Onboarding and the Importance of Motivating New Employees

Doug Horn on August 19, 2014 1:19:00 PM EDT


Onboarding is a critical part of hiring that cannot be overlooked. While it may at first seem like a victory when a new hire is made, that win can easily turn into a crushing blow if the employee is not properly onboarded.  Every employee needs to be introduced to the organizational or cultural behaviors and skills they should ideally adapt in order to become contributing members of a company.

It may be frightening to hear, but that sigh of relief you let out whenever you hire your newest employee can often times be premature. Recruiting may be the most difficult part of running a successful business, the first 26 miles of a marathon if you will, but onboarding is that last sprint to the finish line.

If not onboarded properly, new employees may feel lost, confused, or isolated. This makes them more likely to leave their positions, a decision that would both cost you valuable time and money. Additionally, if a certain opening winds up staying vacant for too long, other employees may have to make up that lost work, causing animosity to set in. This could potentially cause them to search elsewhere as well, setting off a domino effect that severely hurts your organization.

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High turnover and numerous vacancies can also damage your company’s brand. If your business is viewed as one from which employees frequently leave or one that cannot properly onboard its employees, your reputation will plummet. No one will want to interview with you, let alone work for you.

Luckily, there are proven activities in the onboarding proces that serve to motivate new employees and keep morale high. If instituted correctly, these actions will help your latest hires hit the ground running in their new positions.

One such component of successful onboarding is cultural and social assimilation to your company’s culture, values, structure, location, and strategic objectives, as the Kronos study puts it. In other words, you need to let new employees “know what you’re all about.” While different ways of thinking are important to innovation and growing business, someone who does not share your company’s values or embrace its culture can serve as a distraction. Once your newest employee is on the same page as the rest of the organization, everything flows much more smoothly.

A second activity that bears mentioning is the assigning of a mentor, an experience that the aforementioned Kronos study said employees view favorably. New employees will likely have plenty of questions, and a mentor or coach who can happily show them the ropes is an absolute necessity to maximizing the quality of their work as well as making them as comfortable as possible. When employees feel like they have no one to turn to if they need help on an assignment, their stress can become overwhelming, causing them to search elsewhere for employment.

A lot of the onboarding process seems like it should be a no-brainer, but sometimes even simple things like office introductions can go overlooked. Skipping introductions may seem minor in the grand scheme of what you’re trying to accomplish, but to a new employee, it’s like dropping them in the middle of the ocean without a life raft. You need to take every measure to ensure that your latest hire will float, otherwise all the time you took in recruiting them will be for naught.

Overall, as the Aberdeen Group notes, the goals of onboarding should be to teach new hires what their jobs entail and integrate them into the organization and its culture. The activities and methods discussed above can ensure that a new employee has a positive experience right off the bat, rather than developing feelings of isolation or resentment.