Onboarding Employees: From Start To Success
Even the top talent needs your full attention when being integrated into your company.
Hiring processes contribute heavily into retention rates, which translates into a crucial way for you to avoid wasting money on training and setting up a new employee only to have them leave shortly after. It also means greater job satisfaction and loyalty for the employee themselves, and brings the values of support and inclusivity to your company culture.
When it comes to onboarding, it is best to break down the timeline into serviceable chunks to better understand the priorities at each step of the way. Here, we’ll take you through the complete guide to managing a new hire and the associated requirements and best practices.
First Things First
Before Start Date
Assuming this isn’t your first hire, by now you should have a list of what documents and paperwork are required from a new employee.
Send the person the list of what documentation they will need to have on hand for their first day, so you don’t lose time waiting around to get them started when the time comes. You can also have them fill out any paperwork they are able to do on their own and ask them to bring their readied documents with them to their first day.
Some of these things could include direct deposit slips, photo ID, work visas, and any licenses required for the specific job. Always confer with your HR team to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. The other benefit of having everything ready to go, is that you can spend their first day engaging the new employee and spending time face to face instead of leaving them to quietly fill out these documents on their own.
Don’t forget to prepare any systems and items you need on your end, either. Will the employee need a company email? A secure login to the local intranet? Security passes and/or ID? Do you welcome them with swag or company branded items, like mugs, pens and stationery? What about a print-out of your company policies and value statements that they’ll need to read before starting work? Having these ready saves time, and allows you to make sure nothing is missing before day one.
Also ensure the employee has all the information they need about parking, dress code, shift times, and where they need to go or who they need to ask for when they arrive. You will also need to make sure that supervisors in their department have been notified about the new hire (including any advisories such as accommodations for disabilities), and that anyone who will need to work with them early on (for instance, a training department), has the time to prepare for them and to allocate to their onboarding needs.
Once you are ready, and you feel you’ve given the new hire enough information to be ready as well, it’s time for the big day: their first day on the job.
All’s Well That Begins Well
The first day of dealing with a new employee, or a new wave of employees, can be overwhelming for both you and them. Take things at a reasonable pace, and make sure they feel welcome and that anything they might have questions about is being addressed.
You should have an itinerary for the day. Some of the main events should include:
- Tour of the building
- Pointing out their own workspace
- Provisioning them with logins and credentials and setting up their workspace
- Providing and explaining security passes, badges, processes, etc.
- Team introductions, especially with management
- A 1-on-1 meeting to review specific expectations and goals
Don’t forget to collect the documents you asked them to fill out beforehand, as well as photocopying any licenses or IDs you need to have on file.
Keep the employee engaged, so they don’t feel adrift, or left to their own devices. That said, you also don’t want to bombard them with too much action. Remember, you and the other employees have had more time to acclimate to the needs of the business. While your new hire may be eager, they may miss important details if they are trying to take in too much information at once.
Easing Into It
The First Week
After the rush of day one, your employee will finally have the chance to ease into the routine of working for your business.
As they do, make sure they are connecting with their coworkers and management so they will be able to access any resources they need. You should also have their supervisor plan a 1-on-1 meeting with them where they will have the chance to bring up any questions or concerns that may have arisen, or that they have not yet had time to address. It is important that they know what channels they can approach, and that any channel is open for a clear line of communication.
Another thing you can do with the meeting is to begin to lay out a plan and a set of goals for their probationary period (generally the first 90 days). By now they should have a more fluent understanding of your internal processes and requirements, and so they can participate in creating SMART goals for themselves as their supervisor guides them through the expectations of the company.
The First 90 Days
Onboarding is an ongoing process. It doesn’t just end when the paperwork is filed and the employee sits down at their desk for the first time.
The first few months, often referred to as the employee’s probationary period, are critical to ensure the success of both the employee and the business. While you may have laid out what integration will look like to the employee, now is the time to act out that plan you set in the first week.
Consider breaking down the first three months into bite-sized chunks. There is no set time for each of them, but you could say one month per section is appropriate. The chunks in order are:
- Strategy and Analysis
LEARNING is the time period wherein your new employee will accumulate the knowledge they need to be effective at their job. More importantly, it is the time that you will need to check in with their trainer, or training team, to ensure that the information and skills they need are being delivered effectively.
Gather reports from the trainer(s) regarding the employee’s behaviour and progress. Potential issues should be forwarded to their supervisor to monitor, while great aptitudes should be considered for the employee’s career path.
Again, interview the employee to assess whether they feel there are any gaps in their knowledge that should be filled in. Ensure your training process has some form of testing, to ensure the employee can demonstrate comprehension of what they’ve been taught. These types of feedback are also important to perfecting your training process for future hires.
STRATEGY & ANALYSIS is an often ignored component when it comes to recognizing the value of new hires.
During this period, you should be coaxing your employee for input on the strategies of the business, and looking for suggestions to improve workflow and bottom line. One of the hardest parts of this is making sure they feel welcome to make suggestions that may seem critical to the current structure, so be ready to receive some negative feedback so long as it is constructive).
Remember, a new employee has fresh eyes with which to examine your business practices. They may also have come from a similar business in your industry, and can suggest some alternative practices which have proven themselves effective elsewhere. They may see some quick-fixes, or long term plans. You should analyze their feedback, and look to incorporate it into your company’s strategies when beneficial.
EXECUTION is a period before the end of their probation where you have time to observe their real-world performance. By the end of the 90 days, you will require actual performance results with which to discuss the career plan and personal goals of the employee.
Look to see if they are earnestly following the SMART goals they set out in their first week, and how well they are implementing any strategies they’ve suggested. You should now also have some data from their performance to reflect on how effective the execution has been.
Happily Ever After?
After The First 90 Days
This probationary period, filled with some trial and error, and bound by learning curves, can be a tumultuous time for the employee and for your business. But if all is going well, you should see things normalizing, and your overall business improving, when you’ve chosen the right talent and taken the time to onboard them successfully.
As you may have noticed, a huge trend early on is making sure to have touchpoint meetings with new hires to ensure they have a voice, and to help with any issues they might need to bring up. Don’t let this trend end just because they’re a regular member of the team now! Retention is a never ending battle and employee satisfaction is a massive component of this. Keeping up with them and ensuring there is open two-way communication will keep them engaged with your company, and decrease turnover.
While other factors are able to affect the outcome of a new hire’s time with a company, starting off on the right foot with a comprehensive onboarding plan that leaves no stone unturned will only pay off exponentially as you retain satisfied, well-prepared employees to keep building your business to new heights.