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August 3, 2015 Know How

How to integrate new employees effectively

Employers today realize that onboarding workers, or integrating them within the organization, is key to attracting and retaining top talent, boosting productivity and driving business growth.

The first step to effective onboarding is to establish a formal employer-employee relationship, based on mutual understanding. This phase of the hiring process is often the most neglected, yet crucial by all measures.

Essentially, onboarding is much like the first day of school. You meet the principal and teachers, learn the rules, and become familiar with the school.

Your goal is to create an onboarding program that drives employee engagement and business growth by providing information and creating a smooth, successful transition process that can build a strong foundation for an employee success.

A systematic onboarding program has multiple long-term benefits that go beyond simply staying competitive.

Here are five benefits:

1. Engagement. Employees who are emotionally linked to their jobs tend to exhibit an overall sense of connection to their organizations. The catalyst for this is usually a close relationship with a direct manager who focuses on building the employee's unique strengths.

2. Commitment. Most engaged employees have a clear sense of commitment to their organization and are less likely to be tempted to leave for higher pay elsewhere.

3. Progress. Demonstrating progress toward goals is the easiest way to boost engagement. Managers must track employee progress and encourage direct reports by setting attainable and realistic goals.

4. Contribution. Engaged employees are contributors; they know exactly what's expected of them.

5. Expectation. It's crucial to set clear expectations for your new hires and show them exactly how to succeed.

Here are the 10 key components of onboarding:

1. Ensure the employee understands his or her job.

2. Provide a plan that details objectives and expectations.

3. Conduct the onboarding process in an organized, uninterrupted manner.

4. Have all the employee's paperwork ready on the first day.

5. Introduce the employee to co-workers and assign a mentor.

6. Ensure that the employee's new work area is set up.

7. Set up regular performance checkpoints at 30, 60 and 90 days.

8. Balance paperwork with informal staff meetings and lunch with co-workers.

9. Provide company information and policies.

10. Think beyond the first few days!

And here are six ways to prevent a less-than-positive first day:

1. Assign a staff person who has a career-impacting deadline to meet.

2. Avoid the assignment of “busy work” that has nothing to do with the new person's core job description.

3. Don't have the new employee watch video presentations all day.

4. Make sure the employee has an assigned or created work space.

5. Don't have the employee start while his or her supervisor is on vacation.

6. Don't leave the employee in a noisy area to complete paperwork and read the 100-page employee handbook.

Effective onboarding will decrease the time a new employee needs to become fully engaged and productive. It will also maximize engagement and productivity, and establish a foundation for success.

Nancy L. Dube is principal of Dube Consulting in Worcester, which provides human resources outsourcing services and LinkedIn expertise. Contact her at

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