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
- Form I-9
- Form W-4
- Confidentiality agreement
- Emergency contact information
- Benefit forms
- Employee handbook
- Offer letter and job description
- Direct deposit form
- Organizational chart
- Phone list and office map
- Safety instructions
- Personnel action form
- State-required new hire pamphlets
- Other state or local documentation requirements
- Any other material a new hire would find useful on the first day
Orientation/Onboarding Procedure Checklist
- Review and discuss new hire paperwork
- Schedule or conduct safety training
- Provide tour and introductions with manager
- Provide information on company logistics including work station location, break rooms, and restrooms
- Provide instructions for phone and computer access
- Sign agreements for security access and keys
- Explain timekeeping requirements
- Explain organization structure (provide organization chart and job description)
- Discuss company mission, vision, values, and goals
- Describe company products and services
- 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
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
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.
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.
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
- 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
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
- 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
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.
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.
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.