Robust onboarding programs are now the new norm, or at least expected to be, in strong-cultured companies. Studies show that when you invest in a new hire’s experience in the first 90 days, their performance over the lifetime in that company is drastically higher than those without a strong orientation.
Yet most onboarding programs focus only on brand new hires, overlook four important groups of people:
1. New parents
A parental leave can last anywhere from a few weeks in the States, to one year in Canada, or as much as 14 months if you live in Sweden. When you work for a high growth company, a lot can change in that time span so coming back to work can be a real whirlwind.
These returning employees don’t want to be treated like a new hire — their time is more valuable than that because they bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience from before their leave. However, they’ll likely need to be re-introduced to how their team is functioning, how company priorities have changed, and how processes have been adapted to reflect these changes.
Familiarizing them with what’s being done differently sets them up for a successful transition, so they can get back to work without missing a beat.
2. People returning from an extended stress/medical leave
Similar to parental leave, being off work for a medical reason may not always be a large chunk of time. But the length of time is relative — innovative companies change quickly, and what was standard policy a month ago may be ancient history now.
Medical or stress leaves can be due to a huge range of circumstances, and sometimes a full recovery requires a gradual or modified transition back to full-time work. Understanding how to meet the needs of your employees as they navigate this adjustment requires a completely different on-boarding process, and accommodating their needs will be crucial to setting them up for long-term success.
3. Boomerang employees
Whether it was an extended leave to travel, to work at another company, or to further their education, these employees were gone for a while…and now they’re back! They know the ins and outs of how your company has worked in the past, and need to get the update of what’s new and different since they were an employee last.
This group may benefit the most from being treated like a new hire and going through the onboarding process again, depending on how long they’ve been away. Each situation will be different, and will need to be handled accordingly.
If they go through onboarding again, know that they will be familiar with a lot of the information. So make good use of this, and use their expertise to assist in the orientation process for others!
4. Contract extensions and promotions to full-time staff
We’ve all seen it done before — it’s easier to hire contract employees and put them right to work. It’s a sneaky way to avoid the initial start-up costs associated with a new hire (including training time and technology requirements). But after a while, it’s not uncommon for contract extensions to turn into a full-time-esque role…without ever giving that hire the proper training. After all — they’ve been around for so long, they already know how things work.
Knowing that it may be tedious to put them through a full new-hire orientation experience, these people managers need an expedited onboarding process for bringing on contract employees. Spending time on this process ensures that your team is all working under the same guidelines and it creates a more seamless work experience (and cultural structure) for everyone.
Level up your onboarding programs
Human resources and new-hire orientation trainers are rarely charged with creating an experience for these groups. And, in some cases, rightfully so. These orientations or re-orientations can come with so many variables and exceptions, that they are best managed by the person’s direct supervisor. When managers are involved in creating engaging onboarding programs, they know what actually needs to be included, rather than going through standard onboarding experiences for new hires. Nobody likes to feel like their time is being wasted.
If HR departments don’t trust their people managers to lead this process — then it’s better to spend time investing in developing stronger managers rather than creating another standalone program run by HR. Case-by-case exceptions require case-by-case action. Let your people managers handle that. Teach your managers how to execute stellar onboarding programs, and they’ll develop great leaders from the start — whether that’s the start of day one, or the start of day 501.
Training people managers to be responsible for the entire talent lifecycle — from sourcing talent to final exit — is one of the outcomes of the Manager Start Line, my online management training program I’ve designed to take your people managers (and business) to the next level.