You’ve done it! You identified a need for a new role at your company, created the job description, went through the hiring process, and found the perfect candidate to step into the role. Your work is done.

Or is it? Any new hire requires some personal attention to make sure they settle into their new role, ideally through a formal onboarding process, and new hires in a completely new role require even more consideration.

Ideally, your company should have onboarding in place that can apply to all roles, with supplementary onboarding materials and procedures specific to each role, including your new role.

Think of onboarding like giving birthday cakes to your employees. Each cake is virtually identical, just as parts of the onboarding process will be the same from employee to employee. Yet the frosting on each cake is personalized with each employee’s name, just as other parts of the onboarding process will be customized to the particulars of each employee’s role.

Personalizing the cake for employees who step into brand new roles takes a little more thought. Here’s how to do it.

Onboarding: Baking the Cake for All Employees

Start with the cake itself: your company should have an onboarding strategy for all new hires. It doesn’t just make employees more comfortable as they start their job — it also makes them more likely to stay with your company. One study found new employees who were properly onboarded were nearly 70% more likely to be with the organization three years later than were those who were not onboarded.

A comprehensive onboarding process also makes new hires 50% more productive than they are without an onboarding process, and 77% of new hires who hit their first performance milestones are formally onboarded.

Despite all these benefits, almost one-quarter of companies don’t have a formal onboarding program. Don’t let your company be one of them. Craft an onboarding process that:

  • Begins as soon as employees accept the job offer. We’ve all been overwhelmed on a first day of work. Sending an employee handbook and briefing notes before an employee starts at your company gives them time to absorb the information on their own schedule and minimize information overload on the first day.
  • Makes them feel welcomed by the entire team. Introduce the new hire to the entire team, not only HR and their department. If you’re a small team, you may be able to facilitate face-to-face introductions with each employee; you can also introduce them in a company newsletter or on a company intranet.
  • Communicates your company’s values and purpose. How does their role fit into the five-year strategic plan? What are the organization’s values, its purpose, and its priorities? Every new employee should understand the answers to these questions.
  • Briefs them on company culture. It’s not all about five-year plans and mission statements. New employees should also be informed of the essential elements of the company culture. If employees regularly grab beer after work on Fridays or everyone takes a turn on the office social committee, make sure to tell your new hires about it.
  • Makes it clear where they can go to get questions answered. No matter how comprehensive your onboarding process is, new hires are likely to have some questions. Should they turn to a contact in the HR department? A buddy on their team? Their manager? A company mentor?

With this onboarding process in place, your cake is almost complete. Now all that’s left is to personalize it for your new hire.

Personalizing for New Positions

If you’ve ever used frosting to write on a cake, you know that it requires a steady hand and precision. Similarly, it takes careful thought to appropriately personalize onboarding for new hires — and particularly new hires for brand new positions.

Start by going back to the reasons your company created this new position. New roles are usually created to solve problems, such as to:

  • Address a skills gap in your organization. If your company is offering new services or taking on new types of projects, you may need to hire people with skills your current staff don’t have.
  • Reduce consistent overwork among current employees. If your current employees are consistently overworked, it makes sense to add more manpower to ease their workload.
  • Take your company in a new strategic direction. Sometimes things change at a company, necessitating new staff in new positions to course-correct.

Your reason for creating a new position should influence the onboarding process. Joining a company to take some of the workload from colleagues is a very different context than joining it to clean up a huge PR mess.

New hires need to understand how their role fits into the bigger picture, and new hires for a new position need to understand why their role was created. Make sure this is part of their onboarding process and provide them tailored materials and resources to support them in addressing the problem they were hired to fix.

While HR should lead the core components of onboarding a new employee, the manager of the new employee needs to be intricately involved in the onboarding process. As a HR manager, be sure to outline with hiring managers at which point in the onboarding process they need to take over, and what parts of the process you will handle. Doing this will keep all parties on track and your new employee won’t miss vital information or hear repeated information.

Don’t stop there. As the first to be onboarded for their new position, the new hire will have valuable feedback to improve the onboarding process for the next time you hire for their position.

Six months to a year after your new employee starts, evaluate your onboarding. Go to their direct manager for their input on how well the new hire was (or wasn’t) prepared by the onboarding process for their role. And ask the new hire:

  • Is the work you are doing today part of the role that was explained to you during the recruitment and onboarding process?
  • Were the materials provided at orientation clear and easy to understand?
  • What important information was missing from your onboarding process?

The answers to these questions will help you tweak your recipe for an even better cake — and a more productive employee — the next time around.

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Chris Lennon
Chris Lennon is Vice President of Product Management at BirdDogHR. He is responsible for ensuring the BirdDogHR Talent Management System meets the needs and exceeds the expectations of our customers. He does this by working directly with customers and partners, identifying key market opportunities, developing product strategies and bringing exciting new products, features and partnerships to market. Chris is an active participant in the talent management community bringing over 18 years of experience to BirdDogHR. He has presented at numerous industry events and has been quoted as an industry expert in leading publications like Talent Management magazine, CLO magazine, New Talent Times, TLNT and HR Bartender.

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