How to Train New Employees in 5 Steps
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Training new hires ensures they fit into your culture and meet your performance expectations. Although there will be certain skills each new employee brings to your company, and some may have even previously performed similar tasks, that doesn’t mean you can set them loose on their first day. You’ll want to
- Select a Training Method & Build Your Process Before Hiring
- Have a Clear Training Schedule
- Hire in Pairs & Assign a Buddy
- Set Training Goals
- Review Your Training
1. Select a Training Method & Build Your Process Before Hiring
If you are hiring your first employee, review our new hire checklist. There are several steps you’ll need to take before you can hire someone in any state.
As you consider your training, think about your business and what new hires need to know. Think about your company’s policies, reporting structure, and mission and goals. These items may not seem like key training, but your new hires know very little about your company—integrate them with a thorough overview.
Training your new employees requires time and effort before you hire. Winging it will set the wrong tone; your new hires will notice, and it will make their training experience ineffective. There are several training methods you can use, and generally, you will use multiple. Ultimately, which methods you use depends on your organization’s needs and may vary from job to job.
Recorded training is great for jobs that have the same duties, like customer service. Your recorded training could include videos showing a day in the life of your new employee and showing them how to use your software.
Think about the specific tasks you need employees to do. If you’re hiring a customer service representative, do they need to follow a script when a customer calls with a problem? Do they need to understand multiple products? Do you have a specific greeting they must use when answering a call? All of these questions should guide you to building a specific training process that can be recorded and reused for this type of job.
If your company doesn’t have repeatable jobs, recorded training can be useful for systems everyone uses, like time off requests or messaging platforms. As long as you record these once and keep them updated, you won’t waste company resources on one-on-one training every time you hire someone new.
One-on-one training is necessary, even if you have recorded training for new hires. With this method, new employees receive more personalized attention and their questions are answered immediately. In today’s work environment, this can just as easily be done remotely as it can in person.
While unnecessary to use for the entire training process, one-on-one training is best for complicated topics and confidential matters. If you’re hiring a customer service representative, you may need to discuss with them the process for handling sensitive customer information and delivering great customer service. That’s not something you want them to passively watch on a video—you need to see that they pay attention and understand.
One-on-one training is crucial for communicating job expectations. You need to make sure your new hire knows what’s expected of them, what their metrics are, and how their performance will be evaluated. In person or virtually, communicating this allows them to ask clarifying questions and ensure they completely understand what is expected of them.
Shadow training is a great way to give a new hire exposure to other colleagues and their jobs. Especially if your new hire will be doing the same or similar job, shadow training can give them insight into how to do their job well. Because of this, it’s vital to choose the right training partner, someone you can trust, to show your new employee how things work.
Shadow training is also good for new employees to see how different jobs are done in your company. For jobs that require close collaboration with other employees, it’s good for the new hire to see how their job affects others and vice versa. This type of shadow training doesn’t have to be long—an hour is often enough to give the new employee perspective.
This is the most common type of training used and can be the most effective. But we recommend using this training method only after using at least one of the above. Although new hires may have done the same or similar jobs before, your company may do things slightly differently and you need to train them in your ways. On-the-job training is the best way to do that and ensure they meet your expectations.
Depending on the type of job the new hire is doing, this training may last part of a day or several weeks. For a customer service representative, you may have them answer customer calls later on their first day, sitting beside them and giving them real-time feedback. A quick and immediate adjustment will put them on a path to success in the long run.
Regardless of whether a new hire used the same software at a previous job, your use may differ. To ensure they use your business’ technology correctly, they need to be trained. It is possible to record systems training, just make sure you update it whenever you change systems.
For a customer service representative, you may require them to make notes in customer relationship management (CRM) software. The CRM may keep detailed records for each customer so if they call with another problem, the person helping them can see what issues and resolutions this customer has received in the past. This helps give the customer a great experience and is only possible if every member of your team is using the CRM in the same way.
To fully adapt to your organization, your new hires need to understand your company’s mission, goals, and culture. Especially for today’s workforce, people want to work for a company that has a clear goal and a positive mission. Making these front and center will help you engage your new employees.
You may include discussions of specific company policies within the culture training. While many companies have similar policies, it’s a good practice to have employees review the company handbook and give them time to ask questions about policies and practices. Make sure you discuss any company-specific policies, like how to request time off, how to call out sick, and the performance management process.
Companies are not required by law to train their employees on regulations and laws. Although you may need to complete certain compliance training requirements, depending on the industry in which you operate.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires certain safety training for high-risk jobs and industries. Workers in healthcare may be required to have training on the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Some states also require certain compliance training, most notably anti-harassment. Be sure to check your state laws to make sure you’re compliant.
2. Have a Clear Training Schedule (But Be Flexible)
One key to a successful hire is to have a clear onboarding process. This process starts before the new employee’s first day. The same is true with the training schedule.
