Employee Onboarding: The Right Start is the Right Stuff

For everyone from the frontline cashier to the CEO, the first day of work at a new company is usually fraught with anxiety and insecurity. While a company can allocate significant resources to help minimize these apprehensions, it must also develop a system for managing these concerns.

A well designed and properly implemented onboarding process is the easiest, most affordable and most effective way to get your new employees “up to speed” on the policies and procedures of your company. Here are four key concepts that an HR professional should understand and incorporate when it comes to designing and implementing their company’s onboarding process: 


Keep the Orientation & the Onboarding Process Simple
During the orientation process, many companies try to communicate too much information in too little time. This presentation of inordinate amounts of information simply overwhelms the new employee. In fact, the entire process becomes self-defeating as the employee learns nothing and becomes disheartened by the process.

Instead of compressing the entire history of the company, its leaders, its procedures and its rules, stay simple, focused and interesting. The information imparted in the first few days should be relevant to the new employee’s position and the associated duties. In addition, all required paperwork and documentation should be incorporated into the process. Not only will this reassure the employee but will also save valuable time for the company’s management staff.

Inform and Advise

Onboarding is about explaining things. There may be a steep learning curve but it is much better that mistakes or misunderstandings occur in a classroom setting and not in the actual workplace. For a new employee, there is nothing worse than feeling foolish or out of place.

In the same vein, not only should the company’s mandated rules and regulations be enumerated but also any casual ones that are observed by a particular location. For instance, if everyone in the office eats pizza in the break room on Tuesday, make sure that the new person knows it.

More importantly, ensure that new employees understand the full range of benefits and perks associated with their job. Not only will this process improve morale but it is usually mandated by some government rule and there are severe penalties for not observing it.

Lastly and most importantly, provide an employee handbook that details all policies and procedures in writing. It is inevitable that some (if not much) of the information imparted verbally during day-long orientation meetings will go unremarked. An employee handbook backed by an online resource is the surest way to consistently communicate your message.

Develop Alternate Information Resources

Many employees are hired for their initiative and inner drive. Nevertheless, many new employees will be so busy with their new position that they will find it problematic to find relevant answers to their questions. 

So, even the most driven and tenacious employees will benefit from convenient and consolidated sources of information about the company and their place in it. The use of physical bulletin boards with pictures of the faces of important players within the company will aid any employee in feeling comfortable. In addition, the most important company policies and imperatives should be prominently displayed.

Similarly, the use the company intranet or a secure Internet site to develop in-depth resources about more complicated matters is essential. In particular, a database should be established for such things as training schedules, benefits forms, company promotional materials and an FAQ section. New employees can therefore look up answers to their own questions and not feel that they are asking stupid or unnecessary inquiries. It’s a win-win situation for your new employees and for your HR department.

Personality Counts

There are certainly benefits to utilizing online resources when onboarding new employees but the personal touch should not be overlooked. A personable trainer can make all the difference in helping to establish interpersonal relationships with new hires.

While the onboarding process usually involves a long stream of paperwork, there is still plenty of time to communicate the personality of the company. Still, it takes the right person to balance the demands of the company with the needs of the new hires. In the end, the idea that the company is staffed by thinking, feeling human beings and is not just a corporate identity can go a long way in making employees more comfortable, more acclimated and more productive.

The HRIS Difference

Properly onboarding new hires while tracking and submitting the required paperwork is certainly a daunting task for the unprepared. Even experienced trainers could use a helping hand. With these facts in mind, consider the use of a Human Resources Information System (HRIS).

Simply put, an HRIS system can be of invaluable help in monitoring, completing and submitting the mandated paperwork while allowing your trainers to concentrate on the more personal aspects of orientation and onboarding. In addition, an HRIS is an affordable option that will pay for itself through lowered payroll, increased productivity and better compliance.

About the Author

Carolyn Sokol writes about issues that may affect small businesses such as human resources, HCM Technology, and HRIS systems. She is a founder of PEOcompare.com and contributor to compareHRIS.com, both of which help match businesses to the right HR or payroll service provider for their particular needs. Her background is in human capital management, marketing and communications, employee education and training, development of policies and procedures and the ongoing delivery of outstanding customer service.