One Size Does Not Fit All With Successful Onboarding
First impressions mean a lot when integrating a new employee or new client into your organization – and you only get one chance to make it successful. Those first few days, and even first few months, are critical for making an employee or client feel part of your business.
In fact, feeling underappreciated is one of the reasons many employees start looking for work elsewhere. It requires effort to retain those dissatisfied employees, and that effort begins the day you decide to add them to the team.
Businesses have a choice in what they decide to invest. Choosing onboarding helps maximize the overall budget and improve company morale.
Before Day One
Most challenges can be overcome with preparation. For example, we study for exams, train for races, and rehearse before giving a performance. In order to create a culture of satisfied, productive, and long-lasting employees, it takes the same work.
“To ensure your employee integrate smoothly into your company, it is important you start preparing for them before the first day,” said Sujan Patel, Growth Marketer & Co-founder of Web Profits. “For starters, you’ll want to create an agenda for their first week, which will help clarify for you and the new hire what you expect right away.”
Sharing that agenda with your new hire before their first day or as soon as they start their position can help alleviate jitters and make them more comfortable and ready to learn.
Every business has its own approach when it comes to onboarding as some are very systematic and others are much more informal; however; a formal onboarding process is much more effective than an informal process, according to SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management).
The Four C’s
- Compliance includes teaching employees basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations.
- Clarification refers to an employee’s understanding of his or her job and all related expectations.
After an employee understands the first two levels, the process of incorporating a new employee into the company is not yet over. The next two levels of the The Four C’s include that essential element.
- Culture includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms – both formal and informal.
- Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish.
Most organizations address compliance and clarification during their formal onboarding processes; however, it’s common for culture and connection to be less established within an employee’s onboarding process.
“How you start is usually how you finish. If you start someone right and they understand everything, then you’re setting yourself up for a great relationship,” Colin Wetlaufer, CITY’s president, said.
Making the Transition
Cultural fit should factor into a hiring decision, but that doesn’t mean attention to culture can end there. Once new employees complete their orientation, they can jump right into the workplace and are “one with the team.”
“It isn’t just about onboarding people, it’s also about assimilation,” Wetlaufer said. “It’s about making sure someone is truly part of the culture and asking ‘how can we really make someone feel a part of this company.’”
Tips to Aid Assimilation
As a business in the uniform industry, CITY plays a role in helping thousands of companies’ onboard their new hires each year. From this experience, here are key points we have found to successfully integrate new hires into your workplace.
Make it Personal
An organization can learn a lot about a new hire from the interview process, but taking the time to learn even more about a new employee is fundamental to ensure employee retention and individual growth. The more you know about an employee (their values, beliefs, work ethic, and more), the better you can help them adapt.
Provide a Mentor
Organizations can help new hires by providing them with someone to reach out to for assistance. An experienced employee can help a new hire to understand their responsibilities, learn more about the company, and how to grow into their current position. New employees can also better assimilate into the company culture when given knowledgeable direction and support. In fact, according to a survey conducted by River Software, 83 percent of its clients said that their mentoring experience positively influenced their desire to stay at their organization.
“We like to set new employees up with veteran employees who really work the CITY culture and values everyday,” Corey Ruff, CITY’s service manager said. “We try to train new employees with people that are at the highest level of our values and know what we expect on a daily basis.”
HR isn’t the only department that has a role in onboarding a new employee. Management must also be held accountable for effectively onboarding employees. Managers provide valuable coaching, feedback, and recognition for employees. These components help build a relationship with employees and show that the manager truly cares.
Check in on Progress
It’s important for human resources to check in after 30 days to see how the employee is doing. Are they comfortable, happy and engaged? Employees that are happy with their work means higher productivity and retention. It’s also important to keep checking in periodically to ensure everything is still going smoothly.
“We always ask our employees how they are doing to get that feedback,” Ruff said. “We ask things like, ‘What do you need help with?’ or ‘What do we need to do to make you successful in this position?’ It all comes back to communication.”
Provide Essential Resources
In order to expect an employee to do their job and to be successful, they need the right tools. The right tools can include simple things such as providing a salesperson with a company cell phone or giving a customer service representative a comfortable headset and desk space. But the right tools can also mean providing sufficient support and training, which includes an effective onboarding process.
Look and Feel The Part
One of the easiest ways to help new hires feel part of the team is to quickly provide them with a properly fitted uniform. New employees won’t stick out from others when they look just like the rest of the team, which helps create a sense of unity and promotes team spirit. In turn, when employees feel part of the team, they report a higher sense of job satisfaction and are more productive.
Importance of Getting New Employee into Uniforms
A new employee at your business will quickly feel part of your team when they are put in a properly fitted and compliant uniform quickly. With our on time, work order fulfillment capabilities, CITY helps increase morale and productivity, which helps each business’s bottom line.
How Uniforms Improve Morale
Uniforms help build a business culture that prides itself in its work. Employees feel compelled to do and be at their best when representing their company while in uniform.
“Uniforms put everyone on the same page,” CITY President, Colin Wetlaufer, said. “This promotes a positive employee culture and a sense of accountability.”
Depending on the career, once you have taken all aspects of a uniform into consideration (style, comfort, safety, and feedback), it may be much simpler to have this decision predetermined each morning with a uniform program.
Furthermore, a uniform program eliminates ambiguity in what is considered appropriate because employees always know what they are supposed to wear.
