June 2017, Vol. 1

5 steps to improve your onboarding process

by Zach DiSchiano

The onboarding process is a pivotal time in the hiring of a new employee. If done properly, it helps employers reduce turnover and employees form better relationships and understand job expectations.

Nearly a third of new teachers leave the profession within five years, and while there are many components factoring into that statistic, establishing a strong, effective onboarding process can limit turnover in districts. Onboarding is a great opportunity for districts to communicate their culture to new hires and establish a welcoming, friendly atmosphere.

The difference between onboarding and orientation is that the former is a series of events (which includes orientation) that helps new hires understand how to excel in their day-to-day job, while the latter is a one-time event welcoming the employee to the district. Orientation tends to focus on big picture ideas and the individual’s role in the district while onboarding is more individualized and focuses on the employee’s specific role in their department.

Many of the new employees districts bring on are millennials, who have a reputation for a lack of loyalty in their careers. A recent Gallup report stated 21 percent of the generation said they’ve changed jobs within the last year—more than triple the number of non-millennials. Investing time and effort into improving your district’s onboarding process can keep these new workers happy.  

To help districts come up with their own plan, we’ve identified five ideas to build a better onboarding process:
  1. Reach out to new hires before their orientation and start date
    • Give employees a call to confirm their start date, dress code, parking location, and other basics.
    • Seek out any requests or needs the employees may have to help them feel comfortable from day one.
    • Remind the employee to collect any documents for orientation or online tasks as needed for completing I-9 and insurance forms.
  2. Make the first day special
    • Give the employee a welcome package that includes small gifts or messages from co-workers.
    • Send a welcome video. Many districts have recruiting videos, but no videos welcoming new employees to the job.
    • Schedule a lunch with the new hire and their immediate co-workers.
    • Send a school-wide email announcing the arrival of the new employee and provide a quick introduction and background.
    • Ask for feedback from the new hire about their first day so you can make improvements for the next one.
  3. Ensure the onboarding process doesn’t end after the employee’s first day
    • Create a 90-day learning and development plan.
    • Schedule regular one-on-one meetings between the employee and supervisor.
    • Offer opportunities to attend or be involved in an activity outside the employee’s work area.
  4. Give new hires a look inside your district
    • Communicate your company’s culture, mission, and vision on your portal and HR website.
  5. Stay organized
    • Put together a concrete plan detailing each step of the onboarding process, from offer letter to 12-month review. Stick to it.
    • Use programs that enable you to share onboarding timelines and the other pieces and details of the processes.
Communication is the overarching theme in producing a competent onboarding program. Soliciting feedback throughout the process is important in continuing to improve your district’s practices in onboarding. Ensuring employees feel welcome, supported, and essential to the district’s success is the best way to establish a positive climate for your new hires, and it’s best to start sending those communications before they step on campus for their first day.