WHO are you Onboarding?

Posted by Cathy Reilly

311_wpm_lowres_(1)Onboarding new hires consists of multiple steps, much of which are task, checklist, or process oriented. Thanks to technology, many of these items are easily accomplished electronically. As the owner of an HR tech company, I’m a huge fan of this space and the advantages it delivers, but the onboarding process isn’t only about the software. What the software can do is ease the burden of redundant tasks (such as new hire orientation, paperwork, and IT set ups), provide tracking, reporting and analysis. It ultimately saves time and money as an automation tool. But thorough and effective onboarding itself doesn’t start and stop with a tech tool; it goes beyond it.

Onboarding is a process that (still) requires the human touch in any organization of any size. It’s what cultivates the new hire to become a satisfied employee, valuable contributor and fully committed team member. Discovering WHO this individual is when they join a company is essential. Key words here are “WHO” and “individual”.

The priorities of getting the new hire enrolled, assigned, registered and verified as a new employee is no confirmation that they are squared away and ready to go. It just means they have been inputted into the “system”. Each new hire is more than their employee ID number. WHO this person is needs to be plugged into the company and to their job.

Leverage the time and manpower saved by using HR onboarding tech tools. Use it toward facilitating a process that includes finding out more about each new employee. In the context of the work they were hired to perform, the new hire WHO discussions should probe why they like what they do, what drives them or fuels their passion, what are the challenges where they thrive, and when are they at their best or in their "zone"?

The WHO aspect of onboarding happens through the human touch points with the new hire and Human Resources, with company employees, and with colleagues. But, one of the most important areas of human interaction for a new hire is with their manager. Make sure managers are active participants in the process. They should be taking the time to meet and hold individual discussions with their new hires on their first day. The insights they gain about the new hire as a person can help them and others understand the value this new employee brings and their potential to make a positive difference. It can also help the new hire achieve a better perspective of the manager and the new job.

Of course, I can hear the balking now that managers don’t have time to meet with new hires and if they can, they will. Everyone's pressed for time. Have managers select the new hire’s start date around their availability so it is planned in advance and there is a commitment to the day one meeting with the new hire. If needed, provide guidance to company managers about the impact to both the employee and the company (turnover anyone?) when they take the time to meet on the first day with a new hire in their group. It's a vital element of the new hire's first impressions. If there is resistance, perhaps taking this initiative to another level for buy-in may be needed in order for managers to comply.

When you learn about WHO you are onboarding, the connection between the new hire and their job can be strengthened. When an individual's drives and best selves are linked to their job responsibilities, it helps new employees gain momentum, and builds their support for the company’s mission.

Employee cultivation deserves a place in any onboarding process and it begins on day one. Without some sort of nurturing and attention, when will this employee’s development start or be encouraged? What message gets sent to a new employee if their onboarding is only about completing process work and there’s no WHO for them anywhere around it?

Onboarding is a process that evolves for what many say takes at least a year. Encourage all the new hire human touch points, especially managers, to keep daily communication open and be sure to hold face to face meetings on a regular basis. Carry through on the new hire’s opportunity to be a WHO rather than a statistic.

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