Onboarding: 3 Tips to Immerse New Employees Right Away

New employees often spend their first several months on the job dipping their toe in the water, not quite sure if they’re going to jump into the pool. Because new hires are not fully invested yet, companies have a lot more to lose than they do. Bringing on new people is costly: You’re already paying two people to get one job accomplished (the new employee and the trainer) so your productivity is down from the start. Not to mention all the time and effort managers and HR put into looking through resumes and interviewing applicants.

It’s important to start things off with a bang—and not overlook anything—so new employees can feel they’re off to a great start and happy with the job they chose. Here are 3 tips that will help you get—and keep—new hires in the pool right away:

**1. Got a Plan?**You’ve got to have a plan—or onboarding process or new-hire orientation, whatever you want to call it—for new employees that will make sure you’ve done everything you can to make the new hire start day one on the job feeling valued and special. Before the first day, you can make sure to have everything set up—the workspace, computer, phone—as well as have already sent out any paperwork electronically so you don’t have to bother with that stuff when the new hire arrives.

With all the paperwork out of the way, you can start with specific on-the-job training and set goals. This is a good time to explain the vision of your company and let the new employee know how that particular job affects the overall goal. When setting personal goals for the new hire, you can tie that in to the company’s vision. Be sure to set deadlines for goals that range from next week to six months from then. This will encourage your new employee to dive in to the work and become productive quickly.

You could also consider where the new hire sees himself in the long run. Is he starting an entry-level position but would like to do something else in the future? If so, why not consider these aspirations when setting goals and even draw up a long-term career path? You could even consider “possible” interests and other strong suits at this time as well to make sure the long-term path could have options. After all, making sure our people are sitting in the right seat on the bus has always been—and will always be—important.

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**2. What Makes Your Company So Special?**After new employees arrive, you need to reaffirm how awesome your company is—isn’t that what you said at the interview?—so they’ll be just as excited to be there as they were when they signed on the dotted line. Everyone in the company should be welcoming and inviting, which should become part of your culture. For smaller companies, a formal welcome and introduction is helpful to let the new employee know who does what and how they will work with them.

If you have a cool culture video or brand book, share it. If there are other unique and awesome things your company does, try to do it early and make sure your new employee is a part of it. If your company plays Wii or does board games together or heads down to the cafe for lunch, be sure to make sure new employees are included. You want your new hires to maximize employee bonding time with co-workers right away so they will feel a part of the team and comfortable working together.

It’s also not a bad idea for HR or a manager or co-worker—especially if it’s someone they will be working with a lot—to take the new hires out to lunch so they can feel invested from day one. It also gives them a chance to connect with someone at the company in a less formal setting.

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3. Constant Communication
You also need to make sure new employees are surrounded by people who can answer questions and offer encouragement. One way you can do this is by assigning each new hire a seasoned employee (or buddy) who can make sure to be available to field any questions and take special interest in the new hire for an extended period of time. A mentor would also work in this situation. It’s important to note that this person should be a good personality fit, have leadership potential and be someone who will encourage behaviors that are in sync with your company’s culture.

Another idea is to make sure to set your new employees up in a team with common goals so that they will feel part of the group immediately. Those team members should be invested in the new hire’s success as that person will be contributing to their team goals as well.

The new hire should also connect with co-workers and team members on social networks, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, and stay updated on your company’s social media pages, like Facebook and Google+. This way, they are getting a constant stream of communication about news, like product updates, announcements and blogs.

One last thing to consider is feedback. Of course we all know that employees like positive recognition. It’s no different with a new hire. They want to feel valued and appreciated even from the beginning (when they might be feeling a little nervous and overwhelmed anyway). Positive feedback will help them know what they’re doing well. But be sure to try to keep criticism positive to steer them gently in the right direction.

All of these ideas can help a new employee get immersed early in the work and culture at a new company. Just make sure to plan for the new hire’s success, showcase your cool company culture and keep the lines of communication flowing. Then your new hire will feel more comfortable taking the plunge!