Although many businesses have had to reduce their workforces because of the COVID-19 pandemic, others are still hiring, or may start bringing on new employees in the weeks or months ahead. A thoughtful onboarding program has become more important than ever in today’s anxious environment of safety concerns and compliance challenges.
Onboarding refers to “[a formal] process of helping new hires adjust to social and performance aspects of their new jobs quickly and smoothly,” according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
Traditionally, a comprehensive onboarding program’s objective is to deliver multiple benefits to the company. These include stronger employee performance and productivity, higher job satisfaction and a deeper commitment to the business. New hires who are properly onboarded should also experience reduced stress and an enhanced sense of career direction.
Additionally, an onboarding program allows you to be crystal clear about compliance procedures, HR policies, compensation and benefits offerings. In other words, this is a crucial opportunity for you to explain to a new hire many issues, including all of the measures you’re using to cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
3 steps to a successful onboarding program
What does a comprehensive onboarding program look like? Specifics will depend on the size, industry and nature of your company. Generally, however, an onboarding program can be segmented into three parts:
1. Preparing for the job. The onboarding process should begin before a new hire starts work. This involves steps such as discussing his or her specific acclimation needs, choosing and preparing a workspace--and in 2020, this likely includes introducing the platform, procedures and expectations for working remotely--and designating a coach or mentor.
2. Optimizing day one. As the saying goes, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” An onboarding program might involve an itemized start-date schedule that lays out everything from who will greet the new employee at the door--or who will conduct a first-day video call--to what paperwork must be completed, to a detailed itinerary of meetings (virtual or otherwise) throughout the day.
3. Following up regularly. Even a great first day can mean nothing if a new hire feels ignored thereafter. An onboarding program may establish continuing check-in meetings (or video calls) with the employee’s direct supervisor and coach/mentor for the first 30 or 60 days of employment. From then on, interactions with the coach/mentor may be arranged at longer intervals until the employee feels comfortable.
Onboarding in the year 2020 and beyond involves so much more than giving new employees their marching orders. It entails helping a new hire feel safe, supported and fully informed. If you have any questions about onboarding in the new normal, please leave a comment below, or feel free to reach out to me directly, I'm happy to help!