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3 Training and Onboarding Best Practices

June 23, 2016
Written by Bloomfire Admin

It’s hard being the new kid. Whether you’re in 1st grade, starting high school in a new state, or entering the workforce, finding yourself surrounded by unfamiliar people and practices can be disconcerting and downright scary. The good news? It doesn’t have to be.

The benefits of a successful onboarding and training program have been proven time and time again. Let’s begin with the obvious; your new hire will be happier in their new position if you take the time necessary to ensure they are properly introduced to the company culture and entirely clear on their role and responsibilities. Nothing is worse than wasting hours of their time and your time because their role has not been explicitly established.

The benefits are not limited to the new hire. Attentive and continuous training produces confident employees, reduces the loss of expertise as a result of high turnover, increases company loyalty, and reduces the headcount required to complete the tasks at hand. A study conducted by Aberdeen Group found that within 6 months, an employee decides whether or not they are going to stay with a company. Don’t waste valuable time and money training new hire after new hire because employee retention is low. Set your new hires up for long-term success.

We’ve established the importance of quality onboarding, but how do you execute your vision? Follow these three onboarding and training best practices to transform new hires into productive team members:

1. Plan your new hire’s first week before their first day.

Just like the 1st grader who moved mid-school year to find groups for the book report have already been formed (oh, the horror), new additions to your company are likely onboarding in the midst of several ongoing projects, and this can induce intense anxiety. A sure-fire way to help your new hire feel they are contributing to, not inhibiting, your success is to create a detailed itinerary for the new employee’s first week on the job.

This itinerary should include time allotted for all necessary paperwork, explaining parking procedures and dress code (these are often overlooked but crucial to making a new member of your community feel comfortable), shadowing the new hire’s future boss and coworkers, team-building activities, and any other training elements specific to your industry.  

Incorporating all of these aspects into your onboarding process can become complicated, and a messy, unorganized itinerary is just as bad as no itinerary at all. Additionally, time spent creating an itinerary every time you gain a new team member is repetitive and wasteful. If your company has a knowledge sharing platform, this may be the perfect home for your training itinerary. It will be easily accessible to both you and the new hire, allow them to revisit trainings they may be unclear on without having to come to you for help, and empower them to answer their own questions, fostering confidence in their work skills and self-sufficiency. For example, Bloomfire Streams allow new hires to complete a series of trainings on their own schedule and as frequently as necessary for them to master the new skill.

Be sure to include some fun in the itinerary! Organize lunches and happy hours to allow your new hire get to know her new co-workers on a social level. Have a welcome gift with branded products ready at her desk prior to arrival.

Long story short, no one wants to spend their first week on the job twiddling their thumbs and timidly asking co-workers where their help is needed, so have a well-thought out plan in place.

2. Involve the whole office.

Those in charge of onboarding and training are often fearful of wasting time that could be spent making sales, developing software, or whatever service you hired your new employee to provide. However, the harsh reality is that well-intended time conservation (skimping on essential training) will result in poorly incorporated employees who are unsure of their role in the company, not performing to their maximum capability, and in the end, having a negative impact on the bottom line. To circumvent this, give your new hire time to shadow coworkers outside of their own department to allow them to see the big picture.

If the newest member of your sales team never listens to a customer support call, how will she predict and be prepared to alleviate concerns about potential product failures while on the phone with a lead? If your software developer never speaks to your marketing professionals, how will she know what the customer wants and discover innovative ways to provide it?

Adopt a holistic onboarding approach that allows the new hire to see themselves as a valuable member of the company, not just of their department. An excellent way to achieve this level of company-wide connectivity is a social platform for your employees; making connections with members of various teams and having access to their posts and conversations will encourage cross-departmental collaboration and allow new hires to make real contributions starting on day one.

3.Treat onboarding as a continuous process, not an isolated event.

Do not confuse onboarding with your overnight college orientation. You didn’t want to go, your mom forced you, and you made two friends. Chances are your new hire has already endured college orientation, so don’t force them to relive the experience. Instead of viewing onboarding as one isolated event, consider it a continuous and ever-evolving process that may last up to a full year.

After your new hire’s first 90 days on the job, schedule a review, and continue to do so on a monthly basis. You can use this one on one time to provide constructive feedback, identify strengths and weaknesses, and discuss strategies to improve performance. Always keep the tone of these reviews positive and remember that the new hire is still learning. It may seem time-consuming, but investing in your new team member’s first year is an investment in an invaluable long-term employee.

Expect questions to continue to arise frequently throughout the new hire’s first year. Social learning is the most effective and durable form of learning, meaning an intensive, week-long, braindump will do little to prepare your new hire to perform to their maximum capability. Instead, they should gradually apply new knowledge to real-time tasks and learn as they go, when relevant.

Setting aside the appropriate amount of time to prepare new hires for the job is crucial. Your employees want to feel they are a productive member of the team, and you want to increase employee retention, so make developing a quality onboarding and training program a high priority.

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Comments
  • Nick Prince

    Love the last point, but there is more. For most line managers recruitment and onboarding is a disconnected series of events. An individual manager my only hire 1 person per year. For the induction team it is a continuous process, induction never stops.

    • Blogfire

      Excellent points Nick. Thanks for sharing.

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