While most small businesses spend a great deal of time and effort in finding the right employees, they often fail to capitalize on their newly hired talent by ceding the onboarding process to HR or neglecting their responsibility entirely. From long waits for workspace, equipment, or training to an overly negative recitation of ‘don’t do these things or you will be fired,’ employers consistently miss the opportunity to inspire new contributors and set aggressive performance standards.
Before you bring on your next new hires and leave them languishing in the lunchroom filling out paperwork with an HR representative, consider the following seven common small business onboarding mistakes.
1. Letting human resources lead
While it’s important for newly hired employees to fill out their tax forms and enroll in benefits, this process should not take the place of new-hire orientation. Rather than waste valuable time on paperwork, send new employees a package of documents, or give them a link to apply online before they start their first day of work. There is nothing more demotivating than spending four hours alone in a room filling out paperwork you could have easily done at home. On their first day, an employee should be greeted by their direct supervisor who spends at least a half-hour with them to begin building a relationship.
2. Focusing on negatives
While it’s important to clearly discuss expectations early in the onboarding process, focusing on a list of negatives that could result in termination detracts from why you hired the person in the first place. While it’s important to address ethics and accountability, newly hired employees need to be encouraged to engage in the work they were hired to do rather than focus on the top 10 ways they could get fired.
3. Failing to prepare workspace and equipment.
There is no excuse to leave newly hired employees without workspace or equipment. It would be far better to delay an employee’s start date rather than leave him or her in a conference room without a workspace or equipment to do their job.
4. Failing to provide an agenda
All newly hired employees should be supplied with a training agenda before starting. The agenda should list the type of training they should expect to receive, the name of the trainer with a short bio, and an expectation of when they will be finished their training and start work on their own. If there is a competency test before the start of work, this should also be noted in the agenda.
5. Failing to introduce co-workers
Co-workers are an excellent resource for newly hired employees. While companies often focus on introducing their most productive workers and managers, it is often useful to introduce new hires to other recently hired employees who can more easily empathize with their needs. If possible, consider hiring new employees in waves rather than individually as this can often build relationships and lead to a more cohesive team.
6. Failing to provide comprehensive training
Training provides a critical foundation for ongoing success in a company. Not only does a well-trained employee perform better, but the employee will also have more confidence when interacting with customers and will be far more likely to succeed in their role. If your organization has a high churn rate within the first six months, chances are that poor training is the culprit. Untrained new hires often become disillusioned with an organization that lacks structure, training, and follow-up. During the first 90 days of hire, an employee should have enough training to be self-sufficient for at least a week at a time, regardless of the position they hold.
7. Failing to provide knowledge resources
Not all employees learn at the same rate using the same methods. Make sure new hires have access to training material in various formats. This includes training handbooks, training videos, and employee shadowing. Rather than force a particular format, concentrate on the results needed to excel at the position. Make sure to give feedback on a regular basis throughout the process.
New employees’ first day on the job should be a day of promise and inspiration, not a window into dysfunction. Since first impressions matter, consider specifically alerting everyone in the organization that a new employee has been hired, and make sure to supply a biography. There’s nothing more gratifying to new employees than to be enthusiastically greeted by co-workers who have taken the time to find out who they are and how they can contribute.