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How to Onboard New Hires Successfully

While it is sometimes seen as a compliance chore, onboarding is an incredibly important part of an employee’s journey with your company. It is their introduction to life at your organization and it is important to lay the proper groundwork for a long lasting and productive relationship.

A mishandled orientation can result in employees starting work already looking for the exit. But a thoughtful, thorough onboarding process can get them truly excited about working with you, causing them to be engaged with their work and more likely to stay put for years to come. You’ve already invested a lot of time and energy into bringing the new hire into your business, it’s worth the extra energy to set a strong foundation for the rest of their time at your company.

There are several foundational pillars to cover in a successful onboarding: the employee’s knowledge base and their integration into their new team, the company culture, and the mission/vision. You should provide them with the tools they need to succeed in their new position, and let them know where to go for help. At the same time, it’s important to connect them with the people they will be working with for the foreseeable future, and get them to buy into the mission and culture behind your work.

So you have to cover all of the bases getting a new hire integrated into the company’s systems, setting up their benefits and employment paperwork, giving them the knowledge they need to thrive at your company, AND make sure you get the human side of orientation right? In case that seems overwhelming, we have come up with two checklists to help you streamline and make the most of the onboarding process. Let’s take a look at those lists and then tackle how you can ace the “soft” side of orientation too.

New Hire Document Checklist

  1. Form I-9
  2. Form W-4
  3. Confidentiality agreement
  4. Emergency contact information
  5. Benefit forms
  6. Employee handbook
  7. Offer letter and job description
  8. Direct deposit form
  9. Organizational chart
  10. Phone list and office map
  11. Safety instructions
  12. Personnel action form
  13. State-required new hire pamphlets
  14. Other state or local documentation requirements
  15. Any other material a new hire would find useful on the first day

Orientation/Onboarding Procedure Checklist

  1. Review and discuss new hire paperwork
  2. Schedule or conduct safety training
  3. Provide tour and introductions with manager
  4. Provide information on company logistics including work station location, break rooms, and restrooms
  5. Provide instructions for phone and computer access
  6. Sign agreements for security access and keys
  7. Explain timekeeping requirements
  8. Explain organization structure (provide organization chart and job description)
  9. Discuss company mission, vision, values, and goals
  10. Describe company products and services
  11. Describe benefits of working at the company (employee benefits, job opportunities, etc.)

Get the Human Part of Onboarding Right

With so many technical details to cover during onboarding, it can be easy to forget the interpersonal aspect of orientation. The first day, and even the first few weeks, can be a stressful time for a new hire. They’ve made a serious commitment, and they want to be sure that they made the right choice. Since the onboarding process may well set the tone for the rest of their time with the company, it’s important to do as much as you can to set their minds at rest by showing what an awesome, supportive workplace they’re joining.

The great news is that there is a reason why they chose to work at your company, so you don’t have to do anything particularly different to make their first weeks go smoothly. Instead, you can just build on the energy that you developed during the hiring process. You have already convinced the new hire that your business is special, now show them what that means for their day to day life at your company and how they will fit into your mission and your culture.

The best way to ensure that a new hire has a rewarding, productive onboarding is to get buy-in from the rest of their team. Get all of the team members involved in equipping the new hire with the information they need to flourish in their new job and making them feel as welcome as possible. There is no better way to show a new employee that they matter than to get the people they will be working with for the next several years deeply involved in their onbarding. It will make them feel welcomed and appreciated, connect them to the people they will need to help them hit the ground running in their new position, and jump-start their integration into your company culture.

Perhaps the most important people to get involved in the new hire’s orientation are their direct managers and team leaders. These are the people who will be guiding the new employee once orientation is over, so it’s important to start with a strong foundation of trust. Don’t treat an introductory lunch with the manager as a mere formality; encourage your management team to take orientation seriously and really try to get to know the new hire. As much as possible, make managers responsible for onboarding and orientation to get them engaged in the process of integrating the new employee into their team.

Finally, make sure that both HR and managers check in on new hires regularly during orientation and the first weeks of work. You want to identify any issues, fears, or misgivings as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth onboarding process. Plus, it’s important to set the precedent of communication and transparency, and to show employees that you care about what they think, from day one.

Key Takeaways

Onboarding is your opportunity to show a new hire what makes your company special and make sure that you start the relationship on the right foot. Use our easy checklists to make covering your compliance bases easier so that you can focus on the human side of onboarding. Just make sure to:

  • Provide a consistent experience from the first interview through the first months of employment
  • Equip new hires with the information they need to flourish in their new position
  • Show new employees how they fit into the company culture and how they will contribute to the mission/vision
  • Get managers and team members involved in orientation to build effective, productive teams

Like many parts of assembling your workforce and developing your culture, onboarding and orientation can be a very personal experience. You should tailor the onboarding process to your needs and priorities. But hopefully these checklists and key takeaways will help you get started on perfecting the experience for your new hires.

How to Make the Most of National Employee Appreciation Day

How to Make the Most of National Employee Appreciation Day

Whether you are looking to solve a retention problem or just want to pump up your already effective team, do not pass up the opportunity to show your employees what they mean to you on National Employee Appreciation Day, March 1st. There are many ways to make your team members feel genuinely appreciated, both on the day itself and through the rest of the year.

