The employee onboarding process involves bringing on a new employee and usually takes place during the new employee’s first week on the job. Employee onboarding includes both training and new hire forms, as well as meeting their team, socializing with company employees, and learning how your company’s processes work.
Although onboarding is time-consuming and involves many little (and big) steps, you can use HR software to make the process a lot simpler. Zenefits is an HR platform that makes it easy for employees to self-onboard, including electronically signing paperwork, enrolling in benefits, and more. It also comes with add-on integrated payroll and time-tracking software so you can easily manage everything in one place. Start a 14-day free trial.
Pre-boarding (aka New Hire Employee Forms)
The general overview of the things an employee can finish before they even come to the office are:
- Tax forms, like W-4s or W-9s
- Identification forms, like the I-9 form (and remind them to bring valid IDs)
- Payment forms (i.e. direct deposit information, voided check)
- Signed offer letter
Before your employee even begins, it helps to save time and energy on their first day if you can send them the usual new hire employee forms in advance of their first day. Why? Because some forms take a while to fill out, and the more you can get done ahead of time, the better off their first day will go instead of being a whirlwind of not-fun new hire paperwork.
What Should Happen on Their First Day
This section includes all the paperwork items and things you should explain to an employee in person. We recommend creating a first-day agenda in detail (see below for our top 5 successful onboarding tips). We will also provide a sample agenda here in this section.
If you haven’t created a pre-boarding process, you can add the above section to this one and just do all of the above on the first day as well.
On the first day, you will want to cover:
- Other new hire forms, like their employment agreement or any non-disclosure or non-compete agreements they need to sign. This should be taken care of first thing (you can also do this in the pre-boarding phase if you’d like).
- Company policies and procedures, like preventing sexual harassment, along with your employee handbook. We have a handy free employee handbook template.
- Who they should meet and spend time with (see our sample agenda below)
- A thorough office tour including a guide on how to use the printer, how to use the copier, etc. if need be.
- A list of the common office numbers, like the bathroom code, their phone extension, how to dial coworkers and their extensions, and things like that.
- A brief overview of their technical and computer set up such as setting passwords and sending a test email, getting logged into any software they need to, and potentially even view training videos on software if time allows. Other ad hoc things as they come up, including a 30 minute debrief to let them ask questions after they have taken it all in.
Sample First Day Agenda
Below is a made-up agenda that mimics how I would set up a new employee on their first day. I would usually leave details like this on my own personal copy as the HR Manager and maybe the manager’s copy as well, but Ellen Employee should see a clean, pretty version with locations, times, people and a task list.
|Ellen Employee’s First Day||February 8th, 2017|
|8:30 am||Ellen Employee arrives at office and Helen HR will be in the lobby to greet her|
Show Ellen her desk and set up, give Ellen office tour and introductions
|9:00 am||Ellen Employee finishes all new hire paperwork (with Helen HR)|
|10:00 am||Ellen Employee goes to coffee with her new manager, Mark Manager|
Mark clarifies goals, expectations, and other behaviors he expects as her manager
|11:00 am||Ellen Employee meets with Isaac IT and is set up on all technical items|
|12:00 pm||Team lunch with Ellen Employee and her new team|
|1:00 pm||Ellen Employee to watch all training videos on ABC Company’s project management system and learn their workflow for a typical project|
|2:00 pm||Ellen Employee & Helen HR check in on all company processes, procedures, her IT set up, and general touch base on any paperwork if there was anything forgotten|
|3:00 pm||Ellen Employee to shadow Tommy Teammate as he onboards a new client account|
|4:00 pm||Ellen Employee, Mark Manager, and Bobby Business Owner debrief on the first day and any questions Ellen Employee has|
|5:00 pm||Day 1 over!|
What Should Happen within Their First Week
Many new hires come to their new gig ready to go… only to find that everyone is too busy to train them, has other meetings set, or is generally unprepared for their arrival. This can really take the wind out of a new hire’s sails. It also is too much of a burden for a manager to simply stop their work and train a new hire intensively. Creating an onboarding agenda can help combat all of these issues.
Many companies find it beneficial to expand on the first-day agenda and create a loose agenda for the entire first week of a candidate. After seeing our day one agenda above, you can start to picture what the other days will look like.
Essentially, you will want to combine each day with:
1. Individual & Team Meetings
How often? 2-3 hours per day, depending on your business process. 10-15 hours in their first week.
