According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the average cost of hire is $4,129 and the average amount of time to hire a new employee is 42 days. Up to 20% of employee turnover happens within the first 45 days.
According to an article in Inc., the cost of turnover can be up to 150% of the annual salary.
Turnover is expensive and one of the ways to ensure your new employee stays is to implement an effective onboarding process. Onboarding your new hires to your small business is important. You have spent time recruiting them, now you need to spend time orientating and training them professionally to ensure they become productive quickly. How many times in your career have you started a new job only to wait that first day for someone to meet with you? Or give you the new hire paperwork? How many times have people seemed impatient and trying to hurry because they have a job to do? Onboarding needs to be a process divided up between different people and it should be done in an effective, organized manner. It shouldn’t be a rushed job.
What is onboarding? It is the process of integrating a new employee into your company. Every small and large business should develop a thorough onboarding system. Once employees are engaged in your company, they will perform better as well. They are invested. This is why onboarding your employees effectively is so important.
Here are some steps to implement an effective onboarding process:
- Always send an offer letter to the new hire. 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. The reason for this is sometimes a manager will assign duties that are completely different from the job description. This can frustrate new hires and will often lead them to quit if they don’t think they will get to do the job they accepted and agreed to. Everyone should be clear on what the new hire should do.
- Develop an extensive new hire orientation program. Orientation programs should not be for just a day or two. They 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.
Before day one, they should know things like where to park, clock in and out times, lunch times, and the dress code. 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.
Also, 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.
- Make sure they understand their 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 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. Also, this will help you know more about them and their goals as well.
- Conduct frequent surveys and check-ins with new employees. 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.
- Establish good relationships early. Ensure you have top leaders in your company. The manager and supervisor needs 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. Once the new employees trust their manager and has respect for them, they are one step to being committed to the organization.
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. At the beginning of the onboarding process, tell them that you would like input at different times to see what you may need to adjust for the next new hire. This will help you along the way to continuously improve your onboarding methods. 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, co-owner of Travis and Adams Consulting Group, has over 20 years’ experience in human resources and leadership roles.
She has specialized knowledge in employment law, employee relations, recruiting, management consulting, leadership development, manufacturing safety programs, and writing business articles and blogs.