Creating a Brilliant Onboarding Experience

by Melany Gallant | Posted | Talent Acquisition

Creating a Brilliant Onboarding Experience

Mike McAllister is a writer who joined the Halogen Software team in May. In this post, Mike shares his onboarding experience with Halogen Software and how as a new employee, that experience can have a tremendous impact on a new hire’s first impression of an organization. He’ll also delve into why he is now nicknamed ‘McSpiller’.

So I landed this sweet new gig I was pining for, and I must admit I was pretty keen to get started.

A positive onboarding process at the start of my first day was a great way to get introduced to the company’s values and culture. The onboarding experience helped me feel welcome and gave me an understanding of what was expected of me, right from the get go. Companies are paying more and more attention to this process as research shows that a strong onboarding process increases retention rates by up to 25 percent, according to a 2008 Booz Allen study.

First Impressions Count

Usually the first few days at a new company is all about wading through general company logistics while you discover the important stuff like how the coffee machine works and where to find the washroom. But once I set my equipment, adjusted my chair, found relevant server locations, and started in on the training it would take to get me up to a generally acceptable speed – I was asked to do some real work, which was a welcome change from other first days I’ve had over the years.

It was obvious to me that Halogen Software was paying more attention to making a good first impression on me than anywhere else I’ve been. There’s nothing like feeling valued enough from the get go to be asked to dive in and contribute. That my director asked me to get started on a project my first day demonstrates a confidence in my skills and abilities that I appreciate.

How to Fit In on Your First Day of Work

Hint: Don’t spill your green drink on people – especially your boss.

To be completely honest, the biggest thing I was concerned with in the first few weeks was avoiding doing something that would reflect poorly on my first performance appraisal.

Seriously. The concern about ‘being the right fit’ for the company is a real one for all of us, be it your first job out of college, or like me, the sixth over the span of a 20-year career. We’re all simply trying to do our darnedest not to do something stupid that will have you out pounding the virtual pavement, vying for another chance to grab the brass ring.

But I also believe the earnest effort you display to get up to speed and generally acclimatize yourself in your first few weeks is appreciated. Even if you happen to have the great misfortune of drawing unwanted attention to yourself in a social situation, as was the case with yours truly only a week into the this newest chapter of my career.

Case In Point…

As I hustled to put the finishing touches on a small bit of copywriting that came my way, I inadvertently delayed my arrival to the lunchroom for cake in celebration of a coworker’s birthday. (Note: Be on time or early for everything, not just ‘big’ meetings.)

Being last to enter a room is one way to draw attention to yourself, especially if you’re the newbie, but that’s only where the story begins. A few colleagues in attendance had passed on the sugary delights of the birthday cake. I too declined a slice in favor of the daily ritual I’ll refer to simply as ‘the green drink’ – a dietary supplement I’ve taken every afternoon for a couple of years, in support of a fitness routine that I try my best to follow.

As I proceeded to wish the birthday celebrant many happy returns, I absent mindedly began filling my shaker with water and the green drink mix. With the lid screwed on tight, I shook the concoction, hard, only a foot or two away from the ear of my hiring director, who was seated directly in front of me.

Green drink - What not to spill on your boss

What I failed to realize was that I hadn’t quite sealed the lid properly, and green drink proceeded to spew from the lid, causing my director to shriek in surprise, turning every eyeball in the room towards me.

Yes, the new guy had just spilled his weird looking green drink on his boss.

As I saw it, I now had two distinct options:

  1. Run from the room in shame and hide in my cube for my remaining tenure at the company, or
  2. Apologize sincerely and make light of the faux pas by having a bit of a laugh at my expense.

I chose to take the latter route, red faced and embarrassed, knowing that if I were to handle it any other way it would be far more difficult to show my face the next time the call went out to gather for cake.

Because you’re reading this today, I’m happy to report that despite the now infamous green drink incident – from which I have earned the nickname ‘McSpiller’ – I am still gainfully employed, and continuing along happily with my onboarding processes.

Creating a Brilliant Onboarding Experience

Yet, while the first impression a new hire like myself makes to the employer is important, the reverse is also true. A brilliant onboarding experience sets your newest employees up for success, enabling them to quickly get up to speed so they can begin performing their duties and be productive members of the team.

Equally important however, is how new hires perceive your organization’s cultures and values as demonstrated by the interactions, procedures and priorities experienced during the onboarding process. Your onboarding process is an important step in building employee engagement from the first day of hire.

If you aren’t doing this already, consider asking your recent hires about the onboarding experience at your company. Such as…

  • Were they asked to show up at 9 a.m. and then kept waiting for HR, the manager, etc. to meet with them?
  • Were their workstations set up properly with all the tools they needed?
  • Did they know where to go to ask questions, get IT support?
  • Did know where to go to access need-to-know information, forms, etc (e.g. on the corporate Intranet)?
  • Were your organization’s mission, values and objectives discussed with them?
  • Do they understand their individual objectives and how their role supports organizational goals and strategy?

The responses to these questions can have a profound impact on how you structure your onboarding process. For more tips and advice on creating a brilliant onboarding experience, check out yesterday’s article on Alexandra Levit’s Water Cooler blog. The article offers 7 tips to Make Sure Your New Person Doesn’t Quit, and it’s sage advice.

How does your organization make your onboarding process a smooth and welcoming experience for new employees?

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