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Onboarding is where small businesses fail miserably

September 9, 2014
Borderless Leadership

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So you hired that newest employee. Now what?
 
If your small business is like most small businesses, you probably handed him or her “The Employee Manual” (hopefully updated) and requested him or her to read it. The next action is to have the new hire sign off on the “read the handbook” compliance form which is then filed into the employee’s records.
 
Maybe you introduced the new employee to everyone else, shown him or her the bathroom, kitchen, the desk if there was one, gave a one- to two-hour orientation meeting and possibly even scheduled some training. Now the new employee is all ready to work and do his or her job.
 
Onboarding is an established common practice for much larger firms, but for the majority of small businesses, 97.7 percent with fewer than 20 employees, onboarding is more of a miss than a hit. These small business owners, for the most part, do not have a business plan, updated job descriptions and forget even having an onboarding process.
 
They do not recognize how onboarding reflects the overall culture of their organization.
 
Given from past employment research, 50 percent of all hourly workers left their jobs in the first four months (prior to the most recent recession) and the same percentage of senior outside hires left in 18 months coupled with over 80 percent of all workers are seeking new employment in 2014, better onboarding of new employees is no longer an option, but an economic and competitive necessity.
 
Unfortunately, the “what worked in the past mentality” regarding bringing new employees onboard seems to be still very prevalent and is costing small businesses millions of dollars in lost productivity and profitability.
 
So what would a simple and yet thorough onboarding process look like? Here are some thoughts:
 
1. Introduction to the company’s culture should be before the individual is hired.
 
2. For crystal clarity, the new hire should be given onboarding process in writing.
 
3. For the first 8 weeks, the employee should meet weekly with his or her direct report. The goal here should be clarification, collaboration and connectivity to the organizations’ culture.
 
4. For the next 4 months, there should be bi-weekly meetings to ensure there are no questions or challenges preventing the new employee from doing his or her job well.
 
5. At six months, there should be an informal if not formal performance appraisal process. If the new employee has been meeting with his or her direct report, this meeting should not come as a surprise.
 
6. Opportunities for feedback as well as suggestions to improve the process should be positively received.
 
7. Any training should be monitored and if possible reinforced during the weekly sessions or through an on-line learning management system (LMS).
 
This onboarding process does presume the new hire’s manager is a proactive leader. Given people leave managers and not companies; if the manager is hostile, negative, reactive and unable to deal with the three to four generations in the workplace, it is time to replace the manager.
 
Another presumption is the organization has committed to writing the accepted positive core values. These “rules of behavior” have been collectively shared with all employees and are enforced by senior leadership. No organizational culture can be successful with the “wink and the nod” or “do as I say and not as I do” behaviors.
 
Yes onboarding for workforce success can be your next goal as a small business and the money invested will be returned at least two and probably four fold.
 
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith
 
Source: Post Tribune

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