In this article we will explore why employee appreciation is important and how you can make the most of Employee Appreciation Day this year, as well as ideas you can implement for next year:

  • Why You Should Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day
  • Think Outside of the Box
  • Follow Your Culture
  • Think Long Term
  • Pitfalls to Avoid

Why You Should Celebrate Employee Appreciation Day

Your employees are what makes your company run; they are ultimately responsible for every success, every goal accomplished and every product or service. That’s something that is worth some appreciation. Beyond deserving it, your employees also need recognition in order to perform at their best so that you can achieve future successes. No one likes to feel like they are a cog in a machine, being used for their labor and not appreciated for the contributions that they are making. Even simple gestures can make a huge difference in employee satisfaction, performance, and retention.

The fact of the matter is that about half of all employees would leave their jobs for a company that gives employees more recognition for their accomplishments, while eight out of ten employees say that being recognized motivates them at their jobs.

At a time in which companies are struggling to provide meaningful work and retain top talent, showing appreciation can be a cheap and rewarding path to a more effective, sustainable team. That is why you should use this National Employee Appreciation Day as an opportunity to take concrete steps to building a happier more effective workforce. But how should you go about showing your employees that you appreciate them?

Get Creative and Personal

Especially since March 1st is rapidly approaching, do not be afraid to get a bit creative with your celebrations. You do not have to do anything too major or complicated to celebrate National Employee Appreciation Day, so long as it seems genuine and personal. Office pizza is always nice, but it doesn’t really show that you care. At the risk of sounding seriously cheesy (no pun intended), you want to fill your employees’ hearts and not just their stomachs. But don’t be too serious – the more fun you have planning the celebrations, the more enjoyable and rewarding they will be for your employees.

Your employees will feel significantly more appreciated and valued the more personal and unexpected your methods are. If they are surprised by the celebrations, your message will seem much more genuine. And the more directly the appreciation comes from the company leadership or employees’ managers, the more heartfelt and effective it will be. You shouldn’t just implement an idea that you find online in this or any other article – take time to make it your own and your employees will appreciate the extra effort.

Also get personal when it comes to your employees; if your team is small enough, tailor your messages, programming, and giveaways to individual team members’ interests. If you are a larger company, get managers involved so that they can come up with special ways to celebrate their teams. Time might be short for this year, but even just getting managers to write a personalized note to each of their team members, and letting managers choose their team’s treat and activity for March 1st, is a quick and easy way to make your employees feel truly appreciated.

Above all, remember that there is no right answer so feel free to celebrate your employees in the way that works best for your company. Just make sure that you come across as genuine, and that your celebrations are in line with your company’s values.

Follow Your Culture

Speaking of company values, the best way to make sure that your appreciation comes across as genuine is to express it in a way that aligns with your company culture, mission, and vision. Sending a message that conflicts with your company culture would be jarring and dishearten rather than engage your employees.

The reason why you should follow your company culture is that you will reinforce what already makes employees dedicated to their jobs. If your employees buy into your company culture, then that means that they share your values and care about their work largely because of the company’s mission and vision. Celebrating those values when showing your appreciation for your employees will create a grounded, consistent message that makes your employees more confident in their choice to work at your company.

Similarly, it is important to avoid showing your appreciation by just making your employees work less, or in any other way that downplays the importance of what the company is doing. You want the focus to be on the good work that your employees do, and your appreciation for that work, not on making your employees happy by just giving them a break. It is important for all companies not to downplay work on National Employee Appreciation Day. Consider using the day to provide insight into what the company is doing, why it is doing it, and how the team members contribute to those goals.

If, on the other hand, you have a robust company culture and engaged workforce, your team members will already be proud of what they are doing and will want their managers and company leadership to be proud of it too. They will not want to work less, but be recognized for their work. Use the Employee Appreciation Day to acknowledge and praise employee contributions towards the company mission/vision, steps they have taken to safeguard the company culture, and other meaningful contributions that they have made.

Think Long Term

No matter how much you celebrate your employees on March 1st, long term engagement and satisfaction can only come from long term appreciation. That is why you should take the opportunity to announce new policies or programs that will engage and reward your employees year round.

If you already have a change in policies in the works that might benefit employees, consider rolling the change out as part of the your Employee Appreciation Day celebrations. This will help frame the policies as being meant to benefit and reward employees. Even if you are not ready to implement changes, consider announcing them accompanied with a rough roll-out schedule.

