So you’ve started a business. Things are going well.
…too well. You’re swamped with work, and now it’s time to hire someone else to help you pick up the slack.
This is a fantastic milestone! But it’s also one of the most important tasks you’ll ever undertake. With so few people in your early team, hiring has a huge impact on your business.
But does hiring need to be impossible? Hardly.
We’ve created this ultimate guide to give you the most relevant, updated, and practical advice from end-to-end. Here’s what we’ll cover:
Many employers say hiring the right person can help you avoid a huge swath of problems later on. So study this guide and use it carefully—it could be the best move your business ever makes.
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Getting your business ready for your first hire
Before you hire, you need to make sure your business has fulfilled all your legal requirements.
Just because you want to hire someone doesn’t necessarily mean you should… or that you even can. There are a lot of things to tick off before you get to that point.
But before we even get to the legal requirements, you should have a good hard think about whether you actually need to hire someone.
Step #1: Ask yourself—do you need an employee?
You shouldn’t just hire someone because you feel overwhelmed. You need to be specific about the work you need this employee to do and how much time it’s going to take them.
For instance, let’s say you need someone to take over some admin work. You should:
- Calculate how many hours a week it takes to do this type of work (estimate the amount of hours per task and add ‘em up). If it’s only five hours, it may not be worth hiring a full-time employee. More on that soon…
- Do you have tasks you want to do but don’t have time for?
- Think about whether you need temporary or permanent help. A specific project might require a temporary worker, but ongoing help will need someone more permanent.
Remember, a full-time employee is an ongoing cost for your business. Think carefully about whether you need an employee or a contractor.
Independent employees versus contractors
There are lots of rules, but generally:
- Work at a specific time and place set by you, the employer
- Work for one company
- Use your tools and resources
- Are paid a salary or hourly wage
- Are responsible for completing tasks set by you
- Can work wherever and whenever they like
- Can work for multiple companies
- Use their own tools
- Use their own resources
- Get paid on a project or flat-fee basis (but not always)
This is important to understand, because if you’ve identified someone as a contractor but the nature of their work is more like that of an employee, you may need to give them benefits and pay employment taxes.
If a contractor suits your current needs, check out our guide to hiring contractors for the first time.
Step #2. Now ask—are you ready to hire someone?
Is your business actually in a position to hire someone? You ought to think about these questions:
- Can you afford the ongoing costs of a hire? (Remember, it’ll cost you more than salary.)
- Have you done a cost-benefits analysis for your time?
- Have you defined the role?
- Have you established your company values? Do you plan to hire according to them?
Step #3: Get your EIN
OK, so let’s say you’ve said “yes” to all of the above, and you’re ready to hire someone. Do you just put out an ad?
You actually need to set up a few legal things first, and the very first one is an Employer Identification Number.
Don’t worry, it’s pretty easy!
This is a number the IRS gives you to identify your business. It’s kind of like a Social Security Number, except you use it on all the forms and documents that relate to paying your employees.
You can check the IRS website to see if you need one.
How to apply for an EIN
So how exactly do you register for an EIN? You have a few different options:
- Option 1: Apply online on the IRS website. You need to answer a few questions, mostly about your business structure (partnership, sole proprietor, etc) and whether you’re in charge of the business. You also need a Taxpayer Identification Number, which can be one of the following:
- Social Security Number
- Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions
- Preparer Taxpayer Identification Number
- Option 2: Listen, it isn’t the quickest way—but if you need to, then download the IRS Form SS-4 and mail or fax it in with all your info.
- Option 3: Apply over the phone through the IRS Business and Specialty Tax Line at (800) 829-4933, provide your information, and get your EIN on the spot.
Step #4: Know your business tax requirements
OK, you’ve got your EIN! Now you need to get ready for all your tax requirements. They’re different in every state, so be sure to seek professional advice in your area for your individual requirements.
That being said, most businesses need to be aware of their federal taxes, state taxes, and withholding rules.
Here are some of the rules you should know (but note that these don’t necessarily apply in every situation):
- Employers must deposit and report employment taxes.
- You need to file Form W-2 to report wages for each employee.
- You must withhold taxes from your employees according to the IRS withholding tables.
- You must deposit your withholdings—and the rules for depositing are pretty specific
- You also need to withhold part of Social Security and Medicare taxes from employees’ wages and pay a matching amount yourself. IRS documents can help here, including Publication 15, Employer’s Tax Guide and Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide.
- You also need to withhold the 0.9 percent Additional Medicare Tax on an employee’s wages and compensation if they exceed a threshold amount.
