This blog post was written by Patra Frame of Strategies for Human Resources. Patra has offered workshops and individual counseling on human resources and employer issues for Alexandria’s small businesses through the SBDC for many years.
Whether you call it on-boarding or orientation, you need a process to help a new hire become a valuable part of your team. Yet, I have seen far too many businesses which were not really prepared for someone to start. No-one is there to welcome the person the first day. There is no plan for the day and other things take priority, so the new person is ignored. Equipment is missing. There is no training on how to access computer systems, much less the software in use.
An advantage of being a small organization is your ability to treat a new hire well from the first moment. Doing so helps you both succeed! Plus it helps retention.
Make a plan for the first week, first month, and 90 days. Start with a review of the actual work to be done. Use a job description if you have one. Create some specific steps and goals for the person. Figure out who will show the person how your systems work and have a login ready. Ensure any equipment and entry keys, if needed, are ready. Define what ‘success’ looks like at each period’s end.
If you have hired a more senior person, be sure you talk to anyone else whose role will be changed in advance. Explain the reasons you have added this new person and position to the staff too. This helps everyone understand the organizational goals and feel as if you are keeping them up to date.
The First Day
Welcome the person yourself or have their manager do so. Show them the layout including basics like bathrooms, coffee machines/refrigerator, or employee rest areas. Start the welcome process by reminding the person why you hired them and why you think they can succeed, based on interviews and their resume. Talk about the actual work to be done. Be sure you describe needed results and actions. Give them something that shows what must be done, such as a current job description. Explain your organization goals, mission, and values. Describe the ‘success’ looks like this measures you have defined so they have a roadmap. Tell them how you like to work or have their manager do this if they do not directly work for you.
Add in introductions to other employees, starting with those the person will work closely with and describe that interaction. Notify your whole staff of the new person with a little about their background and what their role will be.
Do all required paperwork – tax forms, I-9s, benefits, etc – on the first day but make this something you do later in their shift. Include physical access, security issues, systems access and security in this discussion.
The First Week
Set up some specific work objectives. Your goal here is two-fold. You want to ensure the person understands how their work impacts others by meeting and working with those employees. And, you want the person to begin to feel productive almost immediately. Check in informally during the week to see what questions the person has.
Plan a review with the person in the first few weeks. At it, ask what issues they might have, what else they need to know to do their job well, and what questions they have. Keep it short and simple but be positive and show how their role is important.
Make sure you have some formal check-in points. Many small businesses do a 90 day plan for what has to be learned and achieved, then use that as a review at the 90-100 day point. Depending on the role of the person and your culture, you may do this at 45 – 60 days or add a second check at 180 days.
These simple steps make a large difference in ensuring employees have what they need to succeed. Most failed hires in the first year are due to management problems. You can significantly decrease job turnover by learning to hire well and then:
- effectively welcoming and supporting new hires
- ensuring they know what is expected of them and how to get information