Building An Effective Onboarding Plan for New Hires

Learn how to build a clear roadmap to help your new hire succeed and thrive.

First impressions are important, and when it comes to bringing new team members into your organization, ensuring a smooth transition is critical.

According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 1 in 25 employees will leave their new job because of bad onboarding experiences.  

In addition to higher turnover, poor onboarding can impact your employee’s success and the overall success of your organization. It can inhibit workplace efficiency and change an employee’s outlook on your company.

To get off on the right foot and set the tone for an employee’s expectations throughout their time with your organization, an effective onboarding process is key.

What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process through which you provide new employees with the necessary training and resources to succeed in their jobs. Effective onboarding should help your new employee feel welcomed, supported, and prepared to take on their new responsibilities and improve overall retention.

Onboarding goes beyond the typical new employee orientation. Depending on your plan, an onboarding plan can be stretched out to ensure the employee feels supported for the first 90 days to one year. 

By ensuring each employee has a plan for their onboarding and future development, you end up recruiting people who stay. Meaning you’re not stuck on the training treadmill, and you have independent people who fill strategic positions in your business.

One of the biggest challenges owners face when growing their team is that they hire to fill an immediate need without considering how the role will grow, and the position could develop over time. By learning to set better expectations of your needs as well as how you plan to measure success, you’ll be more likely to find candidates who fit your needs both now and in the future.

Here are some ways to start your onboarding plan before your new hire starts. During the interview process, you can:

  • Identify goals for that role and individual prior to hiring. Bring long-term plans into the hiring and onboarding plan.
  • Set clear expectations during the recruitment phase of those goals and performance expectations. What training or coaching is needed to improve the skill of the new employee?
  • Have a clear roadmap and metrics of success in the first 3, 6, 9, and 12 months of the role to measure against. Ensure the roadmap and metrics are managed throughout the process to align with expectations laid out in the interview process.

As Cassi Niekamp, Director of Talent for Cultivate Advisors, explains by sharing the long-term vision early in the recruiting process you can begin creating buy-in and show your new hire how their role plays a role in the longevity of the business.

How to develop an onboarding plan

From day one, new hires want to know they made the right choice in joining your company and it’s your job to prove to them that you are excited to have them on the team.

An effective onboarding plan not only sets your new hires up for success but also takes into account their long-term commitment to your organization. That said, there are two big components of onboarding: Orientation and Ongoing Training.

Orientation

New employee orientation is an opportunity to introduce new hires to your team as well as their new roles and responsibilities. It’s a chance to share the company vision and outline your mission to create buy-in and help your new hire understand their role in the future of your organization.

Unlike the ongoing training, much of this part of the onboarding process can be systemized. You can develop a set schedule and procedure for employee orientation.

Here’s a list of things you should have ready by the time your new hires walk in the door:

  • Send out an email to everyone in the office, so they’re prepared to welcome a new employee.
  • Acquire any keys or security badges needed to access the office.
  • Provide a nameplate on his or her desk or office door as a tangible sign that you’ve prepared the space.
  • Set up their computer, email address, and phone numbers ahead of time.
  • Provide guides for any necessary software he or she will be using.
  • Have a stack of business cards waiting.
  • And here’s a list of questions you should answer for the new employee voluntarily:
    • What should he or she bring? (Telling them to bring two forms of ID to verify paperwork is a good idea.)
    • Where should he or she park?
    • Who should he or she ask for in the lobby?
    • Where are the restrooms?
    • Where is the copy machine? (And how does it work?)

The first week with the new hire should focus on orientation and initial training. Regardless of past job experience, it’s important to provide initial training as it sets the tone and allows new hires a chance to get acclimated. Training should include company policies, processes, procedures, and expectations. Detailing expectations for new employees sets a precedent by which they can measure their comfort in their new role.

Ongoing Training

Effective onboarding programs last longer than a one-day or even one-week orientation. They can last 90 days or even a year. At minimum, you should be thinking about your new hire’s first 90-120 days.

However, implementing effective training is easier said than done. You will need to build a roadmap with the framework that the new hire will lack skills in areas. If it’s discovered they have the skill, then the relevant areas of the roadmap can be fast-tracked.

During the first 90-120 days, you will want to provide high direction rather than delegation; this is the time to focus on effectiveness more than efficiency.

At a high level, it’s helpful to picture your training as a long path mapped out with clear metrics of success and feedback loops along the way. The coaching and feedback component is the idea of providing feedback to people on performance to improve skill and drive results. 

One way to successfully instruct new team members on how to complete new tasks is by using the DORAGI training process. DORAGI is a training process that involves six steps: (1) Demonstrating, (2) Observing, (3) Re-Demonstrating, (4) Assigning a task, (5) Goal setting, and (6) Inspecting.

D – Demonstrate
Perform the task in front of the employee from start to finish. Be sure to work slowly and explain everything you do as you’re doing it, allowing the employee both a visual and an auditory aid for understanding the procedure.

O – Observe
Watch as the employee attempts to perform the task that you’ve demonstrated. Take notes if needed, but try not to interject or intervene. Give them time to work through it, even if they make some mistakes.

R – Re-Demonstrate
Carry out the entire task once more, this time highlighting the portions that the employee could have done differently. Don’t forget to praise them for the things they did well.

A – Assign a Task
Provide the employee with a specific task to complete. This assignment should take a relatively small amount of time — about an hour or less — and should give the employee a chance to try out what they’ve learned in the work environment.

G – Goal Set
Set a time frame in which the task or tasks should be performed. This gives the employee an idea of how long the process typically takes and helps them to stay on track.

I – Inspect
Check and evaluate the employee’s work. Re-demonstrate if necessary, then assign a new task, set a new goal, and re-inspect.

Using the DORAGI training process is a great way to help new hires learn quickly to becoming efficient in their role. And using this alongside regular check-ins will help your new hires feel supported and comfortable in their role.

When structured and implemented properly, training can make workers more efficient at increasing production, revenue, and profits while decreasing costs, waste, and inefficiencies to ultimately make your organization more effective. Further, effective onboarding and ongoing training can lead to a happier, more satisfied workforce.

Not sure where to start? You don’t have to go at it alone. Schedule a free two-hour session to dig into your business and develop a plan.

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