February 25, 2021
Performance Management 09 January 2019
7 Powerful Best Practices for Engaging and Onboarding Technical Employees
Bridgette Hernandez

For many businesses, success depends on the ability to attract and hire top, technical talent. Software developers, network specialists, web designers, systems administrators, and others are in high demand. It takes a significant effort to bring the best people onto your team.

What many people don’t realize is that the biggest challenge often comes after the hire date has been established. While there are some things about the onboarding process that are universal, there are some unique considerations when dealing with technical hires. It can take a different approach to ensure that your technical employees become productive as quickly as possible. 

By providing them with proper onboarding, you also improve their experience as an employee. Considering that tech careers are on the rise, many in these fields are very aware that they have options. Onboarding can help you retain the talent that you hire. Below are seven best practices for onboarding these vital human resources.

1. Help Technical Employees Understand The Mission Behind The Work They Do

It’s easy for tech employees to become hyper focused on the tasks they have been assigned. This is especially the case in large organizations. They become focused on completing the design for a landing page or testing changes to an app, often while never really understanding the mission behind what they are being asked to do.

The result is that tech staff often feel like cogs in a wheel. They can also become frustrated when they struggle to understand the reasoning behind the directives they are given. Without understanding the company’s mission, it becomes difficult for them to develop any sort of bond to the organization. They feel like a commodity, and the work becomes just another means to earn a paycheck.

It is for these reasons that it’s important that the onboarding process helps employees to learn about the company vision of the organization, its mission, history and the business objectives that their work can impact. This will help them to become more engaged employees.

2. Help Them Make Social Connections on The Job

When it comes to jobs in the technology sector, there are more opportunities in some places than in others.  This is why many tech workers choose to relocate. There are obvious benefits to this. The choice to relocate can lead to more money, improved lifestyle, and a wealth of life experiences.

On the other hand, it can be quite isolating. When a tech worker has moved to take a job, they have often left friends, family, and support systems behind. If they don’t find social connections quickly, they could feel a pull to ‘head home’. 

To prevent this, help new employees make social connections on the job and in the community. No, you can’t force people to form friendships, but you can create an environment that is conducive to that happening. Consider trying some of the following strategies:

  • Hold weekly lunch sessions to get new employees together with more seasoned ones
  • Give new employees information about local meetup groups
  • Encourage current employees to invite new hires to participate in happy hours, bowling leagues, and other employee activities
  • Match tech hires with friendly outgoing employees who can introduce them to others and show them around

These steps will help new tech workers become more comfortable with their surroundings at work and elsewhere.

3. Encourage Them to Create a Career Development Path

The time to discuss career development with your new hires is immediately. Sit down with them and help them map out a plan to create the career path they want as they work for you. Steve Mehler, CEO of Rated by Students says, 

“Over the years I have learned that people in the tech field must focus on their skill set and depth of project experience, more so than years of experience. They go where they have opportunities to learn and grow. To retain them, you have to help them see a career development path within your organization.”

If you have a tuition reimbursement program, let them know about that so they can take advantage. It’s much easier to retain skilled employees if they are confident they will be able to continue to develop marketable skills and advance in their careers while they work for you.

4. Make Sure They Have The Technical Resources They Need

There are many things you can do to ensure that workers become productive as quickly as possible. You can familiarize them with policies and procedures. You can give them a comfortable workspace. You can provide them with the training they need to hit the ground running. 

When it comes to your new, tech hires, one of the best things that you can do is give them as much autonomy as possible regarding the resources they use. Then, make sure those resources are ready and waiting for them when they arrive. Here are some questions to ask, before their first day:

  • What is your preferred brand of laptop and configuration?
  • Are there any productivity or organizational apps you need to download?
  • Do you have everything you need to log in remotely if you need to do that?
  • What is your preferred software for spreadsheets, word processing, or presentation?
  • Will you need time with an IT person to discuss your needs?

Be certain that you also have a clear idea of their expected duties. Make every effort to ensure that they have all of the access permissions that they need.

5. Give Them Tasks They Can Succeed At

Chelsea Ann Dowdell is the Chief Content Officer at Rewarded Essays. She believes that it’s important for tech employees to jump into a project right away. She says, 

“Let people start off with a win, while at the same time helping them to learn a bit. Make it something that is productive, but easily accomplished on day one. It’s a great confidence builder, and it makes the first day sail by.”

By giving them something they are able to complete right away, your onboarding lays the foundation for them to build up to harder and more advanced tasks in the future. This is key to a successful relationship with your technical employees as they become accustomed to your company's software and culture.

6. Match Them With a Mentor

There’s a lot to observe and absorb at a new job. It can be difficult for new employees to find their footing. This is even more true for women. To help new tech staff succeed, consider matching them with mentors who are committed to playing a role in their success. 

The ideal mentor will introduce new hires to people in different departments, offer career advice, serve as a sounding board, and help familiarize them with the dynamics of the organization. To pick the ideal mentors, select people who are good at providing guidance, without directing. Look for mentors in people that are good at communication, have patience, are willing to let their mentees be hands-on, and are good listeners. Being a mentor is to pass on their excellence to the next person.

7. Encourage Personal Education Time

For many people in technology fields, their tech-related pursuits aren’t limited to their work duties. Many pursue hobbies, interests, and special projects that allow them to develop impressive skill sets. It isn’t at all unusual for these skills to become quite useful on the job.

This is why many companies are now encouraging employees to set aside personal education time. Some even set aside company time to allow employees to share their interests and special projects with other employees. By doing this, you help keep new employees engaged, and you might expose the organization to something it can use in the future.

Final Thoughts

When you create a successful onboarding process, new employees are more engaged, more productive, and tend to be much more successful at finding their place. The steps above can help you to give tech employees, in particular, the best chance at a great start working for you.

Bridgette Hernandez is a technical writer, and contributing blogger at Hot Essay Service and Supreme Dissertations. She has more than five years experience writing on topics such as tech careers, gadgets, and software development. In her spare time, she competes in robotics projects and volunteers at a local animal rescue.