Published October 2021
Want your new team members to hit the ground running and be productive in their first week? Then you need to get your onboarding process right.
When our clients mention that their new team member is not ‘getting it’, they aren’t filling the gap as quickly as anticipated, or even that people keep leaving – often one of the underlying issues is a poor or non-existent onboarding process.
Picture this: you start a new job and from the first day, everything is done on the fly. You’re not introduced to other team members, shown around, taught how things happen around here, shown the different systems or how to use them, who to ask for help, where to park, what day the weekly team meeting happens, or when/how you can take a lunch break… let alone any of the other information you need to do your job.
Some people would be completely bamboozled. Other people would be frustrated by the lack of planning and processes. Either way, this is not a good first impression and is not the way to set people up for success.
SO, WHAT IS ‘ONBOARDING’?
It’s the process new employees should go through over their first days and weeks (sometimes months), to be equipped with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to become an effective and productive team member. It also familiarises the new employee with the organisation’s policies, procedures and culture.
Studies have shown that having a consistent, structured onboarding process that outlines clear expectations and goals for the individual often results in employees settling in and being successful in their roles and committed to the business in the long run. Without having an onboarding process in place, new employees may find themselves struggling to settle in and be productive, and unfortunately leave the company within a couple of weeks!
This Quick Guide covers the key points you should cover in an onboarding process and how to set your new team member up for success.
SIDE NOTE: Some businesses will have a general company induction that covers some of the points we discuss in this Quick Guide. If this is the case, generally we would recommend that you have a separate onboarding process that covers the information specific to the new employee, their role and their team.
PREPARATION BEFORE THE EMPLOYEE COMMENCES
Before a new employee commences, there are a few steps that can be taken care of ahead of time.
Here’s a few of our top suggestions:
Paperwork: Ensure the new employee completes any required paperwork for HR/ payroll before they start. This will also save you some time on their first day, by not having to worry about the amount of time that is spent filling out forms. Examples of paperwork might include returning a signed copy of their offer letter, superannuation details form, tax file number declaration and personal details form.
Medicals & Vaccinations: If your business requires employees to complete any type of medical assessment or be vaccinated against COVID-19 (depending on current public health orders), then the new employee should be informed that this needs to be completed before they commence, along with any evidence requirements. If these items apply, we also recommend informing the candidate throughout the recruitment process and including them as a condition of employment in their employment contract.
Licences & Qualifications: Any licenses, tickets, qualifications etc which apply to the role should be requested prior to commencing. This is, firstly, so you can verify that they hold what they claim to, and secondly, for record keeping purposes. If we look at a new employee who will be commencing as a Truck Driver, you may request them to provide a copy of their driver’s license, their Basic Fatigue Management medical and also provide evidence they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 before their commencement.
Equipment: If the employee will need any particular equipment to perform their job, make sure it’s organised and ready to be issued on their first day. This might include a company mobile phone, laptop, credit card, or keys. There is nothing worse than starting a new job and you don’t even have the tools you need!
IT Access: The same goes for any systems or programs that the new employee will be required to use in their role. Make sure that accounts are set up for them and ready for the employee to access on their first day.
Uniforms: Where possible, uniforms should also be organised before the new employee starts, especially if they need to be ordered in. This way, the employee will likely receive their uniforms on their first day or first week of employment (rather than a month after starting). This one is not always possible but can leave a lasting impression when arranged ahead of time.
Position Description: It’s a good idea to make sure the position description for the role is up to date so you can run through it with the employee on their first day – after all, this is the document that details what they are responsible for!
Prepare your onboarding plan: This one is the whole point of this Quick Guide! Familiarise yourself with our tips and put together a checklist or basic plan of what you need to cover off with the new employee in their first day/week. Or contact the team at Edwards HR to put together a tool tailored to your business.
Let other team members know: You’ll want to let the rest of the team know there will be a new addition to the team – we recommend sending out a quick email to let them know about the new employee commencing and what their role will be. This can also be done during a team meeting if email is not your thing.
ONCE THE NEW EMPLOYEE COMMENCES – WHAT SHOULD YOU COVER?
On the employees first day, make the time to give them a full guided tour of the workplace, including introducing them to their new work colleagues. Your guided tour should include things like where they will be sitting/working, the location of the lunchroom, toilets, lockers and where they can park.
It is also a good idea to set some time aside on their first day to have a one-on-one to provide the new employee with dedicated time to hear about the company, their personal responsibilities, ask any questions they may have and allow them to get to know their new Supervisor or Manager.
For more senior or management positions, the introduction process may be more time consuming as you may need to schedule one-on-one meetings with other managers, their team and other relevant colleagues, clients and suppliers they will be working closely with. You may also need to arrange visits to other sites/work locations.
