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Onboarding: why involving current employees is a must

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The onboarding process of a new hire could determine your company’s success in the long run. 

If you employ a crop of new hires who went through a poor onboarding process or no process at all, it’s just a matter of time before you realize your company is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

When new hires start working without understanding the real context of what they’ve been employed to do, they tend to use their discretion. This might not always be the appropriate response. 

Many employers that understand this are focusing on strategic onboarding that involves their current employees. Doing so helps them boost employee engagement levels, cut down on training costs and time, and increase proficiency.

Research by Glassdoor affirms that great employee onboarding can improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by more than 70%. 

In this post, you’ll learn why it is a must to involve current employees in your onboarding process, and how to do it right.

Why you must involve current employees in your onboarding process

Here are four reasons why it’s important to include your employees when onboarding new talent:

1. It fast-tracks a new hire’s transition.

When new hires are getting started, the transition will likely involve a learning curve. So it helps to have current employees who are available to help them. 

Who should they talk to when they need office supplies or tech help? Who should they email about certain benefits or programs? These questions may seem small, but having someone new hires can go to for answers will make their lives easier, and increase their productivity.

Since current employees know about your company’s processes and procedures, they can easily teach new employees the same. This snowball learning model will only continue to benefit the organization down the line.

2. It provides an avenue for innovation and collaboration.

Invite your current employees to provide feedback on the current onboarding process. By doing this, your employees can approach the process with fresh eyes and make suggestions on how to improve things.

Meaningful discussions like these are great not just for onboarding, but also for product innovation and building efficient work processes. In the long run, this could even lead to employees having pet projects that contribute to the company’s vision. 

3. It helps maintain communication and organizational culture. 

Understanding an organization’s culture up front can save new employees from the initial jitters of a new job. 

A newbie may have trouble adjusting to a company’s norms, but having a veteran colleague to learn from can help reinforce certain cultural and social skills. For example, a new hire could learn whether their boss enjoys chatting face to face, or whether they’d prefer a more formal email.

Every company has an established culture, which might be unknown to new employees. But when your current employees are involved in the onboarding process, they can easily tell new hires about the company’s culture and help them acclimate to it.

4. It creates opportunities for networking and team-building.

The employee who brings out the best in you may just be the new hire who joined some months back. Perhaps this person complements your working style, challenges your ideas, or shares a similar mindset. By working with them, you’re learning processes and techniques entirely new to the organization.

Involving current employees in your onboarding process provides an opportunity for employees old and new to network and learn from each other. This is crucial for building healthy teams and fostering long-lasting relationships at your company.

How to involve current employees in your onboarding process

One of the most effective ways to involve current employees in your onboarding process is by implementing a buddy system.

This entails assigning a new hire to a workplace buddy—someone who has been at the company for at least a year. The experienced employee can show the new hire around the office. They can also introduce them to other employees, show them where to find certains resources, and even point out the best latte spot when coming to work. 

You can also apply this to a virtual onboarding process. Instead of touring the office, the workplace buddy can walk the new hire through a workplace Slack. They can schedule friendly coffee breaks over Zoom, encouraging attendees to bring their own brew.

In most cases, the seasoned employee will be asked to monitor the new hire’s progress for a specific period, most often once a week for the first month, then once or twice per month for another two months.

To get the most out of implementing a buddy system for your company, here are some things you should do up front:

1. Tell the workplace buddy about the new hire.

It’s good etiquette to tell the workplace buddy about the new hire ahead of time, so they won’t be caught off-guard. This gives them time to prepare their welcome, and contributes largely to making the new employee feel at home.

The announcement should clearly state the new employee’s role and what they’ll be doing at your company. Not only that, you should also encourage other employees within and outside the new hire’s department to welcome them.

2. Prepare a guide for the host.

It’s easy to feel lost when you’re not prepared to host a new hire. Questions like “What should I say to them?” or “What do they need to know?” will pop up in the host’s head.

Your HR personnel can prepare an employee guide document to assist the current employee or host with what they need to do during the period they’ll be working with the new hire.

For instance, The Predictive Index starts its onboarding process as soon as the new hire signs an offer letter. People Operations will create an onboarding Asana board, complete with all relative company information. Then the manager adds more tasks to that board related to the team and role.

These resources help the host be more efficient in guiding the new hire.

3. Introduce the new hire to key staff.

Allow the new hire to meet with key people and departments on their first day. This lets the new hire understand how the company works and the overall impact of their work and role.

If you can’t get to everyone right away, you can list some current employees the new hire should schedule time to meet with in the coming days.

4. Create enough time for training.

Depending on the role, the new employee should focus on training in the first week. Having a training plan will make this process seamless and ensure their time is spent well.

The assigned host or buddy will help the new hire learn on the job by providing guidance and answering their questions. The training should cover the company rules, processes, procedures, and expectations.

5. Measure the host and new hire’s performance.

Commit to a month’s worth of check-ins with both parties. This will help the host strengthen their knowledge of the company’s onboarding process from the new hire’s perspective. 

It will also help you measure the current employee’s performance and ascertain if they’re a good candidate for future onboarding.

Set up your onboarding process for success.

Every successful onboarding process is a product of the time and effort invested into them. 

Those first few weeks will play a critical role in the long-term success of the new hire. So it’s imperative that you involve a current employee early on, and lower the barrier to that success.

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Owen McGab Enaohwo is the CEO and Co-Founder of SweetProcess; an easy-to-use and intuitive business process management software.

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