How You Can Use Onboarding to Build Trust With New Employees

The goal is to create a process that makes new hires feel welcomed, valued, and prepared to step into their role and be successful. But, how?

Picture this: You recently accepted a job offer and your first day is just around the corner. 

You’re feeling equal parts nervous and excited because—while you fell in love with the company during the interview process—you also know there’s a possibility that things might not work out. 

But then, you get an email from your new manager asking to grab coffee on the morning of your first day, so they can walk you through the overall onboarding process (lots of meetings with the people you’ll be working closely with) before you have sessions with HR and tech support. 

Chances are you’re going to feel a lot more confident going into your first day knowing that the team is eager to meet you and there’s a plan in place for bringing you up to speed, right?

A seemingly simple gesture like sending a personalized note welcoming a new employee to the team can go a long way in reassuring them that they’ve made a smart career choice. It can also help make that connection between expectations (which are typically set through employer brand messaging and the interview process) and reality (their actual employee experience). 

Onboarding as a whole is your chance to do exactly that—build trust with new employees and prove to them that the company culture and environment you’ve promised them is, in fact, real and true. 

Yet, many companies are still getting onboarding wrong and according to Jobvite’s 2018 Job Seeker Nation Study, almost 30% of job seekers have left a job within the first 90 days of starting, citing “day-to-day role wasn’t what they expected” (43%) and company culture (32%) as reasons for leaving. 

So it’s safe to say that a bad onboarding experience can be a deciding factor in whether a new employee wants to stick around for the long-haul, or turn right back around and start looking for a new opportunity.

Here’s how to get your onboarding process in tip-top shape and create a plan that makes new employees feel welcomed, valued, and prepared to do their job so they want to learn and grow with your company for the long haul.

Don’t Wait Until Your New Employee’s First Day to Share Key Information

Think about an employee’s first day like the first big game of the season. You wouldn’t wait until Game Day to give a new teammate the playbook. So don’t wait until your new employee’s first day to share key information. Send them a copy of the company handbook in advance and help them feel extra prepared by creating an agenda for their first day or even the whole week. You don’t have to schedule every hour of the day down to a tee, but include things like meetings, a team lunch, time with HR, or orientation.

Introduce a Mentor or Buddy

At The Muse, we firmly believe in the buddy system. Connecting your new hire with a designated buddy or mentor ticks tons of boxes, including offering them a conduit for questions that they might not want to ask their boss.

In Bamboo HR’s “The Definitive Guide to Onboarding,” 17% of new hires who quit said “a friendly smile or helpful co- worker” would have made all the difference. Pro tip: Being a mentor or buddy should be voluntary. The idea is to pair your new employee with someone who is enthusiastic about being a mentor and working at your company. The role also shouldn’t be hugely time consuming, just a few hours spread across the employee’s first 30 to 90 days.

Share a Power Packet

New employees will likely be overwhelmed with paperwork, but it can be helpful to create a “power packet” with some of the most useful documents they’ll need. That might include a map of the building, a company phone list, a copy of important policies, and technical guides.

Connect the Job to the Company Mission

Only four in 10 employees strongly agree that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace. That’s a missed opportunity. Employees who feel like their jobs matter do better quality work, are absent less, and are more likely to become brand advocates. Point out specific scenarios where the work your new employee will be doing helps accomplish the company’s goals, keeps customers or clients happy, or helps co-workers do their jobs.

Recalibrate and Then Recalibrate Again

Job postings sometimes end up being a company’s wish list for a near-perfect candidate and include an everything-but-
the-kitchen-sink list of job duties. The person you hire to do that job won’t match expectations exactly (and that’s OK!). The same goes for their expectations for what their actual day-to-day work will be like. Now is the time to make sensible adjustments. Based on what you know so far, be willing to change up job duties to rely on an employee’s strengths and interests. Ask questions designed to get honest feedback like, “Which project are you most interested in?” or “Which aspect of your job do you feel most confident about?”

New employees want to succeed. They want to become a valued member of the team. But they also want to see that the role and company culture they signed up for matches the expectations you help set during the recruitment process. That’s where your company—and onboarding process—come in. Fend off boredom and uncertainty by keeping new employees busy, but not harried. Give them ample access to key team players to foster collaboration and on-the-job learning. Most of all, provide the structure and time to allow for a quality onboarding process that helps new hires feel secure in their decision to join your team.