Employee onboarding is not something for CEOs to take lightly. The ability to scale your company will be largely dependant on your ability to recruit, retain, and properly deploy new employees.

While certainly important, recruiting is not the end-game, but rather it is the very first step in the talent management lifecycle. Over the years, I have watched great recruiting efforts fall prey to sudden death when everything that management communicated to the new hire during the interview process was completely unwound by the reality of what they experienced on their first day on the job.

These days there seems to be a “buzzword” for just about everything in business. This article will focus on the topic of employee “onboarding,” which is a combination of employee orientation, integration, and socialization. Onboarding is part compliance, part training, part PR, part branding, and part cultural socialization. A new hire can finish his/her first day on the job by feeling exhausted, frustrated, and second-guessing their decision to come to work for your company, or they can go home feeling energized, motivated, valued, and lucky to be part of such a great company.

Never will your employees be more motivated and impressionable than on their first day of work. You can recognize this as an opportunity and exploit the dynamic for the mutual benefit of all concerned parties, or you can waste the opportunity. The choice is yours. The guidelines listed below will help you create an employee onboarding system that will add value to your recruiting efforts:

  1. Develop a new hire punch list that coordinates efforts between HR, Admin, IT, MarComm, Legal, and Accounting departments so that nobody is caught off guard or is unprepared for the arrival of a new employee. This simple step will allow for enough lead time to coordinate the logistics of securing workspace, provisioning computers, phones, business cards, and office supplies, for the configuration of security access and permissions, the preparation of press releases, preparation of training, to allow for payroll and benefits to be set-up, etc.
  2. Assign all new employees a mentor, and make sure that the mentor is not on vacation or under deadline during the new employee’s first few weeks on the job. The mentor should send out an introductory e-mail to all employees in advance of the new hire’s start date, providing a brief background on the employee, as well as an overview of the position they were hired for.
  3. Plan out and/or script as far into the future as possible for all new hires. At a minimum, their first week should be scripted, preferably their first 90 days. The schedule should include orientation, training, shadowing more tenured employees, regular interaction with their mentor, etc.

Nothing dampens the spirit of a new employee faster than having them show up for the first day of work only to sit in the lobby for an hour while the administrative staff attempts to figure out who they are and where they’re supposed to be. Remember, deployment begins on day one, and the first day on the job will set the stage for how the new employee feels about the company and their position within the organization.