How to Save Time As a Business Owner By Optimizing Your Onboarding
A reliable and skilled workforce is vital to business success. The trick is to find and recruit the right people, and then onboard them effectively so they can start being productive as quickly as possible.
If your business is new or small, you might have been relying on keeping the essential onboarding information in your head and communicating it informally. But as your company grows, this becomes an impractical and time-consuming process that can pull you away from your responsibilities as the business owner. Not to mention that you miss out on the benefits of a structured onboarding process:
Optimizing your onboarding is critical to scaling your business. In this article, we’ll look at some ways to make your operation more efficient.
Create Guides For New Hires
Standardized guides shorten and streamline the onboarding process, meaning that your new employee can get up to speed more quickly, and you can prioritize other things. Taking the time to create these guides will save you hours in the long run.
The format your guides take is up to you. They might be PDF documents, printed booklets, or even videos. You can have one general employee guidebook covering everything they are likely to need or several shorter guides. Decide which makes sense for your business.
In this section, let’s look at some of the essential things to include:
1) Employee Responsibilities
An employee cannot fulfill their responsibilities if they aren’t clear on what those responsibilities are. Even if the role you’re filling seems self-explanatory, your company’s scope and specifics for the role will be different from elsewhere. Therefore, you should not assume that a new hire will automatically know what you expect of them.
New employees, through no fault of their own, often end up wasting their time by focusing on the wrong tasks or approaching things in the wrong way. This problem is almost always a sign of insufficient onboarding and training.
Therefore, you need to define the responsibilities of the role as precisely as you can and be clear about the way things need to be done.
2) Tools Used
Your company likely has specific tools for employees to use in their roles. For example, you might use a particular email verification solution for email outreach or a CMS for website management, Don’t forget to specify which tools are used for which purpose, as well as any essential information such as login details.
You can list the tools the new hire will be expected to use in your description of job responsibilities (e.g., “Edit images with Adobe Photoshop”). Unless you only intend to recruit people who are already experts in the relevant tools, it’s a good idea to create separate guides for each one.
Even if the new employee already has expertise with your chosen tools, don’t forget to provide information specific to how your company uses them. This might include visual brand guidelines or editorial standards such as tone of voice and linguistic conventions.
3) General Practices and Company Policies
Each company has its own policies and procedures, and trying to figure them out can be stressful for new employees. Rather than leave them guessing or have them find out the rules by inadvertently breaking them, create a robust guide to company policies, and give all new team members a copy.
At a minimum, you should include details of how staff are paid and when, the amount of paid time off they’re entitled to and how to book it, and your sick leave policy. It’s also essential – and is a legal requirement in some places – to outline your equal opportunities, anti-discrimination, and anti-harassment policies.
It’s also a good idea to include any IT policies, such as whether accessing social media or a personal email account during working hours is permitted, and any rules of office etiquette (is smoking allowed on your premises? Is eating at desks a no-go?)
Finally, your handbook should outline the procedures if there is a problem. Your new employee needs to know who to speak to if they need help or support, especially if they face a more severe issue such as bullying or discrimination. New team members also need to be made aware of the grievance or disciplinary process in the event of misconduct on their part.
Introduce New Hires to Colleagues
Long-serving employees are well placed to support new colleagues and help them adjust more quickly to their environment. Some companies do this via formalized mentorship or “buddy” programs, pairing up a new hire with an experienced team member who can show them the ropes and help them settle in.
A mentor might be a peer or a superior. Either way, it’s a good idea for them to be someone who works in the same area and has similar responsibilities to the new hire. The people you select as mentors should be high-performing, well-motivated employees who will positively represent the company to the new colleague.
As you create and develop your mentorship program, consider the following:
- Is a mentorship automatic for all new employees, or something they can opt-in for if they wish? If it’s the latter, what is the application process?
- Will the mentor-mentee relationship be entirely one-on-one, or will some group activities be involved to facilitate team-building? This can work well if you have several new employees starting at around the same time.
- How long will the mentorship last?
- How often, and at what points will mentors and mentees meet?
- How will mentors and mentees be required to report on their progress, and how will you use this data to monitor the success of the program?
Open Learn Create outlined the vital components of a productive mentoring relationship:
A well designed mentoring program is an essential element of business development. It can have significant benefits for the mentee, the mentor, and the company as a whole.
A Gallup study found that participation in an effective mentoring program eases new hires’ integration into the company culture and boosts their productivity by up to 17%. Mentors benefit from the injection of fresh perspectives and ideas from their mentees, as well as gaining leadership experience, which can help them in their careers.
Great mentoring relationships at the beginning of the employee journey inspire loyalty and encourage staff engagement, which is excellent news for your team and your company’s long-term health.
Even the strongest companies with the best onboarding processes have room to improve. You can adjust your hiring and onboarding procedure by seeking honest feedback from employees who have been through it. It’s easy to miss things as the business owner or hiring manager, and the people who have been on the other side of your process are best placed to tell you what you could be doing better.
There are several ways to gather feedback. You could send a survey around all staff who have joined within the last few years. Allowing for anonymous responses makes your employees more likely to be completely candid.
Another option is to ask your new employees for their feedback on the process once they’ve been at the company for a few months. Ask them to be as open and honest as possible, explaining that their feedback will improve the system for future new starters. This could form part of their three-month or six-month review, or the completion of their probationary period.
If you have a good relationship with your team, and they trust you enough to be honest, you could also put together a working group or focus group to help streamline your onboarding process. Have them look over the new employee guides and tell you if they are clear, if they are useful, and if anything else should be added. Ask them for ideas on how you can get more done and minimize wasted time in the onboarding process.
If you have a mentorship program, ask team members who have been through it as both mentors and mentees to assess how well it’s working and whether any aspects could be improved.
Whichever route you use to gather feedback, it is only valuable if you make use of it. So listen to what your employees tell you and use their insights to make adjustments to your process. Asking your team for their opinion, and then acting on it, has the additional benefit of showing that you care about their thoughts and experience. This helps people feel valued, which is a vital part of the employee engagement and retention puzzle.
Optimizing the Onboarding Process
Optimizing your onboarding process is relatively simple. It takes some time to set up, but once you’ve done so, it will save you time. It will also increase your team’s engagement and job satisfaction, helping you recruit and retain the most talented people.
The most important thing to do is try to put yourself in your new employee’s shoes. What are their needs, their concerns, and their hopes about working at your company? Determine what would help them settle in more quickly and get acclimated to their new environment more effectively. Use this insight to guide your hiring and onboarding process.
Be open to suggestions and feedback, too. Even if you think your onboarding process is the best there is, chances are there’s room for improvement.
By optimizing your onboarding and following your new streamlined process with all your new hires, you’ll be able to scale your business and reap the benefits.
Note: If you’re rehiring employees post-COVID, you will need to take a different, but equally focussed approach to onboarding. Even though they may have worked for you before, these employees still need onboarding and have their own unique needs.