Onboarding: Beyond the New Hire Checklist to Improve Employee Engagement

Onboarding: Beyond the New Hire Checklist to Improve Employee Engagement

Onboarding is getting alot of attention in HR these days. Much of this attention has to do with Onboarding software, and the importance of creating efficiency to get the employee productive as soon as possible. And while those topics are important, they do not tell the whole story. This post will show you ways to take advantage of onboarding processes, and onboarding software, in ways you may never have thought of.

Onboarding can do a great deal to increase employee engagement, improve the company-employee connection, and ensure productivity comes sooner rather than later.

But unfortunately, I don’t see most organizations using or thinking about onboarding in the proper context. Or at least not as completely as they could be. Most organizations think of onboarding soley as their New Hire Checklist, or perhaps they will go as far as to include a nice New Employee Orientation. And these things are certainly important to our jobs in HR, but they aren’t the full story. This transactional viewpoint is limiting, for both us in HR as well as the New Hire.

Onboarding is our only chance to make a good first impression, and our first chance to create a connection with the employee that will increase engagement and retention. If we simply look at our onboarding process as the way we gather all the required documents, record the benefits being elected, and getting someone a desk and a computer, we are certainly missing a huge opportunity.

We certainly should automate and streamline our ability to capture the needed data and forms. We should absolutely increase communications and scheduling of events. And of course, should definitely take the opportunity to ensure we get the employee set up to be productive as soon as possible.

These things are a given. And they are important as well. I’m just suggesting that we should take this a step further….

Here are just a few ideas to improve the effectiveness of your onboarding process, whether you use onboarding software or you use a New Hire Checklist or you if you have a New Employee Orientation or not. These ideas should get you started thinking about how you may change things in your organization. Remember, your job in HR should be one of Organizational Leadership… Leading the organization in culture creation, employee connection and engagement. Don’t just sit back and be relegated to the boring world of transactions and forms.

Remember, this list is meant to go beyond the standard HR Form collection, HR Policy Signatures, etc. I assume you know how to do all  that just fine.  Not all of these will be relevant, and some will not even be a good idea in certain organizations… but I’m just trying to get your HR brain thinking a little differently. :)

  • Send a Welcome Letter (or email), but in addition to show up here and then, etc, really show excitement and be welcoming. Talk to them more like a friend and throw away the “you should feel privileged we chose you and honored to work here” tone.
  • Place a welcome basket on their desk (think treats, or flowers, etc)
  • Meet them at the door.  Or at least be ready to greet them as soon as they arrive… don’t make them wait!
  • Buy, and present to them, a Success Package (include books or audio programs, etc that may help them. Such as Sales Training, Leadership, Creativity, etc) to show them you want them to succeed and are willing to help them do so.
  • Plan the whole first day, and give them the agenda (in writing).
  • Assign a Mentor.  And don’t forget to choose the mentor wisely, train them on culture, and make sure they understand the importance of this assignment.
  • Assign someone to take them to lunch on the first day.
  • Ensure a clean work space is ready when they arrive.
  • Have their computer, phone, voicemail, etc. all set up and ready to go.   Don’t make them twittle their thumbs for three days, feeling ignored and unimportant.
  • Schedule follow up meeting(s) with HR to check in on how they are adjusting
  • Record a welcome message from the CEO/President/Leader (video would be best… or LIVE if you could, of course).  Coach this Leader to stress excitement and culture.
  • Schedule a tour.  No one wants to have to pee badly and then have to impose on someone else to ask them where to go.
  • Encourage them to decorate their space…  Let them choose items from a catalog and buy them, on the company’s dime!  If they move in, make it seem like home, and get to put their own personal touch on it… their likely to feel more comfortable, more engaged, and less likely like they may have made a mistake taking this job.
  • Assign them to a committee.    If your HR department isn’t already in the habit of forming task forces / committees to tackle the issues of the organization… start it now.  And getting the New Hire involved in the company can serve two purposes:  1. increase involvement/engagement right from the start, and 2. bring fresh ideas and solutions to the table for the committee.
  • Schedule a Happy Hour for after work.
  • Ensure they have office supplies to start the day (stapler, inbox, post-its, etc)
  • Buy them a nice pen, with their name on it.
  • Give them Personalized Stationary.
  • Schedule a series of meetings/presentations  with different departments so they can learn more about how their job fits into the big picture.
  • Record their Birthday and send them a card.
  • … Let me know your thoughts here…  please reply with your ideas, or things you have seen work!
Well, if that list doesn’t have something you aren’t doing or haven’t thought of, I would be surprised… and I want to know where you work!  Your HR Department must be really with it :)
Of course, just to emphasize my point a little further about the usefulness of onboarding software and processes…. You can schedule almost all of these events above and incorporate them into your automated onboarding processes just the way you do on your I-9’s and Benefits and Other HR Forms.
Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Make it a great day!
Just One Guy (can start a movement)

