a good first week, you will have a highly engaged employee ready to achieve great things. If they experience a bad first week experience, and you have an employee thinking that they may have made a huge mistake, who will leave the first chance they get. So how do you ensure a great first week?
Ask the team for ideas
Ok, look, there are some universal truths about onboarding a new employee. Yes, they need to get their IT set up, they need to be given an office tour, they need to be introduced to their colleagues, these are all universal truths. But these action items are expected because they are pretty much mandatory. A positive onboarding experience is not derived from the official onboarding process, but a bad one is. If their IT works, they are not going to think that is amazing, but if it doesn’t work, they are going to think it is poor. So, in addition to these mandatory steps, its important to take some time to get the team they are joining to brainstorm some ideas for the employees first week. There is a big difference between a quick 2-minute introduction to their new team and the whole team welcoming the new starter with a series of meaningful actions.
Create an agenda
While this seems obvious, you will be amazed how few new employees are provided with a comprehensive agenda for their first week. In additional, to the official introductions, training and onboarding meetings with relevant stakeholders maybe one of the team has an important project meeting on Thursday that the new joiner can join to understand some of the longer-term objectives. Perhaps it is someone’s birthday on Tuesday and so the team can arrange a birthday lunch or dinner, or just arrange for a cake to be presented at the desk and have everyone sing happy birthday. Maybe each member of the team wants to take the new joiner out for lunch on a different day to show them their favourite lunch spot, so they do not have to eat alone. These small items are work make all the difference. The team should then let the new joiner know about this before they start, just in case there are any clashes, e.g. maybe it’s their wedding anniversary on Thursday and so they cant join a team dinner that evening.
Everyone has experienced an environment where they join, everyone seems a certain way and then a few months later its like a switch has gone off and the environment is completely different. Its important that the new joiner sees the real environment from the beginning. If the team for example allow a new joiner to turn up at 930am for the first few weeks and don’t say anything and then one month later insist that 831am is considered late, this will lead to disengagement. If the team all swear and make adult jokes but censor themselves for the first few weeks again this leads to disengagement. It is critical that the new joiner is inducted into the true culture of the team from the get-go. If your culture is toxic and you worry this will lead to attrition, then fix the culture, do not try and hide it.
Set clear objectives
Finally, it is incredibly important to set clear goals and objectives for the new joiner within the first week. The best way to ensure high levels of engagement is for an employee to have a clear purpose and direction and to be working towards something. There is a big difference between trying to achieve clear goals and just performing tasks as and when they are handed to them. On the one hand you have a situation where an employee is motivated, on the other a situation where an employee is just doing a job with no clear end goal and no reason to stay long term.