You can start to see how the costs of hiring add up!
And remember, your states have certain obligations too—which is why it’s so important to contact your state’s labor department and find out exactly what your requirements are.
For example: Let’s say you hire an employee in New York at $65,000 a year. You’ll pay an additional $5,414 in employment taxes. But in California, those taxes will come to $5,428 A small difference? Sure—but it adds up. You need to be completely compliant, and ignorance isn’t an excuse!
Step #5. Comply with your legal requirements
There are a few more things you need to do to make sure you’re square with the law when you hire. This includes:
Collecting new employee tax forms
Each of your new hires will have to fill out:
- A W-4 form, so you know how much income tax to withhold from their paychecks.
- An I-9 form to prove they’re authorized to work in the US.
(We’ll tell you more about these forms when you’re ready to onboard!)
Reporting your new hire
We’ll cover this a little further down, but be aware you’ll need to report their name, their Social Security Number, and some general information about their employment to the state by a certain deadline after their first day.
Getting workers’ compensation insurance
Most states require you to have this. The good news? You can buy it through a commercial provider or through a state workers’ compensation program. The insurance usually covers wage replacement when an employee is injured, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation among other benefits.
This will become more of an important topic as you hire more people, so be sure to read up on your requirements now.
Depending on where your business is located, you’ll need to hang certain posters in your workplace. Use the Department of Labor’s Poster Advisor tool to find and print the posters required in your area.
Looking up your local laws
Every state has its own laws for issues like minimum wage, garnishments, termination, and more. This is probably a good time to start speaking with a lawyer about your requirements, but you can also get free resources like the Department of Labor’s Employer Guide.
Step #6. Set up your payroll
Payroll isn’t as simple as cutting a check. You need to make sure you provide your employees with their pay on time, in compliance with all laws—and give them a good experience, too.
A payroll provider can help with that. They can:
- Help you set up payroll from a mobile device
- Automate your processes and reduce paperwork
- Help you comply with HR laws, filing for employment taxes, sick day tracking, and more at a low cost
Whether you go with a provider or decide to tackle your payroll in-house, check out our full walkthrough of setting up payroll for the first time.
Phew, that was a lot! But now that you’ve got all the prep work done, it’s time to find your first employee.
How to find employees and recruit the right talent
Hiring someone isn’t enough—you need to make sure they’re the right person for the job and your business.
Disappointment comes from unmet expectations, and there’s no better way to create terrible expectations than by writing a misleading job description. If you don’t accurately describe what your company does, what the job will be, and what you need from the role, you’re setting candidates up for failure.
The more effort you put in at the start, the more time, money, and problems you’ll save later on when you don’t have to fire anyone.
Ever heard the expression “hire slow, fire fast”? It’s not just a catchphrase, it actively helps you avoid trouble. As the Harvard Business Review explains, a “bias for speed” can result in hiring poor employees. You end up hiring them just because you’re looking to grow quickly, even if they aren’t the best fit for your company.
Also remember: your business is small. Your first hire could play a huge part in your success and growth, so think carefully and take your time.
How do you attract the right applicants?
Now, where do you actually find your employees? Good question! But here’s a better one:
How can you make employees come to you? Here’s where to start:
Create a job description that knocks their socks off
This is where a lot of businesses go wrong.
They either create vague job descriptions that don’t give enough information about what people will do with their day, or they go over the top. Everything is super fun, awesome, cool, and totally wicked!
Your job description is your opportunity to attract qualified candidates, people with the right temperament—and to show off your brand. The more you showcase your values and personality, the more likely you are to attract people who think and act in ways you’re aligned with.
For example, if your language is curt and straightforward and your description emphasizes facts and figures, you’re probably going to attract more analytical folks. A job description with a more conversational tone that emphasizes creativity and fun in the workplace is likely going to attract a different type of candidate.
The language you choose could easily hone in on the right candidates before you even start interviewing.
Here’s a formula for a great job description:
#1. Pick a strategic job title
It’s in vogue right now to choose cool or fancy titles like “chief happiness officer,” but they’re hard to understand. If you don’t grab people within a few seconds, they may think the job just isn’t right for them. In a job seeker’s market, that’s a huge mistake.
Candidates typically search for roles by using keywords, so sticking to standard role titles online can help with findability. Have a look yourself by searching for several variations of your job title to see which ones are the most popular and describe the skills you need.
#2. Actually describe what your candidate’s job is
Here’s a key mistake many employers make in their job descriptions: They’re vague, and they focus on end results instead of the actual day-to-day tasks.
