4 Ways to Use Onboarding to Create Company Advocates

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This article is taken from the Build Your Queue podcast below, Season 1 Episode 12 with Katie Love, Marketing Manager at Workhound.

You need to help new employees feel welcomed and be successful. But keeping and developing talent can be your company’s most challenging project—especially when you don’t have a set game plan or company culture that prioritizes strengthening individual employees.

So to create that culture, your business’s leaders need to ask:

  • How can you ensure employees succeed during and beyond their first day?
  • How do you establish an open line of communication with new employees?
  • How do you get feedback on how your onboarding process could improve?
  • How do you turn your new employees into advocates for your team?

We’ll help you answer these questions, and share how to create a successful onboarding process that perpetually develops your employees so everyone wins. Keep reading, or listen to the full audio in the player above.

1. How can you ensure employees succeed during and beyond their first day?

An employee feeling welcomed on their first day sets the tone for the rest of their experience with your company.

90% of employees decide whether or not they want to stay with you within their first six months of work, and that first day teaches them what those first six months will look like.

Start by making sure they have enough work to do, so they aren’t left feeling unengaged during their first couple of weeks in the office.

Your first instinct may be to start them off slow with only learning materials and introducing them to teammates—but employees would actually much rather get their hands into tasks. In fact, 87% of workers want to stay with companies that engage them.

You’ll also want to have necessities, like benefits and payroll, already prepared. Gusto can help you give that information to new employees in a way that’s simple and straightforward.

PC: Gusto

Before their first day, new employees should also have information on:

  • Where they should park
  • How and where to enter the building
  • Where the bathroom is
  • General office rules
  • Who to go to for questions about different topics

Be sure to have their desk setup and technology needs met before they walk in. New hires need to know they deserve a functional workspace and your team is willing to get them things they need, like headphones or office heaters.

All of this sets you up to impress and retain the employee, which benefits both of you in the long run.

2. How do you establish an open line of communication with new employees?

Lack of communication can keep new employees from reaching their full potential. That’s why the best onboarding processes usually last for six months, or longer, to make sure new employees consistently get appropriate feedback as they grow into the company.

Your goal during those six months is to take time to listen to the needs of other workers and vice versa—because workers must also learn the mannerisms and needs of their leaders to do their job.

Establishing this kind of open, connected relationship early on will ensure that employees keep communicating with you beyond just their onboarding process. And businesses where employees are connected by solid communication see a 20% to 25% increase in worker productivity.

To ensure that employees stay connected and keep communicating with you, you need to have consistent performance meetings to get them the feedback they need.

96% of employees say they prefer regular performance meetings vs. annual ones.

PC: Officevibe

Holding regular meetings also makes sure everyone has touchpoints with other members of the team to align both their personal and professional goals across individuals and departments. It also sets aside plenty of time for questions if someone needs more clarity.

You just have to make sure any meeting you set is going to add value—it can't be a meeting for the sake of having a meeting.

An optimal meeting schedule for businesses tends to look like:

During these meetings remember to focus on individual workers’ needs, as opposed to only focusing on the needs of an entire company. That’s what makes workers feel aligned and in power. They need individual goals, feedback tailored just to them, plus a clear vision of how that goal contributes to a greater picture of the company.

3. How do you get feedback on how your onboarding process could improve?

New hires are a gold mine for feedback because of their fresh eyes. If something doesn't make sense to them, it probably won’t make sense to others. They can help you cut through the noise of what's effective vs. what you've always done.

But how do you make sure they let you know when something is confusing?

The key is to not wait for a new hire to make a mistake. Regularly ask them how it's going, and provide them time to talk about anything they’re struggling with. Remember that when you first start asking a new employee how they’re doing, they’re most likely going to respond with “It’s good,” until you establish rapport with them.

You can build rapport with new hires by being honest about any daily struggles you have and making it a point to ask about their hobbies outside of work.

It also helps to ask questions that naturally guide the new employee to acknowledge any underlying problems they have, like:

  • “What is and isn’t helping you complete this task?”
  • “This part of the job can be confusing, do you need me to go over anything again?”
  • “Is there any part of this task you wouldn’t feel completely comfortable doing on your own?”

If the new hire does make a mistake, document it so you can help the next one avoid it.

Remember that employees shouldn’t feel like they only can talk about work—you want to be approachable when they have other problems outside of your business that may be affecting their productivity (like family or illness). So be genuine about wanting to know if everything is alright.

Employees who feel like their supervisor are approachable are significantly more engaged and willing to stay at their job.

PC: Lighthouse

4. How do you turn your new employees into advocates for your team?

You need to keep your employees excited for the long term—not only if you want to retain them, but if you want them to champion your company. That starts even before you’ve hired them.

Gauge their interest in advocating for your company as early as their first interview.

Your hiring managers can do this by asking candidates to prepare for a 30 to 90 day goal, so candidates know their individual investment in themselves is important for both of you. You also want to be upfront about your team’s priorities, and see if the person is either excited or deterred by them.

You definitely only want to consider candidates who are invested in the idea of playing for your team. That’s one of the earliest indicators that they’ll eventually want to champion your business.

Give them swag and ask what they typically need to put out the best work. You want to equally demonstrate that you’re excited for them to be on the team, and that you remember what it’s like to be in a transitional space like they are.

Beyond the hiring process, you can also ensure employees become advocates for your company by:

  • Noting and celebrating their hobbies outside of work
  • Acknowledging their expertise and experiences from past jobs
  • Giving them space to express themselves
  • Trusting them to get their work done

You essentially turn an employee into an advocate by helping them create the life they want.

Maintain a company culture that focuses on individual employee success.

The talent at your company is the most important resource you have. So treat them as such by constantly creating opportunities to reward and get to know them.

Have lunch together as a team, grab drinks after work, or create team brainstorming sessions to know each other on a one-to-one level. If you see each other as humans, you’re much more likely to work together in a harmonious way and excel as a team.