Onboarding and recruitment in the digital industry

It takes just thirty seconds to make an impression on someone and an additional thirty times meeting that person to change that impression. Yes, first impressions count, although not just personally but at a company level also.

Onboarding can make a huge difference to a new starter’s state of mind and helping them settle quickly into the business will ensure they become a valuable member of your team. However this part of the recruitment process is often forgotten or ignored. Engagement at this early stage can help to increase staff retention, motivation, productivity and long term company profit. So why is it that many companies seem to get it wrong?

Ensure you have a meaningful impact

Poor onboarding experiences can put doubt in the mind about a new workplace and questions will arise that wouldn't have if the process were smoother. Did my new manager forget I was starting today? Do they care I’m starting? Am I a valuable and respected member of the team? Have I made the right choice?

The first few days can be tough times for new starters and they are critical to the development of any new starter's mental state. Amplified further if they’re a university graduate with no understanding or experience of working life.

When talking with friends and colleagues about onboarding it becomes apparent that stories of true onboarding success are quite rare. It seems to be an issue across various industries and career levels, even with companies that have high quality Human Resource teams.

Stories continued to surface of poor initial communication, unorganisised first weeks, lack of proper training or introductory procedures. Compounding the issues further with unresponsive collegues and no clear understanding of hierachial structure or key decision makers.

Early engagement will produce a team that will settle quicker, produce greater work and stay satisfied for longer.

Ask yourself, can you as a leader within your company, deal with onboarding more effectively? It can be simple and with a few changes can quickly enhance your onboarding process and build a stronger team. This early engagement will produce a team that will settle quicker, produce greater work and stay satisfied for longer.

Onboarding process improvement, five simple steps.

Contact - The period between accepting a job offer and start date can be a long and awkward time which can breed uncertainty. Keep in touch; it’s vital your new starter knows they’re still very much at the forefront of your mind.

Setup - Start as you mean to go on and get used equipment out, cleaned, hard drives wiped and new accounts set up the week before your new starter arrives. If a team member is being replaced include a few days buffer time, it won’t hurt your business.

Plan - On the start day get in early, make sure the new starter knows what time to come in, which should be an hour later than the normal start time. Plan their whole first week and get them working on an actual project quickly, they’ll feel more worthwhile having something tangible to work on.

Organise - Once they’ve settled into their first day show them around, introduce them to different teams but don’t overwhelm them, no one can remember all those names and job titles. Hand them both a seating plan with names and job titles and an updated hierarchy structure. It’s important they understand who the key influencers and decision makers are.

Socialise - For the first few days show them a few places to grab something to eat, making sure at least one of the team come along as this will build a great team ethos. If you’re a sociable group do something engaging and fun the first available night, nothing helps team bonding more than a social event.

It’s up to you to improve the process

Follow these steps and make some simple but valuable changes to your onboarding process and it should work wonders for all involved. Think back to your first few career positions in this industry; was the onboarding process successful and how did it make you feel? It’s up to you to improve the process and start a culture of onboarding greatness in your company, you’ll attract better candidates, increase team engagement, keep staff happier for longer and producing higher quality work.

Chris Compston on 20th February 2015. Related talks and lectures:


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