As any good business knows, the task of filling a job opening involves more than just hiring a candidate and slotting them into the company framework. The hiring process is just the first step; the next goal is to help the new employee to feel comfortable, welcomed, and prepared to contribute. No matter how familiar a new employee is with their job description, they’ll never be ready to go without some kind of onboarding process.
Making an employee feel valuable from the jump can help with retention, which is crucial for any company looking to cut extraneous costs and increase profit. It’s shockingly expensive to replace an employee, as much as 30-50 percent of annual salary for entry-level employees, and 400 percent of annual salary for high-level or highly specialized employees and additional hidden costs such as overworking remaining staff and interviewing costs can pile up as well.
For those who are part of an expanding business looking to finalize a company-wide onboarding procedure, or a small business that needs direction in how to begin bringing new employees on seamlessly, we spoke to two HR representatives who had great tips.
1. Create a formalized process for every new employee.
A good first impression is critically important to retaining an employee long-term, according to Erica Lewis, an HR generalist at Informatics Holdings in Dallas.
“Statistically, the first 90 days can make or break an employee as far as the sales perspective of recruiting and talent and acquisition,” says Erica. “A first impression is everything for a company, because otherwise their resume is back on the market within those 90 days.”
One way to ensure a good impression is finding a system that works and sticking with it for everyone. “We’ve been developing an onboarding strategy that is consistent across the board so that everyone has the same experience coming into the organization,” Erica says.
2. Get the paperwork done beforehand.
Arriving to the office on the first day and needing to fill out paperwork and obtain badges or other clearance can make employees feel like a number rather than a person. Erica advocates jump-starting the process.
“We like to get their badge ahead of time, so their first day is about creating relationships and bonds, getting to know their team and manager and really feeling comfortable,” she says.
Of course, there are some things which legally must wait until the first official day on the job, for example, the I-9 form. Payroll forms, workers comp and security clearance are good examples of things to get out of the way early.
3. Lay out your expectations from the start
It’s one thing to lay out job responsibilities in a listing and even in an interview, but sometimes employees still arrive at the office unprepared to tackle their role.
“Over the first month, we must lay out our expectations clearly, and make sure they understand the job they’ve been tasked to do. A lot of times when a manager is rushing to fill a position, they forget this person hasn’t been trained and doesn’t know what they’re walking into. So we encourage managers to spend the appropriate amount of time making sure the employee has a feel for the job,” says Erica.
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4. Make sure their work space is set up upon arrival
“It can make for an uncomfortable situation if an employee arrives and their work space isn’t available or is missing equipment,” says Joanne Williams, HR coordinator for an investment bank in Los Angeles. “Asking someone to come to work their first day, ready to go, and not holding up your side of that bargain is unfair and sets a bad precedent.” Ensure all the things an employee will need to get started, such as a computer and access to internal tools, are prepared upon their arrival.
5. Prepare your office building for the arrival of a new employee
If a new employee arrives at your office building but has no clearance to go upstairs, they haven’t even gone the first five minutes without experiencing a hitch. Joanne suggests preparing the logistics of receiving a new employee ahead of time as well, such as setting up a parking spot, to ease the transition process. “It’s awkward if a week into working for our company, an employee still doesn’t have a place to park or access to everything he or she needs.”
6. Take them out to lunch
Sharing a meal with a new employee is a small gesture, but one that won’t go unnoticed. “We like to take people out on their first day, not only to give them an idea of a good place to eat but to start creating a relationship between people,” says Joanne. “If you don’t have a big budget and just want to order some pizzas for the break room so you can eat and talk in there, that works as a morale booster for the whole company as well.”
7. Help them understand the company’s mission
What role will a new employee play in the growth of a company? It depends on what that company’s mission and product or service. “It’s so important that people understand our vision and our mission statement and our value for the company, and for us that’s understanding the technology,” says Erica of Informatics. Taking time to give a tour, a hands-on look at current or upcoming products or holding seminars or meetings can go a long way towards aiding employees in seeing the bigger picture.
8. Familiarize them with internal tools and technology
A big part of onboarding is getting employees accustomed to the tools that help them do their job. This includes payroll and time and attendance systems or protocol for checking out fixed assets. “For us, it’s pretty cool, it’s just a finger swipe. There’s no card or badge,” Erica says of how employees enter the database. Our systems are collecting data and it’s the easiest way for the employee to extract the information they need such as pay, compensation, bonuses, and overtime.” The sooner you help employees enter and access your systems, the fewer unnecessary inquiries and issues you’ll have.
9. Follow up with them at regular intervals
Welcoming a new employee goes beyond the first day. Erica recommends something similar to what her company implemented: a 30-,60- and 90-day follow up. The first month follow up can be with a manager, while the next month’s check-in is with a more impartial HR representative. Finally, the more traditional 90-day survey is used for benchmarking and data, to ensure they’re continuing to do a good job.
“When HR representatives meet with new employees after 60 days, we’re asking them how it’s going, how do you like your new job, what do you enjoy most about your role, has anything surprised you, has your training been helpful, what would you add or change, are you bonding well with your co-workers? Also, how can I be a better representative to you, and how can your manager be a better manager to you?” says Erica.
10. Establish your role
“HR representatives have to wear many hats, and as people we want to help employees to get their work done and accomplish what they’ve set out to do. But some things are supposed to be handled certain ways, and sometimes that isn’t communicated clearly enough,” says Joanne. “For example, one new employee got in the habit of always asking me to reserve a conference room for him whenever he had a meeting, because I helped him do so early on. I eventually had to explain that he had the tools to do that on his own.”
New employees won’t know what the usual standards and practices are unless they are informed. Even if this doesn’t exactly fall under the purview of HR, it can be useful to help set the ground rules early.
If your company has gone through the trouble of interviewing, vetting and hiring a new employee, it’s important to make this prospective new working relationship a positive one if possible. Find, create and tweak an onboarding process that’s right for your company (or at least department) and realize the benefits, both financial and professional, of integrating your new co-worker seamlessly.
Using these tips, how can you help make your next new hire transition to their new position easier?