Welcome to episode 22 of the Rethink HR podcast, brought to you by bettHR.
In today’s episode, we go deep about your onboarding process for new employees. The offer to the onboarding process provides the biggest opportunity to create ongoing and long-lasting negative experiences for your new employees. Which leads to long-term disengagement and constant headaches. Instead, you can create onboard employees in a consistent and effective manner, in a few easy steps.
The onboarding process is one of the only times your employee is interacting with the company as an external candidate and an internal employee, and the hand-off between the two leaves many gaps and potentially negative experiences. There is an easy and low-cost way to turn your onboarding process into a well-oiled machine that ensures each new employee experiences their “welcome” to your company in the same manner.
In this episode, we share how to set-up a system for onboarding including who should own it and how much time it takes to get it set-up; the four questions you should have ready to be answered for your new employee in the offer to start timeframe; steps to creating a consistent experience—including the systems, survey questions, finding the gaps, and more; and how to evoke the feeling you want your new employees to walk in with—to stay with them for the rest of their employment.
Listen in to learn more!
In This Episode
- Offer to start date-time period and what to do to make it a positive experience and template for information sharing during this time period.
- How to evoke excitement and positive emotions through cadenced communication and outreach.
- The four things your onboarding process needs to address including feeling welcomed, tools for the role, clear expectations and responsibilities, and a plan for success.
- How to create an onboarding owner (without an additional headcount).
- Finding gaps in your current onboarding process.
- How to systemize, including the five keys things to focus on, to create consistency.
Your onboarding process is one of the most critical HR activities for the long-term success and ongoing engagement of your employees. #humanresources #hr #onboardingexperience #podcast Click To Tweet
Melissa Anzman (00:00):
Welcoming a new employee and onboarding them to your company is one of the most critical points for longterm positive employee experiences, which of course leads to engaged employee actions for the lifetime that they are at your company. I'm Melissa Anzman, HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide. And I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun, fast forward, past many fail tactics and lessons learned. And you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals, and employees. By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact.
Melissa Anzman (01:06):
If you're an HR leader or one on the rise, who's looking to stop spinning your wheels, doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results, or you want to have a career. You love your in the right place. Let's get started today. I want to dive deep into one of the things that I see the most problems with when it comes to employee experience and causes the biggest breakdowns with the most long lasting effects. And it's the easiest one for us to fix. And that is the onboarding process. Onboarding is one of those unique things that bridges that external employee experience with the internal employee experience. And he tends to get a little muffled between owners and who does what and organization, et cetera. And the real interesting thing about that is it is a process that we can create a system around and it can be repeatable if you are a small company, if you are a large company, onboarding is one of those things that we can fix quickly create something.
Melissa Anzman (02:11):
So it's repeatable and done the same and consistently across the board and kind of set it and forget it. As long as we put the things that I talk about into place now, because this does bridge the gap between an external experience and internal, I'm going to break, onboarding up into two different phases. When I talk about it today, and the first onboarding piece is they offer into the start date. So in the last episode of the rethink HR podcast, we went deep into the how candidates come in the candidate experience. And as soon as we've decided, we've selected our candidate, they move into the offer phase. And that's really a part of the onboarding phase because that's when they decide they choose to become a candidate into an employee. And so I want to talk about the offer to start date from the candidates perspective and the external, because this is critically important that again provides that long lasting impact and impression and experience moment for those new employees coming in.
Melissa Anzman (03:20):
Now, here's the thing when the process happens, like when the offer is made, the process tends to be different based on your company. Typically it starts with a verbal offer to that one person that you've chosen, and then there's some negotiation. And then there's an offer letter that is emailed for agreement and signatures and all the things oftentimes that offer process is managed by the recruiter. If you had one or HR, um, and for hiring managers, it can feel like a little bit of a gaping void of action and information, but hiring managers are still a critical part of the process as it's really important that the employee IX has a future employee, I should say, has that touch point as part of the process now, as part of the selection, you should also be working with those people who need to be involved. So the recruiter, the hiring manager, et cetera, to map out before the offer is made the start date, the process, the onboarding, the consistent experience you want to create and agree upon how your chosen candidate is going to process the offer and start date within a timeframe, because this doesn't seem to be very consistent or manage at a company level for big companies, which still surprises me by the way.