Instead of saying your ideal candidate would “spend all day solving problems and kicking ass!” give actual descriptions like:
- You’ll run quarterly technical workshops
- You’ll manage and assign projects for a team of three creative designers
- You’ll analyze sales reports to make detailed projections
And so on. This way, you’ll get the attention of people who can actually do the job, and do it well.
You also want to be honest. “Though you’re responsible for X, most of the time you’re going to be doing X, Y, and Z.” This shows you’re trustworthy, so they’re more likely to keep reading.
Pro tip: Be sure to tell them what the opportunity for advancement might be. You want to attract go-getters and high achievers.
#3. Write in a way that feels natural to your company
Your brand is everything, but most companies tend to leave their personality out of job descriptions. They might think they’re too formal to mess with.
That’s not true. The more you show candidates what it’s like to work at your business, the more interested and switched on your candidates will be. You Need a Budget (YNAB), a personal budgeting software company, sets a great example for this, infusing their fun and honest brand into every sentence:
“We have a bonus plan based on profitability. If YNAB wins, everybody wins. And we can’t forget the ‘Bucket List’ spreadsheet, which every member of the team has to populate with 50 items. This helps in deciding what we should give folks for birthdays and Christmas presents. No gift cards here. We tried that. Super boring.”
Immediately, that grabs your attention. Maybe that’s not you—that’s fine! Just be sure to write in an honest way that reflects your values. (You haven’t finalized those yet? Oh… Better get on that.)
#4. Tell them about what they get!
Think about all the benefits you can offer. Maybe you don’t work in a big, flashy office yet, but make sure candidates know about all the benefits small businesses can provide that large companies might not be able to:
- Flexibility. Because you’re a small team, you might not abide by the “get to your desk by 9, leave at 5” rule. This could be great for a young parent. But don’t just say “flexibility.” Be specific about what that means for your team.
- Allowances for say, coffee or parking.
- Discounts for other local businesses.
- Profit sharing, if you’re open to providing it.
#5. Follow all the relevant laws
Make sure your job description isn’t breaking any anti-discrimination or equal opportunity laws. For example, you can’t state that your dream candidate is “young” or of a specific age, race, or gender. If you have more than 15 employees, you also need to write descriptions according to the American Disabilities Act.
Read more about the rules in our job description writing guide.
Get your job ads up online
OK, you’ve got your job description. But where can you post it so it gets in front of the right candidates? There are all the usual job search sites, like:
- Glassdoor (It isn’t just for reviews—the Glassdoor jobs section is worth its weight in gold. Visitors to a site like Glassdoor are more likely to really care about their workplace, so hunting for applicants there could find you some dedicated candidates.)
A big part of your success in posting jobs to these sites is how you present your “employer brand.” Just as you have internal values for your business (seriously, get on that!), you also need to showcase your employer values to job-seekers so they can understand who you are as a company. You can do this by:
- Keeping your LinkedIn page updated and sharing posts about your company values
- Creating a section of your website that focuses on careers
- Regularly responding to reviews or posts on job reviewer sites like Glassdoor
Read more about how you can build your brand online and attract amazing candidates.
There are plenty of other ways to get the word out as well:
Ask other employees who they might know
There’s a reason employee referrals are the top source of quality hires. Your existing employees probably know other great people, too. You can even offer cash bonuses for every successful recruit to inspire your team.
Go on a virtual hunt!
Social media is a powerful tool, and not just in the “official” ways. For example, LinkedIn is essentially a search engine for all the right candidates in the country. Just type in the keywords you might be looking for and see who pops up.
Why not approach some of those folks directly to see if they might be interested?
Otherwise, leverage your network: Make a post about who you’re looking for, and ask people to share it.
Hire a recruiter
If you’re in a specialized field, it can be worth it to get professional help finding people with the skills you need. Of course, their help can be expensive (average recruiting fees are around $22,000, but this varies by industry)—so take that into consideration when you decide whether you need their help to find the person you need.
Post in private groups
There are plenty of private LinkedIn, Slack, and Facebook groups that are dedicated to particular industries. Search around for some in your field and start posting. You’re going to get, on average, much better candidates in these specialized groups because you’re going directly to the source.
Pro tip: Always be looking for potential employees! If you meet someone you think might be great, don’t just assume they’re happy in their current role. Pitch them and see what they say!
Next, how do you choose the right candidate?
Use screening techniques to narrow down your options
Say you’re inundated with resumes. How can you quickly find which are the best candidates to bring in?
- Always look for spelling errors. It’s not always a deal breaker, but it can be a sign they don’t pay enough attention to detail. (Though, you know, don’t go crazy.)
