Onboarding: why bringing in a new hire is about much more than induction

Image for Kate Bastable By Kate Bastable

You’ve found your perfect hire. And you’ve got a good induction system in place. But what many agencies overlook is how important a comprehensive onboarding process is. Even the best of candidates won’t step into a role and fly. You need to help them feel part of the business, an integral part of the team. Making them feel valued from day one can be the difference between them staying… or walking.

Essentially, you need to turn your ‘good hire’ into a ‘good employee’.

This does take some time and effort, but the right recruitment processes will take account of this investment. And it can pay off in droves if you get it right.

Develop an induction pack for new starters, which you could give to them before their first day. Include things like behaviours, role and responsibilities and potential career paths. Offer an organogram, so they can see who’s who in the team and the business, and where they fit. Give them some details about your company culture and sell the business to them. They might have agreed to work there, but now you want them to stay.

Explain your expectations for their onboarding period, such as where they need to be at week one, month one… up to three months (or whenever their probation finishes).

Remember, you were there once…

Being a new starter is daunting even for the most experienced person. You can give them a good helping hand by making sure everything is ready for their first day. Systems set up with passwords, employee handbook ready, training booked into their diary so they always have something to do. Make sure you’ve shared their information with the relevant people, such as HR and finance.

Not knowing anyone can be a big part of the new starter nerves. Introduce them internally before they start – in your company meeting or on your intranet – so everyone knows a little about them beforehand and can welcome them aboard.

Assign someone to give them a half hour intro, to show them their desk and how to log in, use the systems etc. Don’t just leave them to ‘read stuff’ – this is guaranteed to switch them off. Bring the company to life with videos showing your people talking about the company culture and why it’s a great place to work. This is far more engaging.

Introduce them to key people and suggest they plan in time for a chat and a coffee. If you have profiles on your website, this can support your organogram and really help them put faces to names and job titles.

Everyone at an agency is busy. But part of your expectations is an investment of time to onboard a new starter and integrate them into the team. Perhaps set up a team lunch, or do a few Q&A games to get to know each other.

This isn’t just for the first day or two, either. Offer regular check ins to see how they’re finding the role and how they feel, getting feedback from other team members. The first three months should allow a focus on training and onboarding, then they can start taking up more responsibility after three / six months. Expectations may vary depending on the seniority of the role, but even the most senior of hires needs time to integrate into their role, team and wider business and be trained on the company processes.

Listen to feedback

If they leave within 12 months, you need to have a look at what happened. People don’t generally leave in the first year, as it doesn’t look great for them. So it could be a problem with the role, team or your onboarding process.

It’s always a good idea to get feedback from new starters. How did they find the process? Any room for improvement or other suggestions?

It might sound like hard work. But remember when you first started out. We’ve all been the ‘newbie’ at some point and the more support and encouragement you give, the more productivity you’ll get back. You hired them for a reason. Now you need to keep them.

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