You're running a small business, and you hire an experienced new employee to join your team. They know what they're doing, so they are ready to start after a couple of days of shadowing you, right?
Not if you want them to succeed. Training new employees effectively makes a business more profitable and helps new hires understand the culture and expectations of your business.
Why Is Training New Employees Important?
Business leaders often describe their employees as their best asset. But few companies invest in that asset with a well-planned training program for new hires. According to a Gallup survey of employees, only 12% thought their organization did a great job onboarding new employees.
When companies get it right, both the employees and the business benefit, so read on to learn why it's important to create an effective new employee training program.
Employees appreciate the investment a company makes in training. Having effective training programs improves employee retention. According to an Indeed survey, 39% of job seekers who resigned within the first six months of employment said that better new hire training and onboarding could have helped them stay in the job.
The benefits of effective training for new employees include increased confidence, familiarity with company policies, and insight into their new role.
It stands to reason; employees are more productive when they have been trained on the technology used in their role and know where to turn for help. An effective training program speeds up the learning curve to help new employees become proficient.
Encourages Communication Between Staff and Management
Anyone who has had to implement an impractical plan conceived by upper management knows the need for communication between staff and management. An effective onboarding plan incorporates mentoring relationships that promote conversations between new hires and senior leaders.
Organizations value two-way communication because it gives leadership an early window into issues frontline employees face with customers or processes. Employees benefit by knowing who to call if a problem arises and by being able to visualize a career path.
Increases Employee Engagement
A strong onboarding program helps employees engage with one another and feel connected to the organization. Engaged employees go above and beyond, which leads to higher productivity and lower absenteeism and turnover.
Supports Company Culture
Whether your company culture is high pressure, eco-friendly or team-oriented, your onboarding plan should help new hires fit in. Sharing your company's values with new employees helps them understand and align with your culture.
How to Train New Employees Effectively
Once you have committed to investing in training for new employees, you'll need to create a new hire training program. The following are best practices for training your new hires.
Start Onboarding Before Day One
Before the first day, welcome the new team member with an email with all the information needed for day one, including:
- Location and start time
- Where to park
- A schedule of what will happen the first day
- The equipment they will pick up, such as laptops or cell phones
- The office dress code
The first day of a new job can be nerve-wracking but knowing what to expect reduces the stress.
Use a Training Checklist
Create a checklist for managers to use to prepare for new employees. Checklists avoid the embarrassment of a new hire showing up and not having a clean office or laptop prepared. An onboarding checklist should include:
- Sending a welcome email (described above)
- Preparing a desk or office space
- Assigning a mentor to the new employee
- Ensuring a customized training plan is ready
Decide on the Content and Format for Training
The first step in creating an effective training program is to decide what employees should know and how to deliver it. Will the new hire have one-on-one meetings, view webinars, or do online training?
Consult with current employees while developing your training content. They will have insight into what they wish they had known and the most effective ways to accomplish tasks. Be sure you have management consult on the training procedures as well. A training procedure with a consensus will avoid confusion and keep new hires from getting contradictory information.
Creating a New Employee Training Program
The following are five steps for creating a new employee training plan:
- Consider the procedures: identify the processes that the new hire will learn. Break procedures down into specific tasks and steps.
- Designate the trainer: often, the best trainer is the employee's supervisor. If that is not feasible, choose the person who is an effective trainer.
- Allocate resources: time is the first resource to consider. Make sure to schedule blocks of time for employee training. Other resources include necessary materials or enrollment in online training or off-site classes.
- Conduct the training: this can be a combination of hands-on learning, online classes, or podcasts.
There are two types of mentorship programs that help new hires learn their roles. In a traditional mentor program, senior team members agree to mentor new associates. There should be some structure to the role, so mentors understand the expectations. For example, there could be a checklist specifying an initial meeting, introductions, and milestones expected for the first year.
A buddy system is an informal method for onboarding new employees. Ensure you match the new hire with someone in a similar job to help teach them their role. Having a buddy gives the new employee someone to talk to about work-related questions, HR issues, or other concerns. To create a successful buddy system, you'll need to specify goals and expectations.
Train for Culture
Imagine hiring someone from a company with a workaholic culture and then thrusting them into a workplace that values work/life balance? Even if they knew their role, they would struggle without an appreciation of your company's values.
Your training program should cover your company's mission, values, and culture, along with practical information. If being eco-friendly is important, show new hires how they can support that goal. For companies where camaraderie and fun are part of the culture, make sure new hires know how they would participate.
Check In Regularly
Make it easy for your new hire to come to you with questions by scheduling regular check-ins. Touch base with the new employee a few times during the first week. Afterward, talk at least weekly in the beginning and monthly or quarterly as the first year progresses. Periodic check-ins not only help your new employee to adjust. Hearing what the questions and issues are will help you assess and adjust your training program.
Provide Frequent Feedback
Anyone who watches sports knows that coaches give athletes instant feedback. Coach your new hires if you see them making mistakes. Most people welcome feedback that helps them excel. Keep the guidance encouraging and positive.
Set Short-Term Goals
People learn best by hands-on experience, so give your new hire a task to complete. Set a few short-term goals easily achievable with their skill set.
When your new employees achieve a goal, recognize the achievement. Encouragement helps employees feel appreciated and encourages them to continue to succeed.
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Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is a general guide and may not apply to your specific situation. For assistance with your training needs, consult with a professional onboarding consultant to create a training program for your business.