It's beyond rewarding when you hire the first people to join your team. It can also be terrifying. Hiring the wrong individual can have a significant financial impact on a cash-strapped startup.

One would expect companies to respond by improving their onboarding processes. Yet in 2012, an Allied Workforce survey showed that roughly one third of businesses have absolutely no budget for onboarding.

Don't make the mistake of putting your focus solely on who you hire. While skills and experience are important, what's equally important is how these new people are integrated into your startup.

Here are some tips to help you navigate.

1. Start onboarding early

Between the time when your offer is accepted and day one, you need to stay in contact with your new team member. Get all the new hire paperwork out of the way before they start, so they don't spend their first day bent over a stack of forms.

If you communicate with other employees or vendors that relate to the work your new employee is doing, be sure to include the new employee in discussions via email so they're in the loop by the first day. Be sure to include some casual messages and/or phone calls during onboarding to help them feel welcome and accepted.

2. Make introductions

Whether it's before the first day or day one, make sure your team is introduced to one another. This doesn't need to be a formal review of the hierarchy--it should be more of a casual announcement. Share the talents of your team and help them connect.

Highlight your newest hire when you make introductions. Let the entire team know why the employee was chosen, and the role they'll be filling. This kind of casual introduction will reduce the stress new hires often experience when walking into a group of strangers on their first day.

3. Provide detailed orientation the first week

The first week of onboarding should be focused solely on orientation--let your new employee ease into their role with a tour and introductions for any coworkers they have yet to meet. If your introductions were electronic, then this is the time to get the team together for a meet-and-greet.

Don't make the mistake of leading a new employee to a workstation and dumping them off on their first day. Short of showing them their work space, your new employee shouldn't even touch their seat the first day. Your employee will be more comfortable, feel more connected, and better understand the nature of your company if ample time is spent on orientation.

Schedule more than a single day for orientation to ensure that you cover all the critical points and nuances of your startup. Given the impact employees can have on your business and your workflow, set and share a schedule that lays out the talking points.

In your orientation agenda, include things like:

  • Practices for handling software and licensing
  • Password policies
  • Social media use and brand representation online
  • Email protocols
  • Workload expectations
  • Decision-making processes
  • Reporting and workflow hierarchy
  • Goals and milestones
  • Corporate culture
  • Communication during and after hours

During your orientation, make it a point to get your entire team out of the office. Take them to lunch and give them an opportunity to build on their relationships with the new employee. Encourage your team to have a "boss-free" company-paid lunch or two to promote coworker bonds.

4. Cover the workflow--and don't leave out the small stuff

Reiterate your corporate and team etiquette so your new employee is acutely aware of workflow and how work gets done. No matter how experienced they are, you shouldn't assume they will figure it out, that they got it the first time, or that they'll work it out with the team.

They might, but it's going to come at a cost.

While you're covering "how business gets done," don't glaze over or ignore the small stuff. Successful onboarding should include everything right down to how to get an outside line, where supplies are kept, where to find toilet paper in an emergency, where to find the coffee, and when lunch breaks happen.

Uncertainty with even little things can potentially frustrate a new employee and impact their morale and workflow.

5. Set your team up for success

You should be familiar with the role your new employee will be filling. From that, understand what tools they'll need to be successful. Treat equipment, software, workstations, lighting, size of work area, and other items as an investment in the individual.

As part of your onboarding process, lean on the employee's expertise and ensure they have everything they need. Ask for suggestions and be willing to look into and accommodate any requests they have that will help them do their job.

25% of employees would be more satisfied if they were given the tools and opportunities to do what they do best. Those kinds of investments will generate a return that directly impacts your bottom line in the long run.

6. Continue to engage and close

The fun and relaxed nature of your onboarding doesn't have to stop once orientation is complete--nor should it. Onboarding continues through continued direct engagement.

Make it a habit to continue selling and closing your new employee on the idea and culture of your company. Make each point of contact a two-way discussion, and encourage involvement on building better teams and workflows.

What have you done to facilitate employee onboarding? What has and hasn't worked for you? Share in the comments below:

Published on: Feb 5, 2016