A Better Way to Onboard New Employees

Setting them and you up for a successful relationship

employee training new employee using a tablet, handouts, and notepad.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

The fact is: all new employees are “onboarded” whether you have a formal process or not. Onboarding refers to how new employees are integrated into your business during their first days/weeks/months on the job. The process includes their orientation to your business and the training on how to do their specific job. No matter what type of service or product your business provides, the elements of onboarding are similar. You customize those steps for your business needs and the types of employees and subcontractors you work with.

Why Have an Organized Onboarding Process?

How new staff members are onboarded affects them, your clients, and your bottom line. How? Think back to some of the jobs you’ve had before. What were your first days like?

A. Did you have the experience of showing up on your first day and being given a pile of HR paperwork to sign in the break room? When you were done, you wandered into the lobby to find a coworker who had only been there a few weeks themselves and weren’t sure how to help you? So, you set your paperwork pile in a corner and the coworker nervously tried to show you what they were doing? Your new boss walks in and takes the paperwork, maybe gives you a tour of the facility, and then hands you off to another employee who wasn’t expecting to be training someone that day? Your often left alone and lost, trying to figure out what you should be doing next. Your coworkers are using jargon and inside jokes and you feel completely lost. You go home wondering if you have made a mistake and maybe mulling over the negative rumors you heard throughout the day…

B. Or, did you receive a packet of paperwork to fill out in advance and bring with you on your first day? In the packet, there was a note about what to wear, what time to show up, and who you would be reporting to. There was a calendar of your schedule for the next month that included when you would have different training sessions and who you would be working with. When you arrive on the first day, the boss or another experienced employee greeted you and introduced you at the morning all-staff meetup. Then they gave you a tour of the facility and showed you where you could stash your “stuff”. On the breakroom TV, you watched a welcome video from the owner that explained the history and culture of the business, along with essential information about scheduling and other office-type policies and procedures. You were given a notebook with FAQs, a copy of the employee handbook, a few how-to sheets, your name badge, and a place to take notes. Your assigned “buddy” mentor employee guided you through your days over the next couple of weeks, making sure your questions were answered and you were introduced to important clients and vendors. You go home excited to go back tomorrow, knowing that you are an important member of the team…

Which experience did you enjoy most? In which situation did you feel needed, wanted, and important? How long did you stay in either position? What experience do your new hires have coming into your business?

HR pros estimate that hiring and training a new employee costs a business an average of $4,000 per person! Developing a solid onboarding plan means an investment of your time and money now but in the long run, will save you thousands in the future. How much more could you accomplish with the time and money you’re spending regularly finding and training new employees?

An organized onboarding process will help new staff members:

  • Learn your business goals, policies, and procedures;
  • Understand the why behind your SOPs;
  • Have confidence in their own abilities;
  • Know what they are supposed to do and how to do it;
  • Feel like a welcome and important member of the team; and,
  • Feel more invested in their job and more likely to stay for a while.

The Onboarding Plan Checklist

(scroll down to request your free copy of this checklist and use it to build your plan)

Step 1: How are you, your employees, and your business performing right now?

The first step to creating an effective onboarding plan is to honestly assess how well your business and your employees are currently performing. Ask yourself:

  • Are there obvious gaps in your employees’ knowledge that are affecting their work and your business?
  • What mistakes are being made repeatedly?
  • What frustrates you about your employees’ performance overall?
  • What complaints from your clients do you hear most often?
  • What reasons do people give for resigning from their jobs?
  • What business goals have you achieved and what do you wish you could be doing/would have accomplished?
  • Have you done a SWOT analysis recently? * (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
  • How would an improved new employee onboarding process help you reach your business goals?

If you want an even more honest assessment, get feedback from all your current staff members on the above questions. You can take it another step further and survey your clients on their experiences with your staff.

Step 2: Plan Your Plan

Next, use the answers to the above questions to start mapping out what you need/want to include in your onboarding process. Based on what information and skills you want your employees to have, think about how you will guide them through orientation and training.

  • Make a detailed list of the most valuable information and tasks a new employee needs to know to do the job and help your customers.
  • Do you need to modify your plan for different departments/jobs/roles?
  • Decide what information and skills are best learned in a “classroom” format and which are best learned hands-on, working alongside you or a coworker.
  • Should the information be shared using handouts and a handbook, a series of videos, or PowerPoint presentations?
  • Who is the best person to conduct each step of the onboarding process? Involving other employees in the process shows that you value your experience and creates a career path for them.
  • How long will each element and the entire process take?
  • How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the process?
  • How will you show that the process is finished?

Important things to cover in your orientation and training:

  • The history of your business
  • Your mission and vision statements
  • Your company culture
  • Your organizational structure
  • Who are your customers and how does your business serve them?
  • The daily routine for the business as a whole and for the employee’s department or role, as applicable
  • How will the employee’s work be supervised and evaluated?
  • Policies and procedures – focus on the ones that affect the new employee’s job the most

Request your free copy of the Onboarding Plan Checklist:

Schedule a free, 30-minute consultation with Tiffani to help you get started on your onboarding plan. Or ask about my Onboarding for Success Package, where I work with you to create and implement your customized plan.

Ask about the Onboarding Animal Care Staff Handbook, complete with customizable documents including an employee workbook and PowerPoint presentation!

Published by Tiffani Hill

I'm a professional Operations Strategist with a special interest in nonprofit organizations and pet-related businesses.

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