The saying, “you never have a second chance to make a first impression” is often applied to people, but the expression is also true for organizations. Your new hires will form lasting impressions within their first few days of on the job, resulting in employee engagement or employee apathy. The following DOs and DON’Ts will help you create a memorable and impactful onboarding program for new employees.
DO have an official process
New employees shouldn’t arrive on their first day and have it seem like a surprise—as if no one was expecting them. They shouldn’t be dumped at a desk or in a waiting area until someone figures out what to do with them. At The Ritz-Carlton, we offer our customers, “a warm and sincere greeting,” and new employees receive the same. This doesn’t mean you have to hire a marching band or organize an officewide flash mob for an employee’s first day of work. However, when a new hire arrives, he or she should be warmly welcomed and there should be a process in place that introduces the new hire to your culture and his or her position. When new employees are embraced on their first day, they will start to feel a sense of connection, and if their first days are planned out and meaningful, they will begin work with a more favorable impression of your organization.
DON’T delay the onboarding process
Some organizations wait months before onboarding employees. The problem with waiting is that you are not setting your employees up for success. At The Ritz-Carlton, new employees are on boarded before they begin their new jobs. Our three-day onboarding process immerses new hires in The Ritz-Carlton culture and begins setting the expectations for them. If employees begin work without understanding your organizational culture, then they will be learning on the job and practicing on your customers. They will also have the impression that training and culture are not priorities for your organization.
DO make it a significant emotional experience
There is often a great deal of paperwork when employees begin a new job. While much of this paperwork is necessary, the goal of your onboarding process should be to connect with your new employees emotionally. Think of your onboarding process as the beginning of a new relationship. If you were going out on a first date with someone and you were asked to fill out a bunch of paperwork—or given a handbook to read instead of conversation—you probably would consider that a lackluster beginning. The reason it is called employee “engagement” is because you need to engage your employees.
DON’T talk at employees
You can engage your employees by making your onboarding process more interactive. Don’t just lecture your new employees. Involve them in onboarding by including team-building activities and make learning more memorable and fun. Consider different methods of training. Instead of telling new hires how to interact with customers or patients, try role-playing different scenarios for them. It helps to get new hires up and moving as well. Consider taking them on tours of your facilities.
DO be consistent across your organization
Sustaining a service excellence culture requires consistency, and you can only achieve consistency if everyone is hearing—and able to articulate—the same message. Whether your new hires are C-level executives or frontline employees—your onboarding program should be effective for all levels of your organization. At The Ritz-Carlton, our employees, known as Ladies and Gentlemen—from managers to housekeepers—attend onboarding together. This melting pot approach to culture immersion not only ensures consistency but shows our Ladies and Gentlemen that everyone is responsible for enlivening our culture.
DON’T overload employees
You’ve hired a new employee because you need him or her to perform a specific job, and it may seem counterproductive to spend too much time on the onboarding process. You may be tempted to cram two days of information into one day, or you may sacrifice more creative activities in order to get new employees out of training and into their new roles. However, you should give employees time to absorb all the new information and acclimate to your culture. The study Getting On Board: A Model for Integrating and Engaging New Employees notes that 90% of employees decided whether they will stay at an organization within the first six months on the job. When you stampede employees through a condensed onboarding, you will most likely prevent them from making the emotional connections needed to retain them at your organization.
DO pass the baton
After employees complete your onboarding program, their training should continue. They should seamlessly transition into their day-to-day roles with the continued support of a supervisor or a mentor who will help them grow and develop. ∞