Melissa Anzman (04:44):
And for small companies, they just don't put a system in place because they're like, we don't hire that much. We don't need it. It feels like extending an offer is something that we have to recreate the wheel in every single time. Yes, we have the offer template for most of us. Yes, we know the mechanics or we have the job level compensation ranges, but the actual process and ownership of it is not clear. And therefore the information that is shared is going to be different based on recruiter or hiring manager or role or location and walking in. There's just going to be an added layer of confusion that new buddy needs or wants when they're starting a new job. So you're using the framework. You're going to use the know, feel, act, and touch framework to really identify during the offer extension stage, what needs to happen now from a know perspective, we know that there's a lot of information that our future employee needs to know when they're walking through the door of our company.
Melissa Anzman (05:52):
And since it's broadly the same information, regardless of the person's role pay all those things, there should be as standard process of sharing the information. Now think back to when you joined the last company that you joined there, accepted an offer, and you're waiting for your start date. Did you have a lot of questions? What were they, were they big? Were they small? Did you, what did you need to do as a sort of almost employee to be able to start on day one? Remember if information is lacking, that candidate to new employee is going to fill in the blanks with their own stories, which is a lot more negative usually and bias than reality. So we need to be upfront and share the right information at the right time to reinforce those emotions that we created throughout the entire hiring and recruiting process. So when sharing information during this time period, usually it's like a two week thing.
Melissa Anzman (06:50):
I want you to be specific with all the steps that, that new employee needs to take the turnaround time for each action, a contact person for questions and so on. So I have an outline in the employee experience solution are along the lines of what to include in this offer email, or, you know, to think about throughout these two weeks. So this isn't an exhaustive list, but maybe a starting point for you, which is when's my start date, who's my manager, what's their title, contact information and so on. How does this fit this role fit within the organization? When do I need to do these pre-start testing? How do I complete it once I'm completed? When am I going to hear back from you? What are the next steps? What's the timeframe around that? What are the details of my own employment? What's my tolerance, my title, salary, pay benefits, payroll information, all of that.
Melissa Anzman (07:43):
What do I need to know as an employee walking into your company? What should I expect or plan for for my first day or my first week? When am I going to get my email access? When should I get a computer? All the systems and things who is my contact person with questions? Is it you, the recruiter? Is it the hiring manager? Is it somebody else? How do I know if I'm on track to be able to start the day that we agreed upon who are my direct reports? What do they do? What do I need to know walking in? So those are the knowledge base from a feeling perspective. It's really easy. My friends, we want our new employee to be super excited and stoked to join our company and anything that gets in the way of that feeling, that emotion is going to do harm.
Melissa Anzman (08:29):
If instead of creating excitement and a welcoming feeling, we create confusion or lost or uncertainty. We are already creating negative experiences, which of course creates disengagement before that employee even started. So I'd like for you to ensure that you don't create that feeling and by do to do that, you need to have a communication schedule to keep in touch all those questions from the nose factor. I want you to have an actual email ready, or a phone call ready, or a cadence created. Maybe you want to get in touch every two to four days during that waiting period, whatever it is, do not leave them to hang in the wind for those two weeks with each outreach, even if it's the recruiter or the hiring manager, whomever's doing it, you should reinforce that feeling of we're really excited for you to join us. We can't wait to have you as part of our team, the team's really excited, so on and so forth share information during those updates.
Melissa Anzman (09:36):
So like here's what the team's up to. Here's the goal, um, that they're working on. This is why like a recruiting brochure works really well of like now that you've accepted, here's all about us and our values and our culture and all the things. And then I also really liked the idea of a timeline PDF so that your new employees have all the details that they need when they sign their offer letter. What to expect when the various timelines things like here's your start date, here's when new or hire orientation happens. Here's when you have to enroll for payroll, here's when your benefits kicks in. Here's when you have to set goals. I mean, you get the point here, but create our timeline PDF for the first 30 days or so of what they should expect so that they know they're on track and they're not missing any thing.
