ONBOARDING and OFFBOARDING in the WORLD of HOSPITALITY

HOW TO ENSURE YOUR NEW HIRES ARE GETTING THE BEST POSSIBLE FIRST (AND LAST) IMPRESSION OF YOUR COMPANY

When we think about making a first impression, the important thing to keep in mind is that we have one and only one chance to make the right one.

When we face a job interview - for example - we put all of our efforts into ensuring that right first impression mission is accomplished, but as a company we must ensure we are doing the same on the other side.

As I always say, and as I mentioned in my article "How do you conduct an efficient interview?", in front of a candidate we should remember we might or might not choose them, but they also might or might not choose us. If we want them to choose us, we have to give them a reason for it.

This mindset doesn't stop at the interview, it continues through the hiring phase and through the process we call "onboarding". It is crucial to take the right steps when a new employee comes in, to ensure that they feel confident they chose the right employer, in other words to ensure we are using all of our resources to make the right first impression.


So how do you do that, how do you position yourself from the very beginning as the employer of choice?

You start by having a great onboarding plan in place.


More and more companies are investing on improving this process, and it's fantastic to see how this aspect of HR operations has become a great focus for certain environments.

Based on personal knowledge and previous experience I have created a step by step onboarding/offboarding checklist available for colleagues to use and reference to. Get on board!

When the job is offered and accepted, make a big deal! Call your new hire to congratulate them and to officially welcome them to the team. Get them excited to start! Send an email out to the team and introduce them, ensure everyone knows who is coming and why they will be of great value, prepare them to welcome the latest member of their family.


If between the moment of the offer and the first day of work, there is an extended period of time (for example for pre-openings or for seasonal positions), it is crucial to keep them interested and to keep them excited. Call them regularly, keep in contact and send them updated. Ensure you stay on top of mind and that they don't forget what they signed up for. If they don't hear from you, they might loose interest and look elsewhere.


If they are moving to come and join you, show them you are happy to help! Give them directions on what to expect in their future new hometown, help them with instructions on where to find a home, where to buy a car, where to meet people, where to get what they will need. Make them feel comfortable that you are there for them if they need assistance, because relocating and starting over can be scary and overwhelming, and it's nice to know someone is there to help.


Before their arrival, make sure they know what to expect. There should be no surprises on their first day, they should know exactly what it's going to look like, what they will be doing, and what they will need. Let them know where to go and who will be welcoming them. Tell hem what they need to bring, so they have everything necessary to start working with no hiccups. Tell them what they should wear, so they don't feel confused about dress code. Let them know if there will be lunch available or not - so they know to bring something from home.

If multiple people are handling the process, everybody should be informed and on the same page, so that the communication with the employee is clear and there is no room for misinformation or confusion. Remember: you have one chance to make the right first impression, you don't want to look disorganized or disconnected.


Be prepared for their arrival: have a neat, clean and well organized work space available and set-up for them, with computer, stationary, and anything else applicable for their position. Prepare their staff keys, parking, uniform, nametag. Have their first week schedule ready, and most importantly have a plan for what they will be doing that day and that week.


Having a schedule made and available for them is an essential part: you and they should know exactly what they will go through day by day on their first few days. There should be no dull moments that make them feel like they are not making good use of their time.

The schedule should show a detailed plan for their introduction and training. Ensure you go through it with them and explain it: what shift will they work, what kind of work will they be performing, who will be training them, what do they need to know about that shift?

Add their name to the full schedule posted on the wall: seeing their name next to the others will automatically make them feel part of the team.


When it comes to the training plan, this should be quite diverse: include days with different team members to help them get acquainted with everybody, but also include different levels: have them spend the day with those who will be their fellow co-workers, and with the people they will supervise and who will supervise them. It's a good way to break the ice and to get more comfortable with everyone at all levels. Training should combine moments within your department and moments with the other departments: cross training will help ensuring the employee is visible to the entire hotel and is getting exposure to all aspects of what their day to day will be.

One of the best ways of approaching onboarding trainings I have seen is to group all new hires together. It can be hard to combine people from different departments as they will start at different times, but if HR is able to coordinate it properly, this guarantees an efficient plan of attack. It's convenient for the employer as onboarding multiple people together saves time. It is also easier on the employees: those first few days at a new workplace can be awkward and uncomfortable, but sharing them with other people in your same position can make it easier and more enjoyable.


