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Posted June 01, 2016 by

How to implement a yearlong onboarding program

How to implement a yearlong onboarding program

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From learning the ins-and-outs of a company’s culture to specific job tasks, joining a new organization and starting a new job can be daunting.

That’s why it’s important for employers and HR professionals to establish a strong foundation for new employees to launch a productive and meaningful career by creating a strong onboarding program, says Jennifer Shofner, Manager, Campus Talent Acquisition at Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene, and energy technologies and services.

While many organizations focus on how to properly onboard an employee that first day on the job, most don’t have a dedicated yearlong onboarding program to help the employee through that first year on the job.

“When combined with functional training, a yearlong onboarding program can provide new employees tools to do their jobs, but additionally, can drive engagement through demonstrating employee and business success go hand-in-hand,” says Shofner.

Below, Shofner provides five onboarding milestones and strategies that help drive new employee engagement at Ecolab:

Day 1: Provide transparency in expectations and culture
All new employees start their first day eager, excited, and hopeful. Ensuring new employees feel welcomed and informed is the first step in maintaining this attitude beyond the first day, says Shofner.  Create a program that is consistent with company expectations and demonstrates your organization’s culture. Demonstrate not only “the what” but also “the how” work gets done. “This can help drive the environment that you want every employee to feel and help create,” says Shofner.

First 30 days: Enable a community for ongoing support
If you ask any employee at Ecolab why they work there, the resounding answer will be “the people” says Shofner. Knowing that relationships are part of Ecolab’s culture and success, the organization intentionally provide a system for networking. The “Buddy” program assigns new hires a contact to answer day-to-day questions, serve as a networking agent and helps them find a community within Ecolabs large organization. “Having one or two close contacts at work can be a powerful driver of initial job satisfaction,” says Shofner.

3 Months: Focus on engagement
Host a dedicated session that demonstrates commitment to employee engagement by providing specific activities to lead and socialize. “At Ecolab, leadership reminds us that are accountable for two areas,” says Shofner. “To grow our business and to grow our talent. Investment in growing talent can significantly impact an employee’s commitment to the company, but only if they are aware of the investment.” At this session, provide specific examples including leadership development programs, employee resource groups, a defined talent planning process, and social events such as intramural sports or team celebrations of success.

6 Months: Expand their vision
Introducing functional training is a good way to help employees develop a strategic understanding of their role and take ownership of their career path. Training provides tactical skill development and visibility into the broader organizational structure. At Ecolab best practices include a field ride-along to experience a day-in-the-life of a sales employees and classroom training led by senior leadership teams. Coach leaders to incorporate their leadership journeys, to include career and personal “peaks and valleys” which validate your leadership model, says Shofner.

One year anniversary: Celebrate
An employee’s one-year anniversary is an important milestone. At Ecolab, the CEO makes it a priority to attend annual celebrations that are part of the onboarding program. “It is a demonstration of the organization’s commitment to hiring, training and supporting talent,” says Shofner. “Dedicating time to recognize this significant achievement reinforces to the employee that they are appreciated and valued.”

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Jennifer Shofner, Manager, Campus Talent Acquisition at Ecolab

Jennifer Shofner, Manager, Campus Talent Acquisition at Ecolab

Jennifer Shofner is Manager, Campus Talent Acquisition at Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services. Her career in talent management has included various university and corporate roles where she is energized by helping individuals build careers they are proud of. In her spare time she enjoys volunteering for Minnesota’s talent initiative, MakeIt.MSP.org (check it out!) and supporting her alma mater’s sports teams – go Gophers!