In small business, we all wear many “hats”, and are really busy. Those handling HR duties can easily get overwhelmed by just completing the necessities of HR. If your company is growing fast or experiences high employee turnover, it may be all you can do to just get new hire paperwork completed. A lack of attention and appreciation during onboarding leads to bad first impressions for new hires. Onboarding is more than paperwork, supervisor introduction and review of the Employee Handbook. Small businesses often neglect to deliver a comprehensive and meaningful onboarding experience for new hires because there is no plan. HR is just moving the paperwork and the supervisor is not given any guidance or resources to implement the onboarding. No plan means no consistent and impactful onboarding. A lost opportunity. Instead, make new hires feel important and express your gratitude they joined your team. It’s not hard – here’s how to jump-start your small business onboarding program. Onboarding is an experience.
First, realize that your business has ninety (90) days to capture the heart and mind of the new hire (whether a minimum wage worker or high priced professional). A well-developed onboarding process will not fix a “bad hire”, but a successful onboarding program can keep a good hire from leaving. First impressions count, so don’t mess it up. Many studies show that the first 90 days is prime time to build relationships with co-workers, managers and the company. By increasing your support for the new hire, your company will earn a more positive attitude from the new hire.
Second, your hiring manager needs your company’s help. Onboarding does not happen by accident. The socialization and professional support require company support and resources. Take time to define the expected roles and responsibilities of the hiring manager with each new hires. Will your company also assign a co-worker buddy? Is there a formal structure for check-ins between the hiring manager and new hire? How will you teach the new hire about your culture and company values? Build a plan and then first train your hiring manager about the onboarding process.
Third, take action to create a feeling of social acceptance by the new hire. Include them in the existing professional and personal networks at work. Invite them to connect on Facebook, Linkedin or other social media sites. Learn about their interests and show them how they can connect with co-workers of similar interests. After work events, company sponsored teams and happy hours. Also, use company successes as another chance to connect together.
Fourth, help your new hires by clearly defining their job duties and performance expectations. Have an up-to-date job description and also share the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the position. Conduct regular performance discussions (30-60-90 day) that include both recognition and developmental counseling.
Fifth, recognize that the hiring manager is busy and the company must support their role in the onboarding process. How can you motivate your hiring manager to successfully support the onboarding process? A survey of engineers showed that hiring managers look for clues from new hires to see if they are committed to the job – and if so, they are more likely to be helpful and make connections. So, new hires that are trained to be pro-active and vocal, will help support a successful onboarding process.
Sixth, create ancillary onboarding materials and information sheets to help your new hires. Information sharing and knowledge is a company value. Use various techniques for learning including self-learning, informal OJT and formal or computer based training. Employees can be encouraged to do their part in advancing their knowledge and skills.
Seventh, communicate your entire employment proposition during the onboarding. Wages and benefits are important (and need to be competitive) but don’t forget about core skill training. Teaching new hires about the “how” and “why” is a proven way to engage employees. A mentoring program can help these learnings take place.
Develop your plan, implement your process and invest in your new hires relationships.