Don’t throw your new team member to the wolves: Part I

Have you ever started a new position, and then felt like you were left on an island to figure everything out on your own [cue Survivor theme music]? I’m sure it didn’t inspire much confidence in the company or your new role. The truth is, no matter how great our skillset, when starting something new, we crave direction. Walking into a structured process builds your confidence and your efficiency.

If we feel this way as organizational and project leaders, chances are the employee we bring onboard to the organization has the same anxiety and frustration when they are left to fend for themselves at the new office. I’ve learned as a project leader that effective onboarding is also critical to starting a new project. It’s extremely important that project leaders implement strong onboarding procedures to set the pace and expectations for a project. This arms your new team member with the tools they need to successfully hit the ground running.

Here are some jaw dropping statistics on onboarding to help you understand just how vital it is within a company or a project.

  1. Companies that employ onboarding practices see at least 50% retention within the first year;

  2. New employees who went through a structured onboarding program were 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years;

  3. Companies with standard onboarded processes see 50% more productivity in their employees;

  4. Companies lose 20% of their employees in the first 45 days due to lack of onboarding procedures.

What do these stats tell us? Onboarding is important. Some tactics I’ve implemented to effectively onboard new team members have included creating a structured two- or four-week onboarding schedule, establish one-on-one meetings within the first month, and/or have a “welcome” card signed by the team sitting at their desk. The little things can go a long way in setting a good impression on the new team member.

Benefits of a strong onboarding process

We’ve already reviewed the statistics, but setting up an onboarding process accomplishes three key things for your company and your project:

  1. It acclimates your new hires to your environment. While you are accustomed to your work environment, they are not. It is our job as leaders to make them feel welcome and set the tone.

  2. It reduces team member ramp up time, therefore increasing productivity. The more structured your onboarding process is, the quicker your new team member can learn their new role, meet expectations and contribute to the work efforts quickly.

  3. Proper onboarding encourages retention. When your new hire feels appreciated for the time you took to invest in their growth, they are more likely to stay with you for a prolonged period of time.

If you value your new team member and would like them to become a permanent part of your team, don’t throw them to the wolves to fend for themselves. Integrate them into a well-planned onboarding process that will make them feel welcome and ready to make a contribution.

Watch for Part II on this topic on the specific tactics I’ve used to implement an effective onboarding process.

Work in healthcare? Here is some insight on the onboarding process in the healthcare industry:

I’d love to hear your stories on onboarding. What was your best onboarding experience? How did it impact you and the company you worked for? What was your worst onboarding experience? What could the company have done better? Be sure to comment!

Data source:

Image source: Business card photo created by jcomp –

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