American actor, humorist, and cowboy Will Rogers is often attributed with saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” The sentiment rings true in almost all situations, and certainly in a new hire onboarding environment. Regardless of your industry or organization, you need to make employees' first moments at your company shine. Here are three essentials to include in your new hire training plan to ensure that the first impression is a good one:
1. Information about your organization’s mission, core values, and culture: Clearly articulating your organization’s overarching mission, core values, and culture in the orientation process is crucial to new hire buy-in. It's essential to take time to communicate these messages — it will help align new employees with your organization’s business goals and strategies. A great way to include this element in your new hire training is to arrange direct contact with your organization's owners, founders, or senior leadership. If that’s not doable, a written welcome or introduction from one of the aforementioned people can also be very helpful in reinforcing these important ideals.
2. Information about critical employer policies: MANY laws regulate today’s workplaces. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your new hires are informed about policies and commitment to compliance with such laws. Here’s a laundry list of some of the biggies:
- equal employment opportunity
- family and medical leave (or similar state leave laws)
- electronic communications
- social media policies
- confidential information
- overtime and timekeeping
- safety and health
- medical insurance benefits
- drug testing
- workplace violence
- solicitation and distribution
Obviously, depending on your industry and organization, there are probably a million more, too. New hires also need to be informed about the procedures to report issues, such as alleged violations of the no harassment policy and safety rules.
3. Documentation: If a tree falls in the forest and no is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Or shall we say: if a policy, regulation, or procedure is communicated but not documented, did the communication really happen? Documenting the orientation process is essential to prove compliance with laws and to protect your organization’s interests in a variety of legal matters — everything from unemployment and worker's comp claims to health and safety violations. In a court of law or before an administrative agency, if something is not properly documented, it's as if it never happened. See all those policies listed above? New hires should be told in writing that your organization’s policies require that all employees comply with the laws applicable to the employer's business and their work-related conduct.
Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all or cookie cutter new hire training plan. But by incorporating these essential elements into your onboarding process, employers can go a long way toward having happier, more productive colleagues, as well as mitigating their risk in becoming embroiled in employee-related legal woes.