Steps for Great Employee Onboarding

A well-crafted employee onboarding process can make the difference between a new hire who quickly becomes an enthusiastic, contributing member of the team and one who simply drifts along.

A haphazard onboarding process, where a new employee doesn't get much initial help as they start their job, is all too common among small businesses. And that can have real impacts on that employee's productivity and morale. When they spend the first few days or weeks struggling to find their footing, they're not contributing much to the business and probably aren't feeling like they're part of the team, either.

Good employee onboarding is relatively simple. It's usually just a matter of attending to a few important details. When you get ready to welcome your next new employee, follow these steps:

1. Think Ahead

Before your new hire's start date, communicate information they will need for their first day: their start time, who they should ask for when they arrive and what they can expect from their first day. Send any easy-to-complete forms to the new hire ahead of time so they can get a jump on paperwork — nothing kills a new employee's enthusiasm like hours spent in an empty conference room, filling out forms.

Internally, let your other employees know when the new person will be joining them, and tell them a bit about this person's professional background. That way, your established employees will be ready to greet the newcomer.

2. Set Up the Desk

The new hire should be able to hit the ground running, with all their tools and systems ready to go. Make sure their desk is ready for action — phone number assigned, computer set up, along with any programs that the person will need access to.

Provide a company-branded folder stocked with hard copies of everything they will need; include forms and contracts, essential phone numbers and passwords, and copies of your promotional materials. Top it off with an employee manual and a notebook for jotting down everything they'll be learning in the days to come.

3. Assign a Mentor

A new worker may not want to go to a manager with every question, so add a mentor into the mix. Match trainees with more senior employees who can answer low-level queries, introduce them around and offer informal training and tips (such as where the supply closet is, or how to get help with an IT issue). Relationships like these can more easily integrate new employees into the team and the culture.

4. Measure and Assess

More than half of organizations do not measure the effectiveness of their onboarding process, according to a recent survey by HR software company Kronos. Avoid this mistake: Plan formal feedback opportunities a few weeks into the employee's new job. Now that they've had a chance to put their training into place, ask them what worked, what didn't and what they wanted more of. Use this data to refine your employee onboarding for next time.

Take the time to put a comprehensive onboarding program in place, and your new hires will reward you with great contributions and more enthusiasm for your business. Don't forget to keep formal documents on the process, so it's repeatable and consistent every time you bring a new hire on board.