Best Behavior, Best Practices: The Etiquette Of Successful Onboarding

Let’s talk about the etiquette of onboarding new hires. Newfangled definition of bringing a new employee into your business, meet old-fashioned principle of good behavior in social situations.

The process of bringing a new employee up to speed so they feel welcomed and become productive fast — without neglecting to complete all the necessary organizational paperwork and tasks — is certainly not a newfangled concept. It remains critical to most businesses. A new study in Bersin by Deloitte confirms it: 79 percent of the business leaders polled consider successful onboarding a top priority.

An effective and positive onboard experience can be a key factor in inspiring and keeping employees, as well as supporting them as they ascend the organizational ladder. It’s an asset to their success over the long term. What’s new are the means and methods: increasingly, onboarding is digital, working across many platforms and channels — online, cloud-based, mobile, social, audio, video. There are more amazing options for customizing and integrating —even in a newly merged hospital, for instance — an enormous, complex challenge for HR at any phase — HR can offer a solution via onboarding that seamlessly blends performance and talent management programs.

I recently focused on optimizing the onboarding process with tech. And it reminded me of just how far we’ve come; onboarding a matter of decades ago was mostly likely punctuated with handshakes and people, with advice on getting used to the new electric (!) typewriter and a walk through a few forms. This was the analog method — done by people. Talking. Face to face. And as onboarding has gone digital, we have to make sure it doesn’t leave ye ole human factor behind.

The challenge is to remember that talent is people. Onboarding’s success is best leveraged with what engages and inspires. According to the Bersin study, an awful first day will cause 4 percent of employees to beat a hasty exit. Further, said Katherine Jones, a VP at Bersin by Deloitte, “22 percent of staff turnovers occur in the first 45 days of employment.” That’s a huge loss.

For a successful onboarding process, make sure it addresses the big picture in a way that engages your new employees. It observes some rules of etiquette (that’s what I call them) that blend good behavior with good presentation:

It’s consistent — branded and packaged to create a solid, positive, inspiring first impression, with the same messaging throughout (that’s the same for all new hires).
It’s tailored — customized to the nature of the new hire’s role, generational group, and specific tasks (Bersin even recommends individualized portals for day one).
It’s easy to navigate — with fluid prompts that makes its user feel productive.
It’s automated across the board so there’s no need to stop the process for an individual tutorial, and so everyone has the same experience (back to that issue of consistency).
It’s rich — in design, and content. We love content. And we love color, and fonts, and logos, and options, and boxes. I’m not being reductive here: in the digital, mobile and social age of information we read differently, we experience information differently, and a static design with a minimum of content is just not going to keep our attention.

Finally, consider the cardinal rule of conversation: keep it short, keep it sweet. If the onboarding process seems like a wall of tedious tasks, that’s a turn-off. It’s not a disaster, but it won’t forge vital first connections between a new hire and his or her role within the company. It will certainly not inspire talent to see themselves as potential contributors to the company’s vision and mission. So think beyond that wall of paperwork and organizational tasks. Engaging new hires and inviting them into the spirit of the company is be just as important as making sure you have all the data straight. And it’s far more polite.

To learn more about how to empower your new hires on day one, download TalentWise’s latest whitepaper.

TalentWise, is a technology company that’s transforming the way HR manages job offers, screens, and onboards new hires. TalentWise has built a single, online platform that streamlines the hiring process end-to-end with compliance built-in. To find out more about how your organization can onboard better, check out their blog by clicking here.

photo credit: Didriks via photopin cc