As for onboarding employees, most hear that phrase and instantly think hassle, headache, timely, and potentially costly process. It doesn’t have to be, though—far from it. As a small business owner, finding top talent, hiring them, and ensuring they are appropriately onboarded is an essential part of you. And rather than looking at it as something of a hassle, you can adopt a new approach where employee onboarding is concerned.
When poorly onboarded, it goes without saying that new employees will have a hard time with it. Poor onboarding practices can lead to disastrous overall tenures, which is not an exaggeration. Just consider how vital starting on the right foot and a positive note is for someone new to the company. The key to a productive onboarding experience is to be methodical about the process—for that matter. You need to make sure that there is, in fact, a process in place. Below we look at five key steps to improve onboarding for new employees.
1. Prepare those already working for you.
This is an essential step. Most small business owners tend to overlook or skip this step. You have likely established a company culture, and ideally, it is one of openness, honesty, and straightforward communication. So communicate! Make sure your current employees know something about the new hire, so they are prepared to welcome them. Describe their upcoming role. Ask for their cooperation as far as showing the new employee the ropes. In readying your team, you pave the way for a smoother onboarding experience.
2. Have the new employee’s station ready.
The worst thing you could do is have the new hire come in and have no designated place to set up or in which to establish themselves. Remember, onboarding is about creating a comfortable zone to promote optimal productivity. How can someone be productive if their workstation is only half done or not done at all? The answer is, they can’t possibly be effective. The more their work area looks complete, the more “at home” they will inevitably feel, and this generally leads to a more positive work attitude.
3. Plan an initial team meeting or lunch.
There’s a great deal to be said for breaking the ice. The new person is precisely that: new. They are likely nervous and somewhat unsure of their place in the firm. By starting with a team meeting or a team lunch, you facilitate introductions, that first-phase small talk, and you can also address more essential questions that the person or that the team may have.
4. Implement a fair amount of training.
Many bosses are guilty of offering too short a training period and then throwing that new employee into the deep end of the pool. This is going to backfire on you, big time. You need to establish a well-thought-out training program and give the new hire an ample amount of time to complete that program and thus make sure they are comfortable with the scope and requirements of their role.
5. Make sure you follow up with the employee.
To gauge how practical your onboarding experience was for the new hire, you have to follow up once all is said and done. Ask thoughtful questions about the incident. Find out what worked, what they liked, what could have been changed. This way, next time, for that next new hire, you can make the appropriate adjustments. It would be best if you always worked to improve the onboarding experience for all new employees.
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