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New-Hire Orientation Ideas: 7 Tried-and-True Onboarding Strategies

Kelly Peters

Getting onboarding right is a must for employers that value retention and engagement. 88 percent of employees who weren’t impressed with their onboarding experience, end up twice as likely to look for a new job. 

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Thankfully, those numbers can be improved with the right onboarding strategy. And you don’t have to take a trial-and-error approach because other businesses have done it for you. Here are seven new-hire orientation ideas to reduce turnover and increase employee satisfaction:  

  • The buddy system 

You’ve probably heard of the buddy system, and may already have experience with it. Pairing new hires with a single, dedicated point-of-contact reduces confusion and encourages productivityMentors in the business can also identify areas for professional development, which brings us to: 

  • A ‘development-first’ approach 

The onboarding process is, at its core, a professional development process. Find out where new hires see themselves in a few years and arrange a meeting with the person in that role. It’ll pay off: a LinkedIn Learning report found that 94 percent of hires would stay with a company longer if they felt the business was investing in their career.   

  • Contextualize their role 

Introduce new employees to staff in different departments, even if you’re onboarding remotely. They may not be working with these people on a daily basis, but it’s a useful way to welcome them to the wider business and to show them where their work fits into the bigger picture.  

It also affords them the opportunity to explore potential areas for development. In the same spirit, make sure the company’s values, mission and purpose are clearly communicated and reiterated during onboarding.  

  • Get social 

Research suggests that the more ‘authentic’ employees feel at work, the more engaged, productive, and satisfied they were. Encourage new hires to feel comfortable being themselves. Organize social calls, happy hours (virtual or in-person), and lunches in their first few weeks.  

Colene Rogers, an HR professional at Syntech Systems, found that the simple act of asking a new hire to lunch on their first day proved to be one of their “fondest onboarding memories.” 

  • Prepare for their arrival 

Remove as many hurdles as possible by preparing paperwork, software, and workspaces ahead of time for new hires. They’ll arrive to find that they’ve already been thought about 

If it’s possible, it’s a great idea to surprise them with a gift. A company Kindle or iPad loaded with useful onboarding resources is a creative way to let new hires know that they’re being invested in, and to make the process a bit more memorable. Something as simple as a care package full of company merchandise has worked wonders for businesses like Skillcrush 

And don’t let the remote environment stop you from nailing this part of the process. Schedule delivery of each employee’s materials, along with a welcome kit, to arrive before or on their first day. 

  • Don’t put too much emphasis on hierarchy 

If it makes sense, consider breaking up the hierarchy a bit in the early stages of a new hire’s time with you. Ask them, for example, to give feedback on a manager’s work, and receive it graciously and constructively. It communicates that their opinion is valued in the business, and studies have suggested that egalitarian teams are more effective. 

Onboarding isn’t one-size-fits-all. Some of these strategies will make sense for your business and the new hires involved, and others won’t. We haven’t mentioned the most important strategy, which should underly all of the above: 

  • Ask for feedback, iterate, and improve 

You might not get onboarding right for every employee. The strategies mentioned above need to be tailored to your business and to individual roles. It may not be as smooth as you’d like right off the bat. That’s fine!  

What’s important is that you find out what worked, what didn’t, and improve your process as often as possible. Even if things could have gone better, new hires will know that their voice is being heard when you ask for – and act on – their feedback 

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Kelly Peters

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