Help New Hires Hit the Ground Running – Why Job Shadowing is a Must

Hit the ground running

Choosing the right candidate is only half of the challenge that employers are faced with when hiring new employees. The other half is properly onboarding the new hire in a way that will help them “hit the ground running” and ensure a mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationship for both parties.

Before starting at HP Products, my new boss emailed me a schedule detailing my first two weeks at the company. As part of my on boarding, she had arranged intense job shadowing with all major business units: Purchasing, Outside Sales, Inside Sales, Customer Service, IT, Warehouse and Executive Leadership.

The positive effects of shadowing became apparent shortly after. I quickly developed an understanding of the culture and formed connections throughout the company. I was off to a great start and ready to dive in.

Why Your Onboarding Should Include a Full Shadow Experience

I have identified the four most impactful benefits to the new hire, based on my own shadow experience.

Establish Key Points of Contact

The personal introductions with key points of contact and decision makers showed a very transparent, well-rounded view of the business and the culture. I also saw how all departments collaborate to operate efficiently and meet business goals. Having made those face-to-face connections early, I quickly got out of “sink or swim” mode. I felt comfortable reaching out to people I had met regarding questions about their specific business area.

Build Rapport

Through shadowing, I was able to build a rapport with individuals in each department. Spending time with tenured employees allowed me to learn who they are, how they got their start at the company and how our roles interact and support the business. As I formed relationships with employees in each department, my respect for them grew. I was especially impressed at the efficiency of the warehouse and would have never known how much planning and manual labor goes into getting a product off the shelf and delivered to the customer.

Identify Hidden Opportunities

The relationships I made with the purchasing team while shadowing have become some of my most valued and mutually beneficial connections. While shadowing, asking questions and understanding their daily work, I learned that the buyers enjoy face-to-face time with colleagues. Much of their day is spent working on the computer and communicating with others through email. I turned that observation into an opportunity for our teams to improve communication. Instead of emailing the buyers, I began walking out to the warehouse, where their department is located, and discussing matters in person. This change of pace has resulted in faster response times, better content for the web and collaboration among the teams.

Reduced Time-to-Productivity

Shadowing helps new hires build a strong foundation by quickly teaching business goals and current processes. Increased job knowledge and relationships with coworkers gave me the confidence to “hit the ground running.” I mastered essential job duties and was able to identify other ways to contribute to the team, making me a valuable coworker and supporting the claim that job shadowing reduces the time-to-productivity.

The Experts Weigh In

Incorporating job shadowing into your onboarding process can differentiate your company from others. The Aberdeen Group emphasizes socialization into the company culture as a key part of successful onboarding that can be achieved through job shadowing.

86% of new hires decide to stay or leave a company within their first six months and new employees are 69% more likely to stay longer than three years if they experience well-structured onboarding.”  — The Aberdeen Group

Implementing formal or informal job shadowing is sure to bring value to the organization and your employees. Does your organization support job shadowing as a part of their process? Tell us your success stories in the comments below.


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