What is employee onboarding?
Onboarding is the process of bringing new hires up to speed and into the organization, which is essential to a successful integration. A well-executed onboarding program ensures that new employees are productive and safe from the first day on the job.
The purpose of onboarding is to integrate new hires and help them feel comfortable in their role. Examples of activities performed during the process include:
- Introducing the company’s structure
- Outlining the organization’s vision, values, and mission
- Introducing team members and duties
- Offering insights into the organizational culture
A company’s onboarding process could last for several days or multiple months. Onboarding is more than simply orienting a new hire with their surroundings. It’s designed to provide an employee with the information they need to succeed in their role and contribute to the company’s overall mission.
Benefits of Employee Onboarding
- Faster time to higher productivity while promoting safety
- High employee engagement levels
- Greater sense of commitment and teamwork
- Higher rates of employee retention in a high churn environment
- Cost savings
Confusion and inconsistency are common complaints among new employees who don’t feel positive about their onboarding experiences. Gallup reports that just over 10 percent of new hires felt good about being onboarded. But it’s interesting to note that those in that group were nearly three times more likely to feel they were in the best possible professional role.
Since fewer than a third of employees surveyed felt prepared and supported to excel in their new roles, onboarding processes have substantial room for improvement. Starting with pre-boarding as soon as someone accepts an offer can set the tone for a better process. A company might do some or all of the following activities:
- Invite the new hire in for an office tour
- Send a gift, such as a treat or some branded swag
- Offer details about benefits, organizational structure, or other information
- Assign a mentor to provide support
- Invite the new hire to set up a profile in the company’s HR system
What is Included in Employee Onboarding?
Basic onboarding includes:
- Paperwork – gather tax forms, contact details, direct deposit instructions, benefits eligibility online, certifications and licensing such as CDL
- Planning – deliberate, organized, and with frequent check-ins
- Introductions – introduce new hires to the team and broader workforce
- Questions – provide virtual channels to make it easy to ask questions.
- Shadowing – live, but not necessarily in-person, training can be done through video conferencing or other means.
- Team building – formal and informal strategies can be used to build rapport and common cause.
- Office equipment and software – acquire and set up equipment
- Meeting participation – setup DLs, teams, calendars, video conferencing
- Face-to-face – regular meetings are held, but they are not necessarily in person.
Why Start Onboarding Early?
The onboarding process begins the moment a new employee accepts an offer of employment. There’s no need to wait until Day 1. Begin by sending a welcome letter. While the new hire is completing paperwork, use the time to build rapport and excitement. If your new hire is available, allow them to start their paperwork early. Make sure your forms are paperless, so new hires can access them online. Most will find this very helpful.
The stress of starting a new job is often significant. But taking steps to alleviate that stress and prepare the employee can make a big difference. An HR professional or manager may also save some steps on the first day by requesting information from the new hire prior to starting.
Orienting an employee might include introducing the company’s mission, vision, and values. New hires might go through the organization’s policies and employee handbook, complete required paperwork, and handle other tasks. Regardless of the specific tasks on an onboarding checklist, the purpose is to establish a strong foundation for a new hire’s long-term success.
The Value of Online Onboarding
- New hires are given the flexibility of time to complete their tasks.
- Lets new hires pull together details as they can
- Provides immediate access to paperwork even if you are remote
- Makes the paperwork more snackable and less overwhelming
- Eliminates the possibility of misfiling or losing important documents
- Conducts an optional WOTC interview
- Gathers tax, licensing, payroll details, contact details, direct deposit and more
- Confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are presented as needed.
- Provides access to and time for reviewing the employee handbook, safety guides, emergency procedures, and other documents relevant to the new hire’s specific job.
- Collects electronic signature
- Moves the focus onto team building from Day 1
Should I Start Tracking Time from Day 1?
Yes! You should set up a system to track time. Have it ready on the first day of employment. Every employee should have a formal method for reporting their hours. Your business needs it to comply with the Affordable Care Act, Family Medical Leave Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, and other federal and state laws. Your managers need it to ensure they meet labor cost budgets and track job costs. Your employees need it to confirm that they are paid properly.
Here’s a list of some key features your time tracking system should include:
- Time clock – make it easy for employees to clock in and out of work using a physical clock or phone-based app. A physical clock is convenient for factory workers and those who work at company headquarters. Phone-based apps are more popular among service technicians who travel to customer sites, staff who work from home, and supervisors who may split their time between locations. You can choose which option is best for each new hire.
- Geolocation – the software automatically records the location of clock activity to ensure that employees are where they should be when working.
- Department – automatically assign time to a department, or allow employees to split their time between departments.
- Position – employees are allowed to select if they switch between positions with different pay rates, or work that needs to be tracked separately. For example, if an employee is qualified for arc and tic welding and also sometimes performs general machine shop work, time should be tracked for each role.
- Breaks/meals – employees are prompted to take breaks based on governing rules. This helps you prove compliance with regulations while keeping your operation running without interruption.
- Project – prompt employees to select the job or project on which they are working so that time is captured for all work on the project. This can be critically important for shops that do custom projects or cost-plus contracts.
- Mileage – records mileage or other details during clock in/out.
Time tracking is essential to cash flow and job costing. Start tracking time on the first day of work, giving everyone confidence that onboarding is underway. As soon as the new hire is contributing to a job or project, the hours can be assigned to that activity.
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