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Onboarding: Sink or Swim

Lindsey Novak on

The first weeks of onboarding can set the stage for a new hire to either fall in love with the job and the company or wish he or she had rejected the offer. Onboarding is the introductory period for new hires, ranging from one day to one month in a well-prepared company. This is when new hires are fully introduced to the company and the role -- or thrown into the pool and told to sink or swim.

According to Jean Juchnowicz, human resources consultant, interim leader, career coach and founder of Human Resources Simplified in Sarasota, Florida, onboarding is critical in helping new hires smoothly and successfully ease into the job, the company and the environment. This is the opportunity for HR professionals to show their warmth, poise and professionalism in introducing new employees to co-workers and key people, as well as the company's policies, procedures, technology and culture. It's a chance to show the new hires all they need to know to feel confident about their new job. This may also be where new hires learn that not all company cultures are open and friendly, despite all the smiling that took place in the interviews.

During a good first day of onboarding, new employees should be shown their office or work area, have the technology and equipment set up (if onsite), be given a tour of the operation (physical or virtual), and meet their co-workers and bosses. The HR professional should explain the organization's culture and encourage questions. A well-prepared and organized HR professional may have a "welcome checklist" to ensure everything is covered. After signing all the legal and company-required documents, employment and confidentiality agreements, and payroll and benefits information, the representative should also review the company's mission, vision and values statements. Explaining the company culture is important for quickly integrating the new hire into the company and for knowing how to address people, who to report to and who to never ask for anything.

With properly onboarding, HR will introduce the new hire to his or her team members and co-workers and will send an official email welcoming the person so employees won't wonder who the stranger is hanging around the offices. (Yes, this has happened to people.) New hires should be given time to settle into the work area and see all the necessary locations, such as kitchens, copiers, bathrooms and even closets where personal items can be stored. This sounds basic, but some new hires are introduced to immediate co-workers, shown their work area and left to fend for themselves in finding out all they need to feel comfortable and competent in the job.

 

Some companies have created a buddy system, a willing mentor assigned to the new hire so he or she always has a contact to ask for help when questions arise. The mentor may also serve as a resource for company-related information or interpersonal issues, since no company is filled exclusively with easygoing, cooperative personalities. A great HR representative should welcome questions along the way, but there is only so much HR can divulge, and the new hire would not want to hear discouraging stories before even starting the real work.

As an interim HR director who has traveled all around the U.S. when an HR director leaves a position, Juchnowicz has walked into companies where disorder has reigned for many months, the staff is at war with one another or the company simply needs third-party organization. Whatever the reason for an interim HR director, Jean Juchnowicz has earned multiple degree certifications guaranteeing her excellence in the field of human resources.

Email career and life coach: Lindsey@LindseyNovak.com with your workplace problems and issues. Ms. Novak responds to all emails. For more information, visit www.lindseynovak.com, and for past columns, see www.creators.com/read/At-Work-Lindsey-Novak.

 

 

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