Staying Relevant: Taking Charge of Onboarding

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

Businesses are still growing, bringing on new team members constantly. Executive Assistants are an integral piece of welcoming and onboarding new staff.

Who knows the inner workings of a business better than an EA who has firsthand knowledge of what happens behind the closed doors of management and amongst the Assistants of different levels? Nobody. This is why Executive Assistants need to understand why a smooth plan for onboarding new hires is important to the company and how he or she can make sure the plan functions efficiently. OrangeHRM, a popular open-source human resource management software company, describes this process perfectly in a blog entry entitled Efficiently Managing Onboarding of quick Hires that states “In a nutshell, onboarding is the process of bringing new employees into the company in a seamless manner so they may become productive in less time.”

Reasons To Plan Efficient Onboarding

The main benefit of articulating a company onboarding plan is the return on your hiring investment once the new employee contributes consistently to the company’s progress. As a representative of the company, you will find that your commitment to the professional growth of a new employee creates said employee to have a stronger belief and commitment to the company down the line. Of course, efficient planning to the hiring process will always result in more immediate benefits like seamless systems for filling out important forms that will avoid any information being lost.

This leads me to warn EAs of what could happen without a structured technique for assimilating new employees into the Assistant environment. First, mistakes involving lost or incomplete forms can be made without a functional system for gathering and organizing necessary paperwork when a new employee begins. If this occurs, the company as a whole suffers because government mandates are not met, leading to new employee confusion regarding company practices that can often turn into a lawsuit.

Without a well thought out onboarding system, there is also more of a risk of office hazing. That’s right. Hazing is not solely an act played out in college fraternities. It can often occur in the workplace. A prepared onboarding plan will lead to a competent new hire, making it easier for workers to develop respect for and strengthen relationships with the new employee before the hazing process has a chance to surface.

Elements of an Onboarding Plan

It is incredibly important to remember the difference between onboarding and orientation. Managing the Employee Onboarding and Assimilation Process, an article on the website for the SHRM, or the Society for Human Resource Management, states “While orientation may be necessary for completing paperwork and other routine tasks, onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.” A smooth onboarding process starts with a supervised allocation of tasks to the correct office employees. The orientation that involves paperwork and facility tours should only take place during the first week, which is the HR department’s job. Make sure the HR employee has a clear system for keeping up with paperwork. Strong communication with his or her employer to learn what is expected of them.

A new hire will not work effectively if he or she is not comfortable in the Assistant environment. By forming a buddy system and engaging employees to share his or her training advice, a new employee will learn work processes, how to get things done, and acceptable work behaviors and etiquette. Facilitating strong communication between management and a new hire will result in him or her becoming engaged, loyal, and committed to the company by learning the mission, vision, and values of that company from executives who truly feel its conviction. Being in Executive Assistant will make it easier for you to set this particular connection up during the onboarding process. As for allocating training to supervisors, emphasize the importance that the new employee clearly understands the expectations and performance standards of management. 

For a more detailed and in-depth strategy to incorporate into the onboarding process, please refer to the article from SHRM identified above, Managing the Employee Onboarding and Assimilation Process.

Onboarding In a Pandemic

An effective onboarding plan may also be easily executed remotely by utilizing today’s technological advances. Things like online tours, the information provided electronically for anything from policies and procedures to the company’s mission statement, and humble beginnings are also available to most new hires these days. Electronic onboarding may also prove to be advantageous by being more streamlined when it comes to keeping up with the required documentation and allowing the new employee access to his or her paperwork. Finally, the social element of onboarding can easily take place through many teamwork and communication platforms discussed in earlier blogs.

By taking more of a managerial role and sharing your well thought out onboarding system step by step with fellow Assistants, you will single-handedly ensure each process of hiring a new employee becomes smoother and smoother over time. There is a great chance you will see factors like engaged employees, the company’s profitability, turnover rate, safety record, absenteeism, product quality, and customer ratings develop in a positive direction when an effective onboarding plan is put into place, even during times of COVID.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer