Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Onboarding new employees 101 – 4: next steps beyond day one

Posted in career development, HR and personnel by Timothy Platt on November 20, 2012

This is my fourth posting to a series on the onboarding process and on bringing new employees in and up to speed working at a business (see HR and Personnel, postings 119 and following for Parts1-3.)

My goal here is to discuss day two and beyond for the onboarding process and note that in a fundamental sense I began this with Part 3 of this overall discussion. My focus there was more specifically on day one but a crucial point that I sought to argue a case for there, was that onboarding is a complex process with many steps and details. And a new hire’s manager, Human Resources and personnel from there involved in this process, and others have to work together to make sure the right details of this are worked on and in the right order. So day one of onboarding should focus on what absolutely has to be done on day one. Next steps can and should wait, as this new hire starts to find their way in a new work environment with new colleagues and in a new physical setting, and facing a new corporate culture and its expectations. And on top of that, they have to learn and quickly, what they are to do as highest and immediate work priority tasks and they have to get started on them.

What comes first? What comes next? There are some basic details that essentially always have to be covered on day one but some of the details for that first step list will differ for different hiring organizations, and for different industries. And the unexpected can always step in to shift scheduling and even for that list. The goal here is to systematically go through the process from highest priority/immediate to taking care of the details that might not be lower priority overall but that can wait their turn.

Here, by way of working example, I will consider the case of a larger business and one with a relatively steady flow of new hires with people coming in and people leaving and for whatever reason. Immediate onboarding tasks are handled on a one on one basis and separately for each of these new hires. But a set of basic information sharing steps that have to be carried through upon and in a consistent, standardized way are covered in a relatively regularly scheduled new hire welcoming meeting. These would be relatively regularly scheduled as this business still sees periods of more rapid or slower hiring and onboarding. So they would never be scheduled more than some maximum number of weeks apart, but they might be scheduled more closely to limit the number of participants in any one onboarding session during busy hiring periods.

What would be covered there? What topic and issue areas does the overall corporate onboarding process have to include that would be in some way legally mandated, and either for specific content type, or as a matter of meeting necessary due diligence requirements? A standardized talk and presentation on workplace discrimination comes immediately to mind here (see my series Confronting Workplace Discrimination at HR and Personnel, postings 57-60 for some guidelines on that.) But this can and probably should include sharing on most any topic where all employees would be given essentially the same information and where a standardized format would make sense, and where this could be done in group setting. That might, for example, include information about accessing the company exercise facilities if there are any, or other resources offered as shared, company-wide perks.

• Think through and prepare for what has to be shared and covered individually, and what would better be handled in this way and with groups of employees. And document what is done and both categorically and for detail for both categories.
• This means maintaining effective personnel records with all signed documents readily available and consistently drafted, signed off upon and filed.
• And this means documenting what is offered and shared through group meetings. Those standardized PowerPoint presentations and film clips both make it easier to offer and present the same information in the same vetted way to every employee and new hire group, and to document what was shared and how.
• When the director of Human Resources and/or others give talks to these groups they should give standardized and essentially canned addresses and with copies of their talk notes included in the basic record as to what is covered and how, in these group meetings. That helps to keep them standardized and it helps reduce the work load that any presenting participant would have to carry. And it also provides documentation that necessary issues were covered, and as to how they were should that ever be needed for legal representation purposes.

I have already discussed the end of the probationary period from the new hire’s perspective in my series: Starting a New Job, Building a New Foundation (see my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, postings 73-85, 87 and 88 and for this specific topic area within that larger discussion see Part 15: the end-of-probationary-period performance review.) I am going to look into the issues and requirements of that first performance review from the manager and HR perspectives in my next series installment, adding that I would recommend that participants in the onboarding process from Human Resources and hiring managers read that series too as a means of widening their perspective to consider the view from the new employee’s side of the table. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at HR and Personnel.

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