Onboarding New Hires

Date: February 3, 2020

Nancy Rigby, BITCO Home Office Technical Specialist, Risk Control

Good practices for establishing a smooth working relationship

Onboarding a new hire is about more than just sharing your Human Resources Department (HR) documents or picking up personal protective equipment to acquaint them with safely completing their daily tasks.

The onboarding process presents a unique opportunity to familiarize your new team member with your work and comprehensive safety culture – establishing expectations and a solid understanding of the ground rules by which you operate. Successfully onboarding a new employee establishes a smooth working relationship between the new hire and other members of the team, and perhaps most importantly, it sets them up to be safe, productive and successful.

In other words: it’s worth the investment to make the most of your number one asset – your people.

Establishing a process

Some businesses use an informal onboarding process, with no set plan. However, if onboarding is too informal, the new hire may feel like they are being thrown blindly into a job, and it implies a lack of importance for safety protocols or policies you may have in place.

By contrast, formal onboarding programs follow clear procedures regarding a new employee’s role as well as a timeline for specific goals and projects. A more formal approach can also help improve performance, reduce frustration and simply create a great first impression.

There are four components that may be included in onboarding:

  1. Compliance: providing basic legal information and training on processes and procedures.
  2. Clarification: clear explanation of roles and expectations for new employees.
  3. Culture: introducing new employees to organizational norms.
  4. Connection: helping new employees establish networks and relationships.

Each component is an important aspect to help employees assimilate and become effective contributors within an organization. The more components that are considered, the more effective an onboarding program is likely to be.

Onboarding good practices

The onboarding process will vary depending on the employee’s role and the size and needs of a business. For instance, supervisors may have different onboarding experiences than hourly employees because of their responsibilities and expectations.

However, there are some general best practices to help create an effective program.

Use a checklist.

Creating an onboarding checklist provides an outline that helps ensure each stage of the program has been completed. Documenting the process minimizes the chance that something important will be missed and helps guarantee compliance with company procedures. Keep a copy in each employee’s records for easy reference.

Begin before the new hire’s first day.

Consider recruitment and hiring as part of the onboarding process. Make sure that someone is available to answer any of the candidate’s questions.

Explain the HR processes.

All employees need to be adequately informed about benefits, policies and emergency procedures. Highlight the importance of communication with HR.

Show the office or worksite.

Help acquaint new employees with the office layout on the first day. Include the broader company culture and goals as well as informal social norms.

Explain the tools and equipment.

Set up your new hire’s equipment as early as possible to ensure they have all the tools they will need to be successful on the first day. This helps relieve some of the new job stress and provide a smoother transition for your new hire. Imagine sitting on your first day twiddling your thumbs waiting for the supervisor to fill out paperwork or set up tools. These types of experiences make employees feel less valuable. If your pre-boarding is on-point, you can move on to successful day one onboarding initiatives.

Introduce key contacts.

Introducing new employees to the team can help them feel welcomed. Consider setting them up with a mentor or experienced employee. Schedule a meeting with their manager to review expectations including how and when their performance will be reviewed. Consider scheduling one-on-one meetings with the employees they’ll be working closely with. This helps your new hire build a rapport with their future teammates before diving into the workload.

Cover the details.

Job role requirements and expectations should be as clear-cut as possible. Clarity boosts a new employee’s confidence and helps them reach milestones sooner.

Chart their course.

Discussing new employees’ path within your company early-on communicates their value and your company’s support. Clearly communicate goals, discuss time frames, and listen to their concerns.

Start the workload.

It is important to begin incorporating your new employee into both short and long-term projects to build their sense of contribution and loyalty to the company. This will help them understand their purpose and help them get a handle on the type of work they’ll be doing.

Rely on the manager.

Your new employee’s manager will be a key resource throughout the onboarding process. Ensure that the new hire’s manager understands the importance of a smooth onboarding process and sets aside an appropriate amount of time to guide the new hire. The manager should also plan to check on the new employee’s progress and communicate any needs or issues.

Survey regularly.

You’ll need data to back up the value of your onboarding program. A good time to survey occurs after the first 90 days (a common probationary period), when the onboarding process is finished. After that, plan to survey bi-annually for all employees. Provide new employees with surveys early on to accurately reflect on their onboarding experience. Ongoing surveys provide valuable insights on new initiatives that you can adapt into your onboarding program. Survey questions may address topics such as the hiring process, brand awareness, first day, first 90 days, etc.

If you want to learn more about keeping your employees safe on the road and on the  job, consult with a BITCO agent and find out more information.

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For information purposes only. BITCO's blog content does not address all potential circumstances and is not a substitute for business, safety, or legal consultation.

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