SME recruitment: How to onboard a new hire into your business

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Spoiler: Too many companies wreck the odds of their new hires succeeding by onboarding them poorly and haphazardly.

Smart SMEs know that employee turnover is something to keep to a minimum. You know that your employees are an important part of your daily success. But you’re also super busy. You’ve already taken the time to go through the hiring process and find a great candidate. It’s tempting to skimp on the onboarding experience by telling yourself: They’re smart, they’ll figure it out.

Investing time in your employees is the best way to keep staff turnover low and your return on investment high. The first few weeks a new hire is on the job are some of the most crucial because they set the tone for the future relationship between them and you.

Get it right from the start and you’ll reap the rewards. Overlook the onboarding experience and your new employee could leave or struggle — both of which are extremely detrimental especially when you’re operating on thin margins.

A good employee onboarding plan work wonders for you and your staff

Before you hire another employee, create an onboarding plan for how you’ll bring a new hire on board.

This plan needs to address the following questions

1. Why does your company exist? What is your purpose?
2. What do you expect your new employee to do?
3. What are the logistics, hours, dress code, parking and any company policies?
4. Who will they report to and who is in their team?
5. What systems will they need to use and what processes should they follow?

Before their first day

1. Get the necessary paperwork from your new hire (tax numbers, banking details, address, ID documents, medical aid etc)
2. Prepare their workstation
3. Get their computer ready and install all required software
4. Create a company email for your new hire
5. Prepare reading material: including company policies and procedures, an organisation chart, and a description of their role, as well as the company’s values, mission, and culture
6. Prepare the team ahead of time – let them know the new hire is arriving, so they can greet them when they get to her workstation

On their first day

1. Ask the new hire to review and sign any necessary agreements, including the employment contract
2. Provide the new hire with all logistical information, including dress code, where they can park, what time they should arrive, and what they should bring
3. Reserve time on your team’s calendar for a “welcome” lunch for the new hire, and tell the new hire ahead of time
4. Give your new hire a tour of the office, including bathrooms and kitchen
5. Set up a 1:1 between the manager and the new employee; this is to explain what is expected of them, how the department is structured, and to answer questions the new hire might have
6. Assign the new hire a mentor- a more senior person who doesn’t work with them directly, and ask the mentor to set up a time to have lunch with the new hire
7. Give new hire a “30-day plan”, with reading material and important information regarding what is expected of her first month on the team

During their first week

1. Consider asking both new hire and their manager to take an enneagram test, to better understand their work personalities
2. Within first few days, assign the first project to your new hire. This will help them feel like a valuable asset to the team, and allow them to become more engaged with their role
3. Ensure all required paperwork is filled out
4. Review employee performance evaluations, and set goals
5. If necessary, set aside time to teach new hire how to use new software

During their first month

1. Set up weekly meetings to give your new hire constructive criticism regarding their first couple assignments
2. Provide them with reading material as you see fit – perhaps you suggest books related to their role, or articles you feel will help with them with professional growth
3. Check-in that they are meeting the appropriate people and getting lunch or coffee with core members of the team
4. Ask for feedback from the new hire – ask them what else they need to succeed
6. Ensure their mentor to checks-in with them

Get your new hires to help you document and improve your orientation process

Until you have a refined and proven orientation process, make it a stated responsibility of your new hire to take such good notes that he or she can invest 30-60 minutes after each training component to better flesh out the existing orientation documentation. Not only will this make your system better for the next hire, but it will help your new hire pay closer attention and learn the key information at a deeper level since they will be placed in the role of “teacher”, not just student.

Investing time in your employees from day one shows them that you’ve invested in fostering a relationship with them. It sets a standard for how your company operates and it sets expectations for how you expect your new hire to “show up” for work.

The first few weeks are some of the most crucial because you’re setting expectations and building their personal investment in your business.

Your onboarding process is your employees’ initial introduction to the company – if you don’t implement a memorable and helpful onboarding process that fully integrates new employees into your company, you risk higher turnover rates and less productive teams.

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