Whether the oil and gas industry is booming or declining, organizations consistently shortchange the onboarding process. Many companies have abbreviated onboarding to a half day of skimming the employee handbook and receiving appropriate badge access.

This approach cheapens the new employee’s understanding of the company vision, compliance culture, and performance expectations. It is critical for new hires to have immediate and meaningful exposure to the key components of a company’s culture, particularly regarding policies and controls.

With the right amount of planning and with limited but focused efforts, onboarding more than pays for itself in confident, loyal employees who understand the company’s culture and policies.

Why Do It?

Compliance. In highly regulated areas like SOX for financial reporting, compliance is nonnegotiable. Public companies must ensure all new employees are aware of industry and company controls and are committed to abiding by defined policies. The financial investment in onboarding is preferable to receiving a significant deficiency or material weakness.

Accelerated learning. Documented desk procedures will allow a new employee to move quickly up the learning curve. Well-written desk procedures boost a new employee’s productivity and will save experienced employees from spending significant time handholding.

Future investment. Employees who have a clear understanding of job expectations can focus on delivering results rather than trying to learn job activities. An intentional and well-planned onboarding process can easily be repeated across functions with minor changes.

Key Components

1. Desk procedures. A successful onboarding program includes detailed, current desk procedures. The procedural should include step-by-step explanations of the process the employee participates in. Process flows, roles and responsibilities, delegations of authority, controls, and policies will all be included or referenced in well-written desk procedures.

2. System training. A new employee must understand how to perform their job tasks within the appropriate systems. How is an invoice entered? Where are particular contracts located? How are the required reports for month-end close run? What constitutes a hard error versus a soft warning, and what should an employee do in either case?

These questions should be clearly answered in system training documentation. Furthermore, a new hire’s supervisor, armed with clear training and defined training documentation, should be well-prepared to train staff in the systems.

3. Team introductions. New hires need a casual but purposeful introduction to the immediate team. This seems obvious, but many companies fail to encourage team leaders to build departmental camaraderie. Contrary to an isolated employee, an engaged team member makes a loyal employee.

4. Cross-functional understanding. A successful onboarding program includes cross-functional exposure. New employees must understand their roles within the immediate function and within the organization. Opportunities for cross-functional understanding come from lunch-and-learns, town hall meetings, and other cross-department sessions. A new hire should be made aware of these opportunities and encouraged to attend.

Onboarding is not an optional G&A expense, a mysterious formula, or a waste of resources. With intentional planning and focused effort, onboarding is a simple, clean, repeatable process which wins the company enhanced controls compliance, increased return on employee investment, and loyal staff.

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