Discover the importance and benefits of successful onboarding in our guest blog provided by our partner, UST

(A version of this article appeared on the UST website in October 2023)

A well-designed onboarding plan is more than a perfunctory welcome packet with endless bureaucratic documents and a brief meet and greet from days gone by. It provides your nonprofit hiring team and the respective department manager an opportunity to fully integrate new hires into your organization.

Why Does Employee Onboarding for Nonprofits Matter?

An onboarding plan for new hires gives you a window — designated by your leadership and HR teams — to provide an in-depth cultural and productivity-based primer. It serves as a prolonged orientation that focuses on ensuring new employees have all the tools they need to successfully complete daily tasks.

It’s equally important that new team members feel welcome and included by their peers and managers. Onboarding plans can help with this since they are generally designed with equity, diversity, and fairness in mind.

This focus aids in fostering a much-needed and desirable team-oriented environment. It helps individuals learn, acclimate, engage, improve, and thrive. A robust onboarding strategy helps ensure that everyone works together to fulfill your organization’s mission according to its values.

The Definition of an Employee Onboarding Process for Nonprofit Organizations

With helpful resources from trusted sources and partners, along with the following tips, you can create a highly effective onboarding program and get the results you want for your nonprofit organization and your valued employees.

Duration — Think Long Term

Onboarding is best when viewed as a long-range strategy. It isn’t a one-off event that takes one day. Instead, think of it as a continuous process that focuses on the employee’s long-term integration within the organization.

Think of timelines such as our 30-60-90-day plan that sets nonprofit employees up for short-term and long-term success that leads to powerful employee retention.

Mapping out a plan for a new hire’s first three months is crucial. It provides structure, sets expectations, and ensures that both the organization and employee are aligned in their objectives and expectations.

  1. Create a Nonprofit Employee Onboarding Checklist

Planning and organizing a long-range onboarding process will help ensure you don’t miss anything you want to include. This is true for any business, but for nonprofits, where mission and purpose are at the forefront, it’s vital to create an experience that aligns new employees with the organization’s unique vision and goals from day one.

Below are some things to consider when thinking about an onboarding plan that can help to ensure your nonprofit’s onboarding process is comprehensive and effective:

· Job essentials like desk supplies and necessary technology

· Training manuals and sessions

· Welcome package and a daily agenda ready for their first day

· Co-worker introductions

· Job description review

· Administrative paperwork

Adaptability and future growth should be at the core, ensuring that the process remains relevant and effective as organizational needs evolve.

2. Rely on Technology to Streamline the Process

Besides sending out emails and productivity app messages before employees arrive on the first day, you can lean on even more technological tools. For example, you can record complex training modules for processes you and your team know are challenging. This allows new hires to watch on-demand as many times as needed to understand a particular process or function.

3. Create an Employee Handbook

A thoughtful and comprehensive handbook communicates rules and policies. It also instills a sense of the organization’s culture, mission, and values. Best of all, it serves as an easily accessible, consistent, and constant companion which is essential for helping new hires navigate their initial days with greater confidence.

4. Implement a Work Buddy Program

Assigning a new hire to an existing employee to act as their work buddy helps to quickly instill and foster a sense of belonging. It’s no secret that starting a new job can be overwhelming in terms of the work itself and relationship-building. This provides employees a go-to person for information, someone to answer their questions while they acclimate to the team and align them with your mission, and their place in your organization.

5. Make Personal Introductions for Quick Connections and Long-Term Collaboration

Help new hires get to know as many of their colleagues as possible in the onboarding process. When you take the intentional time and energy to introduce new hires to team members and leadership, it helps to establish immediate connections, encouraging an open and collaborative work environment.

6. Set Clear Goals

Clear goals provide direction and purpose for your new hires to aspire to. Ensure that goals are aligned with the organizational objectives and tailored to the employee’s role, promoting a sense of accomplishment and belonging.

7. Establish a Mutual Feedback Loop

Regular constructive feedback reinforces positive behavior and identifies areas for improvement. It’s also a good time to discuss what the employee is doing right and how much you appreciate their efforts. However, feedback should be a two-way conversation, ensuring new hires feel heard and valued. Let them know that their constructive feedback is welcome and helpful to your managers and the organization.

A well-structured onboarding strategy is an excellent way for your organization to welcome new employees into your workforce. It helps make them feel welcomed, valued, and prepared to excel in their new roles. This structured approach not only helps new employees learn and acclimate quickly but also fosters engagement, continuous improvement, and overall success. Execution of a proper onboarding plan ensures everyone is in sync and collaboratively striving to achieve the organization’s objectives and maintain its mission-driven goals.

Ready to take the next step in optimizing your onboarding process? Join UST’s eNews community for more valuable insights and practical tips tailored to nonprofit organizations.

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