5 Steps to Welcoming a New Employee to the Team

"Onboarding" might seem like the least of your HR worries, but it is crucial! Discover 5 steps to welcoming a new employee to the team.

Employee Experience
Human Capital

Leen Sawalha

VP Product & Growth

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


While welcoming a new employee to the team, or “onboarding”, might seem like the least of your HR worries, it is a crucial step after the hiring process. More formally, “onboarding” is a term used in businesses to refer to the integration of a new employee into the team and/or organization, which, surprisingly, not many companies do.

Why is it so surprising, you ask? “Onboarding isn’t that important” is a statement I challenge. How about you conduct a turnover analysis for yourself; is your highest turnover percentage for those who have been employed for less than 6 months? It likely is, and you are in the same boat as the majority of companies out there.

The importance of effective onboarding

If you believe your recruitment and selection process is effective, then why are your newly hired employees not lasing in your organization? Were they not satisfied with the job? Did they become demotivated? Have they not been performing as well as they should have been? Believe it or not, all of these reasons are a consequence of the absence of effective onboarding.

However, if your manage to properly welcome a new employee to your team and/or organization, then you can not only expect reduced levels of anxiety and role ambiguity, but also higher organizational commitment, better job performance, and a reduced turnover rate.

I know what you’re thinking – “can not having proper onboarding really cause all this damage?”. The answer: YES! And several studies, research, and experts will attest to it, too. So why aren’t more organizations actively welcoming their new employees? I honestly have no idea! Luckily, all you need to do now is follow these 5 steps and you will be well on your way to becoming the great HR leader you know you are!

Step 1: Know your audience!

This is probably the first rule in business (if not, it should be!). It’s quite simple, really: you should know who you are addressing in order to provide them with what they need so that you can, in turn, get what you want.

Since onboarding is essentially teaching the new employee about their role, their duties, the organizational culture, etc. then it is important to know who this employee is on a personal level. Do they learn best when something is just told to them, or do they prefer a more hands-on approach? Would they prefer an organized orientation day, or do they appreciate spontaneity? Would they prefer being introduced to their new coworkers in a large gathering, or would a one-on-one meeting be less intimidating?

The answer to all of these questions and more can’t be found in a resume or discovered during a 1-hour interview. They can, however, be found if you know your new employee’s personality.

Have your new employee complete a psychometric test BEFORE you welcome them into your team. The results will allow you to look into who they are, how they learn, what motivates them, their level of comfort in large groups, and even their resistance under stress. With that, you will be able to better prepare yourself and ensure your onboarding efforts are not in vain. Just make sure you are choosing the right test!

Step 2: Preparation time

Several individuals in the organization, and especially in the team, need to prepare before welcoming in a new member. Here are some things you need to do during this step:

  • Make sure the team knows when the new employee will be coming in.
  • Prepare a folder or binder for the new employee containing pertinent organization- and job-related documents.
  • Organize the new employee’s agenda for the day (e.g. 8-9 am: office tour, 9-10 am: meeting with immediate supervisor; 10-11 am: organizational policies and procedures, etc.).
  • Prepare the new employee’s workspace (i.e. clear desk, phone, laptop, stationery, etc.).
  • Order any necessary supplies.
  • Make sure the new employee has their required access information (passwords, key card, etc.).
  • Call the new employee and confirm the date, time, and location of their start date.

It’s important to note that this list is not exhaustive; these are just the things that must be done. You can, however, go a little step further to ensure your new employee feels welcomed, especially if you want to reap the full benefits of effective onboarding. Preparing name tags for all of their new coworkers, setting up a lunch with their new immediate supervisor, and even a big “Welcome!” sign would all be greatly appreciated by your new employee.

Step 3: A smile goes a long way

Starting a new job in a new organization is intimidating for anyone. Whether the new employee is a recent graduate or a manager, change is always a little scary (or a lot scary, for some!).

Make sure you greet the new employee at the door, and make sure you do it with a big smile on your face! You don’t want to stress the new employee out before they even begin, so seeing a friendly smile is the first step to making them feel more at ease.

Step 4: Cover the basics

Since the whole purpose of onboarding is to effectively integrate the new employee into the job, team, and organization, it’s essential that you cover those basics. Here are the bare minimum topics that should be covered as soon as the employee starts:

  • A tour of the office;
  • Introduction to coworkers;
  • Discuss what their duties and responsibilities will be;
  • Clearly outline what is expected of them in terms of performance;
  • Inform them of the companies policies and procedures;
  • Elaborate on the organization’s culture and acceptable code of conduct;
  • Tell them what their obligations are towards the organization, and what the organization’s obligations are towards them;
  • Share information regarding the team’s dynamic.

It is also important to not just tell them all this information, but try to demonstrate as much as you can to the new employee. It will help them get a clearer idea about what to expect, and what is expected of them in return.

Step 5: Feedback

Everyone should be thinking of feedback as “free information”. Information is very, very valuable, and if you can get it for free, then why wouldn’t you?! Simply take half an hour at the end of the day to see how the new employee is doing. Was the job what they expected? Are they feeling anxious? Is there anything they are uncertain about?

Not only would this make the new employee feel involved and cared for, but it would also offer you the opportunity to resolve any issues before they arise. It’s always better to be proactive than reactive, especially when it comes to welcoming a new employee to the team.

Human resources are an asset, and should be treated as such. After investing a lot of money into recruiting and selecting the right talent, the last thing you want is to do it all again because your new employees “weren’t expecting the job to be so”, or because they “weren’t performing as well as they should have been”.

Follow these 5 simple steps and you will be well on your way to better overall organizational performance. Don’t believe me? Give it a shot! What have you got to lose?

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