Guest Blog By Michael Hartland, SnapComms
It’s day one of a new job. A new hire sits at their desk. In front of them stands a pile of thick documents, dog-eared and post-it-noted. Their introduction to other staff is a lightning-quick walk-around. Five floors of strangers surround them.
A week later, enthusiasm gives way to apprehension. The new hire knows what they’re employed for but doesn’t know the process for doing it or who to involve. Curt emails point these deficiencies out to them, but help is meagre. The new hire feels the fault of doing things wrong. They consider leaving – going as far as meeting with their manager to do it.
That new hire was me (read to the end to find out what happened next). Maybe the story sounds familiar though? You’re certain to have heard it from others or experienced it yourself. It’s a clear case of poor onboarding – and the prognosis isn’t good.
A huge 65% of employed people look for new jobs within the first three months of starting a job.
A good onboarding program is an important part of the solution, but internal communications is the rocket fuel which makes it mighty. It increases onboarding effectiveness by informing, engaging and inspiring new staff.
These 7 tips for using internal communications to improve your HR process for new hires are sure to get your superstars of tomorrow off to a flying start.
- Cut through the clutter
New hires are inundated with information the minute they walk in the door – names, locations, systems, processes, plus the inevitable stack of emails awaiting their first login. Knowing what’s genuinely important is virtually impossible amidst the info overload.
Targeted messages which bypass the email backlog and are instantly noticeable can call attention to important actions the new hire should make and direct them to other sources for more detail.
Tools like scrolling newsfeed-style desktop tickers are a visual yet unobtrusive option to convey information. Setting messages up in advance and scheduling them is a great way for busy HR managers to save time and avoid any chance of forgetting.
- Bring the company to life
Your company is so much more than an org chart and a fancy logo. It’s a hive of innovation, driven by vibrant personalities and big ideas. Not showcasing these to new employees is a wasted opportunity.
Swap your text-heavy company history and floor plans for a video tour of where the company has come from and where it’s headed. Include brief features on key employees, especially your owner or CEO – even if they’re reluctant!
If your new hires are based in remote offices or work in a virtual team, share the tour with them through video alerts so that they aren’t neglected.
At our company, we have personal bios written for every new staff member. New hires have their face and story displayed prominently to alleviate any awkward introductions, while they can read the bios of everyone else online to find ‘buddys’ with whom they can make a connection.
- Establish the source of truth
If they’re lucky enough to join a friendly, helpful workplace, new hires may find themselves overwhelmed by well-intentioned advice. This desire to help someone else is one of humankind’s most laudable traits, but because of its personal nature, that help can sometimes actually be a hindrance.
It’s immensely helpful to establish one place as the single source of truth. Your corporate intranet is the most appropriate channel to use for this, given its flexibility, ease of access and simplicity of updating. However, a dedicated file directory on your local network could also suffice.
Whichever you use, make sure this is *the* place to go for official paperwork, employee benefits, staff contact lists, department seating plans, location of key amenities and so on.
- Speak the way staff want to listen
Every new hire brings with them preferences and expectations from their personal lives. Near the top of this list will be communication styles and formats. Short snippets of highly-visual information, delivered in interactive channels, are favored these days – particularly for younger staff.
Consider this ‘consumer-grade’ when crafting your onboarding program. Review the language you use – is it too officious or dry? Does it make the company feel cold or standoffish?
Incorporate communication formats which are more visually-compelling and dynamic. Look beyond traditional emails to more contemporary channels.
Employment expert Gareth Flynn, Managing Director of The Career Conversation, believes, “Onboarding is an opportunity to engage soon to be and new hires via media rich content, quizzes, information about the business, their team etc. We are moving into a world where participant experience is a key market differentiator and key pillar of a companies’ employment brand.”
- Build internal brand
When it comes to knowledge of your brand, chances are your new hire may not know much more than what the company offers or produces. They’re unlikely to know your overarching vision, what values you stand for and what sets you apart from competitors.
Instilling this into new hires early is essential, both for them to both know what’s expected and to properly feel integrated into the wider company.
The natural first step is to emblazon your internal branding across channels like your intranet. But use internal comms to do the heavy-lifting when it comes to promotion. Corporate screensavers and similar passive tools are highly effective at reminding staff and reinforcing brand. Messaging is seen so repeatedly that learning is virtually subliminal!
- Train for triumph
Training new hires is a no-brainer, right? Everyone joining the team needs to understand the business, its products or services, its operating procedures and how what they do contributes to the overall success.
Maximize attendance at your training sessions by promoting them through internal comms channels. If your computer wallpapers are currently pictures of flowers or cats, try changing these out for compelling invitations to training sessions. Set up target groups of new employees and send them reminders in advance.
Plus, remember that training can’t be just a ‘one and done’ exercise. So learn from what’s been effective in previous sessions to make future ones even better.
- Encourage contributions
Starting a new job can be a challenging experience, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for fresh thinking. New employees are unencumbered by ingrained modes of thinking. Their minds are open. For HR managers, this is a chance to capture lightning in a jar.
Encourage new staff to provide feedback on the onboarding process. How useful was it? What do they feel was missing? What do they wish they knew on day 1… day 30… or even day 90?
Once they’re settled, contact new staff to solicit their thoughts. This could be through a staff survey to collect specific information, or via an online forum to encourage open discussion. Use the insights gained to improve the process for all subsequent new arrivals.
Internal communication can lift the effectiveness of your onboarding process by smoothing the period of transition and helping new hires become high-performing employees faster. How did my story end? I persisted and stayed with the company for over two years – but I never forgot the lessons learned.
Michael Hartland is an Internal Communication Specialist at SnapComms, a leading provider of digital employee communication solutions.