How to help new employees get onboard at your small business

smb-tech-trendsAre you setting the right expectations for new hires at your small business?  The interview should help you determine if an employee is right for the position. Still the first three months on the job can make a big difference in how successful a new employee will be.

Onboarding is the official term used by human resources to define the process by which you make new employees feel welcome and assimilate them into the company. During onboarding, they should learn the policies, skills and requirements they need to be productive as soon as possible and continue that way.

In a small company in particular, making an employee feel welcome and helping them to integrate may involve the whole team or a good part of it. That’s why you want to develop an onboarding policy or process that everyone is familiar with and, as appropriate, plays a part — even if it’s something as simple as taking a new employee to lunch.

Take time to talk

Young business team negotiatingMaking time for a new hire is something you need to do as well. Andrea Herran, owner of Illinois-based HR consulting firm Focus HR, advises that it makes a nice touch when the president or CEO takes time to sit down with a new employee to talk about the direction of the company.

Provide relevant information

Step one of any onboarding process is to make sure that new hires get all the relevant information they need. Online skills assessment provider eSkills provides a good check list of materials for a new employee packet.  Among their recommendations are:

  • a written description of the position’s responsibilities and objectives
  • the company mission statement
  • company marketing or promotional materials
  • an organizational chart that shows how the new position fits into the whole
  • names and contact information for staff members, along with their areas of responsibility
  • administration and benefit forms

IT and security issues also need to be addressed within the first few days, including email setup instructions and policies on use of company equipment in and out of the office, so that includes laptops, smartphones, tablets and headsets as well as desktops. When it comes to mobile devices, increasingly companies are enabling employees to use their own on the job. If you have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, which should include criteria for mobile devices (operating systems and device management software), acceptable mobile apps and protection, make sure to spell it out for new hires.

I’d add to the above, also set aside time to talk about the market and industry issues impacting the company. You may handle by arranging for new hires to meet  one on one  with team members or schedule  briefing session with several key players. Even the most skilled employee will have an easier time integrating into your company if they understand what’s driving your market.

As you are putting your policy or process together, ask some of your recent hires what they suggest be added based on their own experiences. The more input you get from your team, the more invested they will be in making sure new employees feel at home and valued from the start.

About Judi Hembrough

Judi leads Americas Marketing strategy and go-to-market programs for the Small and Medium Business (SMB) customer segment at Plantronics. Judi has been a marketing director at Plantronics for 10 years in various roles focused on Strategic Alliances Marketing, SMB and Home & Home Office solutions. Prior to Plantronics, Judi was President of William-Christie Associates, Inc. -- a management consulting practice, for 10 years where she guided numerous companies such as Palm, Intuit, CBS MarketWatch and HID, in driving new initiatives.