Two employees, a male and a female, sitting next to each other review some paperwork. The man points to one of the papers he is holding.
Onboarding is the process of training and integrating a new employee into your business. You can create an effective onboarding process even if you have limited resources. — Getty Images/insta photos

Onboarding is an integral part of the hiring process, yet not every small business has the resources to oversee a formal onboarding program. Research shows that onboarding results in improved employee retention — so even if you don’t have an HR department, it’s worth investing in a simple onboarding plan for each new hire. Here’s how to create a successful onboarding process using limited resources.

Take care of the paperwork first

Ideally, you’ll send your new employee the forms they need to fill out before their first day on the job. Getting the paperwork out of the way ensures that you can hit the ground running and dedicate enough time to orientation.

Some of the paperwork your new employee may need to complete includes:

  • A W-4 (or W-9) form.
  • An I-9 form.
  • A state tax withholding form.
  • A direct deposit form.
  • An employment contract.
  • Internal forms (e.g., nondisclosure agreements, noncompete agreements, etc.).
  • Emergency contact information.

You may also want to provide this person with your employee handbook so they can feel fully prepped when they show up for day one.

Set up their workstation

Build a checklist of everything that an individual in each position will need to get to work. This could include things like a laptop, a desk and chair, a headset for calls, software like a password manager, and account access to your internal files. Create this checklist once and you’ll be able to use and customize it for each new hire.

Design a training schedule that progressively helps your new hire understand their responsibilities and achieve their goals.

Harvard Business Review

Create an agenda for the first day

The first day and first week are all about showing someone the ropes: introducing them to other members of the team, demonstrating how your workflows and systems operate, and training them on internal procedures. Try to create a schedule that doesn’t overload your new hire with information.

“Design a training schedule that progressively helps your new hire understand their responsibilities and achieve their goals. This could include a mix of on-the-job training, workshops, and mentorship programs,” wrote Harvard Business Review. “This training schedule should naturally transition over time into the kind of professional development you offer every employee.”

[Read more: Hiring Your First Employee? Tips for Success from ADP]

Delegate to managers and work buddies

Assign your new hire a partner or “work buddy” to help them through the transition. The work buddy can answer questions about life at the company, such as where to go for lunch nearby, how to find parking, and other useful details.

The new hire’s manager should be in charge of designing a 30-, 60-, and 90-day performance plan. This plan should clearly communicate the performance expectations you have for the role and key metrics that you’ll be measuring to assess their success. The manager should review this plan with the new hire to ensure they are prepared to achieve the goals of the performance plan and have the support they need.

Make the new hire feel at home

Onboarding is the moment to celebrate a new person joining your team. Make your next employee feel right at home by hosting team-building activities and social events. It’s especially helpful to build these connections if you have a remote or hybrid workplace.

“[Conduct] informal catch-ups through virtual/in-person coffee breaks or lunches where team members can connect on a personal level, share experiences, and build relationships,” wrote HBR. “This can help break down barriers and allow remote and hybrid workers to feel more connected to their colleagues.”

In the first week, prioritize scheduling time with the new hire’s immediate team members so they can start collaborating. But don’t ignore introducing them to people from other parts of the organization too.

Document everything

Make sure you document every part of the process so it’s easy to replicate your onboarding experience for each new role. For your managers, create a template for the 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan that makes it easy to keep track of your goals. Collect feedback during your onboarding process so you can continually improve how you introduce each new hire to your team. Over time, this process will feel easy.

[Read more: Welcome! Onboarding New Employees Is Key to Hiring Success]

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