The Most Important Goal of Employee Onboarding (and How to Achieve It)

Posted by Brandon Carter on Jun. 2, 2016

It's tempting to think that your role as recruiter is complete once a new hire signs on the dotted line.

After all, they clearly have enough interest in the company to board the ship, right?

You've sold them on the position and the company. Now, it's just a simple process of getting them onboarded and plugged in. Walk through the handbook, explain and enroll in employee benefits, introduce them to the team and time to line up the next one!

Except that's not it at all. What happens in the first 30 days of employment will have a strong influence on whether or not the employee becomes a successful team member.

Your biggest sales job isn't getting a stranger to buy into the company.

It's getting a new hire indoctrinated to the culture once they're in the door.

Forget onboarding. The new hire process is as much about indoctrination as anything.

It's isn't just about excitement. Getting someone into the culture is about connection and validation. You're connecting them to the shared values and energy that each employee  

Walk them through the handbook. Explain the policies, and sign them up for benefits. Do these quickly. Those are important, but not as relevant as a deep soak in the culture.

Following Up on Pre-Hire Promises

You're always better off hiring someone who'll develop their ability within your culture than someone who will be exceptional at what they do while burning the esprit de corps to the ground.

IMAG2296.jpgBut once that employee has been brought on board, plug them in to your culture as quickly as possible.

By plugged in, we mean converting them to full-on believers who will turn into evangelists and enthusiasts.

Cultural indoctrination is important because as soon as someone feels comfortable, they're able to begin challenging themselves and stretching their abilities. Less runway, more flying.

On a different level, each new employee needs to see that the promised culture is true and active. Sure, they'll discover some cracks and weak spots once they settle in, as every company has those. Initially, however, they'll see that this culture chose them, and they were wise to accept the invitation.

Five Methods to Quickly Insert a New Employee Into Your Culture

Every workplace culture is different, but here are five effective ways to indoctrinate new hires to your office culture:

1. Meet and talk with as many employees as possible

Unless you have thousands of employees, you need to take new hires on a tour of the office and introduce them to every current employee. Give them a few seconds to chat.

No, they won't remember the names. The face time will help in break rooms, elevators, hallways, water coolers, anywhere they'll encounter teammates.

2. Show them living history

If you can, introduce employees to the history of your company through the people who were there. Give them face time with your founder and original employees, or at least your top executives.

The point is to not just tell them the story but allow them to see it for themselves. This does two things: it helps the employee feel like they're an important part of something bigger than themselves, and it allows them to see consistency over however many years the company has been in business

3. Encourage mastery of the product or service

If the employee can't be excited by your product or service, they're going to have a hard time being passionate about their role supporting it. Even if you're selling enterprise mainframe cleaning cloths, to use a random example, every new employee needs to experience the product and a best-use case scenario with their own hands.

4. Push for initial usage of benefits

Employee benefits and corporate perks play an important role in employee satisfaction. They're the quickest way to show tangible value even before the employee receives a paycheck. Not your health insurance, obviously. Don't go breaking their bones. But if you have an employee discount program, take them to lunch at a participating merchant. Invite them to take advantage of your onsite gym with their own locker and towel. Load them up with branded t-shirts and polos.  

5. Offer reassurance

Maybe the most important thing you can do to indoctrinate a new hire is reassure them that they have time to get comfortable, and that everyone they met on their tour is available for questions. Help managers set reasonable goals that don't place undue outset pressure.

Maybe most importantly, set up some small victories. Taking a new job is difficult even in the most friendly companies. Confidence takes a while to set in on its own, but it can be gamed. Work with managers to set aside a handful of small achievements a new hire can be guided through in the first 30 days.

From memorizing the names of teammates (with the aid of a cheat sheet, of course) to updating their LinkedIn profile, you can probably find some small ways to put the employee at ease and speed up their confidence.New Call-to-action

Topics: Employee Engagement + Loyalty

Brandon Carter

Written by Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter