All Onboard – Growing your team successfully

First impressions last. Whether they are good, bad or ugly, it is really important in all aspects of life to make sure you create a positive one and none more so than when a new team member joins the team. If done well, a positive first impression will reassure the new employee that they have made the right move.  If done poorly, it could end up with the employee regretting their decision and returning to their old employer or seeking an alternative opportunity.

We sat down with Jenny Cunsamy, Senior Recruitment Consultant, to find out more about how to onboard effectively.

1.    When does the onboarding process begin?

Contrary to what most people probably think, onboarding starts right at the start of the recruitment process, not the first day in the office. It is vital that the employer ensures the position they are advertising is signed off, there is an available desk and that the existing team is aware that the position is being advertised. Whilst this all sounds obvious, you would be surprised at how many times this doesn’t happen. When you’re adding to an existing team, everyone should be aware of the changes and also, understand why the new person is being hired, particularly if there is a skills overlap or the business is introducing a new service.

2.    What are the essential onboarding steps that need to be taken and are any of them legally required?

We are guided by Fair Work Australia who state that there is a requirement to be transparent and open. Make sure you provide the new team member with a contract detailing the salary, award and leave details and allow them time to read through the details and ask any questions well in advance.

We recommend that as part of the onboarding process, the new starter meets with their employer again before their first day to ensure all the administration is taken care of prior to commencement. Knowing this is in order, takes the pressure off and, is a great opportunity to go over the key duties of the role again.  

When it comes to the first day, we recommend that the company’s workplace health and safety procedures are covered off as a priority. Ideally, you should have a document that outlines these and that the new starter signs once complete. Whilst not a legal requirement, you may also wish to ask if the employee has any COVID health concerns and whether they are happy to work from home if required.

3.    Is a ‘buddy’ system something you’d recommend?

Most definitely. And it doesn’t just have to be one person. It can vary depending on the organisation and the role. In some companies, the new employee will undergo a two-week training session and in others, they are assigned a mentor.

Systems and processes vary from company to company and often, it’s the smaller things such as knowing how to transfer phone calls or how to use the printer that can be the cause of the most worry. Make sure they have a login to the computer systems and access to the carpark (if there is one). It is also a nice touch to have business cards already printed and displayed on their desk for their first day. All these things go a long way to making a great first impression.

Training is a very important aspect of onboarding as all new employees require the tools to do their jobs properly.  This responsibility can be shared amongst the team. Even if someone has great skills already, being shown new processes and having access to support is essential.

4.    Is onboarding the responsibility of the boss?

Yes and no. The manager (and/or the Human Resources department if there is one) should be the person to lead the onboarding however, it is up to the entire team to be part of the process. This will help ensure that the new starter feels supported and accepted. It will also give them the opportunity to see how the company works. A welcome morning tea or lunch is also a good idea. Not only does this create a good first impression, it’s also great to help everyone bond and for the company personality to shine through.

You can also onboard someone remotely should it not be possible for them to physically attend on their first day. This is of particular importance given the ever-changing COVID-19 situation. Schedule meetings for the new starter with each department, make sure equipment such as the laptop and mobile phone are delivered in advance, as well as any other essential items.

5.    In your experience, has poor onboarding ever led to a good employee leaving a company?

One example that sticks in my mind is of a senior person who was starting in a new role. They arrived on time on their first day however, the receptionist clearly had no idea that there was a new person starting. She ushered them to a meeting room whilst she tried to work out who the correct person in the company was to contact. In the meantime, the employee had picked up on the confusion and after about ten minutes of waiting, contacted the CBC team to ask what was going on. Fast forward another ten minutes and the employer was on the phone to us demanding to know where the new starter was and how disappointing it was that they hadn’t arrived on time.

This is a classic example of miscommunication and unfortunately, it snowballed over the next few weeks, so the person left. Planning carefully and communicating clearly is essential. The onboarding process never finishes, it just morphs into professional development, learning new systems as they are introduced and adopting new policies.

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