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Setting New Hires up for Success
Many offices run on a "sink or swim" mentality, providing new hires with basic materials on the first day and leaving them to figure out the rest on their own. While the theory behind this may be that the best employees will “swim," this analogy falters when you consider most employees in this set up have not yet even been taught to tread water in your office. Every workplace has nuances that cannot be understood in the first day, week, or even month. By building an onboarding package for new employees that focuses on the specifics of your company’s procedures and structure, and by understanding that training is a long-term process, you can set your new hire up for a successful future with your company.
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Forms and Documentation
As in a standard orientation package, start with any official documents that new hires should sign as well as other basic introductory materials. This portion of your onboarding package should include:
- Tax forms such as the W-4 and I-9
- Any confidentiality or conflict of interest agreements
- A full job description of the new hire’s position
- Your company's organizational chart
- The employee handbook and full statement of company policies
Take some time to go over the handbooks and policies, but also give the new hire detailed information about the organizational chart. Make sure he understands who handles which types of issues and where specific questions can be addressed.
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Every office is different, especially in terms of how technology is utilized. Work with your IT department to set up training times and create materials for your onboarding package that will help your new employee adjust to the specifics of your company. Some items you might include in the technology portion of your onboarding package for new employees:
- Logins and passwords for workstations, e-mail, and company databases
- A network diagram showing where the most frequently used documents are kept and how to access them
- Guides to features on equipment such as copiers and scanners
- Tutorials for the most common technology tasks in your office
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Personality assessments help you learn how your new hire works and communicates. Although these tests are traditionally used for pre-employment screening, it has become common to see them applied during the onboarding process. Human Resource managers apply the tests and interpret their results to help management better communicate with employees in a number of ways. Task-oriented employees, for example, work best with detailed instructions, while goal-oriented ones provide more positive results when told the final purpose of a job and allowed to work out the specifics for themselves. Learning these traits during the onboarding process allows managers and new hires to start their working relationship off on the right foot.
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The Training Schedule
The true difference between onboarding and orientation is established in your training schedule. Training for new employees is typically scheduled for a few weeks or a month at most, during the time when new hires are often overwhelmed with information. Your onboarding training schedule should extend for the first three months or beyond. After the initial training period, plan regular meetings between your new hire and his immediate supervisor during which specific tasks can be addressed and the employee can have any questions answered. If possible, schedule five- or ten-minute meetings with someone in each department in your office so your new hire can learn what they do and how it relates to his duties. Since many positions cannot be fully understood without experiencing the entire yearly cycle of the office, you should also plan ahead to help your new hire through his first fiscal year roll-over and other significant events.
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Put the finishing touch on your onboarding package by adding branded and company-specific materials. Include brochures, press releases, internal newsletters, and, if applicable, your company’s most recent annual report. If your company logo is printed on t-shirts, coffee mugs, or other items, including these as well will make your new hire feel like a welcome addition.