Here is a suggested checklist for your onboarding process:
Be professional. While new employees are typically concerned with putting their best foot forward, the hiring company also needs to leave a good first impression. An ad-hoc onboarding program will make the new employee feel as if he or she has just signed up with a second-rate company. Over time, a poor onboarding program will damage employee morale, productivity and, ultimately, retention.
Be clear and precise. Onboarding is a particularly terrible time to deliver weak or inconsistent messages. Miscommunication at the start of a job can lead to disastrous mistakes down the road as the employee naively performs actions that are contrary to best practices. To reinforce verbal instruction, companies should give a new hire an employee manual and other critical documents before their first day on the job.
Keep it simple. Even if the employee's new job involves complex duties and responsibilities, the onboarding process should be kept as simple and as low-key as possible. This means that while you should divulge the information that the new hire needs to know to become a full team player, you should not overload him or her with every possible bit of available intelligence.
Keep it interesting. Onboarding, by nature, will always require new employees to fill out forms, watch orientation videos and perform various other mind-numbing tasks. But try to make the process less boring by alternating rote tasks with more engaging activities, such as touring production facilities, examining new tools and meeting colleagues.
Designate a mentor or a body. The new hire shouldn't feel like a lonely piece of driftwood bobbing in a vast ocean. Assigning an experienced mentor to the new hire, preferably someone in the same general business area, will give the newcomer a reliable escort and contact source. The mentor should be available for consultation throughout the business day for at least the first week or so of a new hire's employment. After that, you may trim access back to scheduled meetings.
Take time to listen. Onboarding is a two-way process: The mentor provides facts and support, and the new hire asks crucial questions about his or her job. To facilitate the ongoing flow of information, build time into the onboarding schedule to allow both parties to sit down and discuss — uninterrupted — whatever happens to be on their minds.
Prepare the workspace. Onboarding's primary goal should be to get new hires comfortable with their jobs and working at near peak efficiency out of the starting gate. But this isn't possible if the person's workspace isn't available or is missing essential tools or materials. That's why it's important to have a workspace ready as soon as the new hire arrives for work.
Prepare the technology. Each new joiner needs a computer, access to an email account, access and training to many corporate applications, a phone number, a mobile phone and so on. Many companies have perfected the process of preparing all thse for their new joiners, you should do too.
Provide follow-up support. Too many companies take a "sink-or-swim" approach to onboarding, designing the process as a stand-alone system with specific starting and ending dates. Actually, onboarding should be viewed as just the first step in an ongoing employee-support program. During the onboarding process, employees need to be introduced to the company's full spectrum of career-advancement, wellness, recreation and other programs, as well as encouraged to seek information and other assistance whenever the need arises.