If you’ve never heard the word ‘onboarding’, don’t despair. It’s simply another term for welcoming employees, aka orientation, or how to get new staff onside.
Most companies have a standard procedure they follow when they hire new staff. You’ve probably been through it yourself. There’s the meet and greet, the introduction to the business, the obligatory handbook or mission statement.
Of course, any business knows it has to equip a new staff member, so that they can get down to work comfortably. That means having a desk or workstation waiting for them, with all the necessary phones, IT and comms set up to go.
That’s all the practical stuff, the hardware, so to speak. What may be forgotten in the rush to ‘onboard’ someone is all the insider knowledge, those little bits of information that are so specific to each workplace, that will enable the new entrant to feel at home.
So what does that include? It could mean telling them about the go-to person for a particular problem. Or any IT glitches that are common, or about printing protocols in the office, such as using double-sided printing, or particular kinds of paper for certain jobs.
If you have a complicated telephone system, then providing a cheat sheet of instructions would be helpful, and if there’s an office directory, one of those, too.
It could be simply explaining the kitchen rules, the quirks of the vending machine or the coffee percolator. And when it comes to food, it’s a good idea to tell fresh recruits where to find good sandwiches, or to do some after-hours shopping.
Have a set of stationery, perhaps relevant to their tasks – notepads, account books or ledgers for example – made up for the new arrival. Add some bright Post-it notes, folders, highlighters, ballpoints, and a stapler (nothing makes one feel more special than one’s very own stapler and staples to match).
And for the finishing touch, have a set of personalised business cards and a bunch of flowers waiting for them at their desk. Lovely.