New StaffWork Environment

11 Tips On How To Onboard New Staff So They Feel Valued And Will Want To Help You Grow Your Business

My Management And Work Experience

My interview for my first job as a shop assistant in a corner dairy  many years ago went like this. “Look, I know your mother and your father; you can start next Saturday at 10.00am. Don’t be late. If you’re okay, you can work Sunday as well!” No contract. Just turned up every weekend for 18 months until I went nursing.

I’ve worked in my own businesses most of my life. In hindsight my management style was sadly lacking initially but my late mother taught me that you “catch more flies with honey than vinegar”. So, I’ve learned to manage the tone in my voice, use kinder words when negotiating and appreciate that most of us are simply trying to do our best on a daily basis. This has stood me in good stead to manage large teams when I was a TV producer and smaller teams since being admitted to the bar as a Barrister and Solicitor in my mid-fifties.

One Of My Personal Onboarding Experiences

I remember arriving at one job full of hope and promise that this would be best job of my life. I was  greeted by the 2IC who had no idea a new Employee was starting that day. No desk, chair or computer was set up. No password. No keys to the building. No Employment Agreement. No code of conduct. No company policies. And the owner was away. I found a computer. A desk and an office Wrote my own agreement. And found some work to do.

I wondered what on earth I had walked into. The interview had gone really well. I had been promised the earth and got a pile of dirt instead.

I resigned 5 weeks later. Our integrity levels were miles apart. And I wasn’t prepared to accept a management style of screaming orders, yelling abuse and acerbic sarcasm. To add insult to injury, during my notice period, the  boss got the 2IC “to fire” me and tell me “I was to get out by Friday”. The ensuing employment dispute was settled out of court.

When I became a lawyer, this employment experience evoked a strong desire to help Employees in a similar position to myself and to train Employers how to manage workplace disputes so they wouldn’t end up in court defending personal grievances that could have been avoided.

What I know from 10 years of practicing Employment Law is this. When Employees are onboarded well, they flourish, thrive and stay. If not, they leave. Why Employers spend thousands of dollars interviewing and employing a new staff member and then mess it  up for the Employee by failing to onboard them well, makes no sense to me at all.

The first day of work sets the Employee’s mindset as to what type of company culture they have entered into. This opportunity to let your Employee know you value them, and you want them to grow and flourish in your workplace should never be ignored or under-rated,

How I Onboard New Staff

I spend a lot of time with all my new Employees. They receive their Employment Agreement and codes of conduct at least 2 weeks before they start so they can ask question prior to signing it. Their desks, laptops, phones, email addresses, passwords and stationery are set up before they arrive to start work. I show them how  our passive time-keeping system works, how to use our on-line filing system, and where to find legal precedents.

 I am available at any time of the working day. And I check in with them several times each day to see how they are coping with the systems, and to assist with any difficulties they may be experiencing.

I prefer to give them a long job at first, like writing a Court Application which can take 10 hours and “beds them in”. That way they experience how all of our systems  work. Because a lot of our work involves negotiations, I get them to listen to what I am saying during negotiation conversations so they can copy my style, which works,  and   can ask me why I said one thing and not something else.

This is not everyone’s style of managing, but I find that when I put time into staff at the beginning of their employment tenure, it  encourages them to ask questions when they are unsure about anything, they perform on their own in a shorter period of time and their work is legally accurate. They always know I’m there for them. There is security in knowing that.

Here Are 11 Great Tips For You To Consider

1.       Ensure All Legal Paperwork Is Completed By The  Employee And Signed Off By The Employer At Least 1 Week Before The Official Start Date.

Can you imagine anything worse than arriving on your  first day of your  new job to  be greeted by a myriad of forms to fill in. Tax Code. Health. Employment Agreement. Code of Conduct. Policies. It happens more often than you think.

In these wonderful days of email there is no excuse for the Employer not to email all paperwork new staff members  need to sign off at least 2 weeks before their start date.

This gives the Employee time to take legal advice on their Employment Agreements which is often a legal pre-requisite. They can ask questions they have about their agreement, job description,  code of conduct and policy documents so they arrive on their first day with clarity around their terms and conditions, job description and company rules,  and can hit the ground running.

2.       Set Up The  Employee’s  Workspace Before They Arrive On Their First Day.

You may be surprised to find that Employees often arrive at their new jobs to find they have not been allocated a desk, computer, password or any stationary. Employers who value their staff as assets always prepare for their arrival. Being  unprepared for a new Employee sends  a message of ‘we don’t care about our staff’.

