Generally speaking, first impressions are extremely relevant in life, and working environments are not an exception. That is why since the moment a new employee steps into the company’s facilities, he must feel part of its culture. During those initial moments, people are usually nervous and vulnerable due to fear of the unknown and their uncertainty regarding new challenges. With an onboarding process planned beforehand, HR department will achieve that the new employee feels important and integrated from the get-go, even when receiving the job offer. With onboarding, or reception, the aim is to involve the newcomer into corporate culture, as well as to provide him with the tools and information necessary to become a productive member.

The importance of making a good impression on the employee and making him feel comfortable with his position since the very beginning is something beneficial not only for him but also for the company, which will achieve a lower attrition rate and, therefore, savings in time and budget. Diverse studies have proven that most employees make the decision of either staying in a company for years or leaving as soon as possible during their first six months on the job. When someone leaves within a few months it implies a loss for the company. “Replacing talent is as expensive as twice the annual salary. And it’s not only about money. Corporate culture and job satisfaction are deeply affected by that, as well as team morale, and productivity”, argues Ben Peterson, CEO of the technology sector-oriented HR company BambooHR.

Peterson also highlights the importance of a good onboarding process in order to enhance the performance of an employee by mentioning a study conducted by the Corporate Leadership Council, which claims that a worker´s dedication increases by more than 20%, provided that a plan to help him integrate is followed.

The first steps

An onboarding process must begin before hiring. It`s important to pay special attention to the recruitment section in the company’s website, where corporate culture should be reflected in each job offer. Good care should be also taken when submitting a proposal: internal operations, duties, schedule, perks and even a word about the team should be detailed.
The two main objectives on the first day in the job should be to make clear to the newest addition what is expected from him and the goals he must accomplish. In order to be productive from the very beginning and avoid frustration, HR department must have everything the employee needs to perform his duties ready: a place to sit, a functional computer and phone combo, an email account already set and access cards if needed.
Parties involved in the process

Although the onboarding process must be spearheaded by HR department, the managers of each area play a crucial role in it. It is extremely important that the newcomer has a one-on-one meeting with his superior as soon as possible, even if it’s short. There’s no need to burden him with too much information since the beginning; it’s better to provide it gradually so that he’s not overwhelmed.

For a better integration, the figure of a sponsor is one of great help: a colleague in charge of showing the new addition everything, from email templates to schedules or the location of the restroom. It’s already been said that the smallest details count and should not be neglected. 55% of those interviewed by BambooHR acknowledged that having a mentor who helped them when joining the company was very important. In addition, it’s an opportunity for the employee performing that role to show his leadership skills and assume responsibilities.

It was pointed out previously that onboarding processes should begin during recruitment stages, so it’s only natural that they last for at least a year. During that time, the employee’s integration into the dynamics of the company and his overall experience should be checked periodically. It is also advisable that he meets his manager, as well as members of the HR department. The estimated time for an individual to work at full capacity will depend to a great extent on the type of job.

Therefore, onboarding should not be neglected but promoted through seemingly small gestures that will have a great impact on the employee, motivating him right from the beginning, enhancing his productivity and achieving low attrition rates on the part of the company eventually.

Sources: Harvard Business Review, Society for Human Resource Management, Forbes and Gamelearn.

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