5 Best Practices For Onboarding New Employees

What is employee onboarding exactly?

It’s how your new hires adjust to not only the performance aspects of their job, but the social atmosphere of your business.

It’s how they adjust to their jobs quickly and smoothly and how you help them learn the skills, behaviors, attitudes and knowledge they need to function well in your company.

When onboarding is done right, it makes your employees’ adjustment easier. As an added bonus, onboarding is a great retention strategy.

Well-adjusted employees are happy employees that tend to stick around for a while.

Unfortunately, many employers miss the boat when it comes to onboarding. This point is driven home by the statistic that says 22% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment.

How can you stay above this statistic? With a great onboarding strategy.

In this article, we look at five best practices for onboarding new employees. We give you some tips for doing it right for added success down the road.

#1: Make a Plan

Create a structured plan for your new hires. Prepare for them well in advance of their arrival.

Make an agenda for their first week of work. There is nothing worse than being bored in a new job and feeling guilty because you don’t know what to do.

Schedule times in this agenda for your new hire to meet with each of your key staff members and management team.

When it comes to staff members, give them a synopsis of your new hire’s work history. Give them the new employee’s job description and how it works with their own job.

Thoughtfully pick a mentor for your new employee. This person should be your new hire’s buddy for the first week of work. They should be there to answer all questions, introduce the new hire around and provide key information about your business.

Decide where your new hire will work. Then, make sure the work station or office is clean and well-appointed with pens, paper, a computer, phone, phone directory, calendar, employee handbook and anything else the employee might need.

This helps ensure they feel welcome and have a place to call their own from the very first day. This is their “safe” place when the first week becomes overwhelming.

If you really want to master onboarding, give your new employees a welcome gift. You can put a flower or a plant in their work area with a welcome note, give them a coffee mug, box of gourmet candy or cookies, or a custom calendar. Be creative, but do the same thing for each new hire.

Before your new hire’s first day, send them an email with parking and/or public transportation options, the time you expect them at work and the dress code.

Lastly, plan lunch out on the first day and let your new employee know in advance that you’ll be eating lunch out together and on you.

#2: Fully Organize the First Day

Remember your first day of work? Nerve-wracking, right?

Make sure everyone is ready to welcome and meet your new employee on their first day. This starts with the receptionist. They should know to anticipate the new employee.

Engage the mentor you chose, and yourself, to greet your new employee. Provide a complete office tour and introduce the hire to your employees.

Show the new staff member where the restrooms, break room, lunch room, copy machine, and other important places are. Consider providing a map if your facility is large.

Your new employee should have a meeting with his supervisor on the first day. The supervisor can give the new hire an overview of the first 90 days and what’s expected of the position during that time.

Balance is key on the first day. Meetings, orientation and some down time should be worked into the day. It’s not a good idea to stress your new hire out on the first day.

#3: Conduct Thorough Training

After the busy first day of meeting staff and filling out forms is complete, the real training can begin.

While you may be tempted to set your new hire loose, it’s not a good idea.

You want to thoroughly train your new employee. Teach them about your product line and services. Let them know about your company’s mission and your long-range goals.

Do you have operational software they need trained on? Schedule time for your new employee to be trained on things like your POS or employee schedule software.

One great tool is to let your employee shadow another employee. This could be the mentor or someone else entirely.

You can also set up a calendar and have your new hire shadow several employees during their first week. This not only gives them a chance to get to know their new co-workers, but they’ll be cross-trained on several departments.

They’ll have a nice overview of your company by then and an appreciation of the jobs of others.


#4: Set a Time for Review and Feedback

Set aside specific times during your new employee’s first weeks and months. Build in time for them to provide their feedback.

Let them know that you encourage their comments and new ideas. This may be difficult at first, but keep trying, and soon everyone will be comfortable with the process.

In addition, let your new hire know you’ll conduct their first review after they’ve worked 90 days. This is a great time to review the new employee’s workload and identify any weaknesses that need to be addressed.

Be sure and recognize strengths at this time as well.

#5: Evaluate Your Onboarding Program

Just like anything else in the working world, you want to know if you’re doing it right. To know if you are conducting onboarding in the best way possible, you need data to review.

Survey your new hires at several points during the onboarding process. Ask them to complete a survey at one, three, six and 12 months into their employment.

Use the data to improve and fine-tune your onboarding programs.

Final Thoughts

When you’re busy with your day-to-day work and work-stresses, it can be hard to think about employee training and onboarding.

But, it’s up to you to create engaged and productive employees and the right culture for retention and longevity.

Effective and well thought out onboarding techniques and strategies are encouraging to your new hires. They feel more comfortable with your company and your employees. They have a better understanding of your work ethic and your company’s ethos.

Be transparent with your new hires and give them a reason to believe in your company’s mission.

Onboarding right takes creativity, time and effort on your part. Consider, though, the dollars involved with each new hire. You don’t want to waste that on onboarding done poorly.

Successful onboarding often pays for itself in customer loyalty and employee morale.

And, remember, onboarding is what turns new hires into productive, happy, superb employees.

Do you have onboarding strategies that worked for your business? What did your employees respond to? Please comment below to share your tips with others.