Employee onboarding: Best practices for small companies

Employee Onboarding is a key part of introducing a new team member to the company culture, policies, coworkers, and work processes. The objective is to give the new hire all possible tools and information needed to be productive while helping them feel welcome. 

Objectives of Great Onboarding

The importance of ensuring that there is a solid onboarding experience for new team members is because of the value it brings both for the new hiree and the company. It leads to maximizing organizational performance, which is how you evaluate your return on investment (ROI). Successful onboarding  processes also:

  • Ensures regulatory compliance: A strong onboarding process has many requirements and covers some legal obligations.
  • Applies consistent experience: having an onboarding program for all new employees ensures that everyone receives a thorough (and uniform) welcome and guidance.
  • Eliminates first-day anxiety: The purpose of an onboarding program is primarily to offer a comfortable experience for new employees. So that they feel welcome as soon as possible.
  • Improved ROI: A thorough onboarding process allows talented and ambitious new hires to perform to their maximum capabilities and companies get an incredible ROI out of it.
  • Improves retention: the hiring process is an investment in people. It also takes resources like money, people, and time to properly onboard new team members. Safeguarding your investment by retaining your top employees is critical to competing in business.

How to Design a Strong Onboarding Process 

1.    Prepare for Your New Hire

Before your new employee starts their first day with your company, prepare a map for your onboarding plan. Ensure you have all the pre-hire information and the following:

  1. Have all documents from the hiring process signed and verified, specifically the offer letter
  2. Confirmed the salary and start date
  3. Planned for all needed IT systems and equipped the new hire for using office equipment, like computers, printers, building access keys, company software, and all other necessities of coming to work.
  4. Have a welcome packet that includes joining paperwork, payroll information, a summary of benefits, the employee handbook, etc.
  5. In case of shifts or rotational work, have the new employee’s schedule planned out. If they are an hourly employee, intended to work during different shifts throughout the week, have their expected scheduling finalized BEFORE they join. 

2.    Provide Welcome Materials

New hires should get their welcome materials, including all paperwork and overall exposure to their new role. Give the employee time to absorb the new employee forms and fill out needed documents.

All of the personnel information that you need should be included in the first section of any packet (even if it is an electronically shared packet). The welcome materials packet should have:

  • Payroll related forms‚ÄĒsuch as EOBI information, direct deposit form, and 
  • Personal information and contact numbers (create an employee data sheet with emergency contact information)
  • Employee handbook (have the employee review and sign it and ensure they understand your employment policies)
  • Company policies unique to your business that aren‚Äôt covered in your employee handbook; examples include sexual harassment policies, maternity leave policies, and time-off policies
  • Confidentiality or nondisclosure agreement
  • Employment contract
  • Job description
  • Background check authorization (if relevant)
  • Drug screening approval (if relevant)
  • Summary of benefits
  • Organizational chart with important emails

3.    Hold a Formal Company Orientation

Every new employee should be involved in an onboarding activity, which should orient them to the company culture. While the onboarding process can last up to a year, the initial new hire orientation should be done within the first week of employment at the latest. This can be a presentation via video or PowerPoint or simply a sit-down with HR.

The orientation should include the following topics at the least:

  • Company history and culture
  • Mission statement‚ÄĒvalues and vision
  • Benefits

4.    Define Job Responsibilities

Although your new hire may be experienced in their role, they may not have experience working in the specific industry or the specific product or service. Be sure to sit down with them and discuss the job description and role requirements. 

Use the position‚Äôs job description and a company organizational chart when discussing what their role is all about and how it will impact the business. 

The goal of reviewing the employee‚Äôs role is to revisit the details of their job (using the job description) and who in the company they will be impacting (using the organizational chart). 

Familiarity with the organizational chart allows the recruit to know who the team members are, and where they fit in. 

5.    Introduce the New Team Member

The new team member should be introduced to the immediate team and the entire company within their first week of joining. This helps to give the employee an idea of the scale of operations at work and lets them meet the employees they may need to interact with regularly.

In the case of remote employees, make a practice of holding an all-company meeting where you can introduce new team members to the rest of the company via video conferencing. 

6.    Provide Role-specific Training

In the first months, the new employee should be given education and training sessions specific to their role. Having such personalized training offers employees the necessary education to let them track their progress. 

7.    Schedule Regular Review Sessions

It is important to hold reviews with new employees. It helps in performance evaluations and allows for communication to ensure that the employee follows their growth plan and meets set parameters for success.

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