How To Onboard New Employees

You've done it. You've gone ahead and hired someone for a job. They have signed the papers and are on their way.

What's next? Onboarding, of course. Hiring is just a piece of the puzzle. You hire someone to get something done. How you onboard has a major role in how quickly your employees get up to speed and become productive. It also helps your employees form the right impression of your company.

Even if you are a small company, good onboarding is important. It helps you inculcate a sense of ownership in your team, and that's incredibly important for businesses at any stage. Prepare yourself to be disappointed if you expect someone to hit the ground running, no matter how experienced they are.

What is “good” onboarding then? It can mean different things for different companies. For a small company, onboarding may just be easing the new employee into the company, introducing them to the team, their work, helping them out with some common tasks in the first week, and monitoring their progress.

For a more established company, it may be a little more time consuming. You may want the employee to understand your culture, explore the company’s history, and then introduce them to their work. It may help to be creative here. You don’t want the onboarding experience to feel boring… the new employee should enjoy the experience.

Here are some tips on how you can onboard new employees effectively.

Take care of the details

Before a new employee arrives at your office, have little things taken care of. These may include things like:

… etc. You don’t want a situation where they arrive at your office only to see total chaos. That works at some stages (when you are hiring only your first couple of employees), but it leaves a poor impression early on.

Warm them up

You may need urgent help in some department. It’s easy to expect someone to pick things up themselves and start contributing in the first couple of days. Don’t fall into that trap.

No matter who you hire, no matter how experienced they are, it’s crucial that you allow them to ease themselves in. Give them the first week or so to understand their work, their team, and their new surroundings. It’s hard to settle in a new environment, and you would rather they take time than never settle in at all.

Ease them in

A new environment can be intimidating, but a lot of the first day (or first week!) anxiety can be taken care of by good onboarding.

Have all of your team introduce themselves to the new employee, and spend some time with them. Ask them questions, and encourage them to ask questions. Get a conversation going. Help them understand what their future with your company looks like, the opportunities they have, and how they can grow. The first few days are when you establish a sense of ownership, so it’s important you do a good job here.

Help them out

Assign them a mentor in the first week. Help them out with common tasks, and monitor their progress. When you are growing quickly, you may think you don’t have the time to do this, but do you really have the time to hire for the same position all over again? You probably don’t.

The mentor, of course, should be someone who can be empathetic to the new employee. Experience will help, but even if you don’t have any experience, you will learn with time.

Keep improving

Ultimately, the only way to get really good at onboarding is to understand what works and what doesn’t. It’s different for every company; there is no blueprint for onboarding well.

You need to monitor your own results closely. How fast you onboard someone, how productive they get, and what the end results are… these are questions that will give you greater insights into your onboarding processes.

Last but not the least, it’s important for you to take onboarding seriously. Too many companies don’t, and they end up paying the price for it. It may not be immediately apparent, but a good onboarding process will cut your costs and add to your bottomline. It’ll also contribute to a better, more aligned team.