You’ve found the right person for the job and they’ve accepted the offer, the recruitment process is complete. The employment relationship however is only just beginning!

The onboarding process is a critical stage in the development of a successful employment relationship. It is a key opportunity for employers to make an impression on the new employee that can heavily influence the nature of the employment relationship into the future.

We encourage employers take advantage of this time, and to make sure that during the employee’s first days do not forget simple tasks such as introducing the new employee to everyone on the team, telling them where they can park, and showing them where they can buy a coffee. While it’s important to get the person up to speed with the requirements of their role, these simple acts can make a big impact on the overall onboarding experience, enabling them to feel more welcome and connected to the workplace.

New employees are prone to jumping to conclusions and if the onboarding experience has been poorly managed, the new employee may perceive the business as poorly managed and conclude that it was a mistake to take the job.

What does a great onboarding experience look like?

Every new employee expects to complete a lot of paperwork when they are starting a new job. As an employer, you need to consider what is ‘essential’ and what can be completed later on. Some essential documents that need to be completed before an employee commences or on their first day include:

  • an employment contract, signed by both parties with a copy provided to the employee
  • a position description defining the role duties and responsibilities
  • tax file declaration form, superannuation choice form, and a new employee form to get set up the payroll system

Having a process for enabling the completion of these steps and streamlining the collection of these documents can assist the employee to feel secure in their employment and build trust in their new employer’s employment management.

IT, access and uniforms

Prior to a new employee starting, it is crucial to get their IT equipment set up including phones, laptops, email addresses, and passwords, organise their building access such as cards and keys, order any uniforms or equipment, and book any training that needs to be completed immediately. This will ensure that when the employee starts, the business portrays a positive image of organisation.

A genuine, warm welcome

The importance of connecting with a new employee on an emotional level is often underestimated. It assists in gaining a new employee’s trust and in the long-term, their commitment to the business. It also encourages the new employee to feel comfortable in approaching their manager if they have any questions or concerns. Techniques that a business can use to connect with a new employee may include going out for a team lunch or coffee to welcome them, providing opportunities for them to connect with others in the first weeks, and showing a genuine interest in them as a person.

How do I maintain a great onboarding experience after their first day?

Now that your new employee has started, it is important to regularly check in with them, to understand how they’re settling in and to support their engagement with the team and business overall.

During their first week, you will be tempted to bombard them with policies, procedures, manuals, introductions, training and other tasks. Don’t overdo it!

An employee handbook or induction manual

An easy way to give the new employee the key information that they need to get started, and may need to reference frequently is to provide a new employee handbook. Sometimes this is called an induction manual and guides the manager providing the induction also. This guide may include things such as an overview of the business, an organisational chart, key contact details, parking information, payroll dates, uniform or dress code information, code of conduct expectations, OHS expectations, and expense claim information.

Policies and procedures

It is best to keep the employee handbook concise, to be used as a brief reference guide only, and know that in many cases it is not a substitute for a policy. A handbook can reference and direct the new employee to review all the policies and procedures relevant to their role.

To ensure the employee has properly read and understood the policies, it often works well to stagger these over the first few weeks, to avoid the new employee feeling completely overwhelmed.

Training and group inductions

Another important thing to consider once your new employee has commenced is their training. Depending on the size of your business and the number of new employees coming on board at any one time, you may consider running an induction training session. If you’ve only hired one individual, you’ll likely do this on a one-to-one basis.

After an induction, it is good to consider drafting a job specific training plan which details day to day what tasks you will cover off with the new employee. This will ensure the new employee doesn’t feel as though they have been ‘chucked in the deep end’. A new employee needs to feel supported to succeed.

What if I think the new employee is not settling in well?

If a new employee starts to become quiet, reserved or shows other signs of disengagement, have a chat to them and ask them how they are going. Find out if they are getting the support they need, if they’re finding the resources and can access the right people to do their job, or if there are any concerns they can share with you. There could be a range of possibilities, both work related and personal that may influence a new employee’s experience. Good communication is always important in an employment relationship, at any stage.

Regular ‘pulse checks’ through the probation period

We recommend scheduling regular check-ins, we call them pulse checks, with your new employee for at least the first three months as this provides invaluable feedback for both the employer and the new employee. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a third party like Cornerstone HR to help manage these pulse checks, and to track any trends or areas to improve the onboarding experience. Sometimes an employee may feel more comfortable disclosing concerns or issues to someone other than their manager, even if they have a good working relationship with them.

Even if you have external support to regularly touch base with your new employee, it’s important to also directly meet with them. This will help you to tackle any issues early on and nurture a solid, working relationship between you and your new employee.

If you’re looking for assistance in developing effective onboarding procedures including policies, induction processes or training, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team, via the chat box here or calling us on 08 6150 0043.

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