When you’ve got new hires coming to work at your company, it’s important to make sure that you have a solid employee onboarding process in place. The onboarding process is an employee’s introduction to your company, your culture, your team, and how everything works in your business.
If you do it correctly, onboarding will secure high-performing well-trained employees who easily fit into your workplace. If you don’t get it right, you could leave new hires feeling out of place and unsure of themselves, leading to anxiety and inefficiency.
Whether you’re a small business or a huge international conglomerate, there are many aspects of onboarding that apply to companies of all shapes and sizes. Here are 7 effective onboarding tips you should know for your business!
1. Use Employee Handbooks to Communicate Company Culture
When you hire someone new at your company, make sure you have a detailed HR handbook that you can give them to welcome them to your business. Although these used to be paper booklets, most companies now use digital handbooks using an online employee handbook software like AirMason that employees can check on their device whenever it suits them.
Employee handbooks contain information about your company culture, essential HR policies and procedures of your workplace, how to book time off, when your salary is paid, and much more. It’s essentially a reference for new and existing employees to turn to when they have questions about the business.
Lots of companies these days are using clever design and humor to make their HR handbooks a little more exciting, with companies like Valve Games and Netflix leading the way in innovative digital employee handbook templates.
2. Start the Onboarding Process Before They Start the Job
Once the new hire has handed in their notice at their current job, there is a few weeks of dead time to fill. Chances are that the employee’s duties at their current job will be slowly dissolved and handed over to other people, so they’ve most likely got more spare time than usual.
Use this limbo time to send them information (or your employee handbook!) that they can read in their spare time in the run-up to their starting date. This allows the new hire to familiarize themselves with your company culture before they even start the job, reducing their anxiety and helping them to know what they’re walking into.
There’s nothing worse than being suddenly thrown into an alien environment at a new job – reduce this stress by giving them an idea of what to expect.
3. Explain the “Whys” as well as the “Whats”
Onboarding requires you to explain an awful lot of “whats” to people. What you do in this scenario, what you do in the office, what you bring to meetings, etc. However, you should make a concerted effort to talk about the “whys” too.
New hires will naturally be curious about why you do things in certain ways, but they might be too nervous to ask at first. If you hold meetings in an unusual manner, tell them why. If you perform tasks and processes in a strict order, tell them why you do it like that and why it’s efficient.
Don’t leave your new hires thinking that you do things weirdly for no reason – explain your reasoning for key policies that set you apart.
4. Simulate Real-life Experiences to Make New Hires Feel Prepared
Throwing new employees in at the deep end is not usually a very good way to do business. Chances are that they will become overwhelmed, stressed, and not do a great job. The idea of seeing who will sink and who will swim is outdated and not very efficient or conducive to a positive work environment.
Instead, try simulating real-life experiences before they happen as part of the onboarding process. If the new hire will be answering customer phone calls, try a few trial runs where another employee pretends to be a customer. If the new hire has to use complex programs, create demo versions for them to hone their skills on first.
This process allows new employees to learn the basics and hone the basic skills required for the job before it becomes overwhelmingly complex in the real world.
5. Use Tech to Your Advantage
Even if you’re not a particularly technological company, the convenience and ease of technology cannot be understated. Pretty much everyone has a smartphone these days, and there are so many apps that you can use to help your new employees feel welcomed to the company.
For example, if you have a company/department Slack channel, invite new hires to it as soon as they start. This way, they can slowly start to understand the way that everyone engages with the communications app for work purposes.
Some bigger companies also create their own dedicated apps designed to help new and existing employees navigate their way around the company. Having your own company app is a very convenient way to help new employees find the onboarding information they need without bothering management too much.
6. Train them to Use the Specific Programs and Apps that You Use
If your company uses certain apps and programs to organize work, don’t expect that new hires will automatically know how to use these programs. While lots of people are familiar with apps like Slack, Asana, and Trello, a lot of businesses will have their own ways of communicating and organizing their work.
So if your business relies heavily on certain apps to get work done, consider training new hires in these apps as part of the onboarding process. Even if the new employee has used Slack or Asana before, a small training module could refresh their skills and remind them of program features they’d forgotten about.
7. Consider Not Enforcing a Strict Deadline for the Onboarding Process
It doesn’t work for every organization, but more and more companies are allowing new hires to complete the onboarding process at their own pace, letting them decide when they’re ready to get thrown into the “real work”, so to speak.
This is good because people learn at different paces and sometimes new employees might need time to go back and check over aspects of your company that they’re not sure about. Of course, you need a soft deadline so that the new hire isn’t onboarding themselves for 3 months, but most people will be pretty reasonable.
You might want to consider an “onboarding window” where you give the new starter up to 2 weeks to complete their onboarding process with the option to start early if they feel ready before the 2 weeks is up. It all depends on your company and your working style!
Hopefully you enjoyed these tips for effective onboarding for new hires in your company. Whether you’re handing out HR handbooks or simulating real-life work experiences, we hope you find the perfect onboarding strategies that work for your business. Good luck!