For startups, time is money and it's important for new hires to hit the ground running as quickly as possible.
We all know acquiring new team members is hard. It's especially tough for early-stage and growing startups concerned with their speed to hire (many worry it's not fast enough) and not being able to attract and keep top talent to elevate a business to its highest potential.
So when you do land the right candidate (and they pass the interview and accept the job,) it's critical to reassure them of their decision and make them feel welcome within the first few days.
Onboarding in early-stage environments
Onboarding into a new job is actually one of the toughest job transitions, and it can take anywhere from three to six months (sometimes longer in more complex roles) to adjust.[^1]
Even the most experienced professional will have a few hiccups when learning a new business and adapting to a new culture.
Formal employee onboarding has traditonally been practiced in larger companies -- not so much in growing businesses. But, implementing a systematic approach in these environments can help bring new employees up to speed 50 percent faster [^2], which means they’re more quickly and efficiently able to contribute to achieving the desired goals of your growing business.
If you're looking for a little help when it comes to your own onboarding strategy, here's a 3-step approach that is easy and repeatable.
Step 1. What to do before a new person begins
There's a lot to learn and strong feelings of vulnerability in the early days. One of the first – and most important – things to do is to get current employees hyped and excited for their new teammate.
"After a candidate accepts an offer, I like to email everyone involved in the hiring process and make the introduction," said Jeff Dulmage, director of talent strategy, Hunt Club. "I reach out to executives and teammates, announcing the new hire, their name, the start date, contact details, and I always copy the candidate on the email so they immediately feel like part of the team."
You can also send over new-hire forms, any thought-leadership content like blog posts or press coverage, competitive research and any business playbooks for the new employees to review, helping them ramp up and get acclimated faster in their first few weeks.
Step 2. What to do when a new person starts?
Deliver an amazing first day experience by helping new hires get settled in.
Assign a new-hire buddy
You can also assign a coworker they can shadow and have that person be the "go-to" for things like showing the person to their workspace, walking them around and making intros, connecting to the WiFi, touring the office, making sure they have functioning key cards, and answering all the "silly questions" about the office (e.g., "where's the bathroom?")
Schedule a first-day lunch
Make sure to take the new person to lunch with the entire team to help break the ice.
Setup initial and reoccurring meetings
If you want your new hires to feel productive, develop a week-long meeting schedule so they can meet relevant people within the company and get to know them on a one-on-one basis.
Managers should meet with their subordinates for a quick welcome check in, mid-week/ongoing training sessions, and a check in at the end of the first week, to ask how things went, what help they need, etc. (and get feedback on the onboarding process).
Step 3. What to do after a new employee starts (first 30 days)
Continue with trainings
The training doesn't stop on their day or first week. If it's helpful, pull the new hires into different teams to learn about other components of the business (i.e., have your marketing hire drop in on a product development meeting).
Assign them their first big project
Be clear on the objectives of the project, the scope of work, the allotted timeframe, the expected deliverables, and the criteria by which the success of the project will be measured.
Ask for and give feedback
Find out what's working well and what isn't, and also give them a snapshot of how they're doing in their first 30 days. Feedback often and early is key to keeping new employees engaged, motivated and on track.
At the end of the day
The decision to join a startup isn't easy, and not all startups have have the resources to devote someone full-time to onboarding activities. To scale and grow, however, it's important to help setup new hires for success and reassure them of their decision to join your company.
Need help hiring or implementing a robust onboarding process? Get in touch and see how we can help.