Hybrid teams have highlighted the need for a structured approach to onboarding to maximize employee engagement. This map provides a journey, and essential activities and tools, to help new hires and their managers navigate the first 30 days.
Planning for the Journey
This is a representative journey and should be adapted to meet the needs of your situation. Things to consider when designing an onboarding journey, include:
- What is the level of the new hire? Some of the training tasks for managers would be different from entry level employees, for example.
- Is the new hire a transfer from another department in your organization? If so, the one-time orientation components of the journey can be drastically reduced.
- What onboarding activities are department/role specific? Which are relevant to the entire organization?
- If multiple people are being onboarded at the same time, how is each of their experiences different?
It’s critical that these questions be answered by the hiring manager prior to Day 1, and the onboarding journey be customized and ready to go. Everyone should have a map specific to their personal experience.
Remember, every time we onboard new employees and team members, team dynamics change. Teams need to be nurtured so no one feels isolated in a virtual world. Hiring managers should take time to consider how to get the new team from forming to performing in the fastest way possible.
Finally, don’t wait for a critical mass of new hires for formal training. Coordinate with Human Resources or other departments to make sure that everything that SHOULD happen in the first 30 days CAN happen. This is the best way to set everyone up for success.
The Journey – A Picture Says 1000 Words (You really need to review the infographic too!)
We’ve mapped out a typical onboarding journey – starting with “Pre-boarding” and then detailing the first four weeks of a new hire’s experience. This entire journey is available as an infographic – and if you are like me, that might be the place you want to start!
The infographic has some bonus items: a list of Essential Activities (suggested training, checklists, infographics, videos, coaching and shadowing opportunities, and more!) for each stop in the journey. Don’t worry – if it seems like too much, you can work in ways to automate much of the onboarding process.
Pre-boarding Activities for the Hiring Manager
Pre-boarding activities are meant to help managers think through how to help the new hire gain self-efficacy early in their time at your company, as well as create a thorough plan for the new hire. This sends a message that you are invested in the long-term success of your new employee which begins the process of employee engagement.
Hold a planning session with the hiring manager and cover context, credibility, and connection
- What are the most important parts of the job for the new hire to learn?
- What initial projects or assignments will the new hire need to get up to speed on right away?
- What existing meetings or events are already scheduled that the new hire should attend in order to build out more context for their role?
- What tools and resources will the new hire need to know and/or master in the first 30 days?
- What are the new hire challenges and how can the onboarding schedule help build these competencies? What specific training will support this?
- How can you help the new hire build credibility? What tasks could they own that would help increase visibility in the organization?
- Who are the most important people the new hire needs to meet in order to perform their duties successfully? Who has expectations about the person in this role?
- What will be the regular meeting schedule between you (the manager) and the new hire?
- Who would be a good mentor for the new hire? (Include up to three options.)
Welcome the employee in a way that sets the tone for employee engagement
- Send a written note and swag bag in advance of start date.
- Confirm logistics for first day, including on-site logistics of finding the office and who will meet them, when computer will arrive if off-site, agenda for first day (especially important for remote employees!) login information, and key contacts.
- Cover any HR administrative paperwork that is possible to complete ahead of start date, such as benefits, keeping in mind the labor laws in your region that may prohibit any work done before an official start date.
- Schedule 30-day onboarding meetings on the new hire’s calendar.
Onboarding Week 1
Before the new hire learns the technical aspects of their job, it is important to build the context of the role, the organization and the business, while also beginning to integrate the new hire into the culture and giving them the basic support they need to be successful.
- Focus on new hire acclimation and administration: including computer setup and essential software access, administrative paperwork, employee handbook, basic HR policies, and where to find team folders, files and documentation. If the new hire is on site for the first day, include wayfinding for restrooms, emergency exits and local places to eat. Leave ample free time on the schedule to complete these tasks.
- Begin manager conversations: including basic expectations around responsive communication, attendance and holiday schedules, and preferred work styles.
- Build social connections: including team member introductions, hosting a virtual lunch, spending time with organizational chart to help the new hire understand roles of various team members and departments, and introduce the idea of a buddy or mentor.
- Focus on employee belonging: to reinforce a diversity and inclusion approach to employee engagement and social connections, introduce resource groups or affinity groups that are focused on various demographics.
- Focus on hybrid teams: to ensure that all employees, whether remote or onsite, are able to effectively communicate and collaborate in the hybrid workforce.
- Set the tone for employee engagement: to ensure that the new hire is acclimating to the new environment.
Onboarding Week 2
This week, take connections to the next level by explaining how stakeholder responsibilities overlap and interact with those of the new hire. Encourage listening and observation before action and decision making.
