5 Best Employee Onboarding Tips For Startups

Startups are tasked with the challenge of efficiently onboarding new employees to get them up to speed quickly and productively. In this article, you'll learn practical tips to ensure a smooth and successful onboarding process.
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Growing your team is a great way to grow your business. Hiring the right people can lighten your load and make running your business more pleasurable – no more doing the tasks that drag you down!

Unfortunately, if onboarding isn’t done right, hiring people can create more work and slower growth. It can upset the balance of your current team, and wreak havoc on your reputation. You definitely won’t want to keep adding team members!

We’ve worked with clients who are thrilled to receive funding to hire team members… but soon the excitement wears off when things don’t go well, and they wind up feeling like it wasn’t worth it. They feel like they should have continued doing things themselves after all. 

This is a common feeling when leaders lack onboarding processes that prepare new employees for success. In fact, 88% of organizations do not onboard well.

Our client Farah is a great example of this. She hired a team of salespeople but didn’t have a sales process optimized for multiple people. Luckily, she reached out to us, and we were able to help her create the processes she needed to increase her revenue – with ease. As a result, she’s been able to 4x her client capacity without burning out.

We’ve outlined the top five tips to help you avoid common pitfalls, and create a smooth onboarding experience so your new employees can hit the ground running, and be a contribution to your company from day one.

5 Best Employee Onboarding Tips for Startups

1. Have clear onboarding processes.

Chaos invites more chaos. Do not rely on your new employee to figure things out, or to create systems for you. 

You MUST have clearly defined processes – before your new team member arrives. Even though the employee you’ve just hired is an expert, they’re going to be looking for you for guidance initially.

Make sure your Knowledge Base (KB) is organized so they can find information. This will save you a ton of time because they won’t be asking where to find things every five minutes.

If you set a solid container, with clear expectations, processes, and easy access to the information they need, your new employee will be set up to help you grow that container!

Hot tip: Have your current employees engage with these processes, too. This will provide valuable feedback, and align your team as a whole with current protocols.

2. Connect your new employees with the big picture.

Provide your new employees with activities and tasks that showcase your business – culture, team members, mission, vision, values, etc. Don’t just have them sign paperwork and HR stuff. 

Encourage them to meet other team members, whether your startup is fully remote or in-person. This will help them feel included in the company culture, and connect with larger efforts.

Hot tip: Be sure all of your employees have regular opportunities to see how their work contributes to your company’s larger purpose.

3. Set new employees up to achieve right away.

Part of any successful onboarding process is to provide new employees with an opportunity to “win” right from the start. Give them quick projects specific to their role that are easily achievable so that you can see how they work, and so they have the experience of doing well for your company.

Hot tip: In the sprint projects, try to bake in things that require them to look through your KB or meet with team members to get their feedback. This will simulate a real working environment so they can feel more familiar with processes and take ownership sooner (in ways that are helpful to your company!)

4. Make space for feedback.

Like any good relationship, there is give and take with team members. Absolutely provide feedback to your new employee, but also create space for them to give you feedback as well.

Onboarding an employee is a great opportunity to get fresh eyes on your business and see where the gaps are. 

In addition to providing your new employee with how they can improve, be sure that your onboarding process includes opportunities to receive feedback on how things could go more smoothly. 

Hot tip: Provide your new employee with success metrics so they know how they’re doing during the first 30-90 days. Don’t leave them guessing, or wait until there is a problem!

5. Expand your capacity for new team members.

Be sure to automate processes where possible, while retaining the high touch that will have them feeling most supported and involved. Automated processes keep you from creating a bottleneck should you need to hire 15 people at a time. 

For example, you might have pre-recorded videos, handbooks, checklists, or use apps.

Hot tip: When it comes to communication, be clear about how to use the channels you set up for your team. For example, if you’re using Slack, not only share how to use the app, but how YOUR company uses it. What emojis indicate, how to ask a question, how to respond, etc.

Book a Consult here. We specialize in helping startups onboard their employees efficiently AND effectively so that they can hit the ground running confidently.

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