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How to Introduce and Integrate New Team Members

When you hire a new person for your team, it costs you money for training and the time it takes for orientation. It is estimated that it costs about 1.5 times the annual salary of a position to replace an employee in that position. Additionally, short-lived employees will eventually become frustrating for current employees, especially when they take additional time to help train the new employee and make them feel welcome. Implementing an onboarding plan for new hires makes it easier for current employees to accept a new employee, helps with retention, and makes the new employee feel welcome and needed.

After the Interview and Before the First Day

Once you have chosen the new employee and they accept your offer, start integration even before their first day. Make sure all paperwork is completed. The most time-effective way to get this part of the starting process over is to have all required employee documentation on an online portal just for that employee. The new hire should be able to access any tax forms, job descriptions, their HR file, the employee handbook and policies, and other documentation required for the position. In lieu of digitizing this process, forward the new hire a welcome packet with all of the information needed to start work and to do their job. Be sure to include instructions to submit the completed documentation, whether by mail, overnight service, or hand delivery.

Contact the new hire to discuss logistics if this was not done during the interview. Make sure the new hire knows:

  • what the dress code is,
  • what their work hours are,
  • who to meet in the morning,
  • parking locations, and
  • public transportation options.

If weekly or daily meetings are required for specific projects, be sure to discuss meeting policies, days, and times. Additionally, make sure the office is set up for the new employee. The office should be ready with accessible computers and other technology. Any passwords and log-ins should already be set up.

Furthermore, make sure you have business cards and keys or access cards waiting for the new hire. A map of the building or facility, especially if it has more than one building, should be available too, and payroll information, an internal phone directory, and office supplies should all be waiting for the new hire. All of this will help the new hire feel welcome and will save time since they do not have to hunt you or a supervisor down to get everything needed to do the job.

At the same time, try not to overwhelm the new employee. They should have read the rules prior to the first day, so you might just ask if they have any questions pertaining to policies and rules, instead of reviewing all of the information on the first day. This way, it saves times and ensures that the policies and rules are understood by the new hire.

A good idea is to assign a mentor to the new employee. They may have additional questions when you are not available or may feel more comfortable asking a co-worker about something the new hire may think is a menial question. This also gives the current employee and the new hire a chance to work together and become friendly. Often, providing a mentor increases retention because of the mentor's ability to build morale, help with learning the ins and outs of the job, and make the new hire more productive during his or her first few months.

The manager, whether it is you or someone else, should also be involved with the new hire. Make sure the new hire is comfortable asking questions. Help them set goals, understand performance expectations, and make development plans. The manager should have the documentation and time schedule for all of this prior to the employee's first start date and should be involved throughout the process.

Let the new hire's co-workers know what the new hire's qualifications are and explain their job description, especially to those current employees who may believe that a new hire is going to take their place. If current employees realize that the new hire is not there to take someone else's job, integration with co-workers is much smoother.

The New Hire's First Day

The first day should be planned in advance, especially if the new hire needs to meet several people. You will have to make sure supervisors, managers, and other key personnel are available to meet the new hire. Being prepared by having everything scheduled also helps with employee retention. Encourage the new hire to take notes and ask questions—they are expected to retain a lot of information on that first day. Additional first-day activities include the following:

  • Ask if the new hire has any questions about the documentation forwarded prior to the first day. If it was not discussed prior to the first day, let the new hire know how the company pays, whether via direct deposit or by paper check, and how often the company pays.
  • Give the new hire a quick overview of the company's mission, or explain it in depth if that was not in the documentation provided prior to the first day.
  • Give the new hire a tour of the office and other buildings. Make sure they know where key places are, including the mail room, copy room, file room, lunch room, employee mailboxes, restrooms, and other important places.
  • Give the employee keys, badges, and key cards, and explain the building security to them.
  • Schedule meetings with supervisors and/or managers and explain each person's role, including the chain of command.
  • Schedule a lunch with the new hire's direct co-workers so that everyone is able to get to know each other. Make sure all introductions are positive.
  • Make sure all work projects are explained thoroughly, including expected collaboration on projects that require it.

