It wasn’t that long ago that employers could hold a one- or two-day orientation program for new hires and pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Those new hires filled out the right forms and maybe talked to human resources (HR) staff or watched a few videos, so now they’re ready for game time!
In reality, orientation never provided quite enough information for new team members to succeed over time. Crucial steps were lacking, including access to ongoing training and mentoring. There was no clear plan in place for these employees to build their knowledge and work with managers to achieve specific performance milestones. Gaps like these led to the development of onboarding programs.
Onboarding programs have earned a large fan base, and for good reason. They not only incorporate the basics of orientation, like the standard HR forms and a tour of the facilities, but also include a professional development plan over the long term for every new hire. These employees have specific steps to follow over the course of the first year or so that take into account their unique learning needs.
This playbook is intended to give your franchise a guide to best practices in onboarding today. We hope it inspires you to start or improve your own onboarding program.
GET THAT PLAYBOOK READY
Turnover of employees earning up to $50,000 can cost UP TO 20% of their salary. – Center for American Progress
TEAM STRATEGY MATTERS
Your business success depends on having the right people in place at just the right time. Hiring terrific employees gives your franchise a solid foundation, but the great job you did hiring doesn’t matter in the end if those terrific employees don’t stick around.
IT’S NOT CHEAP TO BUILD A TEAM
Losing top talent can prove costly. A Center for American Progress study found that turnover of workers earning less than $50,000 annually runs 20 percent of salary. And if your franchise is in a high turnover industry like restaurant or retail, that can add up quickly. It’s up to you to find a way to keep employees engaged and reduce the chances of them leaving- and onboarding can be a good solution.
SUCCESS DOESN’T HAPPEN OVERNIGHT
Most winning sports teams go through ups and downs over the course of a season that make them stronger so they can achieve the ultimate prize. The same is true with onboarding. Rather than simply giving a quick one-day orientation to rookies, you’re committing to helping people thrive over the long run.
This longer-term view means investing in a wide range of professional development, such as training, mentoring and management support, to give employees the best chance of meeting expectations in their initial year on the job. There’s a big payoff in doing this: When new hires participate in a structured onboarding process, nearly 7 out of 10 of them are likely to remain with a company for more than three years.
DON’T WAIT UNTIL GAME TIME
PREPARE FOR THE PLAY
Don’t wait until your new hires’ first day of work to get started with onboarding. Once you have hired someone, be sure to send the person all of the standard human resources forms. It’s also helpful to send a welcome letter and list of common terms used at your franchise so it’s possible to learn any lingo unique to your business. Providing additional information like details on where to park and a schedule of onboarding events can help to ease anxiety as they start. Don’t forget to ask about uniform sizing, if needed, so you can have the appropriate size ready on the first day.
WELCOME THEM TO THE CLUBHOUSE
The first day sets the tone for workers’ experience at your franchise. Don’t make it a bummer by having new hires sit in a back room filling out forms and watching orientation videos all day. They also shouldn’t have to wait for you to find an available locker or workspace. By preparing as much as you can in advance, you’re freeing up time for a more engaging start.
SELECT YOUR COACHES
DETERMINE YOUR LINEUP
Training and mentoring are key components to most onboarding programs. Think carefully about whether you have the internal resources necessary to provide formal training or perhaps you might benefit from hiring a trainer. Outside expertise may prove invaluable in areas such as sexual harassment and safety issues.
Also consider who will make great mentors to supplement formal training. When selecting mentors, don’t just look for employees who possess the right skills to help new hires, but find those who are enthusiastic about being mentors. It’s a good idea to ask prospective mentors first if they’re interested to ensure they’re passionate about the role.
PAY ATTENTION TO SHIFT ISSUES
You may want to have multiple coaches lined up to help the rookies, depending on the time of day. That way, you know you’ll always have someone in place who is ready and willing to provide guidance, no matter which shift your new hires have been assigned.
REVIEW THE FOOTAGE
PREP FOR GAME DAY
Reflect on what has and hasn’t worked well with your onboarding program in the past. Now is the time to make changes. Talk to existing employees and get their feedback: What helped them most when they started at your franchise? What was least helpful? What improvements would they recommend? Those on the front lines who’ve been through your program are in the best position to make recommendations.
KNOW YOUR RIVAL’S GAME PLAN
You may be surprised to learn how much information you can obtain online, just by checking the websites of competitors. Do they offer formal onboarding? If so, how are they providing it? Are they using the latest advances, such as specialized platforms that track onboarding online? You want your onboarding process to outshine the competition, so your new hires are more inclined to stay.
