3 Things LinkedIn Does to Turn New Hires Into Engaged Employees

August 31, 2016

First impressions are everything. When you meet someone, you immediately start sizing them up, deciding who they are and how you feel about them. And while it’s true that second chances are given, it often takes more time and effort to get people to change their minds about you—especially if the first impression was a lousy one.

So it makes perfect sense that a new hire’s first impression of their new employer during onboarding has a momentous effect on their new role. It’s so important, in fact, that recently, the Boston Consultancy group launched a report which ranked onboarding as having the second highest impact out of all 22 HR Practices.

This means that what we do with new hires in those first few days, weeks, and months impacts not only how fast an employee acclimates and feels belonging to a company, but also how quickly they reach their full potential and productivity. Companies that get onboarding right end up with higher employee engagement, better employee retention and have an easier time attracting the talent they want.

Below is a breakdown of what we do at LinkedIn to make the transition as smooth as possible, whether the new hire is joining the company for the first time, coming from a different team or taking on a new role:

1. Share what the new hire can expect on their first day and more about your culture

Once the new hire has accepted the offer, it may take a few weeks before they can start. So, how do you keep them excited until their first day? After sending new hires a congratulations email, notifying them of their start date, here’s what else we do at LinkedIn:

Share helpful documents to alleviate first day concerns

New hires are curious, and they want to know everything from what they should wear on Day 1 right through to what their new office building looks like. Providing these details in advance will not only help calm those first day jitters but also allow new hires to already feel like they belong to the company and their team.

At LinkedIn, we give a sneak peek behind the blue curtain by sending every new hire our interactive PDF, which showcases everything a new hire can expect on the first day. It doesn’t sound like much, but a helpful document can do a lot to ease the mind, which then mentally prepares people for their new journey.

Show who you are as company

It’s important that new hires know who you are as a company, what you value most and what sets your culture apart from others in the industry. Once a candidate becomes a new hire (the day they sign the offer letter), we send them our LinkedIn Culture Code, which is available online, and point them to #LinkedInlife - a social strategy we rolled out almost two years ago to help employees become brand ambassadors.

The #LinkedInlife posts really showcase what goes on on a day-to-day basis - everything from what’s for lunch to how someone’s desk was decorated for them on their birthday to the amazing experience they encountered on an LinkedIn InDay.

2. Make them feel at home on Day 1 by providing the essentials and telling them about their benefits and perks

In new beginnings, people can feel quite vulnerable. Part of the Onboarding Team’s role is to ease those jitters and worries. No matter how trivial or basic, make sure new hires feel completely taken care of.

Here in LinkedIn, from the moment they walk through the door, we roll out the blue carpet, immediately greeting them and making them feel welcome. We ensure that on Day 1 every new hire gets the essentials, such as their badge and their laptop, completes their paperwork and gets introduced to the things that matter, like their benefits as well as their awesome extras. Once new hires feel taken care of, they can concentrate on learning about their new company, embracing the culture and finding out about their new job.

By the end of the first day, new hires should feel suitably exhausted and overwhelmed but equally excited and exhilarated. If your onboarding team was successful, then new hires should also feel solidified by their decision to join your team.

3. Train hiring managers to create a positive onboarding experience that continues long after Day 1

When you have a new hire starting, the temptation can be to get them working as soon as possible directly after Day 1 orientation. This strategy can be a little short-sighted. Research shows that it takes anywhere from six to 12 months to feel like you have fully onboarded into a company, which means those first months invested make all the difference.

Who will do the heavy lifting here? Mostly, hiring managers.

As the old adage goes, “people don’t leave companies; they leave managers.” In fact, 21% of employees who left a job in the first six months said “more effective training” would have convinced them to stay. Often, this is because employees weren’t onboarded correctly, so they were never able to transition smoothly into their work and feel those moments of belonging.

In other words, the hiring manager plays an integral role in how quickly, efficiently and enjoyably a new hire is onboarded, ramped up and embraced into company culture. To show LinkedIn's hiring managers just how important onboarding is, we created this short video: 

Because hiring managers are so important for new hires success, we empower them to create an onboarding experience that will propel new hires to success and make them feel like they belong. We give managers the tools they need - from templates to send the congratulations email to a customized checklist to help them stay on top of the logistics and experiences they’re required to provide in the first 30 days.

We help them identify the right time they should set up their first 1:1 with their new hire and encourage the manager to select a LinkedIn buddy to pair up with their new hire. This buddy will not only introduce them to the team and bring them to lunch, but can also be a sounding board if they are stuck on a task or unsure where to find an important piece of information.

Final thoughts

Despite onboarding playing such an integral role in an employee’s success, I continue to be amazed when I hear companies highlight that they only spend a few hours or a half a day “onboarding” their new hire. How can new hires possibly learn the ropes and feel confident enough to produce at maximum potential in such a short amount of time?

A study by analyst firm Aberdeen Group found that 86% of respondents felt that a new hire’s decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. We believe it takes about six months to get employees up to speed, which is what research indicates as the amount of time employees feel they start to add value. However, this isn’t a one-size-fit-all situation and it can easily take nine to 12 months, depending on the role and size of the team.

Regardless, for companies that want trailblazing employees who perform at maximum potential, then the onboarding experience should be viewed as an opportune time to invest in your new hire. This is the training ground to get them fully up to speed, a space to create those moments of belonging and the time when new employees transform from new hires to company ambassadors and cheer leaders.

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