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Onboarding Employees: Waste of Time or Strategic Process?

04/27/2015 06:33 pm ET | Updated Jun 27, 2015

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Hiring and training a new employee is often just as stressful for managers as it is for the new hire. Preparing the necessary paperwork, outlining job responsibilities (especially if you're creating a new position), and making sure the employee knows the ins and outs of your company are all important aspects of hiring that can quickly become overwhelming. With effective orientation and mainstreaming procedures -- also known as employee onboarding -- you can significantly reduce stress and create a smooth transition for everyone involved.

Importance of Employee Onboarding

Leadership expert Michael Watkins wrote in his book, The First 90 Days, "Transitions are periods of opportunity, a chance to start afresh and to make needed changes in an organization. But they are also periods of acute vulnerability because you lack established working relationships and a detailed understanding of your new role." This quote speaks to the importance of implementing an onboarding program within your organization no matter the size of your business. A lack of proper procedures often costs your small business valuable time and money. In fact, the International Data Corporation reports that U.S. and UK employees cost businesses approximately $37 billion each year due to a lack of understanding of their jobs. Remember, this number represents only the costs accrued from actions taken by employees as a result of their misunderstanding; it does not include the cost of employee turnover as a result of job confusion.

According to an article on CareerBuilder, onboarding not only benefits new employees, but it is also advantageous to managers and current employees--and the business as a whole. Here are a few ways proper onboarding benefits companies:

  • Decreases costs associated with on-the-job learning
  • Increases productivity by saving supervisors and coworkers time spent training the new hire
  • Improves overall employee morale and reduces turnover rates

Six Tips for Employee Onboarding


Proper orientation procedures are crucial to the ongoing success of your company. But how do you create an ideal onboarding process? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Be clear from the beginning about the responsibilities the job entails. Nothing is worse for a new employee than believing they will be doing one thing, and then discovering the position is completely different than they expected. This quickly leads to poor retention.
  • Provide a written outline of objectives and responsibilities. Whether this is done with a training manual or simply a print-out of important bullet points, be detailed and include any tasks that may come up during the new hire's time of employment.
  • Give new employees your undivided attention. Set aside time for orientation sessions during which you--or the responsible supervisor--turn off all distractions and focus only on training and orienting the new hire.
  • Be prepared for the first day. Make sure you're ready for the new employee to begin before his or her first day on the job. This includes necessary paperwork, sign-ins/passwords for email and any other online programs you use, name badge if applicable, and anything else that will be needed on a daily basis.
  • Acclimate new employees to your office. Introduce the new hire to coworkers and provide information about company policies, benefits, paid time off, etc. as well as location of restrooms, break room and parking areas.
  • Check in regularly. Create a feedback schedule--a time for both the supervisor and the new hire to voice any concerns or praises and assess where the employee stands performance-wise, as well as what the next steps are toward success. A good idea is to have a short 30-day, 60-day and 90-day review meeting.

Creating a system that will ensure proper employee onboarding for each and every new hire may be time-consuming and overwhelming at first, but it will certainly pay off in the long-run. For the best results -- and to save you time and energy -- turn to human resources specialists. With outside HR support, you'll be ready for anything a new hire could throw your way.

MJ Management Solutions has developed a suite of forms, including orientation checklists and simple performance review forms to assist you in the development of your onboarding process.

Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, is the founder and president of MJ Management Solutions,a human resources consulting firm that provides small businesses with a wide range of virtual and onsite HR solutions to meet their immediate and long-term needs. From ensuring legal compliance to writing customized employee handbooks to conducting sexual harassment training, businesses depend on our expertise and cost-effective human resources services to help them thrive. This article first appeared on the MJ Management Solutions blog.

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