This post was provided by Claudia Allen, writer and editor at the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). NACE connects campus recruiting and career services professionals, and provides best practices, trends, research, professional development, and conferences.

Studies have shown that the majority of new hires make the decision on whether to stay with an organization within the first six months on the job. A good onboarding program can make that decision a “yes!”

Ensuring that employees have all the proper employment forms completed is important—but paperwork isn’t the point of onboarding. Onboarding is about getting new hires engaged. It ensures new employees connect with colleagues and learn more about your business goals.

Here are some tips for building engagement based on, “All Aboard! Take Your Onboarding Program From Lackluster to Blockbuster” from the April 2012 NACE Journal:

  • Begin engagement early—Bringing someone onboard should begin as soon as the new hire signs an offer letter. A new employee’s manager might call to say how excited he or she is to have the new hire at the company. Send required HR documents in advance so the new hire’s first day isn’t consumed with paperwork.
  • Ask managers to work with new hires to create individual career/growth plans—Engagement comes from employees feeling like they have a stake in the success of the company.
  • Talk to employees your plans—“Satisfied” employees get a paycheck, but “engaged” employees contribute to your mission. Give employees a mission that is connected to serving clients/solving problems.
  • Offer cultural assimilation—Provide information about your organization’s core values and social norms. Cover the basics—such as what time to arrive each day and proper attire—but also cover larger topics such as what respect looks like in your office.
  • Provide social assimilation—Social relationships are essential to creating deep connections between your organization and its new graduate hires. Scheduling regular networking events is a good way to encourage these relationships.
  • Do a new employee survey—Use a survey to establish a good baseline assessment to use at the conclusion of formal onboarding efforts. If you survey consistently, you’ll have comparative data you can use to continually tweak your program so it evolves and improves over time.
  • Train in technical skills—Your new hires need to learn or enhance the skills that are specific to their position, and best practices show that an immersive and “hands-on” approach works best. Give new hires an assignment that will build their skills at an appropriate pace and incorporate them as part of a team.

To learn more about effective onboarding, see NACEWeb.

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