Save Your New Employees from Awkwardness and Uncertainty with this handy On-Boarding Guide!

The first day for a new hire can be stressful and awkward. It often takes an employee months to feel completely up-to-speed in a new role, and takes the team just as long or longer to “accept” a new person as one of their own. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A well-planned and well-executed on-boarding process can solve that problem. As a business, you want new employees to be productive members of the team as fast as possible. It’s not just about being friendly. The sooner you can get them up to speed the sooner you can begin to recoup the return on your investment in them as an employee, and realize the benefits of having them as a team member.

Start your on-boarding process when they’ve signed their offer letter.

There is a lot that can be done as soon as somebody’s signed on the dotted line and committed to joining your team. For example:

  • Determining the new team member’s technology needs (computer, monitor, phone, etc) and placing the order for equipment so it’s ready when they arrive on their first day.
  • Send them any required documentation that can be filled out BEFORE starting work. We want to avoid giving them a giant stack of paperwork on day 1, if possible.
  • Send over a list of resources the new-hire can use to get up to speed on the industry, including suggestions for blogs, trade publications, books, or podcasts.

An office-tour doesn’t cut it.

Day 1 is always filled with a bit of nerves for a new-hire. Plan their first day to reduce the friction and get them comfortable with their new co-workers and new environment. A building tour with some handshakes won’t do that. But including some of these ideas in your process will go a long way:

  • Book a team-lunch on their first day. Getting everyone outside the office in a social setting will break down barriers quickly.
  • Give them a “welcome package.” If you have company apparel, this is a great spot to put it. In ours we have a t-shirt, notebook, pen, their business cards, and some gift cards to local restaurants and coffee shops. It’s a small gesture that will go a long way.
  • Make sure their computer is already set up with email and relevant software. Nobody wants to deal with IT issues on their first day.
  • Give them work that they can get started on immediately. In many companies, the first day is more about “getting settled” than accomplishing anything. But actually this creates a lot of dead time. Nobody likes the feeling of not knowing what they’re supposed to be doing. Giving somebody a task with a deadline, no matter how insignificant, will make them feel like they have direction and value immediately.

You can’t set-it-and-forget-it.

While onboarding is the process of getting somebody new up-to-speed, you can’t abandon them after day 1. We recommend extending your process through the end of their first month. Consider these ideas from day 2 and onward:

  • If possible, provide the new employee with a task list that details their work for the entire first month, including deadlines and goals. Don’t know what they’ll be doing in a month? Well, as a manager, this is a good exercise in planning ahead and creating structure for your employees.
  • Have a “check-in” at the end of week 1, preferably outside the office. Think Starbucks. Create an opportunity to get feedback on how everything is going, and give them your own feedback on observations of their first week.
  • Gather info on your on-boarding process from the employee themselves. What helped them? Made them feel uncomfortable? Suggestions on how the process could be improved?

A well-structured and detailed on-boarding plan should be and can be tweaked and updated with every new hire. (We’ll use the marketing buzzword “optimize” here. Sorry.) Each new hire presents an opportunity to optimize your process. At the very least, you can create a checklist to provide some basic structure. Give it a try on your next hire- you’ll both be happy you did!