Google "employee onboarding best practices" or "employee onboarding checklist" and you'll find a bunch of listicles detailing the importance of onboarding new employees for the company's sake. If you fail, the company risks high turnovers and inefficiency. Even worst: it'll lose precious time & money. Bottom line: failing at onboarding new employees has a huge impact on your company's results and reputation.
What usually follows is a comprehensive checklist of best practices to avoid this disaster and create an efficient onboarding for your company. Above all, because they are almost always presented as "checklists", they treat onboarding as something you have to cross out and do identically for every new person.
These lists are often resourceful but because they are focused on the company's success, they forget the obvious: onboarding a new employee is about making a new person in your team feel fully integrated, socially and work-wise.
So what's the key ingredient to successfully onboarding a new employee? Make them feel at home. Here's a spin at well-known employee onboarding practices that focus on the employee's success, not the company's.
Before his/her first day
The boring admin stuff
Don't waste your new team member's time by setting up accounts on his/her first day. Everything should be in place for him/her to just log in on D-Day and get going with the tools. By taking away friction around admin stuff, you'll spend more time on the important stuff like explaining company culture, day to day work and getting to know each other.
Go beyond the administrative preparation: small intentions can go a long way. Things like a small welcome card from people at the office or even scheduling a team lunch makes the new employee feel welcomed. It sounds obvious but prepping a desk or allocating time in your calendar can go a long way in feeling like the team is making room (literally and figuratively) for a new member.
The extra mile
We've all been there: the first week can feel overwhelming. You simultaneously feel like there's so much knowledge to read up on and like you're not actually producing anything.
It's so important to let new employees feel included in your team's projects and missions. Set small milestones in the first weeks to gradually give him/her ownership of what you're already co-building. This means planning meetings & setting aside some tasks that she/he could perform on their arrival.
The first days and beyond
Ease the awkward moments
It can feel socially awkward to join a team. Ease the process for the new employee you're welcoming by presenting him/her to the entire team of course but also people he/she will be interacting with regularly. More than presenting by name, also explain clearly the person's role in the team. It gives your new hire instant ownership of his/her new position.
When it makes sense, be sure to even (especially) get your new employee to meet higher level managers.
Build an onboarding kit
One well-known employee onboarding best practice is to prepare an onboarding checklist with all the information your employee needs to have at his/her disposal in order to perform well in the quickest way possible. The problem with this? It's often a lot of text, boring and a very passive way to welcome someone to a team.
Instead, make your onboarding checklist and kit collaborative by encouraging the new employee to give input on processes that are already in place, to pitch in and to improve the onboarding kit for the next person. Feel free to check out templates here.
Be extra present
Even if it means having a lighter schedule for the first few weeks. This will allow you to get a better sense of how the first days are going for your new hire. Is he/she integrated well with the rest of the team? Is there an ongoing task he/she is working on? It will also allow you to be more present and encouraging at every new milestone of the new hire and there are loads on the first weeks.
There's no clear ending
The point is that your employee onboarding checklist should be ongoing: things change every day in companies. But there is a point at which new employees start to feel like they have a place in the team: that's when you've succeeded. A huge part of this is not necessarily having the right tools or processes but having the right attitude towards him or her. It sounds simple but feeding him/her long docs to read on the first day is actually 100x easier than ensuring he/she feels part of the team.
At the end of the day it's about showing a minimum of empathy and wondering what onboarding best practices would push you to be successful.
So instead of focusing on the success onboarding practices will bring to your team, start first with how it'll impact your new hire. Then, I promise, it'll naturally trickle down to your team.