How Can You Strengthen Your Onboarding Approach?

March 7, 2024 in ,
By Lauren Small, Sarah Tucker and Risa Witherow

Effective onboarding sets the tone for a new hire’s experience within an organization. Additionally, a thoughtful onboarding program presents significant organizational benefits, including reduced turnover, increased productivity, and a stronger company culture. This blog includes several methods for strengthening your onboarding approach and testimonies from three of our newest FMPers, Julia Dillon, Molly VanDorick, and Asiah Williams, detailing their experience onboarding at FMP.

Four puzzle pieces, each containing an illustration of a person. One of the four puzzle pieces is being placed by a hand to fit in with the three others that are already put together.

Set Clear Expectations and Provide Strong Guidance

  • Compile and organize your resources. Develop a welcome packet to share with new hires on their first day. Include a personalized onboarding schedule, your organization’s employee handbook, benefits information, an up-to-date organizational chart, and other resources (e.g., acronyms list, time and attendance system job aid). New hires are inundated with information; help them navigate their resources by clearly labeling documents and distinguishing materials they will need immediately or use frequently from materials that are included for their reference.
  • Book 30-, 60-, and 120-day check-ins on day one. Set up all milestone check-ins on day one. This will help provide structure to the onboarding process, ensure these important milestones aren’t missed, and help demonstrate your commitment to their smooth transition.
  • Connect new hires with their supervisors as soon as possible. Schedule a one-on-one between the new hire and their supervisor within the first week. Their supervisor will quickly become one of their most valuable resources. Don’t leave this critical meeting to the new employee or busy supervisor to schedule. 

Julia Dillon: FMP efficiently compiled all onboarding resources for me before my first day of work. The schedule I received outlined onboarding meetings for the next six months. This helped me to visualize what onboarding would look like and the conversations we would be having in those early months. FMP scheduling all my check-ins and seeing them on my calendar on my first day allowed me to see how my knowledge should/would grow between them. Connecting with my supervisor immediately was vital to establishing expectations early on. New hires need to feel like they have someone in their corner, and meeting with my supervisor assisted in that process.

Foster Connections and Engagement

  • Assign an ambassador or new hire buddy. Connect new hires with a new hire ambassador or buddy who can provide them with a safe space to ask questions and develop an understanding of the organization’s culture. Be sure to assign them to a peer who is excited and committed to being a resource.
  • Schedule touchpoints. Arrange informal check-ins between the new hire and their team to foster a sense of belonging and facilitate new relationships. Take it a step further and schedule a lunch out or virtual coffee with team members!
  • Form new employee cohorts. When possible, group your new hires into small cohorts. This will give new employees the opportunity to network and bond with others through shared experiences and can be a more efficient way to deliver new employee orientation and training sessions.

Molly VanDorick: I was happy to know I had a person who I could reach out to if I had any questions that I was embarrassed to ask others. I enjoyed meeting new colleagues through the onboarding interviews. It allowed me to meet others in the company, outside of my team, and to begin branching connections. Everyone was friendly and gave advice on how to be successful.

Evaluate and Enhance the Process

  • Keep a pulse on your onboarding program. Send new hires pulse surveys, beginning around the three-month mark. Your pulse surveys should be tailored to the components and goals of your program. Topics of focus could include role clarity, workload, perceptions of support and belonging, or challenges.
  • Ask for feedback. Pick a time of year to solicit feedback on your onboarding program. Cast a wide net and allow your entire organization to provide suggestions. From new hires to ambassadors to more tenured employees, each has a unique perspective to contribute to program enhancements.
  • Revisit your onboarding materials. Develop a schedule and formal process for refreshing onboarding materials. Conduct an annual review to determine what changes need to be made. Carry out ad hoc reviews as company policies or processes are updated. Use data from your pulse survey and end-of-year feedback to inform new resources and materials.

Asiah Williams: When I think of FMP’s onboarding program, the first thing that comes to mind is an aphorism widely credited to the English poet John Donne: ‘No man is an island.’

This onboarding experience has provided limitless support since day one. My first day was unlike any other, as I found myself heading to the emergency room instead of the Arlington office. My initial days were spent in the hospital as I later learned that I had pneumonia. Throughout my healing process, the People Team was incredibly supportive. They rearranged my meeting schedule, assigned me only low-lift tasks that were necessary within the week, and strongly encouraged rest while I recovered. When I did, I was met with such structure, professionalism, and kindness.

In only a few short months, here’s how I’ve been supported:

  • Highly organized repository of current L&D documentation
  • Formal team introductions equipped with insightful materials to support my work
  • Organic pairing with an awesome mentor
  • Frequent check-ins: professional, mental, emotional, and technical
  • Provided a safe environment to ask questions and make suggestions
  • Access to development workshops and trainings available
  • Access to Communities of Practice that help you build competencies in areas beyond your primary scope of work

FMP’s efforts don’t stop there; the organization continues to radically reimagine workplace culture through inclusive thought leadership, and I’m glad to take part in that. I’ve been able to contribute my ideas, and I have an opportunity to expand upon their wonderful infrastructure, using my writing/PR background to amplify their onboarding programming and make their welcome packet more digestible. FMP is a community-first organization, and it’s amazing to finally find my “people.” I’ve never felt more seen, heard, or guided as a new employee.

By implementing strategies to set clear expectations, foster connections, and refine their onboarding programs, companies can facilitate a smooth transition for new hires, help them become productive sooner, make them feel welcomed and comfortable in a new environment, and stand a better chance at retaining them.

Lauren Small

Lauren Small joined FMP Consulting as an HR Generalist in March 2023. She earned an M.A. in Organizational Management from George Washington University and a B.S. in Psychology from The University of Maryland. Lauren has several years of experience in recruiting, grant administration, and marketing. At FMP, Lauren focuses on recruiting and onboarding for our HR team.

Sarah Tucker

Sarah Tucker joined FMP Consulting as a Human Capital Consultant in February 2022. She earned an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University. Sarah has worked with organizations to improve their effectiveness in multiple capacities for four years. She is passionate about improving work-life and making a lasting impact in the human capital environment.

Risa Witherow joined FMP Consulting as a Human Capital Consultant in May 2021. She earned an M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a B.S. in Communication Studies and Writing from Middle Tennessee State University. Risa has three years of experience working with clients in the public and private sectors to improve the functioning and effectiveness of their organizations and enrich the experiences had by their employees.