Creating A Great Onboarding Program Includes Telling People Where To Park

Onboarding. Stupid, jargonistic term, but crucial business practice.

Sharlyn Lauby, the HR Bartender, says that it’s a shame that onboarding and orientation have become synonymous, because orientation is “that half-day event where employees sign paperwork and review the employee handbook. That’s sad, because employees need and deserve more.”

No, onboarding is “about setting the employee up for success.” Or, less abstractly, it’s about making sure they know the minor details about the office so they can get down to doing their job. Don’t make new hires learn by osmosis.

Lauby writes: “Let them know little details like what time to be there, where to park, what to wear, how lunch will be handled, etc. I know you might be saying to yourself…this is basic stuff. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen new employees arrive with no clue what would happen on their very first day. Because their manager didn’t tell them. It’s even better when you can tell them what the first week will look like.”

Here’s how to do it: at an old job on Day 1, I was handed a folder with lots of forms to sign, but the top page was a schedule of my first few days with everything from “sit in on a news meeting” to “follow around so-and-so to learn how to do your job” to “go get your photo taken for your ID.” It was smooth. They knew how to do it.

photo: o palsson