Hiring a New Employee? 4 Easy Onboarding Tips for Small Business Owners

Hiring a New Employee? 4 Easy Onboarding Tips for Small Business Owners

When recruiting new employees, it pays to plan ahead. A good onboarding process will ensure that you are bringing the best people on board, as well as prevent a number of problems down the line.


Money and trends may drive business, but one of your most valuable resources is people. Much of the focus during the hiring process, as well as in articles about staffing, revolves around what a potential employee brings to the table.

But what do you offer your potential employees in return?

Good pay, benefits, and job stability are all important considerations for luring high-quality candidates. But, it's how you welcome them aboard and the environment at your workplace that determines job satisfaction and turnover rates.

Your onboarding process is the first impression you leave on your candidates. If your candidate doesn’t feel comfortable in their first days at your company, there’s only so much you can do to rectify mistakes later on.

Additionally, a good onboarding process that prepares your new employee for their new job ensures that they can pick up the work immediately without having to rely on much guidance in their first weeks or even months.

For you as a business owner, that means high levels of productivity from the beginning, which will positively reflect on your bottom line.

The Hidden Cost of High Staff Turnover

Growing your business depends upon having a great product and the team to deliver it to your customers. Anything that disrupts business operations also affects growth and morale.

Two factors contribute to the price of high staff turnover, direct and indirect costs. An example of the direct cost of employee turnover was highlighted by a 2017 report released by the Employee Benefits News.

This study found that the direct cost of employee turnover is about 33 percent of that employee's total salary.

That's more than one-third of additional money coming out of your payroll budget on top of what you're already paying a person in that position. These costs include fees to recruiters, advertising for new candidates, and the cost of training a replacement.

High employee turnover also comes with hidden costs that go beyond the initial training investment. These can include:

Customer loss: When experienced, well-trained staff members leave, they're often replaced by less experienced, less knowledgeable staff.

It’s unlikely that the person you assign to fill the role can immediately meet the same standards as the person who has been on the job for a long time. Your business risks not meeting obligations, production delays, and loss of profits.

Decreased productivity: When an employee leaves, that causes gaps that must be filled by other staff members and further delays in services.

This creates a ripple effect that makes you miss important milestones and leads to setbacks in your short-and long-term planning. If anyone jumps in to take someone else’s workload, all they do is postponing their own obligations.

Loss of credibility and reputation: This is a double-edged sword. Management loses credibility among remaining staff members when there is a high turnover rate.

It could also mean that your overall corporate climate isn't conducive to job satisfaction. Your reputation is damaged when you can't meet obligations and deadlines.

Not only will it leave a bad image internally, but on the outside as well. Word travels fast. If your company gains the reputation of treating employees like they are a dime a dozen, your clients will eventually start questioning your business ethics as well.

Slippage: Losing an employee, especially in a small business, can create a chain reaction. By the time you fill the role again, your productivity levels have taken a dive. Your customers will likely experience delays in service responses, face ordering and manufacturing delays,and missed deadlines. Add to it possible slippage in quality, and you are confronted with fewer customers and a decline in sales.

4 Tips for an Easy Employee Onboarding Process

Your goal as an employer is to attract quality candidates that feel invested in the success of your organization, are inspired to remain loyal, and who contribute to the overall success of your enterprise.

The employee onboarding process isn't based on rocket science, and it needn't be complicated.

Before you start onboarding your new employee, make sure to prepare everything well in advance. Take a look back at how your former and current employees have responded to your training and onboarding methods.

Or better yet - ask them what they would have wished was done differently. This will help you create a more employee-centric onboarding process while making sure your business goals are being considered as well.

There are ways to do it that will increase the chances of a successful transition and ease new hires into your corporate culture.

#1 Aim for Clarity Right From the Beginning

Before opening your doors, you should have a clear idea of your company's mission and goals. This not only provides you and your team with a blueprint for success, but it also helps clarify these matters for staff.

Precise planning and a vision for the future also ensures that you'll select candidates that feel invested and engaged enough to help you reach your objectives.

If you don’t know where your business is headed, you cannot provide clear guidance, training, or growth opportunities to your employees either.

#2 Provide the Right Tools and Training

This is key. Staff with insufficient training and support during the onboarding process are less effective and able to assist customers. Provide them with training that will help them do their job with confidence and give them the tools they need to do their job to the best of their ability.

It’s also a good idea to briefly introduce your new hire to processes that happen immediately before and after his job.

When they get the big picture, they will better understand why it’s necessary that they do their job in an exact manner. This can contribute to creating a more streamlined process and fewer mistakes that could lead to frustration among coworkers.

#3 Create an Open, Cooperative Corporate Culture

Having a mission in mind and a well-trained staff won't get you far if the climate within your company is rife with incivility and lack of cohesion.

You can't make all of your employees become best friends, but creating a culture that supports cooperation and open communication will improve harmony and hold your team together, whatever obstacles threaten unity.

Provide a clear line of communication and feedback through an open door policy where staff feels comfortable coming to management with issues.

You can also hold regular formal and informal meetings, staff meetings, engage in team-building exercises, and encourage employee-to-employee mentorship.

Make sure that your new hire is an equal part of your team from the first day. This will boost their confidence and make them more invested in seeing the business succeed.

#4 Encourage and Support Autonomy and Independence

The old business model worked on a top-down hierarchy where directives were handed down from on-high by a senior executive to an immediate supervisor.

This often left staff members with little agency over decisions at the moment and resulted in poor customer service. For example, if a sales associate is unable to authorize incentives that would help them close a sale, you risk losing that customer's business.

Provide staff members with a certain amount of latitude and autonomy to make decisions that improve their ability to do their job.

This also includes being able to solve minor problems on their own and allows them to take responsibility for job performance and outcomes.

Autonomy doesn't only relate directly to customer service, though. Allow staff to have some control over their immediate work environment and the equipment they use.

Computer stress due to slow or glitchy devices is a common source of frustration. You can't expect everyone on your team to be an IT pro, but you can allow knowledgeable employees to handle computer troubleshooting and routine maintenance.

Having the knowledge and ability to optimize computers and other devices will decrease frustration and downtime that results from your team having to wait for a tech or equipment to be replaced.

The same autonomy can be extended to prioritizing tasks. If they feel that responding to a pressing customer query will do more for your business than filling in yet another report, let them. As long as the job gets done within a reasonable time, allow them a little wiggle room.


Business technology may improve internal operations and outreach, but it doesn't necessarily get you the best people or lead to employee satisfaction. Attracting quality hires is meaningless if you can't keep them.

You can improve your odds of attracting and retaining long-term, productive team members with a smooth onboarding process that's efficient and thorough.

Heather Redding is a part-time assistant manager, solopreneur and writer based in Aurora, Illinois. She is also an avid reader and a tech enthusiast. When Heather is not working or writing, she enjoys her Kindle library and a hot coffee.

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