- If you asked for specific criteria in a cover letter, did they address that?
- Do they address the requirements in the job description?
These are easy, basic guidelines good candidates will follow. But make sure you’re not disqualifying great potential employees based on outdated red flags.
Conduct a great job interview
There’s no hard science behind great interviews. But you should know upfront that more interviews aren’t necessarily better. In fact, Google found that more than four interviews started to hurt a candidate’s chances of getting an offer. You may only need one or two for a small business so you can interview for three core things:
And interviews aren’t your only option. In fact, more businesses are inviting potential employees to actually come in and work for a small amount of time, or they’ll use skill-based tests like coding problems or writing assessments because they give a much more accurate representation of how candidates will do on the job.
Ask the right interview questions
An interview is less about the specific questions you ask and more about what you want the candidate to reveal—and how that applies to the role.
Let’s say you’re interviewing a potential receptionist. If you already know they have some experience, you want to get details on:
- The type of day-to-day work they’ve done before
- The type of problems they’ve had to solve
- Any specific areas of specialization they have
The more real-life examples they provide, the better. So you might ask:
- Tell me about a time at work where something has gone horribly wrong. Talk me through that. How did you fix it?
Listen carefully to the answers. Are they specific? If so, you’re probably looking at a highly detail-oriented person. If they’re vague or can’t recall details, it’s not exactly a confidence builder.
You could also ask questions like:
- Tell me about your career goals.
- What are one or two accomplishments you’re most proud of?
- How do you like to solve problems you encounter at work?
These questions also help show whether your candidate’s values align with your own. Remember…
Don’t just hire for skill
According to a Leadership IQ study of workers who were fired within their first 18 months, only 11 percent failed due to a lack of skills.
So why did they fail?
In many cases, it came down to their attitude. Plenty of companies live by this maxim: It’s easier to hire an agreeable employee who you can train, rather than a skilled or experienced one that’s a nightmare to work with.
Which is why you need to pay attention to these soft skills during an interview:
- Body language. Are they giving eye contact? Are they giving you their full attention?
- Temperament. Are they being rude or courteous? Do they appear impatient? Are they nice to everyone in the office?
- Punctuality. Are they respectful of your time?
These can be just as influential as any answers you receive about skillset.
Be prepared to answer questions!
If you’re working with a great candidate, you should be prepared to answer their questions as well.
These are some common questions you might get from invested candidates:
- What’s the working culture like around here? What are your typical hours like?
- What do you expect from me 30 to 60 days in to the job?
- What would I have to do at this job to fail?
Don’t forget your communication
Hiring is a busy time. Be sure to communicate thoroughly, including with people who didn’t get the job. Save time by using handy email templates.
Close the deal
So you’ve found the right person and you need to make them an offer they can’t refuse.
As a small business, you might sometimes find it hard to compete with larger businesses on salary. Don’t bother. Instead, emphasize the opportunities you can provide, and try these other closing tips from the talent acquisition lead at San Francisco startup Springboard.
Next, keep reading to learn how you can make killer offers that will win over your dream candidates.
How to create competitive offers and compensation packages
Determining salary, employee benefits, and more is complex—but it doesn’t have to be difficult.
So you’ve found your dream employee. Now you have to actually offer the job, but it’s not as simple as sending a letter.
Step #1. Determine pay and benefits
There are a few things to keep in mind as you figure out how much to pay someone:
- How much can you actually afford?
- How much is the job worth on the market?
- How much value do you think you’ll get from the person?
Remember, not all the value someone provides you is in what they create. It’s also in the time they allow you to focus on other things.
If you’re a CEO and you hire someone to take away 40 hours of your stress, think about how much value you receive in terms of your time. Would you pay yourself $50 an hour for the work you do?
If so, think about this equation:
Your time ($$$) – Salary you pay ($$$) = Return on investment ($$$)
Let’s say you value your time at $104,000. If you pay someone $52,000, then you’re already making a return on investment (as long as you put your time to good use).
$104,000 – $52,000 = $52,000
To get to the right salary for your new employee, don’t necessarily ask them about their salary history.
It’s… complex. And there are laws. Read more about them before you ask.
Do your own homework instead: Look up what others in that role around your state and city typically receive. You can use sites like Salary.com and Glassdoor to find data as well.
Be sure to:
- Check up on industry standards for the particular role you need
- Even ask other business owners
Read more about how you can determine the best salary for a new hire.
Include benefits in the package
Remember, salary is only one part of a full compensation package. One Glassdoor survey of more than 2,000 people found benefits like health insurance, paid time off, performance bonuses, paid sick days, and flexible schedules are more important than pay raises.