Just One Guy (can start a movement)

This is from the Sasquatch Music Festival 2009…    This guy was all alone in his own little world, while many made fun of him (secretly jealous, mind you) and laughed as he entertained everyone without a care in the world.

Next thing you know… The Tipping Point, which appeared to me to be guy number 3.  Guy number 3 was definitely the catalyst, and when guys 4 and 5 joined… it was on!  People not only wanted to join, they ran to join.

This lone, crazy guy started a dance party all on his own at the top of a hill at the Sasquatch Music festival, as far away from the music and main crowd as you could be….

What can you do?      What can you start?


In order to understand just how far from the stage this guy was, and how small this one guy was on the outskirts of a sea of people… see a longer version here showing the bigger picture…

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.

If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.
~Anita Roddick

We all have the potential to inspire, motiviate, change lives, feed the hungry, break down walls, do the impossible… We all have the power to have a huge impact on those around us, whether that be on a local level or worldwide. Never think you are too small, or too insignificant… you aren’t!

Go out today and think about this quote… find opportunities to make a difference… help an elderly person cross the street, deliver flowers to a hospital, just smile at a child…. do something!

I think you will find this most rewarding. Try to do something to make a difference every day. Start with one positive action each day… soon you’ll be addicted and it will be a very worthwhile, lifelong habbit.

Fight for it, stay determined, and make it happen

There are all kinds of stories that you hear of persistance and determination… stories about people who have made it, no matter the struggles. Often times I am moved and inspired by these stories, but I tell a friend or family member the same story and it is not recieved the same. They just don’t seem to have the same appreciation of determination and often miss the point all together. One such example is the story of Sylvester Stallone and how he sold his dog when he was broke and couldn’t feed it anymore.

You can learn about this story at: YouTube video

Or, just google it

He stood outside a convenience store with a sign and sold his dog to someone that negotiated with him on the price. Apparently, this was very difficult for Stallone as he reports crying as he walked away from the sale.

Eventually, Stallone bought the dog back a few weeks later after selling the script to Rocky (Which is another story you should look up). He sold the dog for about $25 or something like that… then when he went to buy it back, he paid thousands for it, and gave the guy who he bought it back from a part in the movie (little Mike, the guy sweeping up the floors at one point in the movie).

The point is, those hard times he had… selling his dog, refusing the first offer for his movie, and the next, and the next,… until he was allowed to star in the movie, is an amazing story of determination. I find it all so inspiring, but this same story, when told to a friend yesteday, brought upon comments like, “poor dog”… “how stupid, I would have taken the first offer”, or “I would never pay $15,000 to buy my dog back”, etc….. similar comments peppered me during my story telling and after. I just don’t get how people don’t understand the inspiration they can draw from stories like this. Stallone wanted to be an actor… “they” wouldn’t let him! He tried out for agent after agent, part after part… it didn’t work. So he turned to writing… he sold one script for something like $100. Then he wrote Rocky. They wanted it, but he wouldn’t give it to them for $50,000, the first offer. He wouldn’t give it to them for $100,000… not even $250,000…. Not unless he could star in it. So, in the end, he took $35,000 and got the staring part… bought his dog back for $15,000, and look where he is now.

If you don’t find committment and determination in that story… I don’t know where you will find it.

Make it a great day!

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