Treat it as a process, rather than an event—which gets underway with the initial interview.
Your top candidate accepted the offer and they’re cleared to start. Now the crazy circus involved with onboarding begins. Forms to complete. Eligibility confirmations—both at the federal and state level—to submit. And the biggest of the circus rings: Filling their heads with everything there is to know about working for your company.
Most organizations don’t even start this process until they’re certain a prospective employee will indeed be joining the company. That seems like a smart approach. It creates a bottleneck of inefficiencies, though. There are plenty of things that can be done prior to an employee’s official first day on the job. Smart companies know this. They start the onboarding process during the first interview.
It’s all about evaluations
You’re not the only one doing evaluating during an interview with a job candidate. They’re making decisions about moving ahead with the process, as well. In fact, they’ve already been evaluating you prior to the interview. It started for them before they even submitted their application.
That means you need to meet their level of proactivity. We tend to think of the onboarding process as a matter of filling out forms and education. It’s much deeper than that. One of the primary objectives of any successful onboarding program should be the reduction of uncertainty and the increase of a new employee’s confidence that they’ve made the right decision about joining your company.
This doesn’t have to be a complicated process if you approach it from the standpoint of ample communication. There shouldn’t be any point in the process where a candidate is uncertain about their status.
It can be as simple as a short follow-up email message, or as comprehensive as an automated system that assigns each candidate an online sign-on so they can see where they are in the process. The objective is to establish a timeline.
Every organization operates differently. A candidate has no idea how long it will take for you to move to the next step in an interview and hiring process. It’s not your job to give them the details. If they do eventually become an employee, it is your responsibility to show them you respect their time and patience.
As things move along
Nobody expects you to divulge proprietary information about your company. Does that extend to the necessary steps for a successful onboarding? Here’s a nightmare scenario.
- The recruitment department—or your outsourced recruiting partner—makes a final selection and sends out an offer. (Of course, you know about this because you interviewed and agreed on the chosen candidate.)
- They’re done. You’re pleased. Now it’s up to the HR department to get all the onboarding completed so your new employee can begin.
- The HR department will start that the following week.
Does the person you’ve just hired know this? Or, are they hanging there, wondering what’s going on? Consider the message this communicates. If you’ve ever heard of employees accepting positions and then then reversing their decisions, it could be that they didn’t appreciate the hot-and-heavy pursuit followed what feels like casual disregard.
Onboarding in the form of constant communication has to continue. Departmental time frames are not your new employee’s problem—but it can give them plenty of doubt.
The easiest way to fill in the start-and-stop moments that are bound to be a part of any organization’s onboarding process is to create a constant dribble process of communication.
- Obviously, one or even several heartfelt welcome messages. These are opportunities to set expectations, as well. Use them to communicate insight into your corporate culture. If it’s appropriate, talk about the company’s aspirations. Help this future employee fit your organization into their worldview. This is a crucial part of onboarding.
- Parse out prep material. Put all that marketing material to use. If it’s relevant and valuable to your customers, it’s going to be just as useful to your new employee. Don’t assume that they’re intimately familiar with your products or services.
- Coordinate with your HR department—if it’s a separate entity—to set up a process that distributes any necessary paperwork that can be filled out before an employee’s actual first day. We all get stuck in our own worlds. The prerequisite proof of citizenship and even an authorized copy of a Social Security card might not be something an employee has readily available. It’s not a good thing to put a brand-new employee at a psychological disadvantage by expecting them to produce what you require for onboarding at a moment’s notice.
- It’s unexpected—which is why you should do it. Follow up with a short message halfway between the job offer and an employee’s first day. Better yet, call them.
Onboarding isn’t an event. It’s a process, and it should start as soon as you’ve identified a job candidate. The actual process can take weeks or even months. There’s plenty of room for doubt during that time. Use onboarding to remove that doubt.
Consultis brings more than 33 years of experience to every recruiting project we take on, and can help you not only find the best talent, but ensure that they’re not turned off before they even start. Contact us today to see what we can do for you.