Top tips for onboarding new employees

Problems with onboarding new employees are thought to cost the UK’s SMEs millions each year. Significant numbers of workers either don’t start a job or leave within six months due to poor onboarding practices. This costs businesses both in recruitment costs and in terms of their brand value as an employer

Clearly, merely focusing on getting employees through the door while paying little or no heed to ensuring they are welcomed, properly trained and made to feel comfortable in their new surroundings, can be hugely costly to SMEs.

Of course, as any small business owners knows, costs are often tight enough as it is, so why not make the maximum effort to ensure that new hires can settle in as quickly as possible and become comfortable, productive members of the team?

After all, a new hire can be a significant investment and, if you’ve taken the chance on hiring someone you think is right, the onus is on you, as much as on them, to make the new relationship work.

Here, we’ll take you through some of the key steps to onboarding new employees, to help ensure that your future hires come in with the best possible chance of succeeding.

Simple, yet stimulating orientation
When a new employee comes in, the first thing they’ll be keen to do is get over any initial nerves and get their feet firmly under the table. For that reason, it’s important that your orientation process doesn’t leave them intimidated or bogged down in a stream of details that make their role sound excessively complicated.

Of course, orientation will need to be informative. But learning a new role is a process and full familiarity with a job is best built up over the first couple of weeks, rather than in one dizzying training session.

Make the introduction to the role itself focused on the core, day-to-day responsibilities that you want them to get started with and dedicate as much time to making them feel welcomed, valued and vindicated in their decision to come and work with you.

Make sure they are familiar with their new colleagues and have a moment to get to know everyone and that you familiarise them with how the office works.

Keep paperwork to a minimum
A common theme among workers who have been put off after starting a new job and quit during their probationary period is that the first day was too complicated. A big feature of over-complicating the onboarding process is piles of paperwork.

As with introducing them to the role, the necessary paperwork can be a gradual process over their first few days, rather than a drab, wrist-injuring marathon of signatures and initials!

One or two key things, such as their contract, may need to be signed. But, in general, paperwork should be kept to a minimum and could even be eliminated completely by using online documents.

A social introduction
Getting to know everyone on a first-name basis in the office on the first morning is one thing, but to truly integrate your new employee into the team, some kind of socialising outside of the office is an absolute must.

Whether it’s a formal office outing, team building exercise or meal, or even an impromptu trip to the pub after work, socialising in a non-work setting can prove invaluable in helping new employees settle in.

Gain feedback on your process
No matter how good you become at onboarding, every new employee is different and there are always improvements that can be made moving forward. Continuing to improve your onboarding process will mean happier employees and ensure you develop a solid reputation as a great place to work.

To help improve your process, regularly check in with new and recent employees for feedback on their first few days and weeks in the job. Learn what they liked about starting at the company, but also don’t be hesitant to ask about what they didn’t like.

Learning which areas need work is the best way to drive improvement and is not something you should let wait until an employee’s end of year review.