Streamlining the Employee Onboarding Process

There's an insatiable demand for top talent in the heavy civil, heavy highway, and commercial construction world. This means that finding the right candidates in a market where there's a talent crunch is no easy task. 


After devoting your energies to talent acquisition, the last thing you want to see is your efforts flushed down the drain. This can be due to a lack of a poor or nonexistent onboarding process.


New hires may choose to leave for greener pastures if they feel they don't belong to the current setup. Other times, candidates may accept offers you present to them, proceed to give notice to their current employer, okay the start date, only to back out, or accept a counteroffer at the last minute. 


This can be particularly frustrating since you want your new hires settled and ready to take up new responsibilities in your organization. 


As leading executive recruiters in the heavy civil, heavy highway and commercial construction industry, we're particularly well-versed about this phenomenon. While it's not possible to restrict your new hires from leaving, there's plenty you can do to make the onboarding process and workplace habitable for them to thrive. 

What is Employee Onboarding?


This refers to the process of introducing your new hire to the company's expectations, knowledge, expertise, and culture.


As research by HBR shows, about 33% of new hires start looking for new opportunities within six months after getting employed. Worryingly, their numbers show that about 23% leave before marking the first anniversary. 


Since it's costlier to hire new employees than retain existing ones, investing time and resources in new employees is a no-brainer. 


Onboarding is divided into two types:

  • Informal onboarding – here, new hires are left to fend for themselves. They get to learn the job ropes without any meaningful help from the HR department and their supervisors.
  • Formal onboarding – a step-by-step program for new employees is developed to educate them on their responsibilities, the company culture, and policies & procedures.


In many instances, informal onboarding never works. You are likely going to experience high turnover rates without a system that spells out a method of approach.


With formal onboarding, you have a sure thing. It's been tried, tested, and proven to be the most effective way to retain top talent. 



Employee Onboarding Best Practices

Make it a Rewarding Experience.


Social connections with colleagues can help new employees enjoy the work environment better. As an employer, you can facilitate communication between employees to boost productivity. 


Instead of thrusting new employees into the deep end full of unfamiliar faces, we recommend a system where you get the new-hires work buddies. Having one employee guide a new employee on how to navigate about the workplace can help them acclimatize to the organization faster.


Having a mentor guide new hires can also help them establish new relationships with their supervisors and a host of people who may be under their wing and in other departments.


Given that most organizations are branched into various departments like finance, security, and safety, it's wise to embrace a system that favors the onboarding of construction employees into these as well.


Some occupations like operations managers need to be conversant and on more than a first-name basis with various departmental heads. Without proper systems to facilitate this, there's a good chance they will stutter instead of hitting the ground running. 

Welcoming Party


Naturally, firms tend to think the world of themselves. While this is a great template to attract new hires, you want to do something that shows you appreciate their talents. 


As part of showing your appreciation, you can initiate new hires into the team by organizing a low-pressure, informal gathering to socialize with new employees. This can act as a great motivator for them to learn about their responsibilities since they're a good chance they'll be excited about the job and their fellow employees. 


For consistency, you can elect to make this become a tradition repeated regularly. You can choose to save some of the decorations and supplies to lower the costs associated with future gatherings. 


Optionally, you can embrace minimalism and simply present them with a welcome card. It doesn't have to be a massive thing, a tiny banner to let new hires know they're welcome to the firm can do the world of good to their motivation levels. 

Setup Logins and Access


To successfully onboard civil and commercial construction employees, the entire firm needs to in sync. The human resource department can collaborate with the IT department to ensure that employees enjoy access to company resources as soon as they foot in the door. 


If there's a lag time between the time the employee accepts the offer and when they show up to work, you can have all their resources set up in advance. 


Doing this helps new hires get a good impression of the company. Employee morale is going to be high with the right tools like a computer, email, business cards, and a mobile/cell phone at their disposal. Availing such amenities lets them know that they are valued members of a community. 

Drug Screening as part of the Onboarding Process


Contrary to popular belief, pre-employment drug testing is not grounded on suspicion of the candidates. At the interviewing stage, employers don't know enough about prospective new hires to devise measures to stop them from being a member of the team.


To ensure that everyone is on board, these conditions must be met:

  • Notice – it's vital to inform candidates in advance that you want to undertake a drug test as a pre-condition for employment.
  • Consent – Have candidates put in writing the fact that they are okay with the testing procedures.
  • Protected Results – To encourage participation, you can let candidates know that the results are confidential and aren't going to be widely distributed.
  • Reasonable Process – the process needs to be reasonable and have minimal intrusiveness.


Importantly, you want the drug test undertaken before job applicants are hired. This does away with any confusion that may exist as to whether applicants need to be afforded the same privacy protections existing employees enjoy. 



With new employees already introduced to the company culture and undertaking several responsibilities, you would assume that the job is done. 


However, you need to periodically monitor the progress of new hires to ensure that they are right on track. This should be non-negotiable even when the employees feel that they don't need to have an evaluation conducted. 


Other than checking on their progress, it's a fantastic opportunity to learn plenty about the onboarding strategies embraced. 


You can ask them what they found great about the onboarding process and which activities didn't interest them. As you record this data, you can make tweaks here and there as you see fit. 

Streamline Your Onboarding Process and Get Ready to See Positive Results


Successfully onboarding civil and commercial construction employees need plenty of dedication and time commitment. 


Researching what your employees want can give you a useful framework of how to develop your onboarding best practices. 


Since the first couple of weeks are typically the most influential in how new hires perceive the company, you must prepare the foundation early. 


As heavy civil, heavy highway, and commercial construction executive recruiters, we trust that the pointers shared will help inspire you to make necessary changes to boost morale and productivity for your new employees.


If you'd like us to have a more hands-on approach, don't hesitate to reach out. We can help you formulate a system geared towards onboarding civil and commercial construction employees for maximum effectiveness. 

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