Small business owners invest a lot of time, money and energy into finding new staff. So it makes good business sense that the onboarding process for a new employee is structured and supportive from the get-go, ensuring they are supported and engaged. Employment Hero’s Chief People Officer, Alex Hattingh gives us the lowdown.
From a new employee’s perspective, the initial months can be a daunting experience; learning the ins and outs of a business, connecting with co-workers and making a great first impression has the potential to either diminish their excitement, or fuel productivity. Which way this goes is essentially up to you, as it all comes down to their induction.
One way I like to think about the onboarding experience, is that while most small businesses implement a probation period as a low-risk option to assess the suitability and company-fit of a new employee, as an employer, you should consider yourself on probation too during these first few months.
During this time, your job is to give your newcomer the best possible chance of excelling in their role, by making them a brand ambassador from day one; if they are not feeling satisfied and engaged from the start, a probation period can lead to a swift goodbye from a new employee, leaving you scrambling to fill their position and make up for lost time.
A new employee’s initial months need to be kicked off with positivity and purpose – they need to be given a glowing first impression of your company, and receive a seamless integration into their role within the business. This will bring out the best qualities of any fresh hire, meaning they can start kicking goals for your business sooner rather than later.
There is nothing worse for a new employee than showing up on their first day and feeling like a burden because no one was expecting them. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared. Make sure you’re ready for the onboarding process, as you want your new starter to feel considered, welcomed and comfortable.
In the weeks leading up to their start date, organise preparations for their arrival, including resources such as a laptop, logins and access codes for company systems.
Ensure the rest of your team is aware of their incoming arrival – a welcome lunch can be a nice touch to get conversation flowing. If your business has internal social channels, post a short and sweet bio to give everyone a quick introduction to the newest member of the team.
Vision, mission, purpose
In the first week of a new hire’s role, educate them about the key aspects of your business, including vision, mission, values, purpose and functionality. Learning logistics allows a new starter to identify how their role fits into the moving parts of a company, while aligning their purpose with greater business objectives gives credibility to their position by setting up big picture success.
As a leader, it’s not enough to simply inspire great work, if that work has no broader purpose – an employee’s role and contributions must be tied to the overall vision and mission of the company to be truly satisfying.
Drive goals, keep them accountable
It seems simple, but the best way to establish meaningful goals is to talk about them, often. In the first fortnight of your hire’s new role, have one on one conversations to outline their main responsibilities, like KPIs, then frame these objectives around how they support the business’ ambitions. Keep these conversations regular, and be sure to give credit where credit is due.
Research shows that positive reinforcement is more motivating to employees than punishment. Take the opportunity in these discussions to ask for honest feedback – not only will it improve your induction and onboarding processes, but it will give you a chance to address any concerns your new employee may have so you can set them up for a happy, long career.
Ask them about their dream job and personal career goals. Help them develop a strategy to achieve their ambitions and hold them accountable to keep motivation levels high. Similar to how a business has big picture goals, your employees will too, so it’s important to foster their development by providing opportunities to help them get to where they want to be.
During the induction process, training will be a priority to ensure your new employee is equipped and skilled with all the right tools to do their job effectively, but once the induction is over it’s crucial to support your employee’s development by keeping training a priority.
Make sure there is always a way for them to learn a new skill or access more information – whether it’s about their specific role or the company itself. If an employee begins to feel out of touch with the fast-changing workforce, you may risk losing them to someone who prioritises upskilling. Align their training with the goals you’ve discussed, to show you’re actively listening and investing in their future with your business.
The Harvard Business Review argues that engaged employees operate at 144 per cent productivity rate, while inspired employees deliver 225 per cent productivity. To be an inspiring leader or manager is half the effort when it comes to encouraging productive workforces – you must align your employee’s work to the greater business’ purpose through motivation, positive reinforcement and accountability to make new hires, long term employees.