Effective Onboarding: How to Start New Hires the Right Way at Your Startup

Sun, Sep 6, 2020 11:19 AM
By Ibrahim

Having a successful team is vital for the growth of your startup. And that team can’t exist without a solid onboarding process. New hires can benefit tremendously from a process strictly dedicated to their finding firm footing in your organization.

Why Your Startup Needs an Onboarding Process

According to Forbes, 25% of new hires leave their company within the first twelve months. On top of that, the same article shows that the cost of losing a new employee within that timeframe is equal to two years of salary.

Really, startups just don’t have the margin for error to sustain that kind of loss. A shoestring budget combined with the churning-and-burning of new hires isn’t conducive to surviving as a startup, never mind thriving. Whereas companies with standardized onboarding processes see a 54% boost in productivity from their newly employed workers. Furthermore, the level of engagement is twice as high.

Given the need to deliver results as a startup, your employees must be firing on all cylinders as soon as humanly possible.

Onboarding Starts Before Day One

Day one for a new hire at your startup shouldn’t be ad hoc. Be prepared for your new hire’s first day and perform the necessary due diligence.

Perform the following tasks before your employee begins with your company:

  • Check-in a few days before your new hire begins

  • Discuss what’s to be expected on day one, such as:

      • Hours

      • Dress code

      • Lunch options (if in-person)

  • Make sure there aren’t any kinks in the system

    • Prepare workstations

    • Provide electronic tools (e.g., laptops and cellphones)

    • Offer passwords and login credential for shared tools

  • Ask your new hire’s colleagues to send welcome emails

    • Being more acquainted with the team will encourage your new hire to open up and offer input right out the gate

Make Information Easily Accessible

In the day and age of digital portals and streamlined project management software, there’s no reason to waste dollars on printing paper.

Don’t inundate your new hire with piles of paper and physical booklets—that they’ll undoubtedly lose. Tools such as Trello allow you to share training materials. This kind of software is low costing and won’t eat into your budget.

With these resources in place, your new hire can review information as needed while still being plugged into real-time learning opportunities.

Throw New Hires into the Fire…Kind of

From day one, get your new hire contributing in a way that makes them feel like they can make an impact.

Does that mean tasking your fresh-faced rookie with sweet-talking a potential major client? Well… maybe not directly. But asking new hires for input about strategy for that hypothetical pitch will make your new hire feel involved immediately.

Congratulate them for having the courage to be outgoing and forthcoming with their ideas right off the bat. Especially since that’s what startups are all about. Celebrating small victories, such as this, is a proven onboarding tactic that generates successful results.

Connecting the Team

On day one, it’s wise to pre-schedule 15/30-minute meetings with the relevant team members. Your new hire will get an idea of your organization’s moving parts and where they all fit.

Do a walk around the office with them while making introductions, first thing in the morning. And try to connect them with potential mentors when there are individuals on your team who are a bit more experienced but in a similar position.

Keep a Watchful Eye for Three Months

Day one, realistically, is orientation.

In fairness, orientation is one crucial facet of the much more big-picture onboarding process. Really, onboarding is something that should last at least three months.

During your employee’s first week, check-in and break down projects and expectations. This small effort will establish direction and give your new hire a distinct purpose. From there, implement various touchpoints and specific goals so you can track your new hire’s progress incrementally throughout this period.

The most strategic checkpoints for you to check-in are at the end of day one, week one, month one, and finally, the end of the probation period.

Avoid These Mistakes

Here’s a list of mistakes that can really cost you during onboarding:

 1) Don’t overload your new hire

 If you inundate your new hire, they likely won’t remember anything significant. Focus on quality over quantity. Namely, center the onboarding around core principles and functions.

 2) Failing to set expectations

Don’t keep your new hire in the dark about what you expect from them. It’s not fair if you sit and brood at someone’s shortcomings when you haven’t distinctly set the tone for how they’re to operate within your organization.

3) Using a blanket onboarding strategy

 Not all jobs are made the same, nor do your new hires have the same personalities and learning tendencies.

As a startup, you must be  ready to pivot and adjust all the time. That same principle should apply to how you onboard your hires.

4) Losing Track of Progress

 You aren’t always equipped with a wealth of resources at a startup. As such, if you’re a founder, you’re likely getting pulled in thousands of different directions. Meaning that it’s highly possible to lose focus on your new hire’s progress.

 In implementing the various processes and procedures discussed above, you’ll be far likelier to remain in sync with your onboarded employees.


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