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The Neuroscience of Employee Onboarding

Here at The Happiness Index we have created our own unique neuroscientific methodology - We link everything we talk about back to the key neuroscience themes which power our platform. Here we're looking specifically at employee onboarding and the neuroscience behind the process.


If you're new to our content you may wish to read more about our neuroscience methodology.

Neuroscience behind onboarding - blue brain

Building the perfect employee onboarding experience means addressing all 8 key drivers of employee happiness and engagement. Here are the reasons why, plus some tips on how you can make them work for you!


1. Safety


Why? Safety is really important in the first few weeks in a new organisation. Starting in a new environment can be really challenging but building trust and balance can best be achieved from the get-go. 


How? Your onboarding process must look at creating a work environment that works for the particular individual you’re bringing onto your team. Speak directly to each person, and make sure adaptations are made for them and their specific needs.


2. Relationships


Why? You never get a second chance to make a first impression as they say. Building positive relationships from day one will help support positive team dynamics and energetic connections.


How? Including social activities in the initial onboarding period is particularly key to ensuring that personal relationships are strong. We also recommend making time for new team members to spend time with senior leadership where possible, ideally in group settings.


3. Freedom


Why? Everyone is different. It’s really important that people feel that they’re accepted and even celebrated for their uniqueness from the start. Allowing people to be themselves and facilitating autonomy help them to succeed. 


How? Where possible introduce team members to any relevant colleague support groups. This will show your dedication to making your organisation accepting of everyone. 


4. Acknowledgement


Why? The sooner you can start giving recognition to your team and building their feedback and ideas into your strategy the better. You don’t want to miss out on valuable input or ideas. 


How? Starting your listening programme from day one is key. You may opt for an always-on approach or specific onboarding surveys, our recommendation is a combination of the two. 


5. Meaning & Purpose


Why? Aligning your vision and values with your new team members will help to inspire them and build commitment. Being on the same page from the start means that you’re more likely to succeed together. 


How? Dedicating time and energy into understanding your new team member’s values as well as expressing your views adequately will be important to ensure that everyone starts from the same place. 


6. Clarity


Why? It’s always best to be clear on role requirements and responsibilities from the beginning as this will help your team to succeed. Of course, information flow from your leadership to new teams is also key during this period.


How? This should be process-driven. Ensure roles and responsibilities are clearly defined and laid out to team members. Having time scheduled in with key managers and leadership figures will help with information flow.


7. Personal Growth


Why? Many people join new organisations for a new challenge, development and progression. Making it clear what this looks like within your team will help you to build a vision within new teammates of what their life within the organisation will look like. 


How? Creating personal development plans and realistic goals should be part of your onboarding process. This means that you’ll be able to ensure that you walk the walk as well as talk the talk. 


8. Enablement


Why? By ensuring that you get workload, resources and collaboration in the right place you’ll be able to set your new talent and wider team up for success. This is key to onboarding success. 


How? You must understand the particular needs of the individuals involved. This will mean having conversations about what work is reasonably expected and supporting them to achieve this. Signposting resources and collaboration opportunities will also be important. 



This is the third chapter in our latest eBook, 'Employee Onboarding: Making The Most of it'. Click the link to download your copy today!

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Elle Whitehead-Smith

"Elle is happiest when given plenty of puddings, popular novels and, particularly, perfect grammar."

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