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How to Successfully Onboard New Employees

By Christy Bieber - Nov 28, 2018 at 7:01AM

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These six steps will help ensure you bring new employees up to speed the right way, so they can help your company succeed.

So you've hired new workers? Congrats on your business growing. Now you need to make certain the new staff members can contribute to their full potential. That means successfully onboarding them, so they get up to speed and become fully functioning members of the team.

The onboarding process can shape a new hire's view of the company for years to come and can set the stage for success or failure. So how can you make it a success? Try these six steps.

Male and female worker in office together smiling and looking at papers

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Develop an onboarding plan

Don't wait until your new employee's standing in the door of your building to make a plan. Have a process early so you're prepared to provide every new worker with the support they need.

Your company's onboarding plan should establish what new employees need to know, when they need to know it, and how they'll learn it. With a schedule for day one, week one, and month one, you can keep the training process moving smoothly and ensure your new employee is ready to take on essential tasks as needed.

2. Set the right pace

I've worked for companies where I've been expected to hit the ground running from day one, and for another where I was given two weeks to learn even the most basic of tasks. Neither approach was good.

New employees don't want to feel useless for days on end after being hired; nor should they be expected to perform like a seasoned staff member within their first hour.

The perfect pace will vary depending upon the complexity of the job and your company's specific policies and protocols. But unless the job is extremely difficult, it's usually a good idea to make sure the employee is ready to do some meaningful work by the end of week one.

3. Involve the right people in the process

To make sure the most knowledgeable people on your team impart key information to a new hire, decide in advance who'll provide training on specific tasks. There may be multiple people involved in the onboarding process, including supervisors and peers -- so create a schedule showing who will help the new hire and when.

You may also want to assign one co-worker as a go-to contact. One company I worked for assigned every new hire a "buddy" in a similar position. There were 20-minute "buddy meetings" scheduled once a week for the first three weeks, so there was always someone to turn to with questions.

4. Prepare a cheat sheet

For a new hire, learning so much at once can be overwhelming. It can be hard to figure out who to call with questions, what steps must be taken to fulfill job functions successfully, or even how long to take for lunch. To make the onboarding process as easy and stress-free as possible, prepare a short sheet with key info your new staff member needs to know.

This could include a summary of the processes the employee needs to follow for performing job-related tasks, submitting expense reports, or keeping track of hours. It's also a good idea to have contact info for anyone the employee should go to for questions on particular issues.

5. Don't overwhelm with unnecessary details

You eventually want your employee to know tons about your company and how it functions -- but new staff members don't have to learn everything in the first week.

Focus on the core job responsibilities, and give the employee time to try out the work before giving details about the big picture. If you want every staff member to sit in on meetings from other departments or to know where your company is going in five years, save this for the second or third week on the job.

Once employees have a better understanding of their own roles in the organization, learning more about your organization will be more meaningful.

6. Encourage -- and allow time for -- questions

Make sure every new hire has plenty of time to ask questions and get patient and thorough answers. Setting aside specific time for queries may help employees feel more comfortable inquiring about what they need to know.

Investing in onboarding is worth it

It may seem like a lot of trouble to make a plan and provide formal training for every new hire -- but it's worth it if you want your staff to succeed. Once you have a standard plan in place, you can modify it for each position so the onboarding process will get easier over time.

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