January 24, 2019

Keys to a successful onboarding program: set milestones and tasks

Milestones and tasks are key components for motivating new hires and giving them early wins. Read on for how to get started.

In this series, we have been exploring the three keys to a successful strategic onboarding program. We have covered key groups of people who welcome a new hire to your organization, and we’ve talked about communicating culture as a key aspect of the onboarding process.

Now, let’s look at milestones and tasks as the pieces that bring the elements of onboarding together. Think of it this way: a culture is made up of behaviors and actions. Setting milestones and tasks systemizes these behaviors – they help build a culture of completing things in particular timeframes, reinforce processes and ways of working, and help bring your new hire further into the fold.

Early job accomplishments give new hires a sense that they are succeeding, and create motivation for continued success as they progress in their jobs. It’s also important to remember that the onboarding experience extends beyond a new hire’s first day or first week.

Up to 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment, and according to SHRM, can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment. Keep up with your new hires and set them on a path to engagement that will last through their first year and beyond. Consider the milestones and tasks that are important at different stages of their journey with your organization.

The first 30 days

Successful onboarding leads to new hires becoming productive faster, and milestones and tasks support this. For their first day, and even before they start, give your new hire tasks that will help them hit the ground running. Create checklists with all the necessary tasks that may fall through the cracks – employee information, setting up user logins and access to company portals, and reviewing preliminary training documents or company policies, for example.

Set your new hire up with meeting key people on the team (remember my earlier post about the impact of key people on the onboarding experience?). This study in Harvard Business Review found that new hires who had a one-on-one meeting with their manager in the first week experienced early growth, including bigger internal networks and higher-quality meetings, and spent more time collaborating. You can also start them with some self-guided training or assignments to immerse your new hire in their work.

Do you have a readiness checklist? Learn more here

Beyond the first month

After the first month, it’s important to check in with your new hire. How are things going? What is their feedback on the onboarding process? At Ceridian, we believe in continuous feedback, whether formal or informal, to promote ongoing employee engagement and development. Regular check-ins with your new hire sets a good precedent for communication and transparency.

This would also be a good time to recognize your new hire on an early win (see more tips for recognizing employees in this post), or have them share their accomplishments. You can also review their goals, and recommend new learning opportunities..

As our own Chief People and Culture Officer Lisa Sterling wrote in Harvard Business Review, “monthly or weekly check-ins can help managers continue to motivate these hires; this creates time for giving recognition for a job well done, assessing current and future goals, and discussing potential development opportunities.”

Related: Keys to creating a collaborative team culture

Ari Lesniak

Ari is the product owner for Dayforce Onboarding. He takes an entrepreneurial approach to his work and ensures the customer's voice is always top of mind. Ask him about skiing or hiking and you’ll be sure to hear a story or two.

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