Whether your new employee is remote or in-person, they’ll want to know what to expect on Day One.
- Send them a welcome email a few days before their start date.
- Don’t ask them to do any training in advance unless you’re going to pay them.
- Do give them a clear schedule for at least their first day. In some cases, you may be able to map out their first week, giving them a good idea of what to expect.
This schedule should describe the type of training they’re going to receive and include breaks. Especially if the new hire is remote, they’ll need to get up and stretch their legs. Giving their brain a break is also helpful for retention of everything they’re learning. Breaks will also ensure you’re not throwing too much at them too fast.
Make sure you also schedule regular check-ins with their manager, especially during that first week. You don’t want the manager to appear micromanaging, but you want to ensure the new employee feels comfortable asking questions and has dedicated time during the week to speak with their direct supervisor. We recommend scheduling at least two 15-minute time blocks every day during the first week.
Your training schedule also needs to be flexible. You may want to leave some empty time during the week in case emergencies arise and you need to move something. If everything runs smoothly, this extra time can be used for additional one-on-one time with the new hire’s manager and as break time for the employee to process everything they’re learning.
You may want HR to train all of your employees but make sure your managers know what’s in the training so they don’t give new hires contradictory information.
3. Hire in Pairs & Assign a Buddy
Hiring employees requires a structured process, just like training them. If you can, hire new employees in pairs. This gives them a partner, someone experiencing the same things at the same time. It also cuts down on the amount of administrative time you have to commit to each new employee.
Whether your company hires one employee or several, assign all of them a buddy or mentor who isn’t their manager. Your new hire will undoubtedly get to know their colleagues over time, but assigning them a buddy can expedite the relationship with an already trusted member of your team. This is someone the new employee can lean on with questions about the business and their job, without feeling like they’re bothering their manager.
A buddy or mentor serves as a guide for the new hire, but also as a cheerleader for your organization. By providing advice about how to deal with situations, the buddy can groom the new employee and help them progress and rise within the organization.
4. Set Training Goals
Throughout the training process, you should have training goals for the employee to meet. This gets them accustomed to meeting goals set by the company and ensures they complete the training in a timely manner.
Training goals could include:
- Relevant compliance training completed by the end of Day One
- Reviewing the handbook and signing the acknowledgment by the end of the first week
- Completing any recorded training sessions by the end of the first week
The training goals should be set by your organization and monitored by the employee’s supervisor or HR. Especially for required compliance training, it’s crucial you ensure the new employee has completed training on time.
5. Review Your Training
After new hires complete their training, conduct a debrief. Review the training with the new employee three to six months after their first day and get their feedback on what went well and what didn’t. Ask them about what could have been improved and what could have better prepared them for this job. This will enhance the training experience for future new hires.
Also, make sure your company training stays up to date. The last thing you want is to train new employees in the old ways. An annual reminder for your HR team to review the training program to make sure it is current will ensure that your new hires receive the best information possible.
New Employee Training Tips
|Prepare training before your new hire’s first day||Wing the training|
|Create a structured plan, including job-specific information||Overwhelm your new hire by giving too much information on Day One|
|Have a discussion and encourage your new employee to ask questions||Spend all your time in one-way communication|
|Encourage breaks with colleagues||Silo your new hire and keep them from meeting their teammates early on|
|Combine different training methods to keep it fresh and cater to different learning styles||Make new hires get all their training from recordings|
Building a new hire training program can be overwhelming. You don’t have to build this training yourself—you may want to consider some of the best employee training software. The biggest benefit of these types of software training programs is that they allow you to easily adjust the training as your company and processes change.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you train new employees with no experience?
You should treat every new employee as if they have no experience, whether they have worked in the field or not. They need to learn the ins and outs of your company and how your company expects the job to be completed. Use the same training methods you use with each new hire and then everyone will be on the same page.
How long should it take to train a new employee?
In order to give a new employee the best experience with your company you should have a lengthy onboarding and training process that breaks down training into several small achievements. For instance, the first week should be getting to know the company, and the job role, and filling out the required paperwork. Beyond that, you should continuously train employees in their job role for at least three months, and then provide monthly or quarterly feedback for the first year of employment.
If you don’t hire frequently, it’s easy to ignore the process of creating a new hire training program and just wing it each time. By creating a structured training program once, however, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you hire someone new. Your new employees are an investment in your company’s success. Invest in them by setting up a training program that helps them be successful and productive.
Although many businesses prefer to avoid a structured training program, we highly recommend establishing a strong process. If you need help creating a training program for your business, consider Rippling. It provides solid HR software along with a full training and onboarding program ready for you to use with every new hire you make. It even has preloaded courses for some state-mandated training, like sexual harassment, so you don’t have to create your own. Sign up to try it today.