Get On Board
The reasons for investing in a systematic approach to onboarding are clear, but it can often be overwhelming to begin the process.
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Get On Board

Don’t become overwhelmed by this final stage in the hiring process. Instead, follow the five phases of onboarding and improve your employee retention.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth article in a five-part series.

Since one in five new hires leaves within the first 45 days of starting a job, it’s crucial to have an effective onboarding plan in place. The initial onboarding experience, which should last for at least a month, significantly influences job performance, long-term satisfaction, and employee retention. In fact, employees who go through a structured onboarding program are 69 percent more likely to stay for three or more years.

The reasons for investing in a systematic approach to onboarding are clear, but it can often be overwhelming to begin the process. A successful onboarding experience will impact both you and your new hires for months to come. That’s why planning ahead is -- not surprisingly -- your key to bringing in and keeping hires who will stay for the long haul.

So, where do you start?

As a great hiring manager, it’s important to follow all the critical steps that make for an effective onboarding program. Here is my detailed guide through the five phases of onboarding. It’s a 45-day process that takes you from pre-arrival through the first month of employment.

Phase One: Pre-Arrival
Set the stage for a new hire’s arrival by preparing their work area, communicating with the team and the hire, and scheduling their first week
Preparations. Confirm the new hire’s start date, time, place, and parking designation. Set up the employee’s email account and add the address to the company directory and any other relevant email lists.

Work Environment. Assign, clean and assemble the new hire’s desk area, truck and/or crew. Establish a workstation that includes a laptop/tablet, company phone, access and business cards, and safety. personal protective equipment (PPE). Create a welcome packet that includes detailed instructions on how to access the previously mentioned technology.
Communication. Request and distribute a bio on the new employee for easier team assimilation. Define and distribute the week-one agenda.
Planning. Schedule a team lunch to introduce the new hire on either day one or two. Plan the new hire’s first assignments and be sure to set aside time for pertinent training sessions and grant access to key accounts, systems and tools. Set up regularly scheduled meetings with the new hire in mind and add the new employee to other department meetings that will be helpful to the onboarding process.

Phase Two: First Day
Introduce your new hire and make them feel welcome and appreciated. Outline what they can expect to experience in the days ahead.
The Basics. Connect the new hire with HR to ensure all the proper paperwork is complete. Provide an overview tutorial on the company’s phone system, and how to access common computer programs, systems and drives. And, if applicable, share the expectations around daily/weekly reports and timesheets.
Introductions. You’ve already sent the new hire announcement to the appropriate teams, so now introduce them to their new coworkers. This should include both supervisors and subordinates. Provide the proper introductions to support staff to troubleshoot future problems.
Getting Comfortable. Present the new hire with company swag to make them feel like part of the team on day one. Be involved in the scheduled lunch with the team on day one or day two.
Office/Yard Tour. Don’t forget to explain to the new hire how to find the following:

  • Bathrooms
  • Printer, copiers, and fax machines
  • Parking
  • Break rooms
  • Production Yard
  • The first-aid kit


Phase Three: Second Day
Get your new hire up to speed on the day-to-day work life. Continue to make introductions and schedule training.
Job Overview. Provide the new hire with the day-to-day job requirements. Review the job description, duties and overall expectations, including job-specific responsibilities and outline 30-, 60- and 90-day goals.
Supervisor Overview. Explain your personal management style and offer suggestions on how to best work together. Include your specific performance preferences and job expectations as a manager. Outline the company’s internal processes and workflow overview, and explain how the annual performance review and goal setting works.

Phase Four: First Week
Outline the new hire’s first assignment and set expectations for the weeks ahead. Make time to get to know the employee’s professional likes and dislikes.
Essential Resources. Supply the new hire with a list of helpful onboarding resources, including product information/roadmap, brand materials, internal process documentation, and system training links. Set priorities and define the expectations for how and when they’re expected to master the information.
Company Vision, Mission, Core Values. Set the stage at a macro level, from the perspective of the organization. Review the company vision, mission statement, core values, organizational structure, and goals.
Looking Ahead. Review the onboarding process and team them with another employee who performs similar day-to-day responsibilities. Schedule additional training sessions.
First Crew/Task Assignment. Set up the initial assignment that will challenge the new hire, and consider the task takes on a “show me, don’t tell me” outcome.

Phase Five: First Month
Encourage success and foster growth by giving regular feedback and setting clear expectations and goals.
Encourage Success. Increase the new hire’s visibility by introducing them to more people in the company. Continue to evaluate and offer constructive criticism on your working relationship, including areas they can improve on and how you could work better together. It’s vital to encourage an openness to their questions and professional concerns.
Assess The Work. How did the new hire handle their first assignment? Schedule time to regroup and discuss what worked and what didn’t. Make the necessary adjustments and establish clear goals for the three- and the six-month review.
Foster Growth. Set performance expectations and establish that you’ll provide monthly feedback to the new hire with regard to their job performance. Be sure to stick to this schedule and offer professional praise and criticism when and where it’d due.

As Head Harvester, with the Harvest Landscape Consulting Group, Fred Haskett coaches green and white industry owners. He is also a frequent Snow Magazine contributor.