SET OUT THE EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS
The new employee should be informed about their employment conditions. This is something that should be done on an employee’s first or second day. Here’s what we suggest covering:
Hours of work & breaks: ensure the new employee is aware of their work hours, including start and finish times, and the breaks they will be entitled to.
Work Roster: If your team work on a roster, make sure the new employee is aware of where they can find the roster, when it is updated and the process if they may need to request a shift change.
Timesheets & logbooks: Depending on the employees’ position, ensure they understand how to record their time worked and when they must submit their timesheets and/or logbooks.
Payroll information: Be sure to confirm what the employee will be paid, the pay frequency and the day they can usually expect the payment to arrive in their bank account. If you are missing any information such as bank account details or tax file number declaration, ensure these are followed up so the employee can be paid.
Protocol for leave: Inform the employee of the leave they are entitled to (eg, personal, annual etc) and what the expectations are for taking leave. For example, if an employee wants to use sick leave, they may be required to call their employer rather than send a text message or if they want to use annual leave, they might need to provide their employer with a minimum of 2 weeks’ notice.
POSITION DESCRIPTION & DAILY OPERATIONS
It takes time to settle into a new role, but to set the new employee up for success, you must be clear about what is expected from them from day one. We recommend going through the employee’s position description and discussing the responsibilities and requirements of the role, along with any current projects and deadlines that they need to be aware of.
You should also take the time to discuss expectations around the employee accessing systems, confidentiality, housekeeping, mobile phone/IT use, dress standards and expectations around providing customer service, where applicable.
Involvement in daily operations will vary between employees, so ensure that you discuss what will be relevant to your new employee and include any additional daily operations that need to be discussed.
EXAMPLE: Going back to our example of the new Truck Driver, some of the additional daily operations you might discuss include fueling requirements, legislated rest break requirements, resting in the vehicle, no smoking in the cab and cab cleanliness.
It may help to write a list of all the daily duties the new employee will be required to complete before they commence, that way you will be confident you have covered everything applicable to that employee in their first day/week.
EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK, POLICIES & PROCEDURES
If your business has an Employee Handbook and/or written Policies and Procedures in place, be sure the employee is:
informed of where/how they can be accessed; and
given the time to read through them.
These documents should be easily accessible for all employees, for example, kept in a folder the lunchroom or on a shared drive for those with computer access.
WORKPLACE HEALTH & SAFETY
New employees will need to complete any workplace health and safety processes and procedures during the onboarding process if not already covered in a company induction.
This might include:
Workplace Health and Safety Policy: Along with your company policies as mentioned above, ensure new employees acknowledge and comply with your WH&S policy.
Emergency evacuation procedure, exits and assembly points: If an emergency was to occur in the workplace, new employees need to be informed of the evacuation procedures including where the emergency exits are and where they are expected to assemble.
First Aid and other emergency contacts:If your work place has designated first aid officer sand other emergency contacts, your employees should be made aware of who they are and where they find their contact details.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): If the new employee is required to wear PPE, this should be given to them within their first week and they should be informed when, where, how and why of the PPE.
SWMS (if relevant to the employee): If the employee is required to complete or follow SWMS documents then this should be explained to them, and they should be informed of where they are kept.
Reporting injuries, accidents and incidents: Make sure that new employees are aware of how to report injuries, accidents or incidents in case they are involved in one.
ONBOARDING CHECKLISTS ARE A TRAINING RECORD
Once the onboarding process has been completed, we recommend the Onboarding Checklist/Plan is signed off by the new employee and their manager, then kept on the employee’s personnel file. The This then becomes a training record that shows that the employee has been provided all the required training to be safe and productive in their role.
This training record can also be used as evidence in future if an employee fails to follow any company processes or procedures that were included in the onboarding process.
EXAMPLE: If a Truck Driver was found to be smoking in a company vehicle a few months after their commencement and it was made clear in the onboarding process and Vehicle Policy this is not acceptable, you could refer to the onboarding checklist to prove the employee was informed of the no smoking requirement during their onboarding process.
DON’T FORGET TO CHECK IN WITH THE NEW EMPLOYEE AFTER THEY COMMENCE
Regardless of how you structure your onboarding process, always check in with the new employee after a few weeks from their commencement date. Generally, we recommend checking in with new employees by setting up a meeting at 1,3 and 6 months from their commencement date. You use these check-ins to talk about their progress and performance but also as an opportunity to allow for questions, feedback about how they found the onboarding process and whether there is any room for improvement.
If you choose to make this a formal process, be sure to inform the employee ahead of time so they are aware of what to expect, and can prepare if necessary.
In summary, a good onboarding process should give new employees the right knowledge and resources to help them hit the ground running. The first few weeks are the most influential to new employees, so ensure you take the time to give them a positive introduction to your business.