Key components of an effective employee onboarding program

Updated: Nov 6


Very few organizations have a strong Onboarding process designed to build and develop long term employees. We should inventory what new hires are bringing to the table, understand their strengths, and complement them with additional institutional/business/role knowledge and expertise. After all, employees are hired based on their skills, experience, and credentials. We should be capitalizing on them not ignoring them. 


Let’s review a few best practices to create and/or improve your employee onboarding program.


A GAP Analysis. A 60-minute conversation during the first week of employment can give managers the opportunity to revisit new hire’s strengths and areas of improvement. This week might be the best time to assess what the new hire can do without further investment. It will also be a great opportunity to calibrate expectations (if needed) around the tasks predefined for the employee. This will be the time to map employee’s strengths with business needs.  


Setting Expectations. By now, you are clear you have the right candidate for the job. The next phase involves defining a clear and concise set of working rules from the organization to the employee and vice-versa. During this phase, the employee should be informed of what are acceptable parameters, warnings, violations, and grounds for termination. It will be vital to define success and clearly articulate what is expected from the employee. This will be a great opportunity to set performance and development goals.


Training. Training. Training. This could easily be the most crucial phase of any onboarding program. Contrary to popular belief, people are not hired just for what they have done in their past organizations, but rather for how transferable their skill sets can become. Each company has its own way of doing business. The most likely way to get an employee to meet your business expectations is to teach them exactly how you like things to be done. Allowing guesswork and fomenting assumptions, tend to generate a misalignment between business goals and work performed. Let’s be clear, designing the right employees' training program is not a task to be taken lightly. The right training program should be carefully prepared and executed with three main points in mind; objective, audience, and delivery method.


Organizations often fail to realize that training programs must have a very defined purpose. That means sponsors should outline what is the main goal of the training, how should it be focused, and what is expected at the end of the session. A training program can take the form of a lecture, an informative session, a presentation, or other formats. It is also important to define if the training will be content-centered or learner-centered as it will drive the delivery approach.


Assign a Mentor. As part of our human nature, we need to socialize and feel part of a group, a community, or a team. Being the new “Kid in the block” makes it awkward to fit in. That is why it will be a good idea to match each new hire with a first-week coach.  The idea here is to allow more seasoned staff to guide new employees in navigating thru the organization’s environment.   


Establish Checkpoints. All program implementations will require fine-tuning and refinement. Onboarding programs are not the exception. As a manager, plan for scheduled or impromptu conversations with the new hire during the first week. You want to gauge how the employee is adapting to the new work environment. These checkpoints can give you insight into what is working, what might need to change, and how to supplement the initial plan to onboard the employee.


Ultimately, the onboarding program is one of the most important investments on an employee. It should increase the assurance you hire the right resource or very quickly tell you that you have a lot of work to do to develop this new hire. For those who believe that an effective onboarding program is costly and time-consuming, we invite them to find out how expensive it will be to keep the wrong employee to support your business function.


Each company has the ability to design the most effective onboarding process for its employees. The right onboarding program could benefit from partnering with experienced consultants that can pave the way to fostering new employees and motivate them to stay in our organizations in the long run.


Let us partner with you, to build your Employee Onboarding Program. 

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