A proper training is the pillar of a successful onboarding process, so important that I will be releasing a completely separate article solely on this topic, with suggestions on how to prepare a good plan for housekeeping and front office new hires.

No matter how busy we are, we should never throw an employee into the jungle with no preparation, we must find the time to properly prepare them for the job they will be performing. It's the key to set them up for success.


A nice tour and proper introduction is always a good way to start someone on their first day. It's hard for leaders at times to manage to do that, but it is so important for a new hire to get to know their workplace and to start getting comfortable in it.

If you cannot manage it yourself, arrange for a human resources representative to do the first tour, -or for an onboarding specialist if you have one!

Someone who can show them the front of the house and the back of the house. Someone who can teach them where the staff entrance, the break room, the lockers, and all of that is. Someone who can provide them with a proper introduction to the property and its outlets. Someone who can share interesting must-know about the hotel.

A tour of the back of the house is essential because it allows you to introduce your new hire to everyone, and everyone to your new hire. It can be overwhelming perhaps, and it will be impossible for them to remember who they met, but it's a nice way to make them feel part of something from day one, a nice way to show you want people to know they are here and who they are.


A good onboarding training should include an introduction from HR, when topics that would be on the employee handbook can be discussed: property rules, grooming, pay and benefits, etcetera.

It should include a moment to dig into the history of the property, the ownership, the management, the mission, the vision.

It should include an opportunity for the General Manager and for the executive team to make an appearance, to introduce themselves and to give a warm welcome to our new team members. What could make them feel more welcome than when the GM has time to say hello? What could make them feel more comfortable than knowing that they can get in touch with their upper management?


And what is going to make them feel not important? When their manager does not have time for them - always - but especially on those first few days, so make a point not to be perceived that way.

Make time for them, don't plan anything else for that day, devote your entire attention to them, and plan for someone else to take over the other tasks.

I like to try and have lunch with my new employees on their first couple of days. Lunch is a good moment to chat with no interruptions, to get to know one another, and to break the ice in a comfortable setting. After all I'm Italian and I typically bond over food.


Setting your expectations on their first few days is crucial, give absolute clarity about their responsibilities and goals. If you don't have these talks early on, you can't blame anybody but yourselves when their performance is not up to standards.


Follow up on their onboarding. Typically 30 days after someone starts is a good time to have a talk and see where they are at: were their expectations for the job, the team and the company met? Are our expectations for them met? Where can we both change or improve? Are they happy with their choice?


And do something with that feedback. Take it in and make good use of it. Talk to human resources, to the other managers, to the other departments, and pass on the compliments or the criticism to allow everybody to improve, and make that new hire's opinion feel valuable.

An offboarding checklist is not as long and complicated as an onboarding checklist, but just as important and valuable to ensure we send people off in the best way. That last impression is also something that people tend to remember, so we don't want them to walk away with a bad taste in their mouth.


An exit interview is always a good feedback moment to have: it allows them to take a moment and talk about how they really feel about their time in your company. Some people are very uncomfortable or scared to say what they really think or what is going on while they are still employed, so this could be the moment they reveal something really unexpected.

A good approach for the person who handles the exit interview is to always be neutral and to keep the circumstances in mind: you definitely want to make people feel like you are listening to them and you will follow up, but you also don't want to take sides. You want to value what they just told you, but at the same time remember they are leaving (sometimes for a reason) and their feedback might be given out of emotions, so take it with a grain of salt.


Ensure everything is ready and planned for their last day: you have arranged a time for them to come and drop their keys, their uniform, empty their locker. Their last pay check is ready, all their pending matters are resolved, all their questions have been answered. This moment also needs to look well prepared and organized.


Plan a proper send off: prepare a nice reference letter, a card signed by everyone, perhaps a present from the team, perhaps a moment to celebrate all together with a toast.

Whatever you choose to do, don't forget about them because they are leaving and they will no longer be working with you, but send them off in a way that shows all the appreciation for their hard work and efforts, and for their devotion to your company throughout the years.

They have invested time, knowledge, resources in the company, showing recognition and gratitude for all they did is simply non-negotiable.


This is the best publicity for your company: to be able to give back that recognition and care for our employees even when they are leaving us.

When we are the best employer from the moment we join forces and until the moment we separate, we have truly achieved the title of employer of choice, and we have made a forever lasting great impression.






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