plus get your free Onboarding Plan Checklist
The fact is: all new employees are “onboarded”, whether you have a formal process or not. “Onboarding” refers to how new employees join your team and learn their jobs. It’s the process of learning about your business and how to perform its tasks. No matter what type of business you have, onboarding a new employee or subcontractor sets the tone for your future relationship with your new hire.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels
Why Plan Your Onboarding?
How a new staff member onboards 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? Have you ever been frustrated by the customer service you received from a new employee at another company (think checking out a register when the clerk doesn’t know what to do)?
Which of these experiences do you prefer?
Experience A: You show up on your first day, not sure what to expect. You pull into the parking lot, hoping you didn’t take someone’s spot. Someone hands you a pile of HR paperwork to fill out in the break room. Next, you wander into the lobby to find a coworker who is pretty new, too. They’re still figuring out their own job. So, you set your paperwork pile in a corner while the coworker nervously tries to show you what they were working on. Your new boss walks in and takes the paperwork. You’re handed off to another employee who wasn’t expecting to be training someone that day. You spend a lot of the day alone and lost, trying to figure out what you should be doing. Your coworkers are using jargon and telling inside jokes that you don’t understand. You go home, mulling over the negative rumors you overheard throughout the day. You spend the evening wondering if you made a mistake.
Experience B: You receive a job offer letter with a packet of paperwork to fill out in advance of your start date. In the packet, there’s an information sheet about what to wear, what time to show up, and where to park. You’re given contact information for the person you are reporting to on your first day. Included is a calendar of your schedule for the next month. It includes when you will be in different training sessions.
When you arrive on the first day, your new boss greets you and introduces you at the morning staff meetup. They give you a tour of the facility and show you to your desk or work area. You’re given a notebook with FAQs, the employee handbook, a few how-to sheets, and a place to take notes. You watch a welcome video that explains the history and culture of the business along with essential information about policies and procedures. Your assigned mentor guides you through the next couple of weeks, checking in with you often. You’re also introduced to important clients and vendors. You go home excited, knowing that you are an important member of the team.
Which experience do you choose? Which onboarding helps you feel needed, wanted, and important? Which experience do your new hires have coming into your business?
Hiring new employees is expensive. There is a significant loss in revenue, time, and productivity. Constant turnover leads to low morale. It’s stressful for everyone involved.
Set them and you up for a successful relationship. A carefully planned onboarding process sets the tone for a successful employer-employee relationship. Employees tend to be more engaged, happier, and stay longer. Overall employee morale is improved. You have a better work/life balance. It’s a win-win for the entire team.
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 are 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 affect their performance 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?
- 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 team.
Step 2: Plan Your Plan
Next, use the answers gathered from your assessments 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 presentations?
- Who is the best person to conduct each step of the onboarding process? Involving other employees in the process shows that you value their experience. You create career paths for them, which helps them want to stay.
- How long will each element take to complete? How about the entire process?
- How will you evaluate the effectiveness of the process?
- How will you indicate that the onboarding is finished?
What to include in your onboarding
New employees have a lot of new information to remember. Provide them with a binder that includes FAQs, your personnel policies, copies of important forms and marketing materials, and a couple of pages to take notes.
Important information to include in your onboarding includes:
- 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 – first focus on the ones that affect the new employee’s job the most
Pet Care Businesses = Special Needs
If you provide hands-on pet care services for pets, you need to include additional information like:
- Your animal handling and care policies and procedures;
- Your owner interaction policies and procedures
- How to protect yourself and your clients from zoonotic diseases;
- How to prevent transmission of contagious diseases and parasites between pets;
- What to do if a pet gets lost or needs emergency care;
- What is your business emergency evacuation plan? (During Hurricane Matthew, a local vet hospital was full of boarders. They couldn’t get in touch with many owners and a few more were out of the country. The staff divided up the pets who weren’t picked up and evacuated with them, along with their families and pets. Now, they require that owners arrange for a local emergency contact in the event of an emergency.);
- How to identify symptoms of illness and injury plus first aid techniques for each species with whom you work; and
- Local and state regulations specific to pet care businesses so your employees can help you stay compliant.
HR pros estimate that hiring and training a new employee costs businesses an average of $4,000 per person! Developing a solid onboarding plan does take an investment of your time and money. Invest now and save thousands of dollars and hours in the future. How much more could you do if you’re not constantly hiring and training new employees?
Grab the free Onboarding Plan Checklist
Planning an effective onboarding process? Use my free Onboarding Plan Checklist to take out the guesswork.
The feedback I received about this free gift is so positive that I wanted as many people as possible to be able to get these results. I know once you do, you’ll want to work with me.
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Schedule a planning meeting with me.
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Ask about the Onboarding Animal Care Staff Kit, complete with customizable templates including an employee workbook and orientation presentation! Take your onboarding to the next level.
Tiffani knows your business pain points (it’s chihuahuas – just kidding). She has 37 years of hands-on companion, farm, and exotic animal care plus 24 years of managing animal care employees and volunteers. She’s a vet tech and former animal care and control officer as well as a humane society executive director from the Los Angeles area.