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Navigating the Path to Success: The Art of Thoughtful Onboarding

In the professional realm, much like any other life experience, beginning on the right note is paramount. Imagine the first minutes at a restaurant or the warmth of a welcoming handshake – that initial impression sets the tone. When it comes to welcoming new hires, exceptional onboarding is not merely about completing HR paperwork. It’s a carefully crafted experience that blends structured and unstructured training, genuine team engagement, clear measures for success, and a safety net (e.g. regular check-ins, an onboarding buddy, etc) to allow your new hire to course-correct quickly—all of which will ensure that your new hire feels valued. 

At Trepwise, we operate and advise clients from a people-first perspective grounded in human-centered design. When viewed through a design-thinking lens, the new hire is on a journey not unlike a customer interacting with your business for the first time. As employers, we have an obligation to create an onboarding process that is human-centered—meaning an experience that is both rooted in logic and also tailored to the individual, rather than a cookie-cutter approach.

1. Top Onboarding Practices: A Blueprint for Success

Our onboarding blueprint includes staying engaged with new hires before their start date, orchestrating team meet-and-greets, setting clear goals and objectives, scheduling regular check-ins, and gathering feedback for continuous improvement. This thoughtful design ensures that the new hire feels valued and supported. It’s about more than just ticking off tasks; it’s about crafting an experience with lasting positive benefits.

2. The Impact of Onboarding Best Practices: A Strategic Investment

Research underscores the pivotal role onboarding plays in long-term job success. Poor onboarding can prove costly, with 80% of employees feeling undertrained from subpar onboarding contemplating an exit according to a recent survey. The surge in remote and hybrid work makes effective onboarding even more critical. A well-set-up employee, equipped with tools, experiences, knowledge, and a sense of belonging, becomes a value-added contributor. Data shows that businesses prioritizing onboarding witness positive outcomes, including revenue growth, team retention, and an engaged workforce.

3. Striking the Right Onboarding Balance: The Goldilocks Principle

Common onboarding pitfalls often revolve around extremes – doing too much or too little. While insufficient onboarding is a common challenge, overwhelming a new hire can be equally detrimental. A new hire who is “drinking from the firehose” is less likely to retain knowledge, meet their goals, and see themselves as a success. As a result, it is important to acknowledge that 1) onboarding is only the beginning of a new hire’s learning process and 2) onboarding plans can and (often) should change to accommodate the new hire’s learning style. The employer should use routine check-ins as an opportunity to gauge a new hire’s progress and course-correct as necessary.

4. Tools for Seamless Onboarding: Navigating the Tech Landscape

While numerous software platforms exist for onboarding, smaller organizations may find them expensive and oversized. Customized, efficient, and organized onboarding is achievable with project management tools (e.g. Asana or that ensure transparency and adherence to a schedule. You can also embed links to other content in your project management tools, such as guides and templates, so that team members can find everything they need in one place. In addition, the humble employee handbook is an underappreciated tool. At Trepwise, we recommend that a handbook contain details about organizational culture, such as norms and expectations, in addition to policies. Taking the time to document and train the intangibles, such as how an organization’s values are brought to life, in particular, is critical to ensuring a new hire understands the culture and can begin living it from day one.

Above all else, when onboarding a new hire it’s important to ask yourself “what would I want if I was new to this organization?”  A warm team welcome, coupled with some meaningful training, goes a long way.