The first day of a new job can be overwhelming for new employees. There are company policies and procedures to absorb, colleagues to meet, and job duties to learn. That stress can make the first few days of a job uncomfortable. As a small business owner, it makes sense for you to make that transition as easy and pleasant for the new hire as possible.

Taking some simple steps will help your new employee feel more welcome and appreciated at your company. Making the process less stressful enables the worker to get to know the team and their role, without additional worries pulling their attention. It can also help increase morale, enhance team-building and decrease turnover.

Here are some simple tips for successfully onboarding new employees.

1. Use an Onboarding Checklist

When you bring on a new employee there are a number of things that you, and the new person, need to do.  These include:

  • Payroll Setup
  • Technology setup (email accounts, core systems, etc)
  • Reviewing the HR manual
  • Initial training

Create and then follow a detailed checklist so that the admin/supervisor knows exactly what needs to be done.  Some of it should be done BEFORE the employee starts work, some on the first day, and some within the first week.  For even the smallest employers you shouldn’t leave this to your memory.  Things change constantly, so this should be updated with each new hire.

2. Talk to your current employees

The people who best know what it’s like to be the new person in your business are people who were once new in your business. Ask them how they felt their onboarding process went. What challenges did they face? What went well? What could be improved on? What were their concerns when they started? How long did it take them to feel comfortable? What might they have done differently?

Chances are, their experiences, thoughts and feelings will be similar to the new person’s. After you’ve spoken with your current employees, see if there are ways to address those challenges. Could the training duration have been longer? Would new employees benefit from a mentor within your company? Are there frequently asked questions you can answer without waiting for the new person to bring them up?

3. Address their concerns

Every new employee has questions they’re afraid to ask, and being afraid to ask questions makes people feel less welcome and more uncomfortable. To help ease new employees in, anticipate the questions they’ll have and answer them so they aren’t stuck wondering about potential issues. Tell them about their compensation, benefits and other bonuses to working at your business. Let them know some of the drawbacks and how you compensate for those issues. This information should also be available in writing.

The new person often has to take in a lot of information in a short time, and somehow try to remember it all. Don’t expect that they will retain everything. Where possible, provide documents they can refer to as they learn more about your company. Topics such as reporting structure, benefits and compensation, and company policies can all be written out for easy reference. Tailor the documents—put the new employee’s name at the top of the paperwork, for example—so they feel more welcome.

4. Introduce new employees

Don’t wait for your current employees to walk up to the new person and make introductions, schedule time to introduce the new employee to colleagues, including the senior leadership or managers at your firm. That individual time gives new employees a chance to get to know the company and get a good feel for how their new coworkers interact.

It also helps the new worker understand who does what within your company, and who to turn to if they need assistance or have questions.

5. Schedule follow-up meetings

Don’t just assume that everything will work well.  Schedule meetings with the new hire to check in on them.  We scheduled a meeting at the end of 7 days, one month and three months.  This is especially important if you have a probation period and the person’s employment may be terminated during this time.  It’s also a great way to set goals and expectations and monitor if these are being completed.  Here’s what we cover in our various meetings:

  • 7 Days
    • Has the initial onboarding checklist been completed by all parties?
    • Are there any issues that need to be addressed?
    • Now that they are in the job are there any goals they would like to work on or training that they would like to receive?
  • One Month
    • Do they feel adequately supported in their role?
    • Are there any job functions that they are struggling with?
    • Are there any performance issues visible?  If so, what performance management plan and follow-up will we put in place?
  • Three Months
    • Are we terminating?
    • Have any initial training tasks been completed?
    • What would they want to change about the role?
    • What training would they like?
    • What goals do they have for the rest of the year?

Final thoughts

It’s best if you view onboarding new employees as a month-long process, not as a one-day primer on your company. Over the course of the month, check in with the new hire to see how they’re doing. Ask how their first few days (or weeks) are going. Find out if there’s anything they need. Schedule lunches or group discussions to give your new employee a chance to feel more comfortable with their colleagues.

Everyone feels more relaxed when the process of onboarding a new employee is smooth and stress-free.

Got a question?

Want to chat about your business? Get in touch with us. We’ve got tips on finding great employees and other ways we can help you grow.

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