Onboarding a New Team Member in Today’s Environment

If you are lucky enough to be hiring new employees during COVID – 19, then use this opportunity to welcome them to your company.

I have worked with many organizations that spend so much time and energy to hire an individual and when it comes to their new employee orientation, they fall short.   This is the beginning of a new relationship where you are creating the building blocks to a trusting – win/win – relationship. A solid onboarding process sets the stage for success for your new hire.

According to Brandt and Vonnegut, Onboarding How to Get Your New Employees Up to Speed in Half the Time (John Wiley & Sons ©2009) roles reverse at the moment of a job offer.  Specifically the candidate moves from selling to buying and the hiring manager moves from buying to selling.


Just so we are all on the same page, employee orientation is:

  • the process that familiarizes new employees with their role, the organization, its policies, and other employees
  • the last step in recruiting and the first step in training
  • designed to support new employees during their first few months of employment.


Why is a successful orientation program important?  A successful orientation program will result in:

  • a satisfied employee – by making the employee feel welcome, you decrease their anxiety level which results in an employee with favourable attitudes toward your company and their work
  • a well-informed employee – providing the required information to the new employee will make him/her feel comfortable and competent and at the same time ensure the employee is productive as soon as possible
  • fewer mistakes – employee’s unanswered questions and incorrect assumptions cause uncertainty and errors, and mistakes cost time and money
  • reduced absenteeism and turnover – a satisfied and productive employee generally doesn’t take time off or consider leaving the organization. Both of which result in cost savings to the organization.
  • loyalty to the organization – by capitalizing on the new employee’s enthusiasm and eagerness to succeed early on, you will build loyalty and commitment to the organization
  • enhanced customer relations – employees who feel proud of the organization spread the word, resulting in future customers and employees

Onboarding during COVID -19, remains equally as important if not more so given many of employees are working remotely. Take your current process and adapt to your current “new normal” work environment.   For example, you will not be able to take the new employee out for lunch however maybe give them a gift certificate for take-out or have lunch sent to their home on their first day and have everyone on the team participate in a ZOOM meeting.   Assigning a peer/buddy is a best practice.  A buddy is not a substitute for the Manager, but is someone who can answer the new employee’s questions about the work environment and the workplace culture in a positive and encouraging way. The use of a buddy ensures the new employee feels welcome and has the resources to find any answers they need.

To me, having a robust new employee orientation process seems like a ‘no brainer’ and is even more important now with so many of us working remotely.

(Manie Walker is a HR Leader and Coach with Career Compass Canada and can be reached at manie@careercompasscanada.com)

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