Bring on Employees the Right Way

We have yet to define a good onboarding process. New employees tend to start and get thrown into the mix. I know that’s not right. How should we do things better, so we can get new employees started right.

Thoughts of the Day: It’s easier to onboard employees if you think of it as a process rather than an event. Divide up the work of onboarding. Build tools and checklists to help insure everything gets done. Use the onboarding process to assess the employee. Think of it as the difference between orienting someone to the company and starting a long term plan for success.

It takes a while for employees to get on solid footing with their new employer. There are people to meet, forms to fill out, rules to learn, culture to understand and fit into, as well as a job to master. There’s a rush of activity, from finding out where the desk is, to filling out legally required paperwork. Learning where things are kept, how things work, meeting peers, bosses and subordinates – don’t try to master it all the first week.

Some things are required by law. Some things are optional, but can cause a lot of problems if overlooked. Some things will contribute to long term retention. Have a plan to get through all of them, within a defined timeframe. Know who is responsible for getting the new employee through each piece.

Have a team of people involved on onboarding. One person is responsible for a tour of the facilities. Another goes over paperwork. Each department has someone who gives a tour appropriate to the level of the new employee. Someone talks about formal rules within the company. Another provides an orientation to the company culture. People in the department hiring the new employee should lay out a schedule for introductions and job training.

Make sure the legally required forms get filled out right away. Include non-compete and non-disclosure forms along with the w-2 and other government forms. Ask the new hire to initial a copy of the offer letter, and put that on file.

Make sure the company rules and protocols are clearly laid out. It’s unfair to be upset with an employee who breaks the rules, if no one has clearly explained what the rules are. What’s the company’s start time? Policy for taking sick days? Rules about who to call if you’re not going to be on time? Who to go to if your boss isn’t available? What to do if you think something needs to be escalated? Social media and computer use rules? This should mostly be covered in the employee manual. A crib sheet handout with essential information can also be helpful.

Talk with employees about the company overall. What’s the culture? What’s the history? What are the goals? New hires are easily overwhelmed with information. Boost retention by giving the new hire documents to refer to on their own time.

Consider giving a test periodically to assess how much information has been retained, and how much needs to be repeated. Keep track each day, each week, of how the new employee is doing mastering basics. Is the individual demonstrating the skills represented on the resume? How much on the job training will be required? Is the individual making connections with other people in the company? Is there a good fit?

Every jobholder needs a training plan. Start with the basics. Check in weekly. Should training go faster, or slower. Set goals for what to master within 1 -3 months. Make a list of outside training, mandatory and optional, and plan time off from the job to get that training.

Once you build an onboarding process, you can use it as a tool in recruiting new hires. You’re looking for people who want long term success with your company. Show them your company is serious about doing its part to make that happen.

In the interview process, make notes on what the candidate is looking for in terms of growth and development. Once hired, pull out those notes out and use them to craft the individualized portion of the onboarding process. Go from generalized introduction to the company to specific areas of interest, so that each employee gets an overview of what could be in store.

Looking for a good book? Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your Organization, by Mark Stein, Lilith Christiansen