What should a company address during the onboarding process for new hires?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
1. Confidential Information
It’s not enough to have new employees sign non-disclosure agreements. Write documentation and develop a communication process that includes employees providing written sign-off that they understand their obligations. When confidential information leaks, your success in getting redress hinges on demonstrating that you took appropriate steps to safeguard it.
– David Ehrenberg, Early Growth Financial Services
2. Expectations for the First 90 Days
Most processes are all about getting the person up to speed on the company’s systems: benefits, training, office tour, etc. Yet most employees don’t really understand what is expected of them by the end of the onboarding process. So spend time with new employees to distinguish between good and great performance for the first 30 and 90 days; you’ll have a big impact on their future success.
– Charlie Graham, Shop It To Me, Inc.
3. New Hire Feedback
Every company will have a different onboarding process. The key is to collect feedback from every new employee about a week after onboarding to ask what you could have done better. Specifically, you should ask what that employee wishes he or she knew on day one. Your onboarding process will be a work in progress, but by collecting feedback, you’ll make sure it’s better for each subsequent hire.
4. Company Culture
The best companies will adopt new employees into the company culture, including the inside jokes, the unwritten rules and the idiosyncrasies that make them unique. Make new employees feel like a part of the team from the onset, and they’ll be in alignment from day one.
– Ryan Stephens, Ryan Stephens Marketing
5. Equipment Policies
You need onboarding employees to sign an acceptable use policy for all Internet-connected devices. It protects a company by defining how company equipment should be used. Companies can also outline how monitoring and management will be conducted on company equipment.
– Lane Campbell, Syntress SCDT
6. Leadership Management and Work Styles
Everyone has their own work style, and often a new employee at a startup will be working with a few if not all of the management. Understanding how each style is different and how best to navigate each leader will really help a new employee hit the ground running.
7. What to Do When Something Goes Wrong
One of our core values is “no hiding, we’re all seeking.” That means there has to be an open space and a procedure for people to raise issues and to feel safe in doing so. Giving staff a framework for what they should do when a deadline falls behind or a customer service issue arises will perpetuate a culture where everyone feels safe to bring up issues to be resolved by the whole team.
8. Social Connections
One of the leading indicators of how long an employee will stay at a company is whether or not they have a friend at work. It’s important for new employees to feel integrated into the social fabric of a company to establish opportunities for mentorship and collaboration, and building strong social ties will ultimately heighten engagement and improve retention.
9. Secret Shopping
I want new hires to experience the product before going to work behind the scenes on how to improve customer experience. Without a bedrock of knowledge, new hires will have blinders on, clicking and typing away in a vacuum. Before they start, I’d prefer they experience and report back on what they felt.
– Michael Portman, Birds Barbershop
10. Importance of Decision Making
We always make a point to emphasize our culture of independent decision making. We drill it in to them that we value initiative over cautiousness and that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission! We also give solid boundaries for where that autonomy starts and stops, so that they feel safe when they make a decision. Often, people just need permission and parameters, and then the magic happens.
– Jenny Kincaid, Mind Above Matter, LLC
11. Team Introductions
In most companies, a mass email is sent out introducing new team members, but that is often a one-way street. It can be intimidating to join a large corporation or even a small startup and only know the people you interviewed with. To successfully onboard a recent hire, make sure that person knows more about his or her new colleagues and how they all fit within the company organizational chart.
12. Communication Norms
We often forget about the unspoken norms of communication on our teams, but they are incredibly important for your new hires. How do people like to be reached? How quickly are you expected to respond? What method of communication is best in emergency? Are there certain hours that are offline? This likely isn’t in a manual and can help someone feel a part of your team quickly.