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A Practical Guide to Onboarding New Hires With Polly

This guide will walk you through the key steps of the pre-boarding to onboarding process using tools from Polly.

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The English Premier League is one of the top football leagues in the world, with the value of each team averaging around $1.29 billion. The players come from all over the world, and for foreign players, moving to England and adapting to the league is quite a challenge. South American players for example are some of the most talented players out there, but a move to England means adjusting to cold weather, speaking a foreign language, and spending time away from their families. Meanwhile, performance expectations from fans and the club management are quite high. Failure to perform quickly means getting benched or worse—getting traded with little heads-up.

Now let’s consider a new hire who’s joining your organization. Their experience will have some similarities to a foreign player joining the English Premier League. From HR’s perspective, hours of effort have gone into reviewing applications, interviewing, and then closing the deal. Your new hire has also invested a lot of time and effort into the process and can’t wait to get started. Success in their new role is critical to furthering their career. And the hiring manager, like a football manager, has a lot on the line. 

But does your organization put in the right amount of thought and care into onboarding these new hires?

According to Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job with their onboarding. Interestingly, this study from Harvard Business Review (HBR) finds that many businesses think they’re doing a great job of onboarding new hires when they aren’t. 

Clearly there is a gap here—one that can be quite expensive to fill. The Society of Human Resource Management believes that replacing an employee can cost six to seven months of their salary. Estimates can be even higher if you factor in the opportunity cost and impact on team morale.

The best English Premier League clubs have learned to onboard their foreign players properly by having interpreters, language coaches, and other forms of customized support at hand. They help players find houses (instead of hotels) and schools for their children. They do their best to make them feel at home so the players can settle in and focus on their performance. 

Here are five practical ways you can onboard your new hires and make them feel at home too.


1. Ensure a smooth transition from HR to hiring manager

The first thing to focus on is a clean handoff between human resources, who have played a pivotal role in signing the employee up, and the hiring manager, who will be responsible for the new hire moving forward. A failure to do so causes awkwardness between all parties involved and an unproductive new hire.

Your new hire has basic needs such as a new machine, access to their benefits, smooth payroll processing, and more. HR should be responsible for enabling all such needs so that the new hire is ready to hit the ground running from day one. 

More advanced needs such as access to the network, taking requisite trainings, and accessing required software and documentation are items that the hiring manager should own and follow up on. This may mean that the manager has to coordinate with HR, IT, and other departments, but the new hire should be able to rely on their manager as a single point of contact.


While this division of responsibilities can vary from one organization to another, it’s always a great idea to measure the effectiveness of this initial onboarding process. Polly offers an employee onboarding template that can measure this initial onboarding experience from the perspective of the new hire. Try it for yourself and make it part of your onboarding process.


2. Have a clear, custom onboarding plan for each new hire

Next, any new employee should be clear on what their role is along with a plan that helps them succeed. This is the responsibility of the hiring manager who likely defined the job requirements. Now it’s time to expand on the initial job description by creating an onboarding plan—a blueprint that serves to define the role and its responsibilities in detail and how they map to the success of the company. This is a critical step that motivates the new hire. It also helps them and their colleagues see the bigger picture and understand how the role fits into it.

This explanation of the role should also be accompanied by very clear seven-day, 30-day, and 90-day check-in points so that the new hire can make measurable progress and can ask for support where needed. Polly has prebuilt templates that can be sent at the 30-day and 90-day marks to your recent hires to see if things are going according to plan or need adjustment.


Ask your team the right questions with Polly


3. Speak frequently and improve each interaction

By now you’ve taken care of setting up your new hire and explaining their role to them in writing. However, a new hire will have to adjust to a team setting within a new culture. Research from HBR shows that the top two reasons new hires underperform are a poor grasp of how the organization works and a failure to fit into its culture. The person who can help them during this important phase is their manager, who is just as invested in their success as they are.

A manager and their new hire should be speaking on a daily basis in the first week and then at least once a week moving forward. Communicating more is always better, especially if employees are working remotely or in a hybrid setting. 

As a start, each manager should encourage new hires to use this 1:1 Meeting Coordination template. Doing so sets the right expectations for a structured and productive one-on-one each time. 

It’s also a healthy practice for a manager to close the loop and get feedback from new hires on how each one-on-one went. Here is an effective Polly template for capturing this feedback. Doing so early on in a new relationship will set a good precedent for transparency and an open dialogue. 


4. Establish rapport with peers

New hires also need critical support from their peers. In fact, research from HBR shows that in some cases new hires received the least amount of support from peers when compared to that received from their hiring manager and HR business partners. This lack of peer-to-peer interaction can go on to affect their working relationships with each other in the future.

EstablishRapportThe onboarding plan should include a list of people for the new hire to speak to. One way to break the ice is to have some lighthearted fun in a team channel. Polly offers games like Hot Takes and Trivia that can bring the team closer together. Try some of these to welcome new hires into the fold. 

Also consider creating an Open Forum which lets new hires submit any questions or requests. These submissions can be answered by peers, helping build trust between the team while taking pressure off the hiring manager.  


5. Engage with remote team members

There is a decent chance that your new hire will be working remotely or within a hybrid setup, especially given changing safety protocols in light of COVID-19. Even if your organization is encouraging new hires to work on-site, your onboarding process should accommodate remote working as well. 

In this fast-changing remote work landscape it’s always a good idea to run regular pulse surveys with your new hires and teammates. This quick but effective insights template from Polly allows employees to provide valuable feedback on work-life balance, social connection between colleagues, and the level of support employees get from leaders. All of this information helps enable your team members and ensure they stay healthy and supported. 


Final takeaways

Now that you’ve reached the end of this guide, do remember to work together as a team. No one person or department is singularly responsible for implementing an onboarding guide. Successful onboarding requires that different people in HR work closely with the hiring managers and new hires. Use this guide as a blueprint for this collaborative effort and implement Polly templates to continually check in and measure how things are going.


Try Polly for free today to improve your onboarding process.

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