Onboarding is how new hires get adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new jobs both quickly and smoothly while also learning the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to be successful at your company.
Many people use the words onboarding and orientation interchangeably, but they can be very different things. While orientation is usually a session the new employee attends on their first day or week in their new role, onboarding is much more than that. Although it certainly may and should include orientation.
The onboarding process should build on the excitement and energy new employees feel at the start of their new job. Done well, it sets the foundation for an employee’s long-term success. Additionally, this process helps reinforce your company culture and processes with current workers.
Onboarding Step 1 - Plan Ahead
Studies have found that the more devoted an organization is to crafting a thorough onboarding program, the greater likelihood that the employee will remain employed with the company.
Turnover is expensive. Each year, nearly a quarter of the workforce undergoes some transition, so the sooner an employee feels confident in their ability to do their job and their place in the corporate culture, the sooner they will be contributing to your bottom line. Be sure to take the questions here into consideration when organizing your onboarding program.
Onboarding actually starts before the employee even shows up to work on their first day. It’s important to prepare the employee regarding what to expect, what time of day should they be starting, who do they ask for when they get there, where do they park, how do they dress, what do they need to bring with them, will they be provided with lunch or coffee? These are all important details that should be communicated to every employee well in advance of their first day on the job. And you can send this information either electronically or as a hard copy.
Be sure to share this hiring decision with anyone in the department. There’s nothing worse than seeing a new face and having no context for who they are or why they’re in the office
Onboarding Step 2 - Make a Good First Impression
First impressions are everything. It is important to make sure that your new employee feels welcomed and set-up for success. A ranging opportunity for them to get familiar with different groups of employees is a great way to help them break the ice. You might have someone welcome them, give an office tour, and take a group of them to coffee or lunch. If they are new to the area, some tips for local hotspots or parking may be helpful.
Employees are never more excited about their jobs than the first day. It is a great opportunity to really build enthusiasm for the job and the company. It may even reenergize your current employees and involve them in the orientation process.
There are also many administrative items to be done on the first day, and this a good time to get started on that.
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Onboarding Step 3 - Complete All Required Documents
Many employers don’t have a solid idea of what documentation they’re required to have new employees fill-out, so you’ll want to ensure that you comply with both the federal and state documents you’re required to give to your new team member. Most of these are time-sensitive, so please make sure that you complete them within the required timeframes.
Form I-9 is used to verify an individual’s identity and authorization to work in the United States legally. This form must be completed within three business days of hire. Once this form is complete, it should be stored separately from the personnel file.
Next is the Form W-4, which tells the employer the marital status, the number of withholding allowances, and additional amounts to use when deducting federal income tax from the employee’s pay. Employees can use the personal allowances worksheet on the form or claim as many exemptions they wish.
The Notice of Exchanges and Subsidies came out of the Affordable Care Act and should be distributed to all new employees within 14 days of hire. The purpose of this notice is to inform employees of their options and let them know that they are welcome to shop for insurance in the marketplace exchange if they so choose.
There are two different versions of this form. One for employers offering health insurance and one for employers who do not offer insurance. So it’s important to make sure you use the right one for your company.
Most states will have additional paperwork or notices that go above and beyond the federal documentation requirements, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the requirements for your state.
Onboarding Step 4 - Review The Handbook
A good employee handbook accomplishes a lot of important things. If you decide to put in the effort, you can communicate your company’s individual history, values, vision, mission, goals, whatever it is that you want new employees to get excited about.
It’s important to make sure that your handbook is updated with the most current and accurate policies that your company abides by.
A handbook shouldn’t function as an operations manual. I encourage you also to have an operations manual or procedures manual, which will probably include guidelines specific to your business’s running.
The employee handbook is not a contract of employment, it’s not a legal agreement, and it doesn’t promise that employees are hired for any definite or specified period of time.
We strongly recommend employers set aside time during onboarding for new employees to read the handbook. Non-exempt employees in particular, must be paid for all times spent working, which does include reviewing the handbook. If you send it home with them, they’re probably not going to read it. And if they do, you’re still going to be liable for any time they spend reading it.
Onboarding Step 5 -Be Intentional
Organize the new hires’ onboarding schedule with intention. Don’t try to cram in so much to the first day or two that retaining all the new information is unrealistic. You may want to stretch the whole onboarding process over a week or more. And you should definitely set-up checkpoints along the way to discuss questions, concerns, or feedback that comes up.
Onboarding Step 6 - Try a Mentorship Program
Mentoring programs are becoming standard in many companies. It’s a great resource for new hires and doesn’t cost the company anything. A mentor can make the new employee feel welcome and feel comfortable sooner, achieving acceptance and belonging.
Whether you choose to have a very structured program or a meet over coffee and see where the conversation goes, it’s a great way to share company knowledge and culture in a less formalized way.
New hires might be hesitant to ask questions from their supervisor or other team members. So peers can fill in the gap by making themselves available for those silly or embarrassing questions.
Onboarding Step 7 - Schedule a Follow-Up Meeting
With any HR programming, there should be additional evaluation and follow-up. After the onboarding is complete, a member of human resources should hold a brief meeting with the new employee to reinforce the resources available to them, touchback on topics with which the employee had questions, and provide them the opportunity to discuss any concerns or thoughts that they want to address.
This should be held near the end of the first week, the employee has been working, and again at the end of the onboarding process if it stretches that long.
Onboarding Step 8 - Get Help If You Need It
If you need help with setting up an effective onboarding process, especially with more and more employees working from home, help is available. Our HR partners have best in class software and HR expertise and have been carefully vetted by our team at Human Resources Hero. You can find an HR partner near you and read real customer reviews by visiting our HR Help Finder.