Uniforms eliminate the need for employees to fill their closets with appropriate clothing, which can be costly. Employees are also more confident when they feel equal to one another
A clean, comfortable, and safe uniform helps employees start the day off on the right foot and in the right mood. And when employees are in a positive mood, this directly affects their morale and productivity.
How Uniforms Increase Productivity
Every day, there are supervisors, managers, and owners who look at their current business function and wonder what they can do to improve their overall productivity.
One way to improve productivity is to eliminate the time spent on unnecessary tasks. For example, when employees and employers aren’t worried about work wear, they can focus more at the job at hand. They also have a more professional mindset when in uniform, improving their focus.
Employee safety is also something that management has to keep in mind. Appropriate uniforms, such as those that are flame resistant and are high-visibility, keep employees safe and your business compliant.
With a quick new employee uniform fulfillment rate, employees can get to work quicker without any safety limitations.
How Uniforms Affect the Business Overall
By properly planning, executing and onboarding your new employees, it helps retain employees down the road. According to Medium.com, the price of not onboarding your new hire properly, could easily reach a cost of $100,000.
Replacing a team member can be an expensive task and losing any personnel could also affect the company culture. It is beneficial to adopt better onboarding practices to improve business expenditures of such processes.
How Onboarding Sets The Tone for a Business-to-Business Partnership
Just like onboarding new employees, it is important to make a good first impression when onboarding a new client. In our society, we put a lot of energy into cultivating a positive first interaction, and the question is, what is a first impression truly worth?
The answer is this –
Every raving relationship starts with a positive first impression, shifts to a seamless transition, and receives consistent, quality service that they can trust.
“In the uniform business, we handle such a personal part of someone’s work day and making that experience a positive one is such a crucial part of our business’s success,” Emily Novotny, CITY’s marketing manager, said. “From onboarding new accounts and onboarding new employees at each account, we take every step necessary to make sure it’s simple and seamless.”
Coping with Change
Dealing with change within an organization can be intimidating and stressful due to the uncertainty often associated with new situations.
“At CITY, we have the ability to be 100 percent transparent with our clients,” CITY Sales Representative Hildy Webb said. “Everything we say, we are going to do. It’s not just a gimmick or a show.”
Based on our experience of onboarding new accounts, here are some key steps that have helped us provide a smooth transition.
Understand the Client’s Existing Needs
The best way to understand the client’s existing needs is to communicate thoroughly with the client. Getting to know the client upfront and understanding their business will not only help you better service the account, but it will also help develop the relationship into a long-lasting partnership.
Understand the Client’s Previous Vendor Issues
It is the good memories you want to remember, but it is always hard to forget bad experiences. In fact, clients often tend to share bad experiences with others. When you understand the client’s previous pain points, you know exactly how to avoid them.
Consider Different Industry Segments
Every company has unique needs depending on their industry. It’s important to take their industry into account during the course of onboarding to ensure their needs come first. For example, when it comes to industrial laundry clients, an account in the food processing industry cannot operate without uniforms, so it is important to make sure you come prepared with a Plan A and a Plan B just in case.
Additionally, accounts in the manufacturing industry may have safety uniform needs that must withstand wear-and-tear, whereas an account in the wholesale trade industry may have a need for professional apparel that is bright or colorful.
Set Expectations Early
Clearly defining your company’s offerings and capabilities ensures clients understand the conditions to which they are agreeing. That is where the saying of “under promise, over deliver” comes in handy. It is always better to “wow” your client than to disappoint them.
Make it Easy
You should take care of everything possible behind the scenes, aiming for a seamless transition from sales to service, so that the client is not overloaded with more work. Keep in mind that change is hard. They are looking to you to make their workday easier, not to give them more work.
Check In Often
A valuable client relationship doesn’t stop just because the contract is signed or the “first 90 days” are complete. One of the most important aspects of retaining clients is building upon the relationship even after the onboarding process is complete.
Identify Additional Opportunities
After servicing the new client for a few weeks, additional opportunities in which a business can help become more apparent. If they have too much product or not enough, you can adjust based on their usage. If there is another service or product they can benefit from, now it a perfect time to introduce ways you can help.
Assisting the client with these opportunities and becoming a total-solutions provider further builds the client-business relationship.
Encourage and Respond to Feedback
The new client onboarding process can always be improved. Communicating with the client to learn about their personal onboarding experience is a valuable tool for improving the process.
THE 8-STEP CITY BREAKDOWN
New client onboarding includes many steps for starting the relationship with confidence, building the relationship, and addressing concerns. Taking complete ownership of the process is how you provide clients with peace-of-mind.
“When we find we have a new account to onboard, the first thing we do is schedule a day to introduce ourselves and take a tour of their facility,” Novotny said. “The main thing is to communicate what they can expect the process to look like and it is also important to exchange contact information so we keep an open line of communication.”
CITY has found success in onboarding new clients by following these eight steps:
- Provide a scheduled fitting time.
- Complete an inclusive size-run of the chosen uniform available for personalized sizing.
- Provide a comprehensive facility analysis and needs assessment.
- Establish a confirmed first delivery date with transition checklist review.
- Include a seamless delivery transition with no lapse in service.
- Offer an explanation of invoicing.
- Provide a completed account audit within the first month to ensure the new program is running smoothly.
- Identify additional opportunities in which we could help the client.
Successful onboarding ensures that new hires and new accounts are prepared and excited about the new opportunities in front of them. Replacing a team member or losing an existing account is not only devastating, but it also hits the company culture and budget hard. Investing in onboarding can save your company tens of thousands of dollars, as well as foster engaging new partnerships.