- Meet your mentor/bud: the goal is to enhance the new hire’s social connections by assigning them an office buddy - a fellow employee (other than the manager) who provides advice and guidance or a “sounding board” who offers encouragement as the new employee acclimates to the culture and workplace. To further accelerate engagement, ask the new hire for their top 3 choices for this office buddy, based on conversations from the week before.
- Facilitate 1:1 meetings with stakeholders: this is a series of short conversations with colleagues from across departments, team members, direct reports and anyone who has regular interactions or responsibilities that connect with the new hire’s responsibilities. Keep in mind that this is an opportunity to build credibility and connection.
- Provide introduction to key departments: departmental introductions should follow a similar format that includes an organizational chart of team members, leaders, and their roles, high-level departmental goals, and a basic understanding of how the department works.
- Conduct initial project orientation: this first conversation is about the new hire’s job responsibilities in regard to existing projects and tasks that they will own.
- Invite to team meetings: ensure the new hire will join any regularly scheduled team meetings, including town hall meetings. Be sure to welcome them as a new hire of the company. If the new hire is in a leadership role, identify a small part of the agenda which they can own.
Onboarding Week 3
The focus of this week is to begin an in-depth exploration of projects, markets and job responsibilities, while continuing to build connections and credibility more broadly across the organization.
- Meet the CEO/Senior Leadership: meeting the organization’s leadership sends some important messages to the new hire. Perhaps the most important message is that they care about their employees. A CEO’s time can be scarce, so planning this meeting when there are a few new hires is a good use of time. This meeting is a win for employee engagement! Of course, the leadership level depends on the size of the company – but this connection really matters.
- Deep dive into responsibilities: build on last week’s introduction to key departments and initial project orientation by reviewing existing operating plans and resources available to support task and project completion. Spend some time helping the new hire with prioritization as they are still understanding the context of their new role.
- Develop hypotheses and find an independent path: the new hire should independently begin to craft some ideas around what challenges exist that need to be solved, how culture works, and what is most important to accomplish first.
Onboarding Week 4
The final week of scheduled onboarding moves into strategic alignment, creating momentum and building credibility. Through the process of setting achievable goals, you build the new hire’s confidence and establish a greater degree of engagement. Be sure to continue any introductions that weren’t scheduled in prior weeks.
- Mutually develop vision and goals: this is a collaborative process between the manager and new hire where both come to the conversation with their ideal vision of what the role will be, followed by a discussion and consensus-building. From there, short- and long-term goals are established. When goals are established early, quarterly performance conversations keep goals on track which means there are no surprises during the annual performance evaluation. This is key for keeping an employee engaged. Some guiding questions include:
- How do our roles fit into this vision?
- What is your specific role in helping move the needle towards achieving this vision?
- What skills and relationships do you need to support this vision, now and in the future?
- Establish a “quick win”: after goals have been identified, choose one that is achievable in a short time frame and will give the new hire confidence while also establishing broad credibility across the department or organization.
- Gain clarity around supervisor’s style and priorities: onboarding is a two-way street and the new hire has responsibility for asking good questions based on weeks of observation. Before the first month is finished, the new hire should check in with the manager and gain clarity around how and when they prefer to communicate, including hybrid work expectations, use of email, phone and text message, along with after-hours expectations, to name a few.
- Conduct formal 30-day check-in: this critical conversation should cover the new hire’s understanding of the context of their work, how they have been able to establish credibility, and who they have made connections with during the first month. This structured conversation is meant to identify any challenges in their transition, ensure a sense of belonging and provide additional knowledge or resources needed to ensure success. This conversation is repeated at the 60- and 90-day marks.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, by the end of the first month, a quick-win goal for the new hire should be established to build credibility and create self-efficacy for the employee in their new role.
Onboarding Isn’t Over in 30 Days – Learn More
Our August 2022 podcast, What’s Driving The Need for Virtual Onboarding, reiterated that onboarding is a process that can take up to a year to complete. We shared simple steps you can take, such as how to make sure that new employees are engaged with 30, 60 and 90-day onboarding plans, and what you should consider when designing virtual onboarding experiences.
One thing is for certain – a thoughtful onboarding strategy improves employee engagement and is good for everyone. It’s worth the investment.
Want help creating your custom virtual onboarding journey? Our team of Virtual Learning Experts® can be your guides. We can help you to design a custom experience. Contact us!
Your organization can build a strong 30-day onboarding strategy to retain talent in today's hybrid workplace. Getting Virtual Onboarding Right - Maximizing New Hire Engagement in the Hybrid Workplace explores how to design a virtual onboarding program, how to connect remote new hires to the rest of the organization, and how to make the first 30 days on the job positive, memorable, and energizing.
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