4 Tips for Onboarding New Employees Faster

The cost of losing an employee in the first year is estimated to be at least three times salary.


How do you reduce the odds of failure and help your new hires succeed? The “not-so-secret” secret is in the onboarding. New employees who went through a structured on-boarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years.

The real challenge is to get new hires up-to-speed, assimilated, and performing the skills that got them the job in the first place faster.

While it may be tempting to give the new hire a boatload of training materials and responsibilities on day one, it’s important to be strategic. Imagine these payoffs for your company:

  • Reduce costs associated with learning on the job (ie. mistakes made in service of learning new things).
  • Save co-workers and supervisors time training the new employee, thereby increasing productivity.
  • Increase morale and reduce turnover by showing the employee he/she is valued.

Here are a few ways to turbo-charge your onboarding process. Feel free to leave us your proven tips in the comments.

1. Start with teaching specific processes.

Many training guides say providing a broad context for every task is critical for new employees.

Wrong. Leave the comprehensive overview approach for later, when they are better able to put their role into context.

Besides, people best learn to master complex tasks when those tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks. Teach specific processes and let new employees demonstrate mastery of those processes.

For example, if you’re onboarding a new salesperson, don’t start with a full overview of the sales strategy and process. Teach him or her how to use the lead management and sales pipeline tools or go over a smaller section of the overall sales process, like prospecting.

Then start to introduce a more comprehensive view of job functions and how those functions tie into other operations and efforts.

Your new employee will better understand how their role fits into the broader organization when they have a full understanding their own processes.

2. Give feedback right away.

New employees tend to make mistakes - they're learning. So it may seem harsh or unfair to correct or critique, but if you don't, you'll lose the opportunity to set the right tone and the employee risks falling into a pattern of hiding mistakes.

Unless the job involves creativity, every task should have a best way to be performed. Expect new employees to do things your way at first; bad habits are easily formed and very difficult to correct.

This sets the tone for an environment of honest and open communication. If you’re honest with your initial feedback, the new employee will be more comfortable with transparency going forward.

It might be hard, but try and stay away from the “praise sandwich,” where you insert what they’re doing wrong between two compliments. Most of the time, people only hear the good things. It’s best to be straightforward.

3. Get them working immediately.

It's the classic first day on the job: paperwork, orientation, training. While these things are necessary, it makes for a boring and unfulfilling day. Not to mention, it makes the eventual transition to “real work” more difficult.

A new employee should complete at least one specific job-related task on their first day. When they do, you establish that output is important and new employees go home feeling a sense of personal achievement.

It could be as simple as contributing some simple code or writing some copy for an email campaign.

Make each day a blend of orientation and real work.

4. Make finding information a breeze with company tools.

Internal collaboration tools, including Chatter, IBM Connect, Jive and Yammer can also be implemented in the onboarding.

Build networks for preboarding new hires, send them welcome messages, and give them an environment where they can ask questions and engage with other employees.

Employees also need an easy way to find what they’re looking for - especially when dealing with the “unknown unknowns” that come with being a new to the organization.

Synata gives your employees one place to find the information they need at work. By being able to search across all their tools - Google Apps, Dropbox, Box, Salesforce, etc - from one spot, they can learn the business more organically by investigating and learning things themselves. 

And while it's certainly acceptable for new hires to ask a lot of questions, a fast and relevant search tool reduces the number of times they interrupt others to help them find something. It's a win-win for everyone.

Try Synata for free.

Do you have any other tips for efficient employee onboarding? Let us know in the comments or @Synata on Twitter. 

Posted on May 20, 2014 and filed under How To.