Make Sure Your Systems Don’t Paralyze New Hires

July 15, 2015 Steve Coco

You know many good reasons why a talented job candidate would want to work for your organization. These days those reasons are often less about earnings and more about culture, opportunity and engagement in the goals of the enterprise.

But do your behind-the-scenes onboarding processes support that engagement? Or is the whole experience of the new employee frustrating, discouraging and anxiety-inducing? Many things can go wrong, whether through system glitches, lack of orientation, the usual confusion of starting a new job or, worst of all, not enough in-person guidance. Let’s take a look at these shortcomings and how they can be fixed.

Systems That Don’t Speak to Each Other

In one case we know, a new employee was transferring from the parent company to a subsidiary. Because the subsidiary’s system wasn’t compatible with the main one, Head Office ended up corrupting the remote user ID and locking the employee out of the system for nearly two days – and losing all of her previous corporate email.

A new employee is excited and ready to get to work. But he or she needs to be set up on various systems – payroll, the corporate intranet, the benefit programs, and so on. These systems usually go toward making the first actual “working day” impression on new hires – and when they work together smoothly, that first impression is a positive one.

Broken Functions

An employee trying to enter time in the time log system spent over a week unable to figure out how to do it. It wasn’t that the system’s interface wasn’t intuitive – it’s that the system was malfunctioning (for the whole organization) but with no alert or message posted to that effect.

A new employee, once given a set of instructions for accessing a part of the internal system, will often spend a lot of time in trying to work it properly. If an error comes up, provided the system is intuitive or has clear explanations, the employee (who wants to make a good impression, after all) will try – and try and try – again until he or she “gets it”. By providing help, guidance or an alert, you can be sure your new hire will have his or her confidence restored.

Obsolete Resources

When a new researcher was given an assignment that involved searching internal online resources, it was frustrating (and slightly embarrassing) to realize that the information he included in his draft report was out of date! He and his manager soon found out that the source material on the corporate intranet was obsolete and hadn’t been updated in more than a year.

Doing a good job – and being seen to be smart and resourceful – is uppermost in any new employee’s mind. Make sure your systems support success.

Out-of-Date Contacts

Imagine yourself on day one, needing a piece of equipment, and finding the contact information for the hardware support person online, only to realize on the phone that she’d been promoted and re-assigned to an entirely new division? The new employee is bound to feel confused.

Your intranet is where employees go to find out how to order supplies and equipment and to find contacts for other kinds of support. Make sure it’s an accurate one-stop-contact-shop for any employee – especially a new hire.

The Right Lens 

Engagement begins on day one, and a poor onboarding process can change a new employee’s attitude from eagerness to self-doubt and frustration – a very bad start.

Without human interaction, looking at things together and walking the new person through a process, the degree of difficulty rises. In evaluating processes and systems, look at things through the lens of the new employee, not through the eyes of someone who knows how everything works. All things associated with the process, its content and infrastructure – and especially the people who provide a personal touch, need to support and empower your new hires to succeed.

If not, the result can be paralyzing.

 

About the Author

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