Onboarding: Tips For Welcoming and Equipping New Employees

Cover Story: Recruitment & Retention - Cover Story: Recruitment & Retention

January 8, 2018

OK. So you’ve made the offer, the candidate has accepted, and now they’re walking through your door. How do you prepare this new hire for the job ahead? Do you have a process that ensures every new employee is empowered with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed?

The NPMA/PCT survey results reflect the high level of importance PMPs place on onboarding. Nearly all respondents (96 percent) said they participate in onboarding activities of some sort, and 43 percent said that they involve their current employees in those efforts. That’s second only to asking employees to make referrals in terms of the ways business leaders involve their employees in the hiring process. Onboarding is important, because it equips the new employee to do their job.

Of the onboarding activities companies engage in, ride-alongs top the list at 90 percent. You’ll note that ride-alongs are also often conducted prior to some companies’ making a candidate an offer. Those pre-hire ride-alongs are generally intended as an introduction to the position and its responsibilities, while post-hire ride-alongs are the real deal: New technicians are expected to learn and retain knowledge about their new job duties. Same goes for job shadowing with new office staff members.

Of course, ride-alongs and job shadowing are only the start: Onboarding can entail a number of activities, particularly when companies have structured onboarding programs. Nancy Madrid, vice president of administration and human resources for Paramus, N.J.-based Bug Doctor, an Anticimex company, shares highlights of the hiring process they use with success:

  • Welcome letter. “Prior to their start date, we send new employees a two-page welcome letter letting them know where to park, what documents to bring and what to expect the first day, including details about their orientation,” says Madrid. “No one wants surprises their first day of work.”
  • Behind-the-scenes prep. Madrid’s team orders business cards, a nameplate and a welcome sign, and she works with IT to set up a computer and phone.
  • Orientation. A two-hour orientation session includes reviewing the employee handbook, job description and benefits; answering any questions; and introducing the employee to the other staff members.
  • Lunch. Madrid and often other company leaders strive to take new employees to lunch their first day or week to welcome them to the team.
  • Training set-up. The new hire meets with their trainer to schedule safety and technical training. That training takes a week in-office and then moves to ride-alongs in the field.
  • Ride-alongs. Technicians complete 30 hours with a senior technician or service manager before being issued a truck and route.
  • Follow-up meetings. “At the end of each week during their first month, I hold a debriefing with the employee to find out how training is going, if they have any questions or concerns, or if, in general, there’s anything I can do to support them,” says Madrid. “I give them my card and tell them to call or come see me anytime. It’s important for them to feel comfortable knowing the door to communication is always open.”