Nailing Onboarding and Offboarding for HR: A Candidate’s Take on how to get it right!

Untitled design (36)

So, onboarding and offboarding – Have you got it nailed? 

I’m sure we can all sit back and remember the first day in a new job – a mix of nerves and excitement along with the pressure of learning a new system, remembering everyone in the teams’ names coupled with the all-important what to wear, arriving on time and ensuring you leave having had an enjoyable and productive day having made a positive impression. When it’s then your responsibility as the manager, the shoe is on the other foot to make the new person settle and get up and running quickly, giving them the right tools, introductions and confidence to thrive. We all know great onboarding leads to better performance, greater retention, and happier team morale. 

We have probably all got a story to share about bad onboarding and situations where it isn’t done well… we heard recently of a candidate who spent the morning in a new role, went for lunch and didn’t go back! What on earth happened that morning for them to not make it through the first day? 

So… we thought we’d reach out to our network and ask a few questions about the good, the bad and the ugly to onboarding. 

It’s important to remember that the onboarding process starts as soon as an employment contract is signed. After a positive interview experience, the candidate is feeling super engaged and excited and often a three-month notice period can feel long so creating this positive build-up before the candidate is even through the front door on day one is crucial. Sending emails to stay connected during their notice period to demonstrate their value and anticipation before they join. Getting a head start by providing important information like policies, team introductions, a plan for their first day/week/month, maybe a company booklet that covers questions new starters typically have like dress code – a bit of a trailer to the main event to build excitement and avoid the panic of uncertainty or even the temptation of a counter offer. 

So, on day one – roll out the welcome party! No joke, ensure you, as their boss, have time dedicated to the new starter – arrange some meet and greets with the right people, arrange a tour round the offices – they might sound simple things, but they often have the biggest impact! A team lunch or a team coffee break was voted as being a nice touch, but also a great way to get to know people and ask some of the basic questions away from the office. 

Without doubt, make sure a desk and equipment are ready for the newbies arrival – a desk, a phone, laptop, access passes etc – having an organised and efficient start sets exactly the right tone for success. You wouldn’t believe the number of times we heard that there wasn’t a desk ready, or someone had to wait a week to access the system – were these companies not expecting these people? It’s important to make sure the new employee feels like they were expected and not a surprise recruit! Might be worth drafting and distributing the email communication around their arrival before they start so the fond welcome isn’t just down to you. 

Even if you are a smaller business this is all still possible. These initiatives are tried and true – someone who can guide new hires through their first days, answer questions that they may not want to ask their manager, provide support and cut the learning curve in half. Let’s face it we all need that person who can point us to the caffeine and tell us who is not a morning person!

How about the all-important training plan? Newbies like to know what their first few weeks will look like, whether they will need to visit a different office or go out to a site or a factory. Schedule it for a day when people will be there and stakeholders will be visible so they can feel like the visit was worthwhile and interesting. Being out and about, getting a feel for the culture and giving them time to talk to people will help them settle in much quicker than just reading from the intranet. 

We also heard that having clarity is crucial – around the role, responsibilities and performance expectations. If candidates are not given clarity about what their role is and how it fits into the wider team and overall business can cause dissatisfaction across the board and great frustration. Having both short and longer-term expectations laid out to a candidate by all their stakeholders, peers and manager is a valuable strategy.

Communication, Communication, Communication! This was up there on most people’s lists that we asked – regular catch-ups during the first weeks and months can provide an opportunity for feedback and recognition as well as highlight any issues that can then quickly be remedied. These catch-ups can be a mix of informal coffee meets as well as more formal meetings ticking off actions and achievements. 

Offboarding: Finish on a high …….

Offboarding – is anyone guilty of getting the resignation and just allowing that person to count down their notice period and leave the business? Whether it be resignation, retirement, or dismissal – the handover backward is just as key. 

Done well, offboarding can be a positive experience for both the departing employee and the business – just because someone is going doesn’t mean it has to end on bad terms! Make it a good experience and leave the door open for whatever the future may hold, swings and roundabouts after all!

We heard from several people who thought offboarding could be done better! 

Don’t sweep the situation under the rug! Acknowledge your employee is leaving. For some, it may feel awkward but that won’t change the matter – face it straight on. Recognise and celebrate the person’s contributions over their time with the business, maybe hold a farewell get-together or a personalised note or e-mail of thanks for their service. 

Ever been guilty of cancelling or not booking an Exit Interview? Almost too scared to hear what they might say? There is no reason this process should elicit any groans upon its mention if everyone involved enters the process with a positive mindset. Constructive feedback from departing employees is powerful, let them be heard as often as it will give you ideas for the future. 

Enable your departing employee to hand over their well built-up bank of knowledge! Make sure there is a system for knowledge transfer in place, document processes and key information to make sure there is a smooth transition and no calls to departed employees to find out where to find and how to do x, y and z!

One of the biggest areas to score points that are so frequently referenced as an area of contention – is equipment and leavers administration! We have heard several stories about handing back phones and laptops where the company has not logged this accordingly only for the departing employee to be accused of still having company property! We have also had many accounts of logins being denied as soon as resignations have been handed in leaving candidates unable to let key people know they are leaving! These types of messy ends leave a bad taste for sure! So, streamline the exit process around paperwork, benefits, access to systems etc, and maybe consider investing in HR software that aligns with onboarding and offboarding needs!

Lastly, instead of a hard cut-off with employees who have given you their service why not be gracious? Strive to maintain communication to foster a strong pool of ex-colleagues that could present an opportunity for future re-entry to the business or even provide you with great referrals to the business in the future. 

In Conclusion: Make the Most of Hellos and Goodbyes 

Like any other processes, onboarding and offboarding should be given due attention, reviewed and updated to stay on top of the game! Although it serves to have best practice that you operate to for both, it would also see you well to be flexible as not every joiner and leaver’s situation is the same!

Whether it’s onboarding or off-boarding, remember – at the centre of it are your people. So, let’s get onboarding and off-boarding nailed and not left to chance – because a great beginning and a civilised end can define the entire employee experience! 

Share this article