3.       Arrange For The Employee’s Team Leader To Welcome Them

Put yourself in the shoes of the new person. They have entered a workplace where they don’t know anybody. At least 3 days before their start date the Employee should be informed the name of the person who is meeting them on their first day, what their position is, their mobile number in case plans go awry, and what time to meet them and where to meet. Suggestions on where to park their car on the first day would be helpful, This information should be provided to the Employee at least 3 days before they are due to start.

4.       Inform Colleagues In Advance That A New Team Member Has Been Employed

Management should inform all team staff that they will be working with a new Employee, what date the new Employee is starting, what their position is and who they will be reporting to. This will enable team members to be prepared for a new face and have their welcoming persona on the day the new Employee starts. Every person knows how lost and lonely a new Employee can feel on their first day in a new workplace.

5.       The Team Leader Should Introduce The Employee To Their New Team Members.

After showing the Employee where their desk is, they should be introduced to their new Team members. For example, this is Kate, she is responsible for ensuring that the team meets their budgets each month so you will get weekly updates from her each Monday. This is Peter, he is responsible for allocating all new projects to the team to achieve.

6.       Team Members Could Take The Employee On A Tour Of The Building

Team members are more likely to give the Employee a more interesting tour of the building, complete with inside information about who is who, and what is where. Perhaps a bit of gossip and banter to make the Employee feel more at home. The Employee is more likely to ask team members questions they would prefer not to ask their Team Leader on their first day. They should be shown ablution blocks, how to enter and leave the building after hours, who to call for IT issues, wages issues, photocopying and filling stationary needs. Advice where cheap parking is available if onsite parking is not, would be useful.

7.       Appoint A Mentor For The New Employee

New colleagues have a lot to learn. The Employer can smooth the way by providing a Mentor from their team to assist them find their way around the organization. This should include explaining the organizational structure and where they fit in the big scheme.  A Mentor is also useful as the go-to person for the many little questions the new Employee needs answered until they find their way around.

8.       CEO’s / Managers Should Personally Welcome Employees On Their First Day If At All Possible Especially With Senior Staff

You have invested thousands into employing the right person. Don’t let the opportunity to make the Employee feel they have made the right decision to accept your offer pass you by. Meeting with the CEO shows that the company values their  Employees, they made the right choice, and we’re glad that you are here. It does no harm for the CEO to tell the  Employee that the  company actively tries to grow  their Employees because they want them to be successful while they are working there. And that they will get constructive feedback from company Managers, so the Employee is assisted to flourish and grow whilst employed by them.

9.       Set Expectations About Feedback On their First Day

When Managers and Team Leaders set expectations at the beginning of an Employee’s employment tenure it makes it easier  to address frustrating behaviours when they happen. And prepares the Employee for constructive feedback so they don’t feel they are being picked on.

Team Leaders should have a chat with new Employees about ways they could assist them  get ahead in the company. They could say something like this; “ as  Manager, our  job is to help Employees get where  they want to go, whether within this current organization or elsewhere in the future.  So, we let every Employee know when anything we hear them say, or do, or wear that either contributes to their success or gets in the way of it. Are you okay with that?”

Preparing new Employees for receiving feedback  negates the shock of constructive feedback when it is given. Because the Manager can say, we did discuss providing you with  constructive feedback when started with us, didn’t we? The Employee should also be encouraged to give constructive feedback to the Employer. The result is that the Employer’s business and the Employee flourish, thrive and grow.

10.   Break Your Training Into Smaller Modules.

Don’t try to do a 3-hour marathon onboarding session. Try to break it into either 30-60-90 minute blocks, which will allow the Employee to meet more of your staff during the time  in-between. You could start them on some meaningful but simple work for the company. This would show up any IT issues which need to be attended to. quickly. And is better than doing a long orientation of the workplace and then dumping them back at their desk to get going on their work.

11.   Help The  Employee Evaluate Their First Day Before They Leave Work For The Day

Before the end of the first day it would be helpful for the Team Leader or the Mentor to ask the Employee how their first day went. This gives the Employee an opportunity to ask questions and allows the Team Leader to give feedback and say thanks to the Employee for their great effort that day. This would definitely encourage the Employee to come back the next day.

Onboarding done well, is worth the time. Staff turnover is lower. And staff morale is higher because Employee’s know they are valued and supported from their first day at work.