Not only is employee turnover expensive, but it can be damaging to both a firm’s culture and its reputation as an employer. Providing new starters with a positive experience of your firm from day one is one way in which you can reduce your turnover and boost your retention rates, ultimately saving you time and money. In fact, studies have shown that businesses that invest in improving their onboarding process retain 50% more new hires than their competitors.
What is onboarding and why is it important?
Onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into your firm. As an employer, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to engage new starters early on by showcasing your culture, demonstrating what it’s like to work at your firm and quickly making them feel at home.
Firms that get their employees up to speed and embedded within their team early usually have lawyers who are not only happier and more productive, but crucially, more likely to stick around.
The key stages of an effective onboarding process
During the recruitment process
You might think that the recruitment process is distinct from the onboarding process, but it’s at this stage of a lawyer’s journey with you that they will form their first impressions of the firm and their potential employer. It’s therefore essential that you put thought into your recruitment process.
Being clear from the beginning about what the hiring process will entail, following up with the candidate (via your recruiter) early and often and giving candidates your full attention at interviews will provide the individual with a positive early experience of you as an employer.
During the offer stage
Make the offer in writing
While your recruiter will likely handle negotiations at the offer stage, once you have decided that you’ve found the right candidate, following up with a friendly offer letter is a good idea. Make sure to include all the relevant salary and benefits details as well as your contact details so your new hire can get in touch if they have any questions ahead of their joining.
Set a start date and share it with the new starter’s team
If you can, be flexible with their start date. Your new hire might have a long notice period or other prior commitments before they join you. Once you’ve agreed on a date, share this with their future team so they can prepare to welcome their new colleague.
Before they start
Introduce them to their team
Invite your new employee for lunch with the team ahead of their start date, send them a welcome card or simply put them in touch with the team members they’ll be working with most closely. No matter how you decide to do so, connecting your new starter with your other employees ahead of their first day will help them to feel welcome and become more quickly become integrated within your team.
You might also want to assign your new starter a mentor, so they have someone they can turn to for advice or support.
Make sure they’ll have everything they need
A couple of weeks before your new hire’s start date, make sure everything is in place for when they join you so they can hit the ground running. Prepare any paperwork they’ll need to complete, set up their online accounts (including their company email, Microsoft Teams and access to the case management system) and make sure they’ll have everything they need from a tech point of view.
Arrange parking access for them if needed, fob access so they can get into the office and, if they’ll be working remotely for at least part of the week, you might also need to check that they have a suitable workstation at home.
Put a plan in place for their induction
A clear schedule for a new starter’s first few weeks in which they can meet other employees and become accustomed to your ways of working and key systems is essential.
Diarise introductory meetings and any training sessions in advance so that when they start, they know what to expect over their first few days.
On their first day
Day one should be an introduction to day-to-day life at your firm. Take your new starter on a guided tour of the office and introduce them properly to other team members. Run through any policies, procedures and paperwork so they know what to expect from your company culture and working environment.
Encourage positive peer relationships
Taking your new employee out for lunch or arranging a lunch with some of their closest colleagues is a nice way of getting to know them in a more relaxed setting and fostering connections between them and their team.
During their first week
Make sure they have a good understanding of their role and responsibilities.
Consider involving other team members in the induction process, especially if the new hire means there is now some crossover in responsibilities. Clarify the position of the new starter and give examples of how they might interact with other members of the team.
Outline what they’ll be working on and set performance objectives
Explain to your new starter what their caseload will look like over the next three, six and twelve months and how you expect them to perform and how their role might develop.
Provide quick feedback
Give prompt feedback on their initial work tasks. Not only will this help you to quickly nip any niggles in the bud, but it’ll help to set early expectations of how you will manage them.
Introduce them to other departments
Schedule introductory meetings with other departments, not just those your new hire will work with most closely, so they can get a full understanding of the business and how different teams collaborate or complement each other.
During their first three months
Have regular one-to-one meetings with your new hire to see how they’re getting on and if they’re comfortable and happy in their role. Offer your feedback on how they’re progressing from your point of view, but also make sure to ask them if there’s anything else you could be doing as their manager.
Asking for feedback on the onboarding process is essential so you can address any issues and improve the process for future new hires.
Want to improve your onboarding process even further?
It’s clear that an effective onboarding process is key to welcoming and retaining new employees. If you’re looking for tailored advice on how to make your onboarding process more effective, our specialist team are here to help.