Effective Onboarding: Take the guess work out of starting a new job.

As employers seek new ways to attract and retain employees, effective onboarding is a key strategy. However, onboarding and orientation programs are often disorganized and complex, with too much information thrown at an employee. When evaluating an effective onboarding program for new employees, employers should step back and evaluate their onboarding process through the lens of new employees. Often those responsible for creating the onboarding process haven’t been a new employee in quite some time. It’s easy to forget how it feels to be a new employee starting a new adventure and the worries that come along. Here are three simple strategies to incorporate to help take the guess work out of starting a new job for your new hires.

1. There is nothing like the fear of the unknown. Create a general schedule to provide to the new hire on their first day, based on what is feasible for your organization. For some, it may just be a one-day schedule. But for other organizations, a week or more could be possible. Be sure to include information such as the topic/what they will be doing, where it will occur, what time, and with whom. Remember, your new hire may not be familiar with company abbreviations and acronyms for locations, conference rooms, etc. so be clear on the schedule. Pro-tip: develop an acronym or commonly used language guide. By providing new hires a general schedule you’ll take the guess work out of what’s coming, and they can focus on getting acclimated in their new role.

2. Take care of all new hire paperwork in one session. Tax forms, required identification, direct deposit information, policy manual acknowledgements… There is a lot of required paperwork when new employees come onboard. Be sure your onboarding process includes a specific session dedicated to thoroughly complete this paperwork. Before the employee’s first day, clearly communicate the documents and information the employee will want to bring for their first day to complete all the required paperwork.

Additionally, provide the employee with the payroll schedule, holiday schedule, etc. and communicate when they can expect to receive their first pay check. Do not assume new hires will know and understand your pay schedule, as pay schedules vary widely across organizations. For an employee who is accustomed to receiving a pay check weekly, moving to a bi-monthly pay schedule will be an adjustment.

3. When does my insurance start? In the midst of learning the ropes of a new position in a new organization, new employees also need clear and direct information regarding their eligibility for benefits, associated employee costs, how to enroll, and clear deadlines for enrollment. Often benefits information gets shuffled to the side during onboarding—especially when the hiring manager wanted the employee to start, last month. Ensure employees have a good understanding of the benefits offered and the deadline to enroll, and a contact if they run into any questions as they make their elections.

While onboarding is specific to each organization, the goal is the same: successfully acclimate new employees as smoothly as possible into their position in the organization. If your organization hasn’t reviewed your onboarding process from the lens of the employee, it may be a good time to do so. Take the guess work out for the new employee, so they can focus on being successful in their new role!

What strategies have you found most effective in your onboarding process?

Employee Recognition During the Holidays – Are you Ready For It?

The holidays and the end of the year create a time in which we naturally tend to reflect, show gratitude, and get excited for what is to come in the new year. For 2018 we want to embrace the time of year, talk about what we have accomplished and learned in 2018 and what’s coming in 2019. Reviewing the outcomes of goals established at the beginning of the year.  Now is a great opportunity to celebrate successes and increase engagement for the year to come.

The key is to be transparent when sharing goal outcomes at the end of year celebration or new year kick off meeting.  Chances are not all goals were met; but employees will want to hear what the team has learned and how they have grown from those few shortcomings as well as celebrating those important wins.  More than likely most of the team will be taking time off during the holidays.  Now is the time to get employees focused and engaged to hit the ground running upon their return.  Take the time to clearly communicate 2019 company goals and direction.  Be sure to link those goals to your company mission and values.

What better time of year as a leader to take advantage of this holiday cheer and tie it back to the great accomplishments made by your team.  A simple and impactful way to gather that information is to ASK.  Ask for input on what your employees are most proud of, what should be celebrated (things big and small), and who impacted them most at the company. This could be done through 1:1 conversation or a simple survey form.  Twelve months is a long time and it is difficult for you to keep track of all individual and team accomplishments.  Asking the team to provide this information creates unity amongst the group and a chance for each employee to individually reflect and recognize.

Once you have your list of accomplishments, it is time to recognize!  There are many ways you can easily recognize your teams’ accomplishments.  How about a hand-written note that communicates specific achievements you are most proud of each team member accomplishing?  An email to the whole team or company that showcases individual and team accomplishments.  Or take advantage of everyone being in the same room for the office holiday party and publicly recognize and thank the team for all their hard work and dedication.  Even better, if significant others are included at the holiday party, thank them as well.  Everyone knows that the long work hours can take a toll on the family and their support helped your employee achieve great things this year.

Finally, we all know the importance of frequent feedback and recognition throughout the year.  Don’t reserve the holidays as the only time of year to provide it.  As leaders, make it a personal 2019 goal of yours to invest time in regularly recognizing your team members.  Make in timely.  Make it specific.  Make it meaningful.  Happy Holidays!

