Working with small business owners over many years, I understand the time and effort that goes into bringing on a new team member into a business. What’s surprising is how many business owners unintentionally rush the process and overlook critical onboarding training and initiatives in an attempt to get the new hire up to speed as quickly as possible. It’s understandable in a small business that the aim of a new hire is to start getting some ROI happening to offset the expense of a new employee. However, the lack of an effective onboarding process ultimately ends up costing the business more in the longer term. Inadvertently the new team member is left with a not so great first impression and questioning their decision to accept the position. Facing this prospect so early in the onboarding phase could significantly impact the odds of succeeding in the job.
To become skilled, not only in hiring but in successfully holding on to great team members, you need to have a proven onboarding process in place. Your success rate will be a direct result of the process you undertake in the first 30 to 90 days of employment.
Onboarding and training a new team member can be one of the biggest drains of time and energy in any business or organisation. While not replacing a hands-on approach to onboarding, there is some smart automation and tools that can significantly reduce the time it takes to get a new team member inducted into your company.
Regardless of the type of position you are hiring for, there will be elements of your induction process that are rinse and repeat for every new hire. A great place to start is a simple checklist of all the regular and job-related activities that need to happen to ensure that the team member and HR Representative complete all the necessary steps.
Experience and Communication
- Automation workflows improve the overall experience of a new hire by creating a great impression from the very start.
- Automation of processes facilitates the completion of necessary employment forms before the first day on the job, thus freeing up the day for more meaningful experiences.
- Automation ensures that important company information such as core values and company performance guidelines are not overlooked in favour of supposedly more urgent matters.
- Brand personality, culture and concepts can be more easily conveyed using engaging media such as images and video.
- Information and reference materials can be stored all in one place rather than hidden in a stream of email messages.
- Onboarding can be interactive and enjoyable by providing e-learning elements such as short quiz questions and encouraging comments and feedback.
- To ensure new hires have read and understood the various components of their induction and training, some software platforms let you create, distribute and store online signatures and compliance agreements.
- Using technology to facilitate the onboarding process frees up key departments like HR from the drudgery of paper processes. Time can be better spent on focusing on building rapport and setting expectations.
- Transparency and collaboration are facilitated by assigning tasks automatically to other relevant departments, such as getting access to software and equipment.
- Automating key milestones removes the chance of forgetting key dates such as probation expiration dates. Automatic reminders ensure performance reviews will always be completed on time.
- Most automation software will seamlessly transition from induction to training and then to ongoing performance management.
- Think of onboarding in reverse. Automated workflows can facilitate what can sometimes be a difficult process. Sample onboarding activities may include:
- Termination documents
- Exit survey
- Revoking of systems access
- Payroll termination process
- Return of company property
6 Steps to Automation
Before automating the onboarding process, it’s important to understand and make sure you have documented the workflow. Planning your process allows you to easily see who is involved, timelines and the steps that need to be completed. The most significant benefit to planning is that you can make improvements as you analyse each step of the process end to end.
1. No more paper
Decide to go paperless by creating online documents and forms that can be shared with the new hires and everyone involved.
2. Evaluate everything that cannot automated
From your plan or process map of the onboarding process, identify the types of things that can’t be automated, such as issuing uniform from the uniform supply shop. Look at these processes independently and see what can be made more efficient.
3. Auto Assign tasks to others
Traditionally there are many team members involved at some point in the onboarding process. Make transitions of responsibilities of others trigger automatically when the previous task is completed. Many project management software programs offer these features.
4. Make a checklist for the New Hire and the Manager
Both the new hire and the person responsible for onboarding the new hire have steps to undertake in the onboarding process. To make the process efficient, have a checklist for both parties. Within the list, include the instructions and the timeline for each step. In an automated system, the checklist can be completed in real time.
5. Create an innovative e-learning experience
Think creatively when it comes to showcasing your company and all that it stands for. Instead of long-winded text documents that talk about your company’s direction and vision, think of including a short video introduction from the CEO that sums up the essence of the company’s personality in a few minutes. Videos convey emotion and can deliver an important message in a way that a static document can’t. Videos make someone feel welcome. Consider each team member recording a 30-second introduction and sharing an interesting fact that instantly building rapport.
Customising a training portal allows people to learn at their own pace and revisit sections as they need. Introduce short quizzes on certain subjects that checks their knowledge and understanding. Programs such as Trainual can track progress as people work through the different topics and collects completion rate data.
6. Address every learning style
Making training digital caters for the different learning styles. Some people prefer to watch a video, some prefer to read, and some like more hands-on interaction.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin
A great onboarding process is one that has part automation and part personal interaction. Automation of regular onboarding requirements will undoubtedly be speeded up, but it’s the personal connection with the direct reports and other team members that will be the most memorable and form a strong sense of team. So don’t forget the personal introductions, taking the new hire out to lunch and regular check-in’s to take a moment and ask the new team member how they are getting on.
The digitalisation and automation of everyday business tasks can transform the way businesses welcome onboard one of the most important assets of a small business – their people.
Looking for help with improving and documenting your processes, how to run your business more efficiently, and how to scale? Check out our Resource Area to get some of my best blogs, templates, guides and so much more for your business. Click here to get this free resource.