UPDATE: Since we wrote this blog post we’ve added staff onboarding checklists to Staff Squared. They automatically manage all of the onboarding processes so you don’t have to. Check them out!

So, you’ve hired someone new.

Now, you have the complicated task of helping them to adjust to the business and all of the people in it. This is called ‘onboarding’, and having a strong onboarding process could make all the difference to the success or failure of your business.

What exactly does onboarding involve?

Onboarding is the (often lengthy) process of introducing a new employee to the business, the workplace and everything else that comes with their new role.

It begins before their first day

You’ll need to communicate with your newest member of staff to provide them with their first day details.

Your new employee might also need their own equipment, which you’ll need to have ready.

Ideally they should have a clear list of tasks when they start, taking them through at least their first week, and a single point of contact that they can contact with questions or concerns. This will make the transition significantly easier.

Once your new employee arrives

The onboarding process continues once your newest worker is in place.

Now, you’ll need to make sure that they fit comfortably into the business.

Tasks for this stage might include introducing them to their colleagues, team mates and managers, and also checking that their workspace is to their liking.

Could you do anything to make it easier for them to settle in? Nobody should be asking for their own personal games console, but perhaps raising their computer monitor could make a difference to their comfort level?

You will need to make your new employee feel happy in the workplace. This might mean that you arrange for them to meet with the other members of their team and have a coffee before the real work begins, or could mean that you provide a map if they’re expected to find their way around.

Initial training is part of the onboarding process. You will also want to check that the employee fully understands their role and responsibility, that they know of workplace policies (such as maternity and sick leave, disciplinary and holiday) and that they have received a tour of the premises.

On their first day, your new employee should have someone ready to greet them on arrival. They will also need to be accompanied to lunch. They will need relatively easy work to ease them in for the first week or two, before the real work begins.

Over the coming months, it is important to regularly check in with your employee and to ensure that they are comfortable and happy. Regularly review their work, giving praise along with any constructive criticism, and make sure that they continue to be involved in social opportunities and events.

A good onboarding process will last for at least a year, and perhaps longer.

Many companies give their employees just a week or two to settle into the business, but without ongoing input there is a good chance that a new employee will be lost in the crowd.

Adapting to a new career, a new job, a new place of work or even a new team can take time, and if onboarding is not properly managed then the result can be an unhappy worker, or a worker that hands in their notice.

8 reasons why having an onboarding process could save your business

A good onboarding process results in better job performance

It stands to reason that a confused employee will not be working to the best of their ability.

If your employee does not understand what they’re supposed to be doing, then you can’t expect them to be doing it.

All sorts of other factors also affect work performance, including social comfort. Employees that are happy to be at work, feel connected with their colleagues and want to play their part within the team are the most efficient and reliable workers.

Job performance also improves when an employee feels appreciated. If a relatively new employee is not thanked for their contribution, then they can quickly feel that their work isn’t making a difference to the business.

A good onboarding process improves future recruitment opportunities

All businesses have a staff turnover. Some companies lose employees every few weeks, whilst others lose them just once or twice a decade. Yours is probably somewhere in between those two extremes!

Employee losses lead to a requirement for new workers. When this happens, you need to look like an appealing employer.

Existing or previous employees, if they feel inclined, can review their experience of employment. Glass Door is one website that enables workers to share their thoughts, leaving them available for potential new recruits to see.

If you’re trying to recruit someone new, the last thing you want is for them to see reviews telling them: “This employer doesn’t care about new workers. I was left on my own after a one-day induction. The other staff seemed to have their cliques and I was barely involved in conversation. Nobody checked up on me, and I didn’t know what I was doing”.

To hire the best in the business, you need to be presented as a company that’s really worth working for. If your existing employees are complaining, publicly or in private, then you’re limiting your future pools of candidates.

A good onboarding process reduces staff turnover

Recruitment costs money.

You may lose a talented worker that you cannot simply replicate, and at that point even the financial cost can pale in significance.

People are more likely to leave if they feel unsettled and haven’t been welcomed.

If you want to avoid hearing the words ‘I quit’, it helps to make sure that you’re creating an environment worth working in.

A good onboarding process can keep sick days to a minimum

Stress can cause people to quit, but may also lead them to continue their employment whilst taking time off to recover. It can lead to physical illness and mental illness, all of which will cost your business.

As well as thinking about your responsibility not to cause individuals to feel stressed or become ill, it is worth considering the cost of stress when your employees are taking time off.

People are more likely to be stressed, and to avoid work, if they are not comfortable with their role or their workplace.

A good onboarding process keeps everyone on brand

Your company values need to be reflected in every single one of your employees. The best way to get them on board is, as you might expect, with a good onboarding process.

By introducing new workers to your existing employees and by getting them involved as much as possible, you will help them to absorb everything that your business is and does.

An employee left on the sidelines, not fully integrated, will not be as wrapped up in workplace culture.

A good onboarding process can improve employee loyalty

Even when an employee has no immediate intention of leaving, they can usually be persuaded when the right offer comes along
If you have invested time, money and energy into helping an employee to settle in, then they are more likely to be loyal to your business. In some sense, they’ll feel that they have an obligation to stick around and reward you for your efforts.

A good onboarding process may alert you to problems within your business

Fresh eyes are valuable. Your existing employees will be used to the way your business runs, and may not notice anything that isn’t working as efficiently as it could be.

A new worker is the most likely person to raise a question that will make you rethink what you’re doing, or could point you in the direction of something that needs improvement.

By communicating regularly with your newest worker, getting their feedback and finding out if there’s anything that doesn’t make sense, you could also be collecting clues that tell you exactly how to make your business better.

A good onboarding process makes future onboarding even easier

Looking long term, each new employee has the potential to be the trainer or manager of the future.
If you have to train your managers to get them up to the required standard, before they are able to train someone else, then you’re wasting an enormous amount of time.

If someone has been built into best practice from the moment they first set foot through the door, they will be the best possible person for passing that knowledge down to future new recruits.

Think of the onboarding process as an investment that will result in improved productivity, higher quality work, happier employees and business longevity. Without it, you’re left with a disjointed business and potentially unhappy workers.