Without a doubt, a good first impression makes a whole lot of difference when it comes to welcoming a team member. As an employer, you must treat your company’s onboarding process as one of the primary employee retention strategies. Because the smoother the transition that you are able to provide to your new hires, the more efficient they will be once they start working.

Previously, we have gone through an onboarding checklist to help improve your company’s new hire turnover rate. Besides having a well-planned orientation and training session, it is also essential to tailor the process based on your company’s working culture.

In order to make the most of your onboarding program, you should pay special attention to other aspects such as managing the newbies’ expectations by understanding their struggles when settling into a new office. If you are able to create harmony among the newcomers and the current team from day one, you will be more likely to retain the best talents in the long run.

In a recent interview with Ms. Jamie Tan, Head of People and Culture, AirAsia BIG Loyalty, the Jobstore team gained better insights into one of Malaysia’s top employers, especially about their challenges and best practices for employee engagement and retention.

Here are our key findings about AirAsia BIG Loyalty’s onboarding process that helps shorten the time it takes for the new recruits to get up to speed.

Prepare the basic onboarding requirements prior to the commencement day

We highly recommend you to keep the new hires in the loop of the entire recruiting timeline. Not only will you need to inform them about the onboarding outline, you need to also share with your future employees about certain company’s updates (if there’s any), at least a week before their first day of work.

According to Ms. Tan, all of the new hires in AirAsia BIG Loyalty will be invited to join the team’s WhatsApp group chat, where everyone can get to know each other digitally. Besides WhatsApp, the company also integrates Slack as a professional communication platform among the team members.

All newcomers will be notified about the onboarding schedule, personal documents that they need to prepare for bookkeeping, and other Q&As regarding the workplace practices. It’s worth noting that this information should be shared before the commencement day to ensure the team’s productivity.

On top of communication, it’s a must to get everyone’s workstation ready. You wouldn’t want your new team members to go around the office looking for an empty desk to settle in, or worse, no one else but you are aware their presence.

AirAsiaBig-employee-onboarding

AirAsia Big Loyalty’s employee starter kit.

Emphasise on the working culture in your company

To welcome a new member into an established team takes more than just conventional paperwork. One of the most important factors of an onboarding program is to create a big picture of what your new hires can expect as they embark on the new career path in your company, both professionally and culturally.

Since the basic administrative procedures have already been covered previously, they can immediately kick-start the on-the-job training session. In AirAsia BIG Loyalty, the goal of onboarding is to help the new staff gain exposure to their new responsibilities and also to get acquainted to how things work around the office.

Depending on the number of the people onboarded, the head of a respective department will conduct the training individually or in-group. While this step is more or less similar in other organisations, Ms. Tan shared that there is no pulling of rank or top-down communication only approach in AirAsia BIG Loyalty when it comes to acclimatising new hires to the company.

The goal is to ensure that the newcomers feel welcome when adapting to a new environment. And it also helps immerse them in the company’s open culture where anyone is able to ask questions.

On a side note, the way you conduct the orientation and training also reflects on your working culture. So make sure that you use the right tone of voice to deliver your messages. For example, if you want to establish a more flexible team culture, it would be confusing if you strictly address the company’s attention and punctuality policy.

Just remember that most people adapt to a new environment mostly from observation, so you need to clearly define your company culture before setting the office dos and don’ts. More importantly, do ensure that every person in your organisation is a part of that culture, rather than forcing them to embrace it.

It’s not all about the company, it’s also about your employees

Here’s the next big question: How do employers measure their new staff’s experience with the company on their first day?

There can’t be good employer-employee relations without mutual understanding, which is also the number one quality in any effective retention plan. Due to the diversity of the new hires’ past experiences, it is expected that different people will have different perceptions of the new office’s environment. Therefore, Ms. Tan addressed managing the new hires’ expectations as the main challenge for AirAsia BIG Loyalty. With the current staff headcount at approximately 100 employees, balancing the cultural expectations among the team remains her top priority.

A successful onboarding process is one that can minimise your staff’s common fear of the unknowns in their new jobs. Hence, you should put more effort into making their first day at work as enjoyable and memorable as possible. The payoff is to ultimately increase employee engagement and significantly improve their loyalty.

We would like to express our sincere thanks and appreciation to Ms. Jamie Tan and the AirAsia BIG Loyalty team for their valuable insights into the company’s culture and onboarding process.

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