Did you know that it only takes seven seconds for someone to form their first impression of you? 

That’s right. No time to share about your family or personal history. But in those seven seconds, people have already constructed a perception of you that will last for quite some time. 

This is sort of how onboarding new employees works. 

Within the first week of onboarding, your employee will generally have a set impression of your business. They may also have an idea of how long they’ll plan on working there. This is why onboarding is more important than you might think. 

In fact, with Working From Home arrangements becoming more common, most businesses are changing up their onboarding process. 

Here are some tips for onboarding your employees in 2021.

So, What Is Onboarding?

When you first hire a new employee, it’s common business practice to introduce them to the team and familiarise them with the workplace and equipment – this is the onboarding process. 

It’s basically the business’ way of saying ‘Welcome!’, while also ensuring they include all the necessary paperwork. 

Here are some things you might include as a part of your onboarding process:

  • Go through Work Health and Safety duties (for example, you could have a procedure which involves showing new employees all the fire exits)
  • Provide the necessary equipment for employees to perform their job, such as a laptop or uniform 
  • Provide access to the relevant workplace policies (for example, you could have an Anti-Discrimination Policy and an appropriate reporting system for any misconduct)
  • Provide appropriate training depending on the nature of work (an example would be training employees on how to use a type of software)
  • Familiarise them with any regular workplace practices/activities (e.g. having a standup once a week)

Every business is unique, so you might not need to include all of these in your onboarding process. 

The important thing to remember is that the new employee should feel valued and comfortable in their new setting, and encouraged to make valuable contributions to the business. 

Why Is Onboarding Important?

A good onboarding process will help ensure that you have lower turnover costs. In other words, you won’t need to spend more money looking for more talent because a good onboarding process will generally keep employees for longer. 

You’d also have a lower risk of losing inside information when employees leave (although confidentiality should be covered by your contract, regardless). 

What Kind Of Documents Should I Provide When Onboarding?

When onboarding an employee, the first thing to provide is an Employment Contract. This should set out:

  • Nature of work
  • Job position (e.g. casual, full-time)
  • Wage
  • Leave 
  • Termination

It’s also a good idea to include a Non-Disclosure clause in the contract (otherwise, you can do this as a separate Non-Disclosure Agreement). 

As their employer, you’ll also need to sort out the following:

It’s worth noting that under the Fair Work Act 2009, employers are required to keep their employees’ records for at least seven years, so it’s important to have a good record-keeping system in place when onboarding employees. Fair Work has written more about this here .

Do I Need A Staff Handbook?

A Staff Handbook is not required under law. However, businesses are encouraged to have one so that all workplace policies and procedures are in one place. It’s also good business practice to have all your policies and procedures readily available so employees are aware of what they can and can’t do. The handbook should preferably be in digital form to allow employees to access it if they’re working from home. 

In addition to having an organised system, it looks good to a newly hired employee when they see that all the relevant policies are in one place. This tells them that you’re serious about enforcing misconduct and establishing a positive work culture (we’ve written more about Staff Handbooks and workplace policies here). 

How Do I Welcome New Employees Remotely?

Working from home arrangements were common early in 2020, and some businesses decided to continue this way coming into 2021. 

Don’t worry, though — this doesn’t take away from your ability to implement an awesome onboarding process for your newest team members. 

While you might not be able to give new employees a personal tour of your workplace, onboarding can be just as great in a remote setting. You’d still need to sort out the relevant documentation (such as superannuation), however you’d need to discuss how WHS duties are a little different when working from home. 

For example, you’d need to have a Work From Home Policy in place, and a system where you can regularly check their WFH setup. We’ve shared some tips on this here

Cyber Security

As remote work becomes the norm and most work is done online, cyber security should be an important part of your onboarding process. 

You’ll need to train new employees to use certain types of software, and this training will often have to be completed remotely. You may also want to fill them in on how your virtual meetings will work. But working online carries some serious risks, so you shouldn’t forget to discuss your business’ policies around cyber security.

As an employer, one of your biggest priorities is protecting your inside information from being stolen. This means you’ll need to have a Data Breach Response Plan and Internet and Email Policy (this would be part of your Staff Handbook). 

Like we mentioned, each business is different, so the onboarding process can vary depending on the nature of work. 

Need Help?

The onboarding process involves more than just introducing new employees to your work environment. It’s also about encouraging them to be consistent with the business’ values and core beliefs, so they can contribute to good business outcomes and feel part of the team. 

Onboarding isn’t all jammed into the first week, though. It’s a continuous process that can go on for much longer. If you need help sorting out any documentation, or just need to have a chat about how you can improve your onboarding process, let us know! 
You can reach out to us at team@sprintlaw.com.au or contact us on 1800 730 617 for an obligation free chat.

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