It’s no secret that the first few days, weeks, and months of a new employee’s time with a company are filled with a mix of emotions from excitement and high hopes to nerves and uncertainty. The onboarding experience is your first opportunity to introduce your new employee to your business, your expectations and goals for their role within the company, and set the overall tone for your working relationship going forward. Onboarding is your first step toward quality employee engagement, which translates to higher productivity, improved satisfaction, and lower turnover. All good things, right? So how can you ensure a stellar onboarding experience?
Begin Onboarding Paperwork Prior to the First Day
Break the mold here. Traditionally, employees have started their onboarding activities on their first day of work. This often required hours of sitting in a room to complete paperwork. Do you know anyone who has felt amazing during this portion of the onboarding experience? Yea, neither do we.
Dare to be different. Allow your new employees to complete their onboarding paperwork prior to their first day of work using a cloud-based onboarding solution. In a matter of minutes, your new employee can complete his or her Federal and State tax withholding forms, I-9, company and position-specific acknowledgements, benefits elections, and any other required forms. You also can screen for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) at this time to get the process started should your new employee qualify. Screening for WOTC could translate into thousands of dollars in available tax credits, reducing your tax burden. It’s definitely something to consider to make the onboarding experience stellar for you and your business.
Prepare Access, Equipment, and Workstation Prior to the First Day
There’s a common saying, “Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail.” This is as true in business as it is in life in general. If you fail to prepare for your new employee, you should expect to have a lackluster onboarding experience and set the wrong tone for your new employee (fail).
Preparing doesn’t need to be complicated. You can prepare by ensuring you have some essential items in place such as:
- Access badge or ID
- Network access
- Office supplies
- Printer access
- Payroll pin
- Personal protective equipment
- Company logo items (e.g., mug, hat, pens, notepad, etc)
- Organization chart
Setting these things up prior to the first day helps to set the stage for your new employee. It shows that you are prepared, excited for your new employee to join the company, and ready to get him or her rolling and ramped up for work. Don’t waste time trying to find everything or set things up when your new employee is on site. Enlist others within the company to assist in getting everything together. This will actually serve dual purposes. First, it will allow you to get everything ready quickly and easily. And second, it will empower your existing employees to take charge and become engaged early on with your new employee. Everybody wins when you prepare.
Welcome New Employees
Welcome your new employee to the company. Share a little about him or her such as past experience, current role, and something personal (e.g., what they like to do for fun or other fun fact). Obviously, you’ll want to discuss with your new employee what information is appropriate / acceptable to share.
Your welcome message can be in the form of a quick email to the company, or you may elect to have a staff meeting and introduce your new employee(s) that way. Whatever the method of delivery, a welcome message goes a long way to make your new employee feel welcome and acknowledged, and it helps your existing employees feel included and informed. It’s a great ice breaker in general, too!
Set Up Employee to Employee Introductions
Schedule time between your new employee and those he or she will work the most closely. Establishing these relationships early will benefit everyone involved. And by scheduling these first meetings, you eliminate the awkwardness of figuring out who to talk to, for how long, and about what.
Plan an Orientation Event
Orientation is a critical component of the onboarding process. The purpose of orientation is to review:
- Company history, mission, and vision
- Company culture
- Company policies and procedures
- Expectations for:
- Email and voicemail
- Dress code
- Logging hours worked & time-off requests
Orientation is also a time to provide a tour of the facility and introduce new employees to supervisors and team members.
Feedback, Feedback, Feedback
Be sure to collect feedback from new employees and existing employees on an ongoing basis. Ask questions like:
- What did you like / dislike about your onboarding experience?
- What was your experience like using an automated onboarding platform versus paper for your required forms?
- Did you have everything you needed on your first day? If not, what were you missing?
- Is there anything you wish you would have known early in your time at [company name]?
- Did you meet / train with the right people during your first few weeks? If not, who did you feel was missing?
The more you know, the better equipped you will be to evolve your onboarding experience and make it the best it can be. Plus, reaching out for feedback and then taking action on it will show your employees that their feedback matters. This will open the door for communication and create a healthy dialogue.