Melissa Anzman (10:26):
And always, you know, I like a good snail mail, a good warm, welcome package or card, particularly in a remote environment. Um, it can be a little promo gift thing. It could just be a card saying I'm so excited to have you on my team, but definitely as part of the, you know, overlap between offer to onboarding, that is a really nice thing to do. Now act during this phase is pretty simple. We need them to accept the offer and get super excited to join. So that's the action. And as far as the touch points here, you know, the thing is, is they are bridging the gap as well. So it will be a little clunky if you have different systems tech and tools for your external candidates, then your internal employees. So just be aware of that, give these new employees a heads up as to what to expect and maybe try and eliminate some of those extra touch points down the road.
Melissa Anzman (11:20):
But if you are clear in communicating with them, here's the system you need to go to for that or this, that will eliminate a lot of the confusion and questions from a touch point perspective. So let's get to the fun part of this, the juicy part, which is the onboarding process. Now this is the very first internal experience that your new employees are going to have with your company. It's their first one as a true employee. They've just bridged the gap. They are just now walking through the door and have reached the internal phase. Now, of course like this is something that we can systemize. We can create custom eyes, you know, and have it be a one size fits all with those customization points of like job title, all those things. But we tend not to. And this, again, it's so surprising that onboarding is something that is broken in.
Melissa Anzman (12:12):
So, so many places. So here's the thing. We tend to do a review, really good job at saying, Hey, we're excited to have you here for day one. But after that, we're not really sure what we do for onboarding. So whatever your current onboarding process is, I'm sure it can be improved. It's specially right now to better fit your ideal employee experience and reinforce that culture you want to create and reinforce throughout their time there. And you can do that while also adding more value, connection, and relationship building throughout the team experience throughout the onboarding experience. So at a high level, your onboarding process needs to address these four things. Number one, do I feel welcomed? And part of the team, number two, do I have the tools I need to do my job? Number three, is it clear what I'm responsible to do and accomplish?
Melissa Anzman (13:10):
And number four, is there a plan to get me to success? Those are the four things. Your new employee is thinking and needs. Concrete answers, directions, guidance from you, whether that's you and HR or the hiring manager in order to be successful. And we have to create a way for this to work, the bigger the company, you have some advantages and disadvantages, but you can do this regardless of size. And if we don't address these four things right off the bat consistently and concisely in the absence of that, your employees are going to start to build those negative thoughts and experiences about your company on day one. And this is the quickest way to create disengagement from the start and actually never be able to convert them into high performing, engaged employees down the road. And right now, now onboarding seems pretty segmented. Usually we have like the recruiting function handling the offer letter and then handing them off to the hiring manager who may or may not have support from HR as to like what to do.
Melissa Anzman (14:20):
Um, but it's up to each hiring manager to then deliver it, which we all know when things are up to all these different individuals, it's not going to be consistent. So what I'd like you to really consider is to first create an onboarding owner. So instead of having it be held by all these different departments or segments of HR or different owners, I'd like you to designate an actual owner. So perhaps it's, you know, it resides in talent, acquisition or recruiting, and they do the offer letter. You can keep it, but like we want them to own the entire process. So I want you to think about where does that belong versus just doing a handoff, because right now, every time TA hands it off to the hiring manager after day one, there is always a gap of information there, whether it's the processes, the steps, the needed information, all that your future employee feels kind of loss.
Melissa Anzman (15:16):
Um, and sometimes like you may provide the hiring manager, a checklist of things that they need to do. So I see this a lot, like onboarding quote unquote is here's the checklist day one, make sure you complete all this in the first two weeks. Well, that's okay. I mean, it's better than nothing, but it is still leaving a lot up to discretion and it's creating an inconsistent environment for that. It's really still up to that hiring manager to understand what we need them to do and have the knowledge of where to go. So here's the thing. If you had an owner, you don't have the inconsistencies you have, Hey, I'm your onboarding manager. I'm here to help you navigate your hiring. Manager's going to do this. This is what to expect. This is where to go. You have questions, I'm your person, all the things.
