We currently have almost two job openings for every unemployed United States Citizen looking for work.  More employees are quitting due to dissatisfaction with their current employers.  Companies have one chance to make a good first impression with new hires.  That is why Onboarding is so critical for companies to get it right!  Here are the best practices that I have found to work in my career in the hospitality, healthcare, and manufacturing industries.

The employer branding must be front and center in all human resources practices.  Each company should identify their mission, vision, and values to new hires even before they join the company.  It should be visible on their career web site and their company web site.  They should make it easy to find so applicants can determine if the mission and values align with their own values and purpose in life. 

Some companies have service standards in lieu of, or in addition to their company values.  Disney service standards when I worked there were 1) Safety, 2) Courtesy, 3) Show, and 4) Efficiency, in that order.  These service standards allowed Disney Cast Members to be empowered to make decisions without checking with their management.  So, for example, if a Disney Cast Member was loading a ride vehicle, and there was a family of five coming on, and the ride sat three across, they would sit three in the first row, and two in the second row, leaving one seat open.  They would not add another individual that was not part of their family to join them.  Another example would be if the water quality of a pool was amiss, they would shut down the pool immediately, until it was corrected. 

Another company that I worked for had these service standards: Clean, Safe, Fast, Friendly, and Fun.  It was visible on the career web page, in the employment offices, and in the Orientation process.  It was incorporated into the Team Member of the Month program.  It was also incorporated into the performance review process.  Tying it altogether allows the team members to see the importance of the service standards and practice them daily.

Orientation for better run companies include more than just filling out necessary paperwork.  While some companies try to complete it within the first few hours on the job, the better companies will include an overview of the mission, vision, values, service standards and history of the company.  For better companies, it will be one to two days long.  Trainers should be those that best represent what the company wants their new hires to appear as to their customers.  Involve subject matter experts to teach portions of the Orientation like a Safety Officer where that is important. 

At one company that I worked at, we had the General Manager, and the executive team all welcome the new hires on the first day in orientation after they met each other.  It grew from a 20-minute presentation to an hour presentation over time.  Each executive would describe how they started in the service industry, their career ladder, and why an aspect of the culture was important to being successful there.  It was a powerful orientation for new hires.  Many commented after their orientation was completed that it was the most important thing they had heard during orientation.  Many commented that in their past they had never met their own executive let along all the executives on day one!

The Human Resources team should make sure all the required training is completed before releasing new hires to their respective departments.  That is why orientation should be as long as needed to complete all the required training.  Operators do not want to have to finish a training check list of mandatory training for Human Resources.  They will have enough to do in providing the on-the-job training in their respective departments.  Be sure to inform new hires of their schedule, where their locker is, where to park, where to report to, who their immediate boss will be, and what their exact role will be there. 

Additional orientation for Supervisors, Managers, Directors, and Vice Presidents should be done following the general orientation for all new hires.  I find it best to schedule it immediately following orientation. So, if new hire orientation is Monday and Tuesday, schedule leadership orientation on a Wednesday.  This allows the leader to learn about the HRIS system, the payroll and scheduling process, the performance review process, etc.  This should be done in just what time is needed for these tasks.  This is when the required harassment training, banking training, procedures training would take place.  Again, get them fully ready for their Operations Management to begin their on-the-job training.

One last best practice I experienced was at a hospital.  We would invite new hires back to an hour meeting to get their feedback on how their orientation and on-the-job training set them up for success.  We had an executive at each round table hosting a handful of new hires from various departments.  The executive served as scribes to log comments and suggestions from the new hires.  The feedback was given to the appropriate department to work on and address.  Over time, we found that we had addressed all the new hire concerns to make it better for the next group of new hires coming aboard.  An example of one of their suggestions was to have the third shift team park closer to the facility for safety reasons.  Since there were less patients coming then, the parking spaces were available at that time. 

So, in summary, be as transparent as possible up front for applicants to learn about your company.  Include as much information as needed in orientation and determine how much time is needed to cover it all.  Get your executives to do a welcome to the team in orientation.  Be sure to provide time for leaders to learn what they need to learn before starting in their areas.  And listen to your new hires to make the process the best it can be for subsequent new hires!