As business owners, we understand the importance of hiring the right people and training them to become a productive part of our team. But what you do after you hire them can be the determining factor as to how long they will stay and how productive they will be as a part of your team.
Take a minute to recall your most memorable first day….… at a new job, in school, on a sports team. Does any part of that day resonate in your memory, good or bad? Were you made to feel comfortable aside from generic pleasantries? Where you ignored? Did you know where anything was located beyond the restrooms? How long did it take before you started to really relate to those you would be spending so much time with? Did you really feel like you had a connection with them?
Now take a minute to recognize the opportunity before you as a business owner; the opportunity to create a memorable first day for every individual that has committed to becoming part of your team. You can immediately start building the foundation for that individual’s loyalty to you and your business.
The experiences had during this crucial acclimation period can very well determine the duration of their employment with you, as well as how loyal they will be to you and your business. This proactive process of helping the new employee to adjust to your company culture, understand their new role, and reach productivity is commonly referred to as On Boarding.
What Is Onboarding?
According to Wikipedia, On-Boarding refers to the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders. In my own words its the steps we take as a business to educate, train and integrate new employees and to make them feel like a part of the team.
On-Boarding typically begins at the moment the employment offer is accepted and can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on your business.
Effective On-Boarding has many benefits:
- Accelerate performance
- Increase employee retention
- Help integrate employees into company culture, processes and values
- Reduce employee turnover
- Shorten the training cycle and create productive employees faster
- Create trust between the empolyee and owner/management
Creating an On-Boarding Plan
Be Proactive In Your Employee Retention
One of the greatest advantages of On-Boarding is your opportunity to proactively retain your employees and minimize team member turnover. Start building that trust and loyalty from day one and you can create a team that will stick around even when times get tough.
Some things you can do to immediately start building a long lasting relationship:
- Have a team lunch to welcome your new hire to the group. This will give your new team member the opportunity to meet everyone in a casual setting before getting right into the training process.
- Have a one on one lunch or coffee with your new team member. Spending some quality time at the beginning will help accelerate the relationship building and start the road to loyalty and trust. You’d be amazed at how many business owners never get to know their employees, yet are surprised when they leave for another job.
- Assign a mentor. Assigning one of your veteran or top employees to mentor the new hire has a two fold affect; The new team member now has a confidant, someone they can turn to, while the veteran employee gets empowered with the responsibility of helping to train new employees.
- Give a token of appreciation. A small welcome gift that is meaningful and related to the business can be a nice gesture that they are now part of the team.
Be Clear In Setting Expectations
Some tips for setting employee expectations:
- Spend the first day or two orientating, not training your new employee. Tell stories. Tell stories about why you conduct business the way you do. Give examples of the high standards you and your team have set for the business. Talk about customer success stories and examples of why you are such a great business. The last thing a new team member wants to do is ruin a great reputation.
- Explain to them how you and the rest of the team hold each other accountable. I like to tell new hires that my team members often call me out (the owner) when I fail to live up to the teams expectations. Be crystal clear in the importance the team takes in everyone pulling their weight. I have lost a few new hires during this stage as they realized we meant business and they knew they couldn’t live up to our expectations. Better now than later.
- As the business owner, you should tell them “Your Story“. How many of your employees know how and why you started your business? What the motivation is that drives you? You should be telling all of your employees why you do what you do. I find that when your team knows how much you go through as a business owner (they have no idea), they will try their best not to let you down.
- Perform frequent follow ups during the first few weeks. The best way to re-enforce good behavior and cut out bad is to give frequent feedback on performance. Your new employee will be looking for validation for their performance, be sure to give it to them.
Create an Employee Handbook
Providing your employees with an Employee Handbook protects your business, as well as educates your employees on what you expect of them, and what they should expect of you as their employer. It does not have to be long, but it should cover enough so that it will serve as a reference for your new employee and answer their most common questions.
Some of the basic information it should contain:
- Employment Practices (Complaint Procedures, Emergency Closings, Immigration Law Compliance, Outside Employment, Workers Compensation Policy, Performance Appraisal System, Promotions and Transfers, Corrective Actions, Extensive Medical Leave, etc).
- Employee Responsibilities (Dress Code and Appearance, Standard for Conduct, Communication and Information Systems, Facility Security, Attendance and Coverage Procedures, Confidentiality, Drugs, Employee Conduct and Work Rules, Personal Property, Safety, etc)
- Compensation and Benefits (Payroll Procedures, Hours of Work, Scheduled Breaks, Overtime, Insurance and Benefits, etc)
- Time Off (Funeral Leave, Holidays, Jury Duty, Vacation, Sick and Personal Time)
Spend time going over your employee handbook with your new employee and answer any questions they have. There are other elements that should be included in your employee handbook but the above should serve as a base to answer questions and to help clarify procedures should a conflict ever arise. Be sure you are familiar with your state employment laws before adding anything that may conflict with them.