Onboarding. Orientation. Welcoming. Regardless of the term your organization uses to describe the process of acclimating new hires, the goal of the process is to educate and affirm individuals in their new roles and set them on a path toward long-term success within your organization. “Onboarding” is the most popular term these days–derived from welcoming passengers “on board” the ships, trains, or planes that took them to where they wanted to go.
Recently, I took a trip with my girlfriend to France. In one day we travelled by car, shuttle, plane, train, tram, and taxi. With the exception of the car (we drove), all these forms of transportation “onboarded” us differently, and with varying degrees of effectiveness. And despite the horror stories of flying, we found that our plane trip was an example of exceptional onboarding. Here’s why:
1. They Got Us To Where We Wanted To Go
This is number one because it’s the reason we flew in the first place. We wanted to get somewhere. And ultimately, that’s really all an airline needs to do. It’s the minimum. The points that follow, though we’ve come to expect them from a flight, are instances of an airline welcoming, orientating…onboarding.
HR Takeaway: New hires have accepted a position with your organization because they want to go somewhere. And you likely promised them–explicitly or implicitly–that you could get them there. The warmest welcome and the friendliest co-workers will not make up for an organization that fails to provide professional growth opportunities and affirm an employee’s progress. It’s important to do both within a new hire’s first few months.
2. We Were Welcomed
A friendly greeting as we checked luggage, at the gate, at the cabin door, from the captain, from each flight attendant. We were helped with storing our carry-on luggage. We had clean seats, new magazines, pillows, and blankets.
HR Takeaway: New hires should feel that their first days are special; not just for themselves, but for the organization as a whole. The workspaces of new hires should be clean and outfitted with at least the basic essentials. As a group and as individuals, existing employees should welcome and chat with new hires in their first week on multiple occasions. Ideally, your work culture naturally promotes this, but it can also be scheduled.
3. Our Needs Were Anticipated
Ahhh. We had reached cruising altitude and the “fasten seatbelt” light was off. It was time to recline back, relax, and…a beverage perhaps? It’s tight quarters in a plane, and having drinks and food delivered to your seat is a nice alternative to squeezing snacks into your carry-on. We were on our way, and the crew ensured that our way was comfortable by anticipating our needs.
HR Takeaway: This–with a strong work culture–will likely go hand-in-hand with #2. Co-workers should anticipate the needs of new hires in the early days of employment and address those needs in their “chats”. Any new hire can likely find the way to the supply closet, but a friendly delivery of supplies by a co-worker does more than just meet a need–it communicates kindness, generosity, and a “je ne sais quoi”.
4. We Were Given Direction
In addition to being welcomed with smiles, we were given timely directions and informed of changes, connections, time zones, weather, and where to pick up luggage. These were all things we could have discovered ourselves, but the verbal reminders and support helped calm any anxieties.
HR Takeaway: An organization should obviously provide documents on formal policies and procedures. But woven in with the frequent acts of kindness in #2 and #3, verbal directions and reminders relating to policy and procedures will inspire confidence in new hires and reinforce learning. Also, it’s helpful to include specific step-by-step instructions for a new hire’s early assignments that reference formal documents (if these are assigned via email or onboarding software, this is best accomplished by using and linking to digital documents).
5. We Were Entertained
Multiple hours on a plane can get boring–even if you have the window seat. In-flight movies are the perfect way to pass the time and break up the monotony.
HR Takeaway: There is a lot to be accomplished in the early days of onboarding. The quicker that new hires get up to speed, the quicker that they can effectively contribute. But new hires can only “drink from the fire hose” for so long . An onboarding process that is broken up with downtime or team-building activities lessens the stress on everyone and helps to ensure that new employees emerge from the onboarding process both prepared and energized to perform in their roles.
Flying The Friendly Skies
Our flight and onboarding experience wasn’t flawless. There was the crying baby for 4 hours straight. My ears popped at times. There was turbulence. We had to outwit other passengers to gain access to the bathroom. And the beer prices were steep. But the airline–the crew–was at our service from the moment we checked-in, to the moment we claimed our luggage.
We safely travelled over 4,000 miles and across an ocean in under 12 hours. As amazing as that is, any airline could have done that. However, this one distinguished itself through friendly, effective service–exceptional onboarding. We got to where we wanted to go, but we also felt informed, welcomed, and appreciated along the way. New hires should feel the same as they begin their journey with a new organization.
ExactHire provides hiring technology for small-to medium-sized businesses seeking to attract, hire, and retain talented individuals. Learn how our onboarding solution can help your organization effectively welcome new hires and set them on a course for future success.