Over the course of the last three years I have met with hundreds of companies to talk about onboarding. Consistently, every organization is feeling the need to move the needle here albeit with varying degrees of sophistication. Some are ready to just automate their new hire paperwork and revel in the short-term ROI from that for a while. Others see onboarding as an exceptionally strategic process, key to their success. Unilaterally, everyone is on board with a desire to make this process better, right up until I indicate that true success is based on the hiring manager having a stake in the game. Then the chin drops.

As HR professionals we have spent more than a decade automating and perfecting ways to take busy-work away from the hiring manager. So why are we now indicating that we want them to take an active investment in bringing their new hires on board? Because they told us they want to! Our interviews with managers around the world indicated that they want to move away from babysitting the process (is the PC ready yet?) and focus back on establishing rapport with their new hire.

We have also interviewed hundreds of new hires and the message they bring us is consistent. Relationships matter. They want to feel welcomed, needed, and they want to know that the skills they’ve spent a lifetime perfecting will be utilized and appreciated. They want to make a difference quickly.

As the manager, you spent countless hours bringing this candidate in the door.  You provided the business case for the headcount, you reviewed dozens of resumes, you screened and interviewed until you found the perfect match. This is the person you selected to help move the needle for your team, so why now that you have them would you risk losing them? Why is sending a welcome note an annoyance? Why is two minutes to identify the people in the organization they need to meet too much time to spare? Why is spending five minutes on these simple tasks too much to ask? New hires leave when they don’t feel valued, welcomed, or part of the team. As the manager, you are largely responsible for those first impressions.

I recently had the opportunity to spend time with a large European pharmaceutical company talking about this very topic. They are anxious to bring their managers back into the process and are actively seeking great ways to incent their involvement. We talked about gamification’s role in this along with many other ideas for where technology can play a part in bringing people together. Other companies are holding lunch-and-learn sessions to train their managers on the importance of early engagement with the new hire. They realize relationships matter.

One by one, companies are seeing the value in bringing the personal touch back. They want their managers to be accountable for being good managers. They’re willing to invest in relationships. These will be the successful organizations of the future because they foster loyalty and engagement.

What are you doing in your organization to make onboarding more personal? Do you encourage hiring manager engagement, or allow delegation to other team members?  How will you hold your managers accountable for reducing attrition and improving new hire satisfaction? We’d love to hear from you!

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