Meeting the team members and managers that the new employee will be interacting with, and bringing the new employee up to speed on projects in the works, client processes, product education, and other pieces of their new role that they will need.
2. Training Materials
How often? 2-3 hours per day; 10-15 hours in their first week.
Training materials that connect these meetings to the employee’s new role. For example, any product education materials you have, useful YouTube videos, training in company software systems, policies and procedures, and things of the like should be compiled before the new employee arrives. You can also set up shadowing sessions where the new hire can watch or listen in to a seasoned employee’s calls or actions. See our sexual harassment training guide for an example of how to structure training.
3. Small Projects
How often? 1-2 hours per day; max of 10 hours in their first week total.
Small projects and tasks to get the employee to about 10-20% of productivity by the end of their first week. Each week should ramp up between 10-20% more depending on your industry, with a goal that a new employee is 90-100% productive by weeks 6-8. Shadowing a high-performing coworker, attending client meetings as an observer, listening in on client calls, and other technique of the like will help to speed up their process of jumping right into the workload.
4. Just Hanging Out
How often? 1 hour or so each day of the first week. The first day might include 3 hours of this!
Socialization aspects should be considered important as well. While you do not need to take them to lunch every day, assign someone to show them the local best coffee place, the best spots to park, and consider having a company-wide (or at least team-wide) social hour or happy hour after the new hire has been there 1-2 weeks.
Top 5 Tips to a Successful Employee Onboarding Process
Getting someone onboarded into a new role can be stressful to the employee in question, the team, and even the company, especially if you are a small business. It doesn’t have to be though. These are our top 5 tips for creating a successful onboarding process:
1. Plan, plan, plan:
The more you plan for your new hire’s arrival, the more smoothly it will go. The planning process might take 1-2 weeks alone to get a feel for what it should look like, especially if it is your first time really focusing on employee onboarding, . Once you have an agenda and some of the training materials compiled, you will have a baseline to work from next time.
Remember to combine the 4 elements we talk about above, meetings, trainings, projects, and socialization, in order to get a good balance.
2. Get the new employee’s desk space and IT needs sorted BEFORE they show up:
The worst feeling as a new hire is when you show up and there is no desk, computer, or email address set up for you. Here you thought they were excited to hire you after 4 interview rounds and a month of recruiting work! Long story short, it leaves a bad first impression and setting up a workspace and new computer shouldn’t take more than 1-2 hours of your time. If you need help on what to order for their new office, let us help.
Want to go the extra mile? Think about creating a welcome banner, a nice nameplate for their desk, or getting them business cards in advance. You can get some quick information on the best business card providers in our buyer’s guide.
3. Use other people as examples (aka shadowing):
Like we said earlier, using a combination of training techniques is important, and this includes using a combination of people. This will help take the pressure off one person to train someone while also getting their work done (especially if that person is you). Also, make the most of your current team’s natural talents and the areas they best perform in and spread the training out accordingly.
4. Use the natural “host” in your business:
Most teams have someone who is the natural social butterfly or host-type. Use this person to make the new person feel welcome. You could even delegate the office set up to them, or formatting the agenda to look pretty. They can be used to give the office tour too!
5. Research training options:
You might be wondering about what to do with training options. Maybe there are no compiled procedures, manuals, or software videos you know of. So how do people get trained? Ask any other employees about this and see what they recommend. If this is your first employee, you are going to need to think a bit more and do some research on the good old internet to find YouTube videos or other training materials that make sense.
Sometimes, performance management software or HR software tools come with an onboarding process and training videos included, or add on modules you could research, and most software programs like CRM software have training materials for new people as well.
Personally, I have given new employees a combination of demonstrating the system 1-2 times, asking them to try it while I watch, and then assigning them a 2-4 hour project to get used to the system when there have been no videos.
The Bottom Line
The employee onboarding process is incredibly simple… once you get a system down. Once you get a process in place, you can really just turn the process on each time you hire someone, or even a class of people, and work through that process systematically. It helps alleviate pressure from management, as well as creates a great experience for the new hire(s).
Remember, you can organize and even automate much of your onboarding process with Zenefits. This all-in-one HR system lets employees handle nearly every aspect of onboarding on their own, including signing new hire documents, setting up payroll, enrolling for benefits, and more. Try it free for 14 days.