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Handshake vs Handhold: Why Onboarding is not Orientation by Nordstrom Williams

Handshake vs. Handhold: Beyond Orientation

The other day, I asked an HR Manager about her onboarding process. She responded by outlining a routine that involved copying two forms of identification from the new hire, reviewing insurance information, having them sit through a mandatory sexual harassment video, and discussing some administrative policies. I had to smile – was this onboarding? Not quite.

“Isn’t onboarding just a fancy term for orientation?” you might be thinking. It’s not. Orientation is a brief introduction to a company’s culture and operations, a welcoming handshake, to put it metaphorically.

Onboarding, conversely, is a comprehensive, longer-term process aimed at fully integrating a new hire into the heart of the team. It’s not just an introduction but a firm hand-hold that guides your new employee through the labyrinth of their initial months in your company.

Now that the difference between onboarding and orientation is clear, how can you, as a manager, effectively onboard a new employee?

Begin Before Day One

As soon as the offer is accepted, the onboarding process should kick off. Pre-boarding, let’s call it. Send the new hire all necessary paperwork to be completed, and give them a heads-up about the company’s values, mission, and culture. This way, they can hit the ground running from day one.

Give a Warm Welcome

On the first day, ensure your new team member feels welcome. Arrange a meet-and-greet with the team. A welcome package with company merchandise, like a branded coffee mug or a laptop sticker, wouldn’t hurt either. Let them know they’ve been expected and are welcomed into a supportive community.

Assign a Mentor

This isn’t grade school anymore, but a buddy system is still a great idea. Pair the new employee with a seasoned colleague who can show them the ropes. They’ll appreciate having a go-to person for all their queries, big and small.

Set Clear Expectations

Be transparent about job responsibilities, performance metrics, and growth prospects. This leaves no room for ambiguity and helps the new employee understand how their role contributes to the company’s objectives.

Provide Necessary Training

Make sure your new hire gets the training they need to succeed in their role. This might involve formal training sessions, demonstrations, or shadowing opportunities.

Check-In Regularly

Onboarding doesn’t end after the first week. Regularly touch base with the new employee to offer support, answer questions, and collect feedback. Remember, the goal is to make them feel comfortable and competent in their role.

Encourage Engagement

Foster a sense of belonging by involving the new hire in team activities and company-wide events. It’s like inviting them to a party – it’s the best way to get them comfortable in their new “home”.

Effective onboarding is like growing a plant – it needs consistent care and nourishment. You wouldn’t just pour a gallon of water on your new fern and call it a day, would you? So it is with onboarding, it’s about providing continuous support, allowing your new employee to flourish and contribute meaningfully to your team. Now, go forth and onboard with confidence!

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