You’ve read through resumes and cover letters, held in-person interviews and made your decision to hire a new employee to join your business. Congratulations! Now comes the fun part of the process — onboarding the new talent.
Or it should be fun, anyway. Far too often, onboarding new employees means sitting them down with a pile of paperwork to fill out and introducing the talent to the team so quickly that the employee struggles to remember everyone’s names afterward. It’s harmful for any business to have an onboarding process that isn’t engaging, but it’s especially damaging for lean startups. The prospective hire might have heard the company talk about their collaborative environment only to come on the team and find out the atmosphere doesn’t match its interview description. This may even lead them to seek employment elsewhere.
The best way to retain new talent and show that they are valued from day one is to onboard in the same way you’d want to be brought on the team. Here’s a handful of initiatives small business owners can implement to create a more personalized process.
- Prep before the new hire arrives.
Your new employee will likely be excited (and a bit nervous) about their first day at work, but that excitement may fall flat when they realize nobody has set up a workstation for them or greets them upon arrival. Before the new hire steps into the office, prep by making sure the following areas are ready to go.
- Workstation setup. Do they have a computer ready and a place to sit? Has an email address been created? Do they need a phone extension? Do they need a key to the office?
- Documents and employee handbook. Bundle your hiring documents and materials like organizational charts to provide to the newbie in a batch. You may even want to email them over to fill out before the employee arrives so less time is spent on paperwork, and they can become more familiar with the processes. If your employee handbook is outdated, now is your chance to update it for the new hire (and for the rest of your team too).
- Company announcement. Let your team know that a new employee will be joining them in a quick companywide email. Explain more about who the person is, their job title, what they will be doing and any fun facts about their background.
- Ensure a great welcome with an introduction to the team.
Don’t let a companywide email about your new hire be their only introduction. Conduct a walking tour of your space with the new employee so they have an understanding of where certain rooms, like the restrooms and break room, are located and where they can find resources like printers and copiers. Personally introduce the newbie to the rest of the team one-on-one to make it easier for them to remember names and faces. After you’ve made the initial rounds, you might want to encourage even more mingling with the team. Take everyone out to lunch, play icebreaker games as a group or pop champagne to celebrate their arrival.
- Meet with the new hire for orientation.
Your agenda should include a big picture explanation of the overall workings of the company. The new hire should have a greater understanding of the company at large and their role in it. Outline any etiquette rules the business may have, the types of technology you use, any social media or password policies and more of the inner workings of the business including its mission, milestones and goals for the future.
- Establish a 30-60-90 day plan.
In addition to understanding their role in the company, make sure the employee clearly understands their role and what is expected of them. Create a 30-60-90 day plan that outlines their responsibilities to help them gradually work their way up. (Why 90 days? This is the typical benchmark date for the onboarding process.)
From here, it’s a good idea to begin thoroughly training your team member. Don’t cram it into one day since the learning curve varies for everyone. My recommendation is to ease them in over the course of a week-long training period. You may also want to assign them a mentor who has plenty of experience within that department and can be on hand to help guide and engage them.
- Check in regularly.
The new team member’s desk is set, they’ve met the team, understand their duties and the overall company and have trained accordingly. On to the next hire, right? Not quite. Meet in person with both the team member and their mentor (if you have appointed one) regularly to see how the new hire is fitting into the role.
Admittedly, not every employee will be a fit, and it’s important to recognize these signs early on if issues flare up. Many others will though, and touching base together does more than just ensure that the hire is getting their duties accomplished. It gives the newbie the confidence to keep moving forward in areas they excel in and the feedback they need to work on areas they need extra help in. Pretty soon, they won’t be the newbie anymore and all of that will be thanks to the strength of your onboarding process!
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.
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