New-Employee Training Guide Reduces Frustration, Increases Retention
One of the greatest frustrations for small and mid-size businesses happens right after a new employee gets hired.
You’ve probably struggled through a murky and ever-shifting onboarding process, and you know how it feels to never quite accomplish what you want in your new-employee training program. You want new employees who can:
- Hit the ground running with confidence and assurance
- Know their team
- Be clear about the tasks they must accomplish and have the ability to carry them out
- Understand the goals of the company
- Not need to come and bug you every ten minutes
- Not quit in two months because they never felt trained, prepared, or valued
Who’s to blame when your new hires don’t reflect these goals?
Most likely, it’s a combination of factors, because developing a successful employee training guide isn’t easy. And, since it never feels as urgent as more pressing tasks, improving your onboarding process is easy to neglect.
But it IS urgent.
Employee onboarding statistics reveal that companies lose 25% of new employees within the first year, and one fifth of that turnover happens in the first 45 days. On the flip side, organizations that have developed a standardized new employee training guide get 50% greater productivity from their new hires, and 69% of them will stay for at least three years.
Yet, the problem remains: It’s hard to find the time to create an employee training process that works. To that end, PainLess Hire recommends the following 9 tips – all of which can be done with minimal loss of your time.
9-Part New Employee Training Guide for Businesses of Any Size
1. Create Detailed Manuals for Each Key Position
This is the single most valuable tip on this entire list. By far. And the best thing about it is, you don’t have to do most of the work.
Carve out time for your current employees to spend a day or two creating a manual detailing how they do their jobs. You want these in excruciating detail. Step by step, how they complete the various tasks their jobs require.
For positions that perform extensive online or computer-based tasks, they’ll need to create screenshots and videos showing how they perform the more complicated parts of their job.
Once completed, just have your employees spend a few hours one day per year updating these manuals.
With these assets in hand, all new employees will now receive the most useful training manual you could ever give them. It’s the most useful – from their perspective – because it pertains to their actual daily tasks.
And you didn’t have to do 99% of the work to create them.
Again – because this takes so little time for you but is so valuable to your new hires, if you implement no other strategies on this list – do this one.
2. Communicate Company Values from Day One
One business we’ve come across has nurtured a company value about email: Don’t send something by email if it would be faster to call them on the phone.
For some, that’s almost revolutionary. This particular company has achieved a culture where this behavior has become the norm. And they will call you out – politely (another company value) – if you violate it.
But communicating these sorts of values to your new hires is essential if you’re going to sustain the working environment and culture you’ve worked hard to create.
Know your company’s values. Make sure your leadership team knows them. Then, make sure they know how to communicate them, and why they’re so critical to your success. For your onboarding, the responsibility to communicate your values to new employees falls to your department leaders. This is a top-down issue.
3. Train Them Right Away
Don’t let your new hires sit around for a week, or even a few days, trying to look like they’re being productive because they’re not sure what they should be doing yet.
Your employee training process must kick into gear immediately on their first day. Actually, it begins before the first day, in your interviews (a great place to start discussing company values) and in the nuts and bolts you can take care of over the phone before they start. But all of this must be planned in advance, and there must be a person assigned to each part of the training process.
4. Give Them a Call List
New employees will have questions. But unless you want them to burn out the one person they connected with by pestering them with every question they run into, give them a complete list of people in charge of various tasks.
This will save them time, and save the other members of your team time. Just remember to keep your list updated as people come and go (thus – updating this list is an item for someone to complete during your onboarding process too).
5. Have Their Manager Explain His/Her Management Style
Communication about management style will be an ongoing process. But you want to open the doors from day one. The new employee’s most direct supervisor’s onboarding job must include a brief discussion about their management style.
- How often do they like to check in?
- When do they want progress reports?
- How quickly will they expect you to respond to email?
- How do they handle deadlines?
- What is their method of working through failures and setbacks?
So much could be said about management styles, and you won’t be able to address it all on the first day. But your managers should have a simple plan for how to open the lines of communication about their style, beginning on day one, and continuing through the first week or month, as necessary.
6. Make Clear Their Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
Hopefully this also gets addressed to some degree during the interview process. But the specifics of how your new employees will be evaluated need to be laid out.
When people know how they’re being evaluated, they’re more likely to believe they can meet the target and will work to measure up to it. The more specific, the more motivating. Help your new employees stay in the light from day one.
7. Show Them How Performance Incentives Work
These probably tie in to the KPIs at most companies. However your business determines bonuses – assuming you have a process for that – make it clear how it works. This is an easy way to give your new employee a fresh burst of motivation.
8. Schedule Specific Times for Ongoing Feedback
New employees need a bit more interaction about their progress the first few months. If your standard feedback schedule is to meet with employees once per month, then do it once per week with your new ones. If your standard is once per week, then do it once per day with new employees.
Whoever is in charge of giving feedback to your new hire, have them put it on their schedule, each week, for each employee. And again, these don’t have to be long meetings. Even just five minute ‘check in’ conversations can go a long way toward affirming your new hire that they’re on the right track.
As Anna Thomas, COO of Stockdale and Leggo puts it, “Throughout my many years in business, I’ve found that inexperienced employees can always be upskilled, but a bad attitude can be impossible to correct.”
These short little meetings, combined with the employee manual you’ll have from the all-important first tip on this list, will help you upskill your new hires as quickly as possible.
These scheduled visits also offer an opportunity to demonstrate that you value your new employee’s time too. Find out what time of day works best for you AND for them.
9. Have Something to Say at Feedback Meetings
Don’t show up to these meetings – even the 5-minute ones – without a plan.
What should the new employee be working on their first week? Have a plan to talk about tasks related to that. You don’t want to wander off into horror stories from 20 years ago. Camaraderie with your new employee is very important too, but these meetings aren’t the place for it.
Quick Recap – New Employee Training Guide
For a quick summary, here are the nine strategies you just learned:
- Create Detailed Manuals for Each Key Position
- Communicate Company Values from Day One
- Train Them Right Away
- Give Them a Call List
- Have Their Manager Explain His/Her Management Style
- Make Clear Their Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
- Show Them How Performance Incentives Work
- Schedule Specific Times for Ongoing Feedback
- Have Something to Say at Feedback Meetings
Some of these require a bit more work to implement than others, but you can do this. Most of these tips just require some smart planning and a healthy amount of delegation. And remember, if you only want to do one thing on this list, do the first one.
You Can’t Onboard Well If You Hire Poorly
As Anna Thomas’ quote earlier said so well, upskilling can be done fairly easily for a teachable employee. But fixing a terrible attitude can be nearly impossible.
Successful new employee training begins by hiring the right person.
PainLess Hire’s innovative hiring process has little in common with traditional recruiting. We are not resume-sorters or keyword hunters.
Our process attracts and sorts candidates based on skills, personality, and suitableness for the specific jobs you need filled. And it takes only a few weeks, not the months-long slog you might have suffered through in the past. You get to keep focusing on your work, while we carve out a list of top candidates for you to interview. Learn more about our process here.