Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Onboarding new employees 101 – 2: preparing for a new hire’s day one on their new job

Posted in career development, HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on October 31, 2012

This is my second posting to a series on the onboarding process and on bringing new employees into and up to speed working at a business (see Part 1: the basic goal of an effective onboarding process .)

I focused in Part 1 on:

• The incoming employee’s side of this process and with a general discussion of how due diligence and
• Risk management issues would be addressed in general in an effective new employee onboarding process.

I will begin this installment from the new employee perspective and on bringing them up to speed as quickly and smoothly as possible, and I will then switch to one of preparing the organization for the new employee.

New employees need to learn a lot and very quickly, and both about their new employer and about the specific tasks and assignments they will work on, and certainly as they start out. Some and perhaps even much of this begins during the interviewing process as they meet with the hiring manager and other stakeholders before they are actually hired to the business. But that information tends to be fairly generic, as it would in most cases be shared with any final round candidate – including those who do not end up working there and who might find themselves working for a competitor.

After a candidate is hired, the hiring manager, now their work manager can be a lot more open in sharing details and insight. Questions of confidentiality and of information security management come up and have to be included in this overall process too now. I have, I add, taken on assignments where I was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement as a condition to being formally offered a job. So these issues need not be a real barrier to information sharing, that would help bring a new hire up to speed more quickly.

• A pre-start information disclosure policy should be thought through in advance of any hiring, as to what would be shared before a formal start date for a new job, and under what circumstances.
• This does not necessarily have to be codified as a lengthy formal document and certainly for small and flexible organizations, but it is important that early disclosure not simply be handled on an ad hoc basis and without regard to the sensitivity or confidentiality of the information so shared.

And with that, I turn to the other side of this posting and to preparing the organization for the new employee. And I begin with the steps that in many cases would take place after the hiring decision and agreement to take that job, and before its start date. And this is all about preparing to get this new employee connected in.

• They will in most cases need desk space. Will they get an office or cubicle, or use shared desk space? However that is decided, where will they do their work requiring this type of home base resource? Even dedicated road warriors who spend most of their work time on site with clients or away at meetings need something in the way of desk space. What will they need and when and on what type of schedule? One pre-arrival step in preparing for a new employee would be to get at least a preliminary workable resolution to the questions and issues raised here, settled.
• They will need a business email address and phone line and voicemail, and they may very well need both landline and cell phone or smart phone access and support.
• Information Technology is going to have to set them up with at least preliminary password access for information infrastructure resources they will need, and IT will need information from the hiring manager on what they should set up. And of course they will need a computer and other hardware too, and ideally with that all set up and positioned, and ready for when this new hire arrives.
• This new hire’s manager will need to meet with this new hire on day one, of course to help them get started and probably early in the work day.
• Human Resources is going to want meet with them too, to start their part of the onboarding process, with setting up their benefits packages and a list of other goals on their table.
• Payroll and Accounting needs to know so they can get this new hire entered into their systems, and both for their own compensation and for any budgeted account funds they might need to have at their disposal from day one. As a simple point, will this new hire be receiving paychecks or will they be paid by automatic electronic deposit and if so to what bank and account number?
• Security is going to need to know about this new hire too, and so will a variety of other departments and functional teams and certainly for any large, complex organization.

So onboarding a new employee, and certainly anyone who is taking a position where they deal with sensitive information, has to include bringing what amounts to a small community up to speed for their arrival. And the goal in that, is that no one have to rush at the last minute to fill in preparation gaps that could and should have been addressed before day one on the job, when so much has to be done as the new employee arrives.

Once again, citing a simple but real-world working example of a possible breakdown point here, the hiring manager knows what day their key-position new hire will be arriving, and they know they need to meet with them that morning to discuss a whole set of high priority issues. But their manager schedules them to be away that day, meeting with a major client and this is not clearly communicated until the last minute – the hiring manager’s supervising manager simply assumes they will be there and that they know of this client meeting. I add that I have seen this happen and as that new hire, finding myself unsure as to who I should see first and what I should do first. My new manager, after all is the person who was going to tell me about my scheduled meeting with Human Resources. So ad hoc and miscommunication led to a real process breakdown and I did not actually, effectively start that assignment until the next day.

I am going to continue this discussion in my next series installment, delving more systematically into the new hire’s day one on their new job, and with that negative example as a lead-in for how this can go wrong and how that can and should be avoided. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel.

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