The HR Ally (HRA)

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Employee Onboarding Programs for Small Businesses

Free PDF Guide

If we asked how many of your employees know within their first ten days whether they’ll be looking for work within the next 18 months, would you be able to give an answer?

Employee satisfaction can make or break a small business. Ensuring your new hire feels your company is a great place to work begins long before their first day. An official employee onboarding program can help retain top talent for your business as well as set the tone for the company culture.

Download the Free Employee Onboarding Guide along with 40+ other HR templates, checklists, and guides to learn more about how to integrate our tips into your current onboarding program.

Onboarding is Important for Every Small Business

Did you know the average US employer spends $4,000 on a new employee? That means every time you bring in a new employee, you’re spending thousands of dollars. This is expensive even if you don’t experience a high turnover rate, but if you find yourself hiring and rehiring for the same positions, you could be losing money.

Conversely, small businesses with an official onboarding program win with a 60% year-to-year improvement in productivity. The proof is in the data — setting up a formal onboarding program can set your business and employees up for success.

How to Create an Employee Onboarding Program

The very first step may not be the first thing that comes to mind — you need to define your goals. When you set goals for your onboarding, it’s easier to determine what you want to get from the program.

For successful onboarding, you should consider the process before you even start hiring. Onboarding begins as soon as your new hire receives their job offer. Time after time, we’ve seen that engaging them from an early stage makes the onboarding program more effective.

As reported by Gallup, only 12% of employees are satisfied with their company’s current onboarding program. Taking into account the high correlation between onboarding and employee retention, this is an area no small business can afford to overlook. 88% seems like a large percentage of businesses fumbling with the onboarding program, but the misstep quickly becomes apparent when you note that 58% of companies prioritize paperwork and basic processes.

You have to be strategic in order to create a successful onboarding program, focusing more on people and less on processes. When you’ve decided on your goals, create the foundation for your new hire onboarding program.

To do this successfully, you want to focus on these three areas:

  • Assimilation and socialization
  • Documents and tasks
  • Education and training

The free Employee Onboarding Guide PDF covers what to address in each area.

Establishing Milestones

After you set your goals and establish the onboarding program, it’s time to set milestones. Without them, you won’t have a way of measuring the success of your new onboarding program. Milestones can also help identify areas of improvement within your program.

Feedback is vital to the success of your program, so be sure to check in with your new employee at the end of their first week. Your milestones should be driven by the goals you want your new hire to achieve. You can use these KPIs to determine their success in the role. Tools such as a check-in template are helpful for making notes of any concerns or feedback to share during milestone meetings. It’s important to note these are mutual check-ins for both you and your employee.

Most businesses set their goals at 30, 60, and 90 days, but ultimately, it’s up to you. After each milestone meeting, you can adjust future goals to reflect your new hire’s progress. After the final onboarding check-in, typically 90 days, you can establish the next milestones at 6 months and 1 year. Our free Employee Onboarding Guide PDF contains a milestone section to help you set up your program with SMART goals.

Of course, hiring a new employee is exciting, but if your onboarding program isn’t put together you may find yourself posting a new job listing sooner rather than later. Increase their (and your) chances for success with a human-first, comprehensive onboarding program.

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