The old adage goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Therefore, employee onboarding programs should be taken very seriously, because they can help determine how active your employees are and how long they stay with your company.
A TalentWise study shows, “91%of employees stick around for at least a year when organizations have efficient on-boarding processes. Of those, 69% stick around for at least three years when companies have well-structured on-boarding programs.” Furthermore, since it costs over $10,000 on average to hire each new employee, it makes sense to invest in a strong onboarding process.
As you hire new employees for your small business, be sure to think about their long term potential. When considering how long or short to create your onboarding program, remember another pertinent business saying:
CFO: What happens if we train them and they leave?
CEO: What happens if we don’t and they stay?
Christina Campanella of Stericycle writes on LinkedIn, “Why is proper onboarding so important? Because turnover is expensive—astronomically so. The cost of replacing an entry-level employee is 30-50 percent of the person’s annual salary. And, for mid and senior-level employees it can reach 150 – 400 percent respectively. At every departure, morale and productivity suffer. That’s why it’s vital that all organizations hold on to their people, and they can start by providing a well-designed onboarding process to educate new employees about their place within the larger culture.”
This piece will outline how to follow 9 specific procedures that lead to creating strong onboarding programs. Such programs will help reduce employee turnover and keep your small business’s new employees both motivated and happy.
1. Lockdown New Employee Details
Before your new employee starts for their first day at your company, make sure that their email is ready for them. Additionally, make sure that all of the technical details are nailed for your new employees — nothing makes you feel like a cog in a wheel more than seeing your name spelled incorrectly on the first day of work. Little things like checking the spelling of your new employees names goes a long way.
For example, a friend named Dermot told me, “My name was misspelled Dermont at 4 out of my 5 most recent jobs.” This was immediately off-putting to him.
Another thing you can do to make sure your onboarding program is effective is to double check that you have proper payment information so your new employees will be paid when their first payment is owed to them.
Also, add the birthdays of new hires to a shared office birthday calendar. When they notice this, they’ll be pleased to see you care about them.
2. Be Around to Answer Questions
Find out what specific questions your new hires have, and make sure that these questions are answered quickly and effectively during onboarding. Questions that employees may ask that you can have answers ready for include:
- Where are some excellent spots to eat lunch nearby?
- What does the company org chart look like?
- What day will I get paid?
- How do I login to “X, Y, Z” software programs?
- What do I do in the event of an emergency?
3. Have an Employee Handbook
Having a new employee handbook will function as a way for you to make sure your new employees have many questions answered in advance of their employment starting. Strongly encourage your new employees to read this handbook (or online guide) prior to their first day of work. You can also request that your new employees sign a document stating that they have read the handbook prior to their first day of work.
4. Encourage Collaboration Early On
Bring in people from different departments to speak to your new hires, as this will encourage cross-team collaboration and build a stronger sense of purpose.
It is important for every employee to understand how they may interact with other parts of the company where they don’t work directly. Letting existing employees who perform different functions introduce themselves to new hires will make everyone more approachable. This will likely lead to more cross-team collaboration and fewer communications errors.
5. Use Social Time Wisely
Integrate new hires with everyone else during the onboarding process – over lunches, drinks, or other bonding activities.
While it is important to separate your new hires from other employees for some activities, it makes sense to start integrating your new employees so they don’t feel like social outcasts. Introduce people from the teams that your new employees will be joining into the mix early so people can get to know each other as people and start discussing how they will be able to collaborate.
6. A Little Personalization Goes a Long Way
Create specific onboarding activities for specific employees. A little personalization will go a long way toward success.
Additionally, emphasize your company’s core mission and make sure each employee knows how they will fit into the schema of your company as a whole. You don’t have to give the same onboarding process to a janitor as you must give to your new CMO.
7. Don’t Forget You Have a Corporate Culture
Make sure you emphasize whatever the corporate culture is; whatever you want it to be in the future. Your employees are your company’s future. If you value them, there is a good chance they will value you back.
There are also benefits to making sure your employees truly understand your corporate culture. For example, my uncle, a senior level Starbucks executive, had to work as a barista during his first month with the company. This program is designed for employees to learn to be empathetic to their peers and also teaches them about Starbucks’ core business: selling coffee. People at all levels of Starbucks who have gone through this program love it and say it helps them truly understand the company.
8. Set up Performance Roadmaps
It is important to get your employees on the right track from Day 1. Make sure you set individual plans with each of them to track their performances over the next six months. This means having weekly meetings with your direct reports to go over their progress. If an employee isn’t living up to your expectations, it is your duty to communicate to them effectively how they can improve. Furthermore, you must track progress carefully.
9. Make Yourself Available
As a small business owner, it is important for your new hires to know that you care about them. Make sure you are open to answer any question that an employee has for you. In a small work environment, new employees will likely model their behavior off of your behavior: if you tend to leave the office early or arrive late, this implies that it is okay for your employees to do the same. So be careful!
If you follow these steps, you will set yourself up for success as a small business owner.