I’m going to begin by assuming that you, the reader, are gainfully employed. I won’t pretend to know what field you work in, what your title might be, or what industry your company operates in. You could be a salaried employee, a manager or team leader, an executive, or even the CEO.
Those factors are irrelevant for the purposes of this article. What is relevant, is the following question:
When you were hired, what was your first day like?
I’d like you to ponder this question carefully. Mentally retrace your steps through that day (or week,) and consider all the expended effort required, all the events and milestones that needed to take place, before you were able to get any actual work done and become an effective member of your organization.
If you are fortunate, you may have experienced buttery-smooth transitions where you didn’t even miss a beat. But some of you out there reading this have undoubtedly been less fortunate, and have not always had a smooth experience when joining a new company.
And some of you, well… some of you have absolute horror stories.
Finding Employment, And the Joys Therein
I’ve experienced some less-than-stellar first days. One notable example…
A little over a decade ago, I interviewed for (and was ‘hired’ as) junior Sysadmin at a large web-based printing company. After a lengthy interview and hiring process I was ecstatic when I finally got a call for IT orientation. I arrived early and ready to work, only to find out that there had been a mistake in HR and I was setup in the system as an assembly line operator. Per Security Policy I was not allowed to have any admin credentials until the mistake was corrected, and so I was completely unable to work. I needed income, and after spending a couple of weeks waiting for them to resolve the mistake, I eventually had to give up and move on with my career.
The point that still baffles me to this day is the fact that HR was apathetic to the point where they made no apparent attempt to correct their mistake. If it weren’t for that simple mistake (or the lack of interest that followed) I could very well be working for that company today.
The View From the Other Side
- Creating job listings, interviewing applicants, and finding someone to hire.
- The process of hiring that person and getting their tax and employment paperwork in order.
- Supplying that person with the physical assets and accounts they need to do their job.
- Training that person to effectively do the job once the other pieces are in place.
These add up to form a process that we, at Intelligys, call Onboarding. The end goal of Onboarding should always be to have all systems and assets in-place, so a new employee can get to work immediately on day one. This requires a well-trained and efficient team of staff to accomplish effectively. You may be tempted to point the finger and place blame on a specific person, or a specific component of your corporate machine. Chances are good, however, that a multitude of people, policies, and other factors at your company are to blame for inefficient Onboarding.
Getting ‘IT’ Right the First Time
Rather than attempt to cover optimizations that could be made in all links of the hiring chain, I’m going to stick to what I know – IT. Specifically, Infrastructure and Client/Server Administration. Working in IT, we primarily deal in the ‘assets’ and ‘training’ components of the hiring process. To optimize our portion of the process, we’re employing a top-down, bottom-up approach that runs concurrently. Allow me to highlight three key requirements of this approach:
1. Having notifications weeks in advance that a new employee is inbound, whenever possible.
This is the foundation of what we do when Onboarding new staff. Having sufficient time to get all other assets in-place is what keeps the tower from collapsing.
2. Having the necessary physical assets in inventory; barring that, getting them shipped out ASAP.
Remember – The goal here is to have everything in-place so new employees can get to work on day one. This is impossible to achieve when their laptop doesn’t arrive until day five. We attempt to get their laptops, desks, security badges, and other such assets prepared as quickly as possible once we get the new-hire notification. This gives us plenty of time to configure and test their gear (laptops, monitors, cables, phones, and so-on) and optimize desk layouts and cable management. We want to impress new staff and we want them to feel like they belong – what better way to achieve that, than to have their desk already setup for them?
3. Having staff with the knowledge and tools to effectively train new employees in the use of assets.
This concept is perhaps even more important than the last one. “Give a man a fish…” and all that. If a new employee’s laptop is lost in shipping, we can always toss them a loaner for a few days as a last resort. But new staff cannot function unless they competently understand the systems, networks, software, and security measures that are in-place at their new organization, and they must be properly trained in their use. We have found that, when new employees are not trained and their accounts secured on day one, these tasks become more likely to slip through the cracks as time rolls onward. If you skipped setting up two-factor authentication with the new staff last week, what about the new staff this week? When does it actually get done?
These are relatively simple concepts, but with proper application the results can be revolutionary. We regularly receive feedback from new employees that we work incredibly fast when compared to their previous IT organizations. Properly employing these concepts has made it possible for us to exceed expectations by allowing new employees to work efficiently by the afternoon of their first day. We have nearly eliminated gaps in new-hire productivity.
Who’s Holding the Bag?
Onboarding is a huge morale opportunity and a chance for your company to be a superstar. Properly-onboarded staff are noticeably happier in their roles and tend to work more effectively. But when non-technical people are expected to execute highly-technical tasks (like preparing IT assets and systems for new staff) you severely decrease your chances for success. Your team can throw something together and it might get you by, sure. But how much money is that costing you in lost productivity? What about lost morale? Without a team dedicated to the task, you’re creating bottlenecks where none need to exist and setting your organization up for failure.
Intelligys specializes in stabilizing unstable IT organizations, and we can help you to not only tackle your smallest issues (like day-to-day desktop support operations) but also your largest projects (like Onboarding, Training, Infrastructure Planning, and Data Center migrations.) And best of all, we learn your business and work within your budget to provide the exact amount of IT you need to accomplish your goals. Contact Intelligys today for a FREE ONSITE ANALYSIS!