Strong Onboarding Boosts Employee Performance, Retention


You’ve recruited and vetted (background check, drug test, driver’s license, etc.) what appears to be a good employee. What next? Do you then abandon them to one of your other employees, perhaps a crew leader?

Do you say something like: “Hey, Bob, here’s Joe, our new guy; he’ll be working with you today. Show him what he needs to do.”

Or do you rely on a defined procedure to walk your newbie through the knowledge, skills and behaviors they need to exhibit (and acquire if they don’t have them) to help your organization, as well as the new employees to achieve whatever goals you set together? This is called onboarding.

It’s not enough to welcome a new hire and then rush them through a litany of company rules and “do’s and don’ts.” This doesn’t accomplish much. Turning new hires loose without them understanding exactly what’s expected of them can be disastrous. Disaster is almost a certainty if your new hires are assigned to work with and learn from disaffected or poor performers within your organization.

Start your onboarding process with an orientation, by educating new hires about your firm’s history, culture and purpose. Fully explain your company’s mission.

Consultant Monroe Porter, president of PROOF Management Systems, offers the example of three bricklayers. When approached and asked what he’s doing, the first bricklayer responds, “I am laying bricks.” The second worker responds to the query with, “I am building a wall.” The third bricklayer, when asked the same question answers boldly, “I am building a cathedral where family and I will worship.”

If your goal as owner is to be the best or most profitable green industry company in your market, impress upon your new hire their role in helping to achieve this. Also, explain what their positive efforts in achieving this goal will mean for them in terms of earnings or advancement opportunities.

Admittedly, the onboarding process covers a lot of ground, so put yourself into your new hires’ shoes. Don’t overwhelm them. Yes, there are policies to explain, managers and co-workers to meet and perhaps even videos to see, so take onboarding one easily understandable step at a time.

Streamline your onboarding process by developing a new-hire portal on your website. This will allow applicants that you’re considering for low- to mid-level management positions to review documents, images and videos — and even fill out paperwork — prior to their first meeting with you.

Depending on the importance of the position, onboarding could last for as little as a morning or day for an entry-level, hourly employee or up to several weeks for a manager or salesperson.

At least until you’re confident the new hire is performing to expectations, continue to monitor the progress of your new hires. You or a trusted manager should continue to offer guidance and support as well as seek the employee’s feedback until you’re confident all is working out well with them. Many companies make it a point to check back with new employees 30 days after their start date to see if they have any concerns or questions about their jobs.

Regardless of the details of your onboarding process, the end result remains the same: to get employees to an acceptable level of performance in as short a time as possible.

Strong onboarding programs increase new hire job performance and improve employee retention.