Start Your New Employees on the Right Foot

Five simple tips to make even the first day a productive one

Written by Kim Hart Macneill

A recent survey by Accountemps suggests learning the ropes is the biggest hurdle for those ringing in the new year with a new job.

Accountemps, a division of Robert Half Company, specializes in temporary staffing of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. Its joint survey asked 342 Canadian office managers and 285 employees to rank the most challenging aspects of starting a new job.

Nearly half of employees and 39% of managers said learning new processes and procedures takes the top spot. “Regardless of company size, there needs to be a structured orientation program,” says Christine Lucy, Accountemps’ Toronto-based director. “It ensures the new person has the tools and resources necessary to take on their new role.”

Getting to know a new boss and co-workers was the second most challenging aspect, mentioned by 23% of both groups. In third spot, 15% of workers and 21% of managers listed fitting into the corporate culture.

Onboarding—the process through which new employees acquire the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to adapt to a new workplace—is essential to maintaining a happy and productive team. New employees who don’t feel supported can quickly become disgruntled and leave, costing the company both money and time, she says. Or worse, they could stay, spreading negativity and losing productivity daily.

To help a new hire in 2013 start off on the right foot, Lucy shared her day one on-boarding tips:

1. Prepare in advance for your new hire’s first day. Order business cards, stock her desk with necessary supplies and equipment, and ensure her phone and computer logins are setup. Being unprepared can tarnish your new hire’s opinion of the company.

Read: The Perfect Introduction: Getting Onboarding Right

2. Start the day with a tour of the office. Show him where fellow team members sit, the location of any key equipment and how to find the bathroom. Knowing the lay of the land will help your new hire adopt the job as his own.

3. Communicate your performance expectations, even if you went over them in the job interview or hiring process. Lucy suggests covering job duties, how performance is measured and how reviews will take place. This helps prepare the new hire’s mindset for her new job.

4. Schedule follow-up meetings to check in with your new hire and to learn where they need help. “My suggestion is to decide how often you’ll meet at the beginning,”  she says.”Perhaps every two weeks or maybe in the beginning it’s once per week, or every three days if this is a career shift.”

Read: Great Onboarding is Key

5. Pair new hires with a mentor. Some questions are better answered by a peer than a manager, like what to wear on casual Fridays or the best place to grab lunch. Helping the new hire socialize with colleagues will speed up the process of feeling included and acclimatized to the company culture.

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