We’ve all been through it at one time or another – onboarding. The process of getting up to speed in your first days and weeks as a new employee. It’s an exciting and stressful time, and not just for the new employee working to absorb truck loads of new information. It’s also nerve wracking for the employer, who has dedicated time and resources to selecting a new team member.
In the modern workplace, a new employee has dozens of new applications and tools to learn, on top of your company’s processes, workflows, and overall structure. Having an onboarding plan that helps ensure they get all the information they need without overwhelming them in the process is key.
For best success, we recommend a phased approach. At Regroove, we divide the onboarding plan into three phases: first day, orientation, and training. At each stage, we introduce new tools that lead to an in-depth understanding of the technology we use to communicate and collaborate, the programs specific to the new member’s role, and an overall understanding of organizational structure.
In this article, we’ll walk through the content we introduce in each phase of the onboarding plan, and how you might apply this approach in your own organization.
First Days (1-2 days)
The first couple days are the hardest. Not only is your new team member doing their best to remember names and roles, absorb information, and make a good impression; they’re also getting a feel for dress code, office layout, team dynamics, and the overall company culture.
Instead of diving into specific, role related information, we use this time to focus on the big picture. We walk through:
- Administrative tasks- the boring HR stuff
- Organizational structure – the who’s who and what’s where of the company
- Corporate culture – we’re big on culture at Regroove, so we spend lots of time covering the company history and the informal, collaborative team we’ve built here
The technology we introduce in the first couple of days is limited. We’ll get the new team members email and Microsoft 365 account set up. Most importantly, we’ll spend a lot of time covering Microsoft Teams. We use Teams all day at Regroove. We store and collaborate on files, host meetings, and even integrate with Teams Voice for our phone system. Teams might be the most important tool we have, so we introduce it on day one and talk about it often throughout the onboarding process.
When you’re creating your onboarding plan, consider who your new employee will work closely with or report to. Have those coworkers provide a tour, an overview of the organization and its structure, and an introduction to the 1-2 pieces of technology that are most important. This will begin to build a professional relationship between your new team member and their co-workers while laying the groundwork for a solid understanding of your most-used applications.
Orientation (1 week)
The orientation phase gives your new employee the time they need to settle into your corporate environment and get oriented (pun definitely intended) with your culture and team members.
During this phase, we focus on more comprehensive introductions to the tools that are common across the company. At Regroove, we’re fortunate to have Microsoft coaches on staff that provide our new teammates introductory sessions for SharePoint, Microsoft Teams, Planner, To Do, and OneNote – tools that you’ll use in any position at our organization.
Taking time to introduce these tools before diving into the nitty gritty of role-specific tasks and technology provides a chance to settle in without stressing about retaining an overwhelming amount of information. The goal is to make sure your newbie has a good understanding of the tools you use, and when and how you use them. This will lay a strong foundation moving forward into role-specific training.
We use this as an opportunity to get all members of the team involved in knowledge transfer. This provides three benefits:
- It provides an opportunity for the new hire to meet each staff member one-on-one and make a connection. This is particularly useful if their roles won’t always intersect in the future.
- It offers a chance for the new hire to learn from subject matter experts on the team.
- It helps existing staff members reinforce their own confidence in what they know, as teaching someone else is the most effective way to ensure they fully understand the tool themselves.
When planning the orientation phase of your onboarding plan, make a list of the processes and technology you want to include. Work with your team to determine who the best person to go through those coaching sessions might be. Schedule these sessions throughout your new member’s first week.
Training (2+ weeks)
Once your new team member has a solid understanding of your organization, culture, and the tools you use on a regular basis, it’s time to start including job specific software, processes, and tasks.
We provide job-specific training in a number of different ways. It might include time spent shadowing others in the role to get an understanding of the day-to-day tasks, one-on-one training sessions with team members who are experts with the tools at hand, and formal training using LinkedIn Learning and other online resources. We try to combine the four styles of learning with videos, presentations, articles, and hands-on tasks to ensure information is retained no matter how the new employee learns best.
We schedule these sessions with enough time in between to allow knowledge to sink in, and often create little ‘homework’ projects meant to confirm understanding and comfortability with each tool and process as it is introduced. This phase takes a lot of planning and coordination across the team. It involves regular check-ins with the employee, their team members, and their direct report to ensure that things progress smoothly. We leave room to adjust the pace as needed to ensure the best possible outcome.
The best way to plan the training phase of your onboarding process is to speak with employees who are currently in that role. What information do they think is most important for the job? How did they learn the processes they needed to know when they started? What kinds of sessions, courses, and shadowing would they recommend based on their experience? Your existing team is your best resource in helping ensure your new employee gets up to speed.
At the end of the day, your organization spends precious time and resources hiring and training every new employee. Going through this process without a well-thought-out onboarding plan that includes corporate culture, the technology you use, and the processes you work by means your organization runs a risk of higher turnover. Divide your onboarding plan into three phases and detail the goals and training objectives of each phase to help your new team member fully absorb the important stuff, setting them and their new team up for success.
At Regroove, we use Navo audiences to help control the onboarding process. Navo provides one easy spot for employees – new and old – to find links to apps, websites, and documents that are important to their role and the organization overall. We create a new audience for each phase of the onboarding plan. As the new employee is moved to each audience group, the tools and information they find in our corporate menu increase. For example, the ‘First Days’ group will include links to important HR documents like the Employee Handbook. The ‘Orientation’ group will include links to the tools we use organization wide with articles and training videos on these apps. When they move into the training phase, they’ll be added to their department audience for access to the processes and apps used in their role.