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Best and Brightest Strategies for Onboarding


The 101 Best & Brightest Companies to Work For™

“Elite Suite Series” on Best and Brightest Employee Onboarding Strategies

Providing practical tools to take away and implement immediately.

Speaker: Pieter D. Winne with Services Express, Inc.

In case you missed our recent “Elite Suite Series Workshop of Best and Brightest Employee Onboarding Strategies” some of the highlights that we captured are featured below.

Presented by Pieter D. Winne with Service Express, Inc. (SEI), a Chicago 2011 Winner of 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For™.

Pieter provided an abundance of helpful information regarding the onboarding process and below are some highlights.

Let’s begin!

Engaging employees helps to drive an organization forward.  The Vision should not solely be a poster on the wall; it should resonate with all employees.  Pieter used a Zig Ziglar quote that his company’s founder loves:  “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”  Good leaders look for ways to help employees.  Something that SEI likes to do is to have every new employee write down their personal goals.  The company uses these “Vision Talks” to help employees reach personal, professional and financial goals.  Pieter shared the story about when he first started with the company; he wrote down his goal, he wanted not to miss his son’s football games.  Shortly thereafter the President approached him and asked him what time he would need to leave on Fridays in order to make it home in time to have dinner with his family before going to the game.  They made it happen for him.

The first step is to fill the bus – getting the ‘who’ first is important.

SEI uses a lot of the standard recruiting methods like job boards, but they have a strong focus on employee referrals.  They give gift cards for each hire.  Also, during the recruiting phase they use software tools to see if a candidate is a culture match, as the number one priority is making sure there is a culture fit.  Values and matched expectations are critical.  They have developed a pre-screening questionnaire to weed out candidates.  Two key resources for them when developing the software are Gallup’s StrengthsFinder™ and Brad Smart’s Topgrading™.  From my personal experience (Nicole that is!) I found StrengthsFinder™ to take personal understanding to a whole new level in terms of communication effectiveness.

Once an employee has been hired, creating the right first impression is key.  New employees should receive welcome packets that include the offer letter, a welcome letter, what to bring, what to expect on the first day, a benefits overview and a StrengthsFinder™ book.  Pieter noted that he would like to include electronic communication that contains a link to online resources and/or training that can be done prior to the first day, as well as videos about the company. He hopes to develop something soon.

Having everyone be a part of the onboarding process during the first week is part of making a good first impression.  Employees will have a lasting impression about how they feel about the company.  Giving them a first class welcome should be part of the process.  Put their name on the welcome sign, provide a tour of the building, do orientation training, have them meet the executive leaders; give them promotional gift items, etc.  The first week should not be a ‘fire hose’ but rather making sure they know and understand the vision and objectives, without putting a lot of pressure on them to fully grasp everything initially. New employees should also spend time with each department to get a full understanding of the company as a whole, and having an executive take them out to lunch during their first week is a good idea.  Pieter used a John Maxwell quote that embodied their approach entirely:  “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.

Instead of doing all of the new hire training during the first few days, try to spread it out over time and make it fun.  And try to sit down with them one-on-one instead of overwhelming them with e-learning.  New employees don’t want to spend too much time isolated in a cubicle. Remember face to face communication is still the richest! Their first week should be a welcome celebration.

Culture training is also important.  The culture is the engine of the company.  It’s the how and why they do what they do.

Onboarding doesn’t end after the first week, it is an ongoing process.  Offering a formal peer mentoring program is like a safety net for new employees.  Both peer and technical programs can be very beneficial for long-term success.  A formal six month term is a good way to create a lasting relationship.

A great hour well spent and worth HRCI credit for those that participated. Don’t miss our next one scheduled for April 26, 2012. Elite Suite Series-What Are You Doing Employee Survey Results: Are You Effectively Using Employee Input?

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