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How to Implement a Successful Employee Onboarding Process

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What is employee onboarding? It is the process of integrating a new employee into your company. Every small and large business should develop a thorough onboarding system. Employee onboarding is an essential part of your hiring process. Knowing your cost per hire helps you to understand why turnover can be expensive for your small business. 

Why is Employee Onboarding Important?

Conducting proper onboarding is important because the more your employees are trained, the less likely they will quit within the first 90 days.  Most turnover occurs within that time period. Turnover is expensive and a good onboarding program can help prevent turnover.

According to Glassdoor, the average cost of hire is approximately $4000 per new hire and it takes about 24 days to hire a new worker. 

You can also calculate your business’s cost per hire. Calculate your cost per hire by dividing your internal and external recruiting costs divided by your total number of hires in a time period. You have spent time recruiting them, now you should spend time orientating and training them professionally to ensure they become productive quickly. 

Think about your work history and the jobs you worked. 

  • How many times in your career have you started a new job only to wait for hours that first day for someone to meet with you? 
  • Was your work area or work tools prepared for you?
  • Did your trainer seem impatient and trying to hurry because they have their own job to do? 
  • What went well and what didn’t with the onboarding sessions you attended? 

What Does Good Onboarding Look Like?

Onboarding needs to be a process divided up between different people and it should be done in an effective, organized manner. 

New employees become nervous when they are starting a new job. Onboarding is more than making sure your new employee knows how to work the register. 

Make sure they understand:

  • Your company culture, your policies, and your core values. Teach them methods that are important to you to ensure your small business continues to thrive. 
  • Your expectations. They should know the company goals and their goals. 
  • Workplace relationships and how it is important to you they feel welcome. Help them feel comfortable. Ensure other employees will do the same. 

When your employees are adequately onboarded, they become more motivated to do well. Higher employee motivation helps employee engagement. When they are engaged, they are less likely to leave the company. 

Ensure your employees are invested.  

How to Onboard a New Employee

Here are some things you can do to ensure your employees are adequately onboarded:

Conduct Pre-onboarding

First send an offer letter. An offer letter is important for the new employee. It should clearly state their job title, reporting relationships, salary, benefits, and performance review schedule. It is also important to have a good, detailed job description attached to the offer letter to ensure complete understanding of the job. Ensure the offer letter and job description are signed and returned to you. The new employee’s manager should also receive a copy so that everyone is on the same page.

Once they have accepted the job, send them any handbooks, policies, and new hire paperwork. Whether your new hire paperwork is on paper or electronic, ensure you send detailed instructions on how to complete it.

Before they arrive, set up their workstation, phone, computer, and password logins. If they will be working in the field such as a landscaper or in construction, ensure they have all their tools set up and they will feel welcome. 

Also, ensure they know how to clock in and out. If you use a mobile time clock app like ezClocker, ensure you give directions to them about how they can use their phone as a mobile time clock. Provide instructions to your new employees about how they can clock in or out of work and view their schedule for their next shifts. Also inform them of where to park and the dress code. 

Ensure your new employee doesn’t arrive and then no one is expecting them, and nothing is set up for them. 

Assign the new hire a buddy or a trainer. Additionally, send out an email to all relevant employees before the new hire’s start date so they will help them feel welcome.

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Develop an Orientation Program

Orientation programs should be detailed and extensive. You should create a checklist of everything you would like covered and put Day 1, Day 2, etc. and who is responsible on the list. 

Also, employees often become overwhelmed with information when too much is presented to them at once. They may even question why they left their last job, and some may not show back up the next day if it is too overwhelming. It is important to break up orientation in segments to ensure they capture the needed information at the right time.

Create an Onboarding Checklist

Before day one, they should know things like where to park, how to clock in and out, and the dress code as discussed above. Then from day one, you should break it up a little every day of what they should know. On the checklist, the person responsible for helping the new employee should initial that the particular topic or action has been covered. Include the training agenda on the checklist as well and ensure someone in the department is assigned as the new employee trainer. 

Also, include items on the checklist that should happen before the new hire starts like gathering work equipment, setting up email, etc. This will ensure they don’t have to wait for someone to set everything up for them. Additionally, if your employee will be doing hazardous work like construction, include this on your orientation checklist. You should ensure you cover all federal and state safety hazards and requirements.

Assign a Mentor

By assigning a mentor to your new hires, this will help them feel safe to ask questions. This can be the trainer, but it needs to be someone who is personable and considered a top employee. You want someone who is positive, and you trust and not someone who will complain to the new employee. Mentors can ease your new employee’s concerns. They can help explain the culture, talk about unwritten rules, and just be there for the new employee.

If the department or someone doesn’t take them to lunch the first day, ask the mentor to do it or ask them to join in for the departmental lunch. Ensure your mentors in your company are paid accordingly and given some extra perks for the job they do. They are the ones who are continuously talking to the new employee and if done right, they will help that new employee become engaged quicker.

Review Performance Goals

At some point in the first week, the manager should discuss with new employees their performance goals. Walking into a new job and not knowing the expectations is frustrating. They should understand your performance review system. Also, at some point ask your new person where they would like to see themselves go in the company. This will help you develop a succession plan with them later when the time is right. 

Many times, employees leave companies because they feel there is no future. If you are discussing opportunities with them when they first start, they will know they have a future with the company. At first, it doesn’t have to be a formal process – just a conversation. Furthermore, this will help you know more about them and their goals as well.

Conduct Surveys

On your orientation checklist, include check-ins at certain points and ask them to complete a survey to find out how things are going. The manager should meet with them frequently to answer questions as well. By putting these on the orientation checklist, this will help guarantee that it will be done. This will also help the manager develop a relationship with the new employee.

Final Thoughts on Onboarding

Ensure you have top leaders in your company. They need to establish a good relationship with the employee early. The number one reason many people leave their job is because of their manager. By establishing a good, positive relationship with the new employee early, the manager will help retain them. Hire great leaders in your organization and get rid of the bad ones. You will never retain your employees if you have bad management. 

No matter how small or large your company is, you should implement a professional onboarding process to ensure your new hires thrive in their new roles. Additionally, as you develop your orientation program, ask for their input to help future employees. Be creative with your process as well. Some companies make onboarding into a game by leveling up the new employee and trainers to win awards and prizes as they go through the process. Whatever method you choose, develop a plan and a good system early on to ensure you quickly develop your new employees and help retain them longer.


Author: Kimberley Kay Travis

Kim Travis has over 20 years of experience in business, human resource management, and leadership roles. She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, small business growth, leadership development, workplace safety and health programs, and writing business content.