The First Week

Depending on the new hire's position, you may need to schedule some additional meetings, including meetings with board members, funders, partners, and other personnel. Schedule these meetings throughout the first week. The new hire should also meet other employees that they will probably work with, but not on an everyday basis.

Meet with the new employee at the end of the day at least three times during the first week to discuss any feedback they have. A study by BambooHR found that 76 percent of their subjects considered on-the-job training as the best way to get up to speed in a new job, so you may even ask for input about the training and integration process. Many new hires are reluctant to give their opinion or ask questions, so be sure to encourage this; not only will it help you better your program, but it will help with employee retention. Ask what is working well, what might be confusing, and what is challenging. For confusing or challenging situations, ask the new hire how you can help to correct those situations.

Help a new employee relax by encouraging group lunches. The employees not only get to know one another without feeling like they should discuss only work, but they are also more likely to accept the new hire. All around, all employees tend to be friendlier to each other if they are included in a group lunch, even if everyone brings their own and eats in the conference room at the same time.

If the job position requires the new hire to take initiative, that should have been stated as part of the interview process. However, new employees may not feel comfortable taking the initiative during the first weeks or months. Be sure to let a new hire know, as often as needed, that they have the freedom to work with autonomy. If you show your trust in a new hire right from the beginning, it will be easier for that person to integrate into their new surroundings. Adding new resources to a new hire's job position also encourages confidence and motivation.

Open to Change

Always make sure that all employees, not just the new hire, know that you appreciate and are willing to discuss matters that bring down morale and confidence in a job.

You may have to change the way you handle something to make employees more comfortable, or an employee may even suggest a better way to complete a project module. Overall, you have to let them know that you are open to changes and discussion.

Integrate Over Time

After the first week, new hire integration should not end. It should continue for at least a year to ensure employee retention. Onboarding over time allows you to provide more product training; allows managers, mentors, and other work relationships to bloom; and allows employees, especially the new hire, to continue providing feedback about his or her position. The new hire will also better understand the expectations of their supervisors and managers.

  • The First 30 Days – Make sure the new hire knows what is expected of him or her, including time frames and pertinent deadlines. Also, make sure the new hire knows the organizational practices and procedures, and establish boundaries where needed. Immerse the new hire in the company's culture so that they understand it and are able to function within that culture. Remind the new hire of the company's mission and vision, and discuss the company's plans to stick to core values.
  • The First 90 Days – After the first 90 days, assess the new hire's performance and provide feedback. During the first 90 days, be sure to keep giving feedback frequently, both for good and problematic issues. If problems are discussed in a non-confrontational manner sooner rather than later, the new hire has a chance to change their actions before problematic issues become a habit. If the new hire is a little slow on projects for the first 90 days, encourage the new hire while reminding them that while it might take some time to get up to speed, they should be up to speed within 90 days. Show the new hire different ways of doing something to make the task go faster. At the 90-day mark, review the employee's strengths and create a plan for that employee to help with company growth based on those strengths. Always remember that communication is the avenue to success and that all employees, but especially new hires, need to know how they are doing. If employees often give presentations or are expected to participate in conversations regarding company growth, encourage the new hire to voice their thoughts and give their own presentations. Also, during the first 90 days, look for additional strengths the new hire may have—they may be able to contribute to company growth in a higher or different position, or may have insights on making changes to their current position to better company growth.
  • The First Year – After the first 90 days, you should notice increased confidence in the new hire. The new hire should be prepared with solutions for new projects as they come up. Don't forget to continue rewarding the new hire—verbally and/or with bonuses—for advancement and contributions to the company's growth. Be sure to help with minor mistakes and fixing errors so the new hire does not develop bad habits. Keep providing training for gaps in skills and new skills. You should also encourage the new hire, and all other employees, to discuss enhancements to the organization's culture, operations, and strategies. As most employees, especially new hires, may be reluctant to discuss changes in the organization, this type of discussion should be encouraged frequently. Once the new hire completes one year, send a congratulatory email or letter, or even plan to take all of the employees out to lunch. Showing appreciation of employees' work keeps them happy, which means they treat customers and other employees with respect. A happy and motivated employee is also more likely to stay with the company, especially if they know their input is wanted, valued, and respected.