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Why New Hire Onboarding Should be a Top Priority

Here are some tips to help ensure your new hire makes a smooth transition into a high-performing, long-term member of the team.
new hire onboarding

Successful new hire onboarding is one of the critically important elements in the retention of quality employees.

Unfortunately, too many small business owners focus more on the hiring process itself, rather than what comes afterward. This often results in new hires who don't clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, which can lead to frustration among employees and employers alike.

Creating and implementing an effective new hire onboarding process may offer key benefits, including:

  • New employees can hit the ground running, getting into the pace of daily business life and learning about your company's culture
  • Helping to reduce a new hire's anxiety and lack of job knowledge
  • Frees up supervisors and managers from spending too much time helping the new hire get acclimated

With these business-focused benefits in mind, here are some tips which can help improve your new-employee onboarding system:

Prepare the new hire beforehand and get other employees involved

Part of the new hire onboarding process can be accomplished with a "welcome package" sent to each new employee before their first day on the job. This can include a brief company history and a personalized welcome note from the new employee's manager and/or the owner of the business. Remember to comply with wage and hour laws; the time spent reviewing this material or completing forms may be compensable under federal, state, and/or local law. Additionally, you may wish to announce the new hire via an all-company email, so current employees can welcome the employee on day one. Also make sure his or her workspace is fully stocked with office supplies, a working computer, and business cards if appropriate.

Carefully select which information to provide

Unloading a torrent of information on a new hire in the first couple of days can be counter-productive, since no one can reasonably absorb such an "info-dump" all at once. Instead, concentrate on addressing key challenges and opportunities the new hire faces and give him or her enough information to move forward quickly.

Also allow time for questions. It's possible that your "comprehensive" orientation left out something of importance to the new employee.

Focus on company policies and specific job duties

Every new employee should have a broad understanding of company policies and procedures (including the mission statement, benefits and compensation, zero-tolerance practices, etc.). He or she must also have a clear grasp of what they're expected to do and how their position meshes with short- and long-term business objectives. A new hire may feel more aligned with the organization if he or she sees their place in the larger scheme of things.

Assign a mentor

Having a friendly face to turn to in the first days on the job can significantly reduce the new hire's stress level. An assigned mentor can offer an "employee-centric" view of the business and answer specific questions the new employee may have. The right mentor can spark greater enthusiasm about the workplace, along with tips on how to get things done quicker and more efficiently.

Set milestones for individual progress

As part of the onboarding process, create agreed-upon milestones for what the new hire is expected to achieve or work towards, possibly at monthly intervals (so there's no long stretch of time in which the wrong things get done). The six month anniversary is often a good point to closely examine the new employee's familiarity with his or her job duties and to address shortcomings before they become a significant problem.

Hiring a talented individual to fill that open position in your company is just the first step in amassing a high-performing workforce. It's equally important to shepherd a new hire through those crucial first days on the job, paving the way for a sense of individual accomplishment and the eagerness to keep learning more about helping the organization grow.

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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