Workplace Wellness Programs: 5 Keys to Successful Programs

Thinking about adding a Workplace Wellness Program? They are a great option for energizing your team, reducing costs, and building a more positive and healthy work environment.

Workplace wellness programs come in all shapes and sizes. They can be as simple as routine check-ins and small contests and competitions and they can include onsite fitness venues and sponsored events. But regardless of plan design there are several components that set the successful programs apart.

  1. You have to know what’s driving your largest claim costs on your health care plan – both among employees and their dependents. Weight-related health issues? Nutrition? Exercise? Smoking? Knowing what exactly is driving costs will help you develop meaningful and successful programs.
  2. Realistic program expectations are key. With wellness, what an employer depends on how well it plans, and how well it maintains communications and participation with staff (and the program provider as well), and (to a lesser degree) how much it spends.
  3. Maintain strong workplace wellness program communications. Programs that achieve the greatest success are those that are communicated aggressively from the start and are maintained consistently. Slack off the messaging and you’ll lose participation, making your program at the least irrelevant and at worst a failure.
  4. Integrate workplace wellness with other benefits. Real-life experience has shown that you should consider Are your Employee Assistance Programs an extension of the Workplace Wellness program? (Do you have EAPs? Should you have EAPs?) Studies show that wellness programs, EAPs and issues like absenteeism, disability and worker’s compensation are all pieces to the same puzzle.
  5. Leading by example. The key to ensuring worker buy-in is for management to lead the workplace wellness program by setting a positive example. When managers are unwilling to participate and address their own health issues, don’t expect many employees to take the workplace wellness program seriously.

At their core, Workplace Wellness programs require constant monitoring and periodic adjustments. Don’t know where to start? Lucky for you, we are experienced at developing successful programs.

Contact us today to learn more.

6 WAYS TO CULTIVATE A MORE POSITIVE WORKPLACE CULTURE

A healthy and happy work environment is essential to the success of your business; building a strong sense of community is even more important. This is the perfect time to it’s a terrific opportunity to take a look at company’s culture and see if there are opportunities to cultivate a more positive workplace culture. Here are six steps to consider if your company culture needs to move to the next level.

Establish trust

Trust is essential in all relationships, both personal and professional. The best way to build trust is through active listening and open communication. But you have to truly listen, be willing to let your guard down, and really listen. Allow your team members to speak their minds without fear of reprisal. Do this and chances are that others will reciprocate.

Get to know your employees as individuals

No one wants to be treated as “just” an employee. If you treat your team as “just” employees, that is likely what you will get back in performance. Instead, ask and learn about their hobbies, families, and backgrounds.” Consider 2017 an opportunity to create deeper, more productive relationships with your work team. Trust and respect will ensue.

Foster mutual respect

Speaking of respect, we hope you treating your employees and their input and ideas and that they respect yours. Mutual respect is necessary for collaboration, and the growing success will be dependent upon collaboration.

Some of that collaboration may not even include you. That’s why it is equally important that you build a workplace environment in which employees like and respect each other as well. They need to feel respected by their colleagues and supported by you. If you can achieve this, you can expect increased productivity and success.

Show appreciation

Everyone wants to feel appreciated. So when someone does something well, offer a sincere compliment to show your gratitude. Doing so will lead to stronger relationships, and encourages continued productivity. Most people, after all, are wired to respond to incentives. Financial rewards are one well-known incentive. Simple and genuine appreciation is another—often underrated—incentive.

Positive Work Environment

Studies have shown that a positive work environment affects the brain, increases employee engagement. Is it not obvious that people will be generally happier while at work if the work environment is positive?  Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work and a positive psychology expert, says that “when we are positive, our brains become more engaged, creative, motivated, energetic, resilient, and productive at work.” Isn’t that exactly what you want from and for your team?

And while you are at it, don’t underestimate the importance of fun in the workplace. Leaders who share laughter with staff members and team members who genuinely enjoy their work are simply more pleasant to be around. Are you the kind of boss you would like to work for? What would including fun in the workplace look like for your business? It might be as simple as a surprise pizza party, office Olympics, or sports team appreciation days. Better yet, why not ask your team what that fun would like to them?

Clear Goals and Regular, Timely Feedback

People like—no, people need—to know where they stand, how their performance stacks up, and how their contributions impact the whole. Achievable goals are the first part of the equation, and if you and your employees work together to set the goals, there can be no question about what is expected. (Do both of you a favor, and include measurable steps or milestones in your planning so that progress and performance can routinely be assessed.) Provide consistent encouragement and feedback in support of the achievement of agreed upon goals.

Speaking of feedback, to most impactful, feedback should be timely. You don’t want to wait until an annual or semi-annual review to discuss that your employee is struggling. That’s too long for changes or improvements to be made. On the other hand, recognizing a significant contribution as soon as it happens (rather than waiting for any period of time) will have a more positive impact on the individual. And success begets success.