DEVELOP OFFENSIVE PLAYS
GREAT COACHES KNOW THEIR PLAYERS
If you’ve interviewed well, you should understand the strengths and weaknesses of incoming staff. Franchises often hire people who have little to no work experience, which can make this challenging. However, you should still have some insights. For instance, a candidate who seemed low-key during the interview may need extra help with sales techniques while someone who pitched his car-washing services to neighbors starting at age 12 may need less. Apply this knowledge to customize your onboarding plans.
TAILORED COACHING IS GOOD
But there should be some consistency, too. Make sure the foundation of your onboarding is the same for all new hires. Topics like team culture, company values, business goals, and accepted processes and procedures will apply to everyone. Also be sure to explain what role the national franchise plays in local operations. Have a checklist ready so that everyone learns the same core topics.
PREPARE A DEFENSIVE STRATEGY
THERE MAY BE SETBACKS
This is normal with onboarding. The key is making sure managers are meeting regularly with new hires to discuss expectations and job performance. Rookies should never be surprised to hear they’re not meeting standards when they hit the end of their probationary period. Ongoing communication can help prevent small issues from snowballing into bigger ones.
CHANGE YOUR PLAYS
That online training program you love may not be so great for someone who learns better through one-on-one training with a mentor. Be open to making changes to suit the unique learning styles of those joining your team. Don’t hesitate to ask new hires, ‘What more can we do to help you succeed?’
MAKE THE GAME FUN
NO ONE WANTS TO WATCH A BORING GAME
And they certainly don’t want to sit through a boring onboarding session. Make sure each component of your onboarding process is interesting. Include plenty of visual aids in formal training presentations to convey key points. Use bullet points, numbering and subheads to break up a lot of text in handouts. Consider passing out branded products like t-shirts and mugs to make new hires feel excited to be part of the team.
Your trainers and mentors should be carefully picked to have the most impact. Joe may be your top sandwich-maker, but if he has a monotone voice he’s not the best person to teach your new hires. You want rookie talent to be fired up about the work ahead and that won’t happen if their trainer elicits yawns.
ADJUST THE GAME PLAN
PLANS CAN CHANGE MID-GAME
It’s not uncommon for onboarding needs to shift over the course of the year. Those goals you established at the time of hire may become irrelevant six months down the road. For instance, the salesperson you hired may not be so great in that role, but may shift into an ideal candidate for a stock room position. Or someone may prove to be such a superstar during onboarding that she’s ready to advance quickly into an assistant manager role.
GOING BACK TO THE STARTING LINE
Sometimes players need to change positions on the team and in the end the team becomes stronger. Remember, your objective is to keep your best employees long term and often that happens by reconsidering the role they play in your organization.
LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD
TECHNOLOGY IS CHANGING GAME PLAY
Today’s sports coaches have a wealth of information at their fingertips on their players and competition. Business owners can benefit just as much from the data gathered during the onboarding stage. Hireology’s Onboarding platform, for instance, centralizes new hire communication, document access and administration.
COACHES HAVE MORE TIME
Hireology’s Onboarding platform complements Career Site Plus to extend the applicant tracking system to the onboarding phase. There is less chance for human error, because personal information transfers from the hiring process to the onboarding stage. Managers spend less time overseeing onboarding, too, with candidates taking the lead in completing and processing I-9s, W-4s and other forms. The latest federal and state tax forms are updated automatically.
THE GAME PLAN IS READY
Managers don’t have to worry about missing a critical step. Hireology’s Onboarding platform summarizes recent hires, the current onboarding step and actions that are needed to complete the process. Automated email reminders are sent to keep the process on track. This makes it simple for even small franchise operations to provide an effective onboarding program.
Onboarding programs are suitable for franchises of any size. Even small franchises can achieve great results without a huge financial investment. If hiring external trainers isn’t in the budget, you can always turn to internal employees to lead training sessions. In fact, that’s often the ideal situation, because your employees understand your unique policies and procedures best.
The effectiveness of your onboarding program is affected greatly by your degree of organization. You may offer training, mentoring and management support, but if it’s only offered sporadically and unpredictably, you aren’t doing new hires any favors. Make sure, at minimum, you create a checklist of onboarding activities to follow, and give serious consideration to technology like Hireology’s Onboarding platform to make the process even easier to manage.