What is Onboarding, and Why is it Important?

by Deputy Team, · 6 minutes
HOME blog what is onboarding and why is it important

It’s 4:00 pm and your new hires are walking in for their first day at your restaurant.

Are you prepared? Are they?

Employee onboarding helps new hires physically, emotionally, and professionally integrate into the operations and culture of your business. Formal training, process, and accountability lead to successful onboarding. And there are big payoffs for both managers and employees.

Read on to learn more about what employee onboarding really is — and why it’s important.

Why is onboarding important?

From an employee’s first interview to their exit interview, you want to make sure your staff have a great experience at work. And effective onboarding is key.

Your employees are the heart of your business. To better retain staff — and keep them happy — you can show you value them from the start. A successful onboarding program not only helps new hires feel like they’re part of the team. They’ll also better understand the process and how their role contributes to the overall success of your business.

If you’re not sold yet, are just a few additional benefits of onboarding:

  • Increased productivity – When done right, employee onboarding can result in 54% greater productivity. Remember that people-first culture leads to happier staff, and staff who have a better understanding of their role. In addition to your company-provided onboarding, create a process so managers plan the first few weeks for their new staff. Who do new hires need to talk to? What are some of the hidden secrets of the coffee maker? What tips do you wish you had when you first started? A thorough onboarding process can help increase your new hire’s productivity. The length of the onboarding process will depend on your unique business. Protip: This is a time where more is better.

  • Defined roles – A major part of employee onboarding is training on how to carry out the job. Onboarding brings the job description to life by explaining what’s expected of the new employee. At the end of the onboarding process, the new employee should be aware of how their role fits into the team and the business as a whole. Employee onboarding should result in the new hire feeling like they’re a valued part of your business and therefore have the motivation to remain on the job while doing their best work.

  • Less employee stress – Starting a new role can be stressful for new employees. There’s so much for new hires to consider including whether they will fit in and how to manage their responsibilities. Business owners can reduce the anxiety and stress that their new hires feel by welcoming them to the team and providing all the tools and information required to do the job. Employee onboarding should result in new hires building relationships with existing team members. Facilitating good team relationships early will help from strong teams in the future.

  • Reduced employee turnover – It’s estimated that replacing an employee in a managerial position can cost an average of six to nine months’ salary. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that people typically have nearly 12 jobs between the ages of 18 to 50. This demonstrates that employees won’t hang around if they aren’t happy at work. Consequently, employers need to do all that they can to retain good employees. The Harvard Business Review report entitled The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance found that 71% of respondents believed “employee engagement is very important to achieving overall organizational success.” Onboarding provides businesses with the opportunity to help employees to become engaged in the business culture.

How to create an onboarding process

The importance of onboarding for business in relation to costs and productivity is clear. If you don’t currently have an onboarding process, here are some tips to ensure you create one that will increase the chances of your new employees remaining with your business:

  • Take time to plan – You’ve invested heavily in recruiting your new hire, so you should spend time planning what will happen when they arrive on their first day. When and how will your new hire be trained? How will you introduce them to the team? What documents will they need to get their paperwork finalized? If you’re onboarding remotely, what systems will you use? Map out all of the details — and send it to your new hires in advance of their first day.

  • Organize their workspace – If your new hire shows up and their desk or workspace isn’t ready, you’re giving off a bad first impression. That lack of preparation shows you don’t care enough about them joining the team. Avoid this poor first impression by working with I.T (or any other relevant department) to get the necessary equipment ready before your new employee starts work. You can make your new employee feel extra special by adding a personal touch, like a welcome banner or plaque. If they have a locker to store their belongings, hang up a sign to make them feel comfortable.

  • Assign a buddy – You should arrange for your new employee to shadow an existing team member. This will help the new employee learn from people who are doing the job and will also help them to build relationships with their colleagues. If you just hired a new barista, partner them with an experienced team member who can give them the insider tips for how to navigate all the equipment — as well as some unofficial tips for joining the company culture.

  • Use different training options – Consider using different methods to train your new employee to increase the chances of them retaining the information. You can use a mixture of online and offline methods to train your new hire to ensure that they remain engaged in the onboarding process. Some people are visual learns, others prefer to learn by listening. Be mindful of different learning styles and any limitations. Make your onboarding process accessible to all different types of employees.

Collect the right onboarding documents

You can start employee onboarding before your new hire shows up at your place of work by sending them documents to complete in advance. On top of saving time, sending documents early can also make your new hires feel more comfortable. If they can fill out paperwork at home, that can ease the anxiety they’re feeling about starting a new job.

If you opt to send your new employees documents before they start, you should do so using a secure portal rather than email. Advanced workforce management systems have the ability to securely send new employees the relevant documentation. Why not get your new employee accustomed to communicating with your business through one system (as opposed to using SMS or email)? Here’s a quick summary of the documents you should share with your new hire during the employee onboarding process:

  • Tax forms – For example, W-4 or state & local forms.

  • Identification forms – For instance, I-9, to verify the employee’s identity and employment authorization. The new employee must provide valid identification to accompany the form. This must be completed by the third day of employment.

  • State and local government mandated notices - these vary by location and may include paid sick and safe leave notices, wage theft notices, and many more. Check with your state and local government agencies, a human resources professional, or an employment attorney for details.

  • Direct deposit forms – To ensure that the employee is paid into the correct bank account.

  • Expectations of the job – You should provide your new employee with a copy of the job description and the offer letter as a reminder of what is expected of them.

  • Benefits package – Your new employee will need an overview of the benefits your business offers. They will also need to be notified about health coverage, including enrollment deadlines.

  • Emergency contact details – You should have a designated form to record the details of your new employee’s emergency contact in the event that an incident (or accident) happens at work.

  • Employee handbook – Your new hires should be given a copy of the employee handbook, which covers different aspects of their employment. It’s good practice to ask your new employees to sign a form advising that they have read and understood the terms included in the handbook. The employee handbook should be as comprehensive as possible and include information about:

    • Company mission, vision and values

    • EEO, anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation

    • Reporting procedures for EEO concerns

    • Scheduling and timekeeping

    • Attendance

    • Leaves of absence

    • Holidays

    • Workplace violence

    • Overtime

    • Dress and grooming standards

    • Rest and Meal Breaks

    • Paydays and procedures

    • Confidentiality

    • Email/social media use

    • Technology

    • Benefits

Get it right from the start

If you’re onboarding nonexempt, hourly employees, use a tool that helps make the process easier. And bonus: the same tool can simplify your scheduling. Sign-up for a free trial to see how you can use Deputy to arrange schedules that make your employees happy from the start.

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