If after using various tools, you have hired the best candidate for the position you were seeking to fill, it is now time to set up an onboarding program that will rise to your organization’s image. Some companies will opt for a formal program while others will choose a more informal style. Regardless of the favored approach, a successful integration requires certain key elements to be taken into account.
The benefits of building an onboarding program
One important way to maximize the time and money spent on the recruiting process is to carefully prepare the new employee’s first day. Despite the benefits to implement an onboarding strategy, many companies, still as of today, neglect its importance. Numerous studies have shown the added value of such practice:
- Lower turnover rates;
- Higher performance levels;
- Sense of professional efficiency;
- Organizational engagement;
- Higher job satisfaction;
- Decreased stress level for the new employee.
In short, the results are positive for both the new employee and the organization.
1. Pre-integration: Make sure to communicate with your new hire before the first day
Often overlooked, pre-integration helps to make a first contact with the new employee. Sometimes, a certain period of time elapses between the day the candidate is officially hired and the day he starts assuming his new position. This waiting period is a perfect opportunity to initiate the relationship and, at the same time, to forward administrative forms, employee handbook and provide some basic information about the organization.
Other organizations capitalize in a “pre-welcome” online tool which involves transmitting, before the new employee’s start date, relevant information and knowledge about his future work environment, and invites him to log onto a learning platform which introduces him to various thematic modules. Undoubtedly, depending on the size of your organization and your budget, less expensive options are available, such as a welcome email, a follow-up call or face-to-face meetings, all of which can contribute to create a sense of belonging for the new employee.
Preparing for the new employee’s arrival is essential, because it shows him that he is expected. For example, outlining a checklist in advance will help to achieve success on the first day. Thus, the workstation should be clean and functional, passwords and access codes should be created and colleagues should be notified of the new hire’s arrival.
2. The first day: Personalize the onboarding of your new employee
On the first day, it is strongly recommended that the immediate supervisor welcomes the new employee and introduces him to the personalized onboarding plan. Depending on the size of the organization, different stakeholders (HR advisor, mentor or tutors) may be involved in the process to cover different subjects (non-exhaustive list):
- Overview of the organization and the organizational chart;
- Administration forms, regulations and policy-related rules;
- On-site visit with introduction to immediate co-workers and different services;
- Job description and expectations toward the new hire;
- Introduction to key contacts;
3. Professional integration: Provide a training plan, follow-ups and feedback
The following weeks are decisive since it is at this point that the work itself begins. Therefore, it is crucial to have a good integration and training plan as well as regular follow-up meetings to ensure that everything is carried out properly. This way, professional and social integration will be facilitated for the new employee.
Although much of the work is performed by the organization, the new employee plays an essential role in the success of his integration. Both his involvement and feedback are extremely important during the process in order to ensure its effectiveness and adjust it, if necessary.
Measure the effectiveness of your strategy for continuous improvement
The effectiveness of a strategy can be measured by the implementation of key indicators that will enable monitoring and continuous improvement of your onboarding program. For example, measuring the skills and knowledge acquired by assessing the quality of work being performed by the new employee at various times during the first year, or the effectiveness of the adopted strategy by tracking turnover rates, absenteeism and reasons for leaving.
It is therefore in the best interest of organizations to set up a quality onboarding program so that they can gain the full benefits and retain new employees.
Note: The masculine form is used throughout this article solely in order to simplify the text.
 Source: Onboarding new employees : Maximizing success, Talya N, Bauer, Ph.D, SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guideline Series, 2010.
 Source: Effectif, volume 15, numéro 2, avril/mai 2012.Une pratique innovante : le pré-accueil en ligne par Catherine Landry, CRHA.
 Source: Le livre blanc du Onboarding, www.people-onboard.com.