Best employee on-boarding practices for small businesses

Starting a new job is not easy for an employee, but it’s also a challenge for the employer. On the employee side, it’s intimidating and anxiety filled. On the employer side, it’s difficult to prepare, train and dedicate a limited amount of time to getting the new employee on board.

When building or improving a new employee on-boarding process (or employee orientation), the most important thing for the employer to do is to make them feel welcome and engaged right away.

But the work doesn’t stop there! In fact, that’s just the start. It’s important to have a standard employee on-boarding process so that new employees can hit the ground running once they start, and can immediately feel like they’re part of the team so they can make a difference, learn and grow.

Here are 10 steps to building a successful on-boarding plan for new employees.

1. Notify the team.

This seems obvious, but let the team know in advance that you are bringing a new employee to the team. (You’d be surprised how often employers fail to do this!) This way the team can make preparations and get items ready for the new employee when they come in.

2. Explain where the new hire fits in.  

Communicate to the team just where this new employee fits into the team and their role. Remind the team to be helpful and patient with the new hire.

3. Bring out the Welcome Wagon.  

Go beyond a quick introduction at a staff meeting; take the time to introduce the new hire to the people they’re going to be working with every day. It’ll make the employee more comfortable and feel more welcome.   

4. Let them visit with the ‘head honcho’.

Depending on how big your company is, it’s important that the big boss/owner sits down with the new hire. It helps them identify themselves with you and the company, and so they know who they’re actually working for.

5. Communicate the company’s values and vision.

It’s best for the big boss/owner to discuss the company’s values and visions with the new hire. Don’t just have this written out on a paper for them to read, discuss it with them. This allows the new employee to get a real sense of the company, which will motivate them and cause them to work with purpose.

6. Assign a buddy.

It’s hard starting a new job not knowing anybody, where to find things, who to ask for certain items, what not to do, and other workplace culture norms. Pair up the new hire with another team member for the first week to make the transition smoother.

7. Be patient.

It’s easy to take your familiarity with working at the company for granted, and forget that new employees don’t know every in-and-out of the company. Assume they don’t know anything. It’s better to over explain or repeat something than to never tell them at all and leave them wondering or confused. This requires a whole lot of patience, on both your end and from your staff.

8. ‘Hook ‘em up’. 

When training employees, you want them to start plowing through things on day one – so make sure they have the tools to do that. They should have everything they need to start working, which includes a computer that is set up, business cards, and an email account, logins and account access to everything. The more tools they have on their first day, the faster they can get to work.

9. Write out a schedule.

Write out the new employee’s schedule so that they know what to expect their first week, and what to prepare for. This gives them a clear understanding of what they should be doing and what you expect from them. This should also outline training times.

10. Convey policies and procedures.

As they fill out all the paperwork they need to as a new employee, make sure you copies of company policies and procedures of all the important docs they need to have. This includes items like their benefits, emergency plans, overtime rules, parking passes/information, etc.

What are some practices your company does for bring on new employees? Share in the comments below!




Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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