It’s not unusual for businesses to create an onboarding process that focuses on what they need from the new member of staff, but in our experience it’s preferable – and more effective – to approach it from your new starter’s perspective. Instead of drawing up a list of which forms need completing, what the IT and HR departments require and how the new starter will best be fitted into the existing structure, why not take a step back and think about your new recruit? Clearly the paperwork is important, but consideration given to the following questions will pay dividends:

• How can we make our new starter feel welcome?
• How can we help them feel included straightaway?
• How can we bring them up to speed as quickly as possible?
• How can we empower them and enable them to make a telling contribution?
• How can we ensure they understand what we expect of them?

The best way to answer these questions and implement a structure that delivers on all levels is to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. That can be easier said than done, but we believe that there are five fundamentals that every new starter wants, irrespective of the stage they’re in their career.

1 A clear and coherent onboarding structure
Everyone’s a little anxious and unsure when they start a new job, and it can be overwhelming to fathom out exactly what’s expected of you in the first few weeks in the role. Creating and sharing a three-month onboarding process will set a framework for your new starter, not just for day one, but for their early weeks in post. Avoid focusing purely on admin and paperwork by laying out ways in which they can learn, develop and achieve success. This might be by scheduling meetings with key colleagues and departments, booking relevant training courses and setting up review conversations. The checklist can also work the other way by providing you, the line manager, with a clear list of things that need to be put in place to help the starter hit the ground running. These might include practical things such as a mobile phone, an email address and private health cover, but may also cover off personnel issues too.

2 An understanding of how they fit into the organisation and the role they will play
After a while, it’s virtually impossible to think back to when you started in your role and identify the things you didn’t know when you first joined. For example, your organisation might have a shiny new five-year strategic plan, or it might have innovated and adapted, so whatever is current will be relevant to your new starter. The likelihood is that they’ll need to become familiar with a wealth of information, so making that process as seamless of possible will be beneficial to both parties. All in all, however, it’s important to ensure that the information they receive is relevant to them and their job role as this will help them focus on how they will be contributing. Your onboarding may include corporate literature, senior management videos and an explanation of the company’s vision and values.

3 Encouragement to connect and build networks
Building a bond with their new team members can help not only to settle a new starter, but also to inspire them to start contributing. Depending on the size of the business and the number of team members, a ‘Meet the team’ communication can be invaluable. This might include the names, jobtitles, head shots, roles and responsibilities of the team, and also some fun facts about them. This can be enhanced with meet ups for coffee, lunches and even drinks after work – both in person and online – as these are all great ways to break the ice.

4 Encouragement to ‘be themselves’
It’s a natural instinct to start a new job and crave immediate acceptance. Let’s face it, who doesn’t want to feel included and valued? Giving your new starter reassurance that they are a core part of the team will make them believe that the organisation they’re joining is one where they really can develop and grow. Your onboarding might include questions around whether your new recruit has any special requirements; for example, in the physical make-up of their working area. Understanding these and taking care of them from the earliest opportunity – and ideally before their first day – will create an inclusive atmosphere and will enable your new starter to slot in with a minimum of fuss.

5 Encouragement to ask questions and gain feedback
Effective two-way communication before your new joiner starts, and in those crucial first few months, will also play a significant part in driving engagement, retention and performance. To achieve this, build opportunities for planned interactions between each new starter and their buddy and line manager into your onboarding process. Not only that, regular feedback sessions with managers will help to ensure that everything stays on course, identify any training needs and set a path for the starter’s personal development. Holding Q&A sessions can elicit helpful answers which not only enable you to react, but also to refine and improve your onboarding process so that it becomes more efficient and effective.

For Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, onboarding is an area that employers ignore at their peril. ‘Here at Exact we pride ourselves on working with our clients to secure the services of the best candidate for the role they are filling,’ comments Rosa. ‘Once that is achieved, however, the onus is on the employer to follow an onboarding process to integrate that candidate into their workforce and to enable them to become a model member of staff. Within our team we have extensive experience of successful onboarding, so we’d encourage anyone thinking of recruiting to tap into our knowledge base.’

Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket, and we also serve Ely, Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Royston and Sawston. If you’re looking to add to your team and need to find the ideal candidate, why not contact us for an initial conversation?