Most small business owners spend a great deal of time and energy in finding the right employees. However, they often fail to capitalise on their newly hired talent by handing over the onboarding process to HR. They even go as far as neglecting their responsibility entirely.
From long waits for workspace, equipment, or training to an overly negative statement of ‘don’t do these things or you’ll be fired,’ employers consistently miss the opportunity to inspire new contributors and set aggressive performance standards.
Before you bring on your next new hires and leave them to file out paperwork with an HR representative in the lunchroom, consider these 7 common onboarding mistakes most small business owners are guilty of:
1. Letting human resources lead the process
Everyone knows that it’s highly important for newly hired employees to fill out their tax forms and enroll in benefits. However, this process shouldn’t take the place of new-hire orientation. Rather than waste valuable time on paperwork, send new employees a package of documents, or give them a link to apply online before they start their first day of work. There’s nothing more demotivating than spending four hours alone in a room filling out paperwork you could’ve easily done at home.
On their first day, employees should be greeted by their direct supervisor who should ideally spend at least half an hour with them to begin building a good working relationship.
2. Focusing on negatives
While it’s important to clearly discuss expectation early in the onboarding process, focusing on a list of negatives that could result in termination detracts from why you hired the person in the first place. While it’s important to address ethics and accountability, a newly hired employee needs to be encouraged to engage in the work they were hired to do rather than focus on the top 10 ways they could get fired.
3. Failing to prepare workspace and equipment
There’s no excuse to leave newly hired employees without workspace or equipment. It would be far better to delay the start date of an employee than leave him or her in a conference room without a workspace and the equipment to do his or her job.
4. Failing to provide an agenda
All newly hired employees should be supplied with a training agenda prior to their start date. The agenda should list the following:
- Type of training
- Name of trainer (with a short bio)
- Expected end date of training
- Expected start of official work
If there’s a competency test prior to the start of work, this should be noted in the agenda as well.
5. Failing to introduce co-workers
Co-workers are an excellent resource for newly hired employees. While companies often focus on introducing their most productive workers and managers, it’s often useful to introduce new hires to other recently hired employees who can more easily empathise with their needs.
If possible, you can consider hiring new employees in waves rather than individually as this can often build relationships and lead to a more cohesive team.
6. Failing to provide comprehensive training
Training provides a critical foundation for ongoing success in a company. Not only does a well-trained employee perform better, but he or she will also have more confidence when interacting with customers. Training allows them to be far more likely to succeed in their role.
If your organisation has a high churn rate within the first 6 months, chances are that poor training is the culprit. Untrained new hires often become disillusioned with an organisation that lacks structure, training, and follow-up. During the first 90 days of hire, an employee should have enough training to be self-sufficient for at least a week at a time, regardless of the position they hold.
7. Failing to provide knowledge resources
Not all employees learn at the same rate using the same methods. Make sure new hires have access to training material in various formats. This includes employee shadowing and training books and videos. Rather than force a particular format, concentrate on the results needed to excel at the position. Make sure to give feedback on a regular basis throughout the process.
For new employees, the first day on the job should be a day of promise and inspiration, not a window into dysfunction. First impressions matter; that’s why it helps to consider specifically alerting everyone in the organisation that a new employee has been hired. Supply a short biography while you’re at it. There’s nothing more gratifying to new employees than to be enthusiastically greeted by the co-workers who’ve taken the time to find out who they are and how they can contribute.