Melissa Anzman (16:02):
Now, the good news is unless it's a really big company, this isn't a full time job at most places. The scope's obviously going to depend on the size of your company, how many people you tend to onboard annually, all those things, but it's not necessarily going to be a new hire. You can identify someone who's really good. Maybe they're already doing the new hire orientation, or maybe they're in, um, PR the performance space or the L and D space. And they're responsible for the, the online training or the online boarding. It could be a good idea to have the bridge, the gap, but regardless it like you can do this. It just takes a little bit of upfront time. So soon as you set it up, it is kind of a set it and forget it. Um, I've seen it take about three to six months to set up really well with focus.
Melissa Anzman (16:51):
And then it really just runs in the background for the most part. And this is true because if you systemize your onboarding process and you're creating those standard operating procedures and all the outlines and documents and things that make it easy to do and repeatable and consistent, you don't need to spend a lot of money or time on ensuring that things are happening the way that you need to. If you have an owner of it, the next thing to do is dig into what you're already doing. So similar to how we would create an overall employee experience statement. I want you to understand what your onboarding process looks like right now. Where are the gaps where the friction points, where are their frustration moments? And then you can figure out the ideal way to move forward. So once you get that feedback, you can then hop into how to systemize it using your company's preferred online resource for projects.
Melissa Anzman (17:48):
Maybe it's like the learning system, a project management system, like I'm a sauna or Excel or something. Um, the internet, a survey tool, whatever you're already using. You know, me, I am not a fan of saying, spend more money to spend more money and add another system. In fact, we need to take away a lot of systems, but use what you're always using and create repeatable steps that your talent acquisition partners, that your hiring managers must complete and report back on in an ongoing basis for the onboarding process. And all those steps get reported to your onboarding manager. By having it online with an overseer or an approver, you will by default, create more buy in and obligation to actually take the steps that we need them to do in a consistent manner. So it's a total win. And as part of this, I'd like you to systemize a minimum, these five things, the day one expectations, team introductions, goal setting a resources kit and on boarding surveys.
Melissa Anzman (18:54):
So I'm going to dig into what all those means at a high level real quick. But of course you can always find more in the book. So day one expectations really is what an employee and their hiring managers should expect on day one, where to go, what time to show up, what does show up meme in the remote world? How much time should be devoted to certain activities during the first day? Um, if there's any people they need to meet with that kind of stuff at HR activities, paperwork, all the things create a standard day, one expectations so that you can have a template for it and understand that we are on track and doing things right for team introductions. This is part of welcoming your new employee to the team and including that new employee with that welcome. So determine the ideal way to do that for your company.
Melissa Anzman (19:46):
Maybe it's an email that's sent out to the whole team. Maybe it's a all hands meeting, whatever it is. I'd like you to create a standard way to introduce teams, have it be a template so you can do it consistently across the board. There is nothing worse. My friends then when you are not introduced as a new team member and someone comes in and it's a huge party, like you feel really downtrodden. How do I know? Because it's happened to me. So make sure your team introductions is systemized is a template and is consistent across the board. And as part of that, if you want to do like a gift or a promo or whatever, totally cool, but have something that is consistent so that we are welcoming our new employees in the same way across the board. Now for goal setting, I really want you to help the employee understand when goals need to be set, how goals are set, why goals matter for your company who agrees to them?
Melissa Anzman (20:41):
Is it cascading? Is it all those things? I want those details in a systemized format and on a certain date. So that, that is something that they incorporate into their calendar as part of their performance management process and the on boarding process. And as new employees, they really need to feel confident about what is expected of them. The ambiguity is not going to be good here for a new hire. So let them know here's the expectation. Here's how we're starting to set goals, what it looks like and where to go from there. Now our resources kit is something that you can create an ad to and an ongoing basis, but put all your resources in one, easy to access place for new employees. And this is everything. This is like overwhelm them with any type of information that they may need. It can be an internet page.
