M&M Monday: Smoothing the New Hire Onboarding Process

Bringing on a new hire is often chaotic for small businesses, especially those that do not have a fully defined or step-by-step employee on-boarding process.  Here are some things that might help smooth out the transition:

Prepare for and plan your new hire’s first three days:  Your employee’s first days on the job will impact how your employee views your company and their decision to join you.  Employees whose first days are filled with chaos or confusion as to why they are there and what they are supposed to be doing, or who do not have an adequate workspace or the appropriate tools to begin to become acclimated to systems or to begin work, will likely begin to doubt their decision to join your organization and may question how they will be able to accomplish anything in such a chaotic environment.  But greeting an employee as if they were expected, shown to a prepared work space, and presented with a a schedule for their first days with the company will project a calm, efficient, and professional environment—an environment that will allow the employee to begin to build confidence in your management and the employee’s ability to achieve the results expected of them.

Streamline Reporting Requirements:  Research your legal obligations and make a checklist of items that must be filed or reported for each new hire.  Add any specific requirements needed by your company (i.e. updating payroll, insurance coverage, etc.).  Add the due date for each item (i.e20 calendar days after hire date).  Make a copy of this list for each new hire, and fill in the date of completion as each task is completed.  As each list is completed for a new hire, place the list into a New Hire folder that can be easily accessed should you receive any inquiries from regulatory bodies.  (Because the list does not contain personal information you can keep them together, this provides a single location for ease in auditing compliance.)

Culture Shock:  Recognize that introducing a new employee has an exponential and not a linear effect on your company cultural environment or interpersonal dynamics, which you ignore at your peril.  Each new employee —no matter how effective, positive, or competent—must navigate the current employee relationships, and as they become acclimated, will inevitably disrupt the status quo.  Recognizing this, preparing for it, and taking steps to minimize the assimilation will pay off in faster ramp-up and a happier employee base.  One way to accomplish this is to establish a cultural mentoring system that operates alongside your routine training or functional shadowing.  Choose a mentor that best represents the culture you wish to foster (e.g. an employee with a positive attitude, works without complaint, has a strong teamwork mentality, is generally well liked, etc.) and task this person with getting to know the newbie.  Provide the mentor with the time and resources (i.e. funds for a few of site lunches) to get to know your new employee on a personal basis and be available to them for the first few months in your company.  By facilitating this relationship with one of your ‘model’ employees, it is more likely that should any adjustment difficulties arise, the newbie will consult their mentor—a person well positioned to provide a calming influence, who will more than likely provide a solution that is aligned with the company’s goals.

Training: Take advantage of new hire incentives.  For example, the Texas Workforce Commission’s Skills for Small Business program offers financial assistance to small businesses to help them train their workforce.  The program is open to businesses with fewer than 100 employees and provides up to $1,450 for full-time new hires (and $725 for longer-term employees) tuition and fees for approved courses.  Taking advantage of these programs will not only show your new employee you are willing to invest in their skill development, but will provide benefit in the form of an employee base with updated skills that they can then share to benefit existing coworkers.

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