Being a small, rapidly changing startup with no time to do onboarding doesn’t have to mean your employees don’t get onboarded at all.
I meet dozens of startup founders with just a few employees (and even some with 20–100 employees), and the reality is that they don’t have the time, resources, or internal know-how to do onboarding “right” right now. We already know how expensive it is to bring on a new hire, and that it’s even more expensive to have them leave.
So, what can we do to ship an MVP of onboarding? This post looks at some of the questions I hear all the time, and how implementing even the most basic of employee onboarding programs can quickly change your organization for long term and for the better.
I often hear things like:
- How can we avoid an abrasive “getting-up-to-speed” process for new hires?
- How can we keep our turnover rate low (or lower it to start with) and retain our best employees?
- How do we maintain a healthy, welcoming, and supportive environment for all hires, but especially those from underrepresented groups?
- How can we create processes that evolve as we change?
- We have no time. How do I get any of this done without taking a day off to write it all out?
Here’s the thing to remember:
The point of onboarding is that it allows new hires to learn the basics easier, better, and faster.
Great onboarding programs cover the smallest topics (from using the copier and kitchen) to larger concepts (employee culture, where to find policies and procedures) and help both new and existing employees adapt to changing environments. Buddies and pair programming can support employees as they learn the context, but it can also facilitate knowledge transfer and reduce employee discomfort.
I wrote about this in Onboarding is Unboxing, but I’ve found that successful onboarding programs all have a few things in common:
- They let everyone know what is expected
- They’re designed to allow new hires to arrive ready to be productive
- They offer open communication paths so that new hires can ask for help or offer critique
- They are lightweight enough to evolve (read: they aren’t precious)