Even if you do not have any changes in mind yet, consider simple policies that you can announce on Employee Appreciation Day. Weekly “props” at team meetings, other informal peer recognition policies, and monthly appreciation events do not take much to set up and can be announced this year. You can also start planning for other long term changes to introduce next Employee Appreciation Day. Some examples of larger projects to start planning include:

  • Employee Gamification: allow team members to earn points for various perks in exchange for accomplishments
  • Competitions: reward top performing individuals or teams for accomplishing specific goals
  • New Benefits: gym memberships, zoo or museum passes, and other quality-of-life perks
  • Work Structure: introduce flexible work hours, telecommuting options, or Summer Fridays

Avoid These Common Pitfalls

While the best way to show your employees how much you appreciate them depends on your company and there are no “right” answers, there are some common mistakes that you should absolutely avoid. Two in particular are sure to make your employees angry instead of making them feel valued:

First, don’t just send a card or email and fail to show your appreciation in any more concrete or active way. While it is important to say thank you, a form message from HR or the CEO never makes employees feel warm and fuzzy about their jobs. That is not to say that you shouldn’t have the CEO send a message about the company’s recent accomplishments and future plans, and thanking employees for their contributions to both. Just make sure that the content is meaningful and that it is accompanied by some form of action that further makes your employees feel valued, listened to, and appreciated.

Second, do not roll out programs that are just obvious, and insufficient, work incentives. Contests and gamification can be great ways to engage your employees and reward them for hard work. Just make sure that they are clearly intended to make employees’ jobs more fun and rewarding not to encourage them to work harder and sacrifice more than they already are. People can generally tell what your real motivation is so make sure that any incentive programs come from a desire to make the company a more rewarding place to work.

Key Takeaways

National Employee Appreciation Day is your chance to have fun, show your employees how much they mean to you, and launch programs to make your employees feel valued year round. Get as creative and personal as you can, emphasize your company culture, and genuinely thank your employees for their contributions to the company mission and vision and you will reap the rewards of employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Just remember to:

  • Be creative and personal
  • Align your celebrations with the company culture
  • Celebrate employee accomplishments and contributions to the company mission/vision
  • Implement long-term programs to show appreciation for your employees

And most of all, don’t forget to have fun. Share your favorite, wackiest employee appreciation ideas in the comments section below.

Everything You Need to Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Everything You Need to Know About the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring your business complies with all state and federal regulations. However, it isn’t easy keeping track of all the different laws your business must comply with. One of the more complex federal regulations your business may be responsible for complying with is the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

If you’re struggling to understand your business’ responsibility to comply with the FMLA, you’ve come to the right place. This post will help you understand the ins-and-outs of the FMLA so you can ensure you’re compliant.

In this post you’ll learn:

  • What is the FMLA?
  • Which Companies Must Comply With FMLA
  • Which Employees Are Eligible for FMLA
  • Reasons Employees are Entitled to FMLA Leave
  • What are your obligations as an employer?

What is the FMLA?

The Family and Medical Leave Act, also known as the FMLA, was first enacted in 1993 to allow employees to take extended unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons. The FMLA aims to help employees balance the pressures of the workplace with the needs of their families.

The FMLA permits employees to take a maximum of 12 or 26 weeks, job-protected, unpaid leave for certain family and medical reasons during a 12 month period. The FMLA outlines the ­­­specific circumstances that allow employers to be covered and eligible for leave. It also protects employees that elect to take leave from retaliation from their employer.

The act also prohibits employers from preventing or denying employees the rights guaranteed under the FMLA. FMLA violations can be brought to court by the U.S. Department of Labor to enforce compliance. Employees can also also bring civil action lawsuits against employers found guilty of violating the FMLA.

Which Companies Must Comply With FMLA

Companies must comply with the FMLA only if they had at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or previous year. Although smaller employers don’t have to comply with the FMLA, they may be liable for similar state laws.

Which Employees Are Eligible for FMLA

An employee must have worked for at least a year and worked for at least 1,250 hours during the prior year, to be eligible for FMLA leave.

Reasons Employees are Entitled to FMLA Leave

One of the biggest areas of confusion around the FMLA is what circumstances cause the FMLA to kick-in. Reasons employees can take leave under the FMLA include:

-Inability to work due to pregnancy, prenatal medical care, or child birth.
-To care for a newborn child, to care for a recently adopted child, or to care for a recently placed foster child.
-To care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition.
-For a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform their job.
-Eligible employees with a spouse, child, or parent on covered active duty or call to active duty status in the National Guard or Reserves or regular Armed Forces, may use their 12-week leave entitlement to address certain qualifying needs.
-To care for a covered injured service member.

In addition, FMLA leave can be intermittent. Intermittent leave is often overlooked by managers who are not well-versed on the FMLA policy. FMLA covers intermittent leave for:

-Mental health conditions.
-Caring for a child or family member with a serious health condition.
-Leave for treatments, physical therapy, etc.
-Reduced schedules/hours due to restrictions, treatments, or caring for family members.

What are your obligations as an employer?

As an employer, you have several obligations under the FMLA including:

  • You must send employees communications notifying the employee whether they’re eligible for FMLA
  • If you receive a leave request, you’re required to tell the employee whether you’re going to designate the time as proper leave within five days of receiving the request
  • You must track and record all FMLA time used
  • You must keep all health information related to FMLA requests confidential
  • You must reinstate employees to the same or an equivalent position when they return from leave

It’s important to note that it is illegal to retaliate against employees who exercise their right to take FMLA. This means you cannot hold protected absences against employees in any way. When you’re thinking about promotions, training opportunities, or raises, you must assume employees on leave had perfect attendance and job performance during FMLA-covered time.