Melissa Anzman (21:31):
If everybody has access to it, it can be a PDF that you add to that. Or you can put it on a microsite or a password protected external site, but basically resources include where to go for what, how, like, who do I ask questions to? Like, if I have a payroll question, where do I go go to this website, go to that person, go to this call center. What have you for any type of new hire new employee question that they may have create it, add to it as new questions come in and make it a really helpful resource for them. Onboarding surveys. A lot of people stopped doing this, and I'm not really sure why maybe it's like the exit interview survey where you just weren't getting good results, or maybe it was one of those things that no one owns. So it was inconsistent and fell off the plate.
Melissa Anzman (22:21):
But here's the thing with onboarding surveys, you are going to find so much information. There is no one better to share with you. Gaps, positives, negatives, all the things about your company. Then someone who is just walking in, they are already comparing it to previous experiences. They're already aligning it with their expectations and they are going to be able to tell you exactly what went wrong or what's going awesome throughout the onboarding process. So take advantage of that. Now the best practice is to reach out for feedback and 30 and 90 day increments. But the questions that you ask are critically important and they really need to stay, um, confidential and anonymous, or you're not going to get really good information. So a lot of people say, well, what should I ask? And I'm going to share some things that you should ask, but I want to share some things of what you should not ask in an onboarding survey. These are all real life questions I have seen that are not going to get you any useful information. So check your onboarding surveys. If you're asking these, eliminate them immediately, and as he builds your new one, be sure not to include them. Which is, are you happy and satisfied with your new role?
Speaker 2 (23:39):
Is this question,
Melissa Anzman (23:39):
It's not going to get you any type of usable feedback because you're asking a new employee who is depending on that job to pay their bills. If they like their new job, there's really no reason for them to answer anything. But like, of course I am. The next one is how do the onboarding process go? Well, like this is a very broad question, not specific at all, but it's not fair if they had a bad experience at one step, but overall it was great experience. You're not going to get the answer that you need, which is figuring out that one point that actually failed. So the last one is, is the job what you expected it to be. So, yes, it's great information for us to know, but if the answer is no, how are they supposed to share that with you? What kind of information are they going to feel comfortable?
Melissa Anzman (24:27):
So instead I'd like you to ask open ended questions versus leading or yes, or no questions. So, yep. You're going to have to read the responses to the survey. It's not a numerical one in general, but you can use, you know, scales at Likert scales. If you need to like, you know, from extremely agree to just strongly disagree or, you know, one to 10, but open-ended text responses are always going to give you the most juicy information. So here are a few that I would recommend. Can you share ways in which you felt welcome when joining the organization and then be sure to ask the negative of that question as well? Um, what would have been helpful to you during the onboarding process that was not available next? What information do you wish you knew when you joined the company? Next was how can we import improve the onboarding peer experience of, or your first 30 days?
Melissa Anzman (25:27):
Next one, what suggestions do you have for us to make the new employee transition easier? Now those are those long form questions. Have them actually type in some answers if you'd like some quick. Yes and no. You can say, did you have the information you needed on day one or did you feel supported throughout the onboarding process or do you feel supported by your manager and or new team in your new role, have the expectations for your role been clearly defined? So once you have that information, you can then create updates and start editing and improving your onboarding process. Because remember, if it is systemized, if there is one person who has the problem, we can address it and change it for all and create even more positive experiences going forward based on that one thing. But if we don't have a consistent process, we don't have any way of knowing what's actually working or not because our people are experiencing different things.
Melissa Anzman (26:27):
And the thing is I'm set it twice already. I want to say it one more time, welcoming a new employee and onboarding them to your company is one of the most critical points for longterm positive employee, which of course leads to engaged employee actions for the lifetime that they are at your company. So don't drop the ball here, get an owner of it, systemize it, and be consistent in its rollout so that you can actually create a positive experience as that candidate goes from offer stage to new employees stage this podcast is brought to you by better microsites with your HR budgets being cut and you being on the hunt for ways to do more with less. Why not consider a total rewards or benefits microsite to not only increase your employee experience, but also deliver increased value at half the cost. We all know that your off the shelf benefit administration website is extremely user unfriendly, lacking customization, easy to find information, a crazy firewall and a missing search function.
Melissa Anzman (27:38):
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