Of course, as a small business you may not be able offer expensive perks like generous 401(k) matches, but there are plenty of examples of smaller businesses offering perks that can liven up a compensation package:
- The personal budgeting site You Need a Budget (YNAB) lets its employees work anywhere they want—even while traveling. There is literally no office, and they don’t expect you to stay in one place.
- Postali, a small marketing firm for attorneys in Columbus, Ohio, offers a Starbucks allowance.
- The Motley Fool gives its employees in-house financial planning and free books.
Get creative with your benefits. But the ultimate tool here? Just ask your employees what they want. You might just be able to give it to them, and the fact that you tailor your benefits will make your offer seem more attractive.
Step #2. Make a killer offer
Most people make job offers over the phone. But you also need to provide something in writing to keep things official—and it helps to make it exciting. An offer letter template can help with that, but here are some of the things you should include:
- The job title and a short description of the role just to confirm you’re all on the same page.
- The compensation, including any benefits. If you’re offering a salaried job, make sure you put down when you plan to pay them and on what cycle. For hourly employees, it’s fine to put the amount per hour, plus how often you expect them to work.
- The payroll schedule. Many businesses pay twice a month, but others pay monthly or every two weeks. Many states have a minimum pay period so read up on your local laws, then figure out the best payroll schedule for your business.
- Important logistics like the start date, office location, and work schedule.
- Managerial details. Who do they report to? Are they in charge of anyone?
- Conditions of employment, like passing a drug test or a background check (make sure you say that employment is contingent on those).
- A section for signatures, both yours and theirs.
You should also include whether the employee will be employed “at will”—meaning the employer or employee can terminate employment at any time.
And don’t forget to include if they’ll be classified as “exempt or nonexempt.” Exempt employees are usually on a salary and therefore don’t receive overtime pay and may not be eligible for minimum wage.
Step #3. Negotiate
You should approach salary negotiation as something impersonal. Don’t be insulted; you’re both just looking for a good arrangement here. You’re trying to get something you want, and they’re trying to get something they want.
Here are a few tips:
Learn as much as possible about the candidate
Think carefully about what you want to offer your potential employee—but make sure you know enough about them to offer something they can’t give up.
For example, ask your candidates questions like, “What do you really value out of a job?” or “What is most important to your happiness at work?” Then, you can tailor your offer based on their priorities.
Be real with them
One study found when a group of people only shared their email and names during negotiations, they reached agreements less than 40 percent of the time. But when that same group talked about non-work related issues, 59 percent came to a deal.
And don’t be afraid to offer support. You could say:
- “We really want you to join this business, we think you’ll be a success here.”
- “If you want to talk about this more, I can easily jump on the phone.”
Let the candidate know you understand it’s a big decision, and give them time to process: “We’d love to hear an answer within a day… Please take some time to think and then let us know.”
Say the number quickly and say it straight
Get right to the part they’re waiting for. Just say, “We’d love to offer you this job, and the position will pay $X amount of money.”
See how they respond. Don’t be shy about getting their feedback right away so you can continue to hone your offer: “Do you like this offer? What do you think?”
Think carefully about how to respond. If it helps, there are scripts you can follow that guide you through the comp negotiation process.
How to stay compliant when bringing on new employees
You’ve got your dream hire, but now you need to keep the feds happy! How do you do it?
Alright! You’ve got your dream candidate, they’ve said yes, and they’re about to join your team. Fantastic.
What now? Can they just show up and… start doing stuff?
Not so fast. There is a bunch of new hire paperwork you need to fill out to ensure your hire is legitimate, that taxes are being filed and reported correctly, and that your new employee is being paid correctly, too.
We can’t emphasize enough how important these things are. The penalties for not complying with tax legislation are huge—and they can easily bankrupt your business. The more you do now to make sure everything is legit, the better.
The good news? It’s pretty straightforward. Here’s everything you need to make sure your new hire is onboarded correctly and legitimately.
Your new hire paperwork checklist
Form #1: I-9
This form is used to make sure your employee is able to work in the United States—and to check their identity.
They’ll need to prove their identity with a list of acceptable documents, which is available on the last page of the I-9 form. Passports, drivers’ licenses, doctor’s records… you get the deal.
Now, to actually work? You need acceptable documents like a citizens or state ID card, social security card, and certified birth certificates.
Both you and your employee need to fill out the I-9 form; they fill out one part, and you do the other. You don’t need to send the form anywhere, but you need to keep it on file.
Form #2: W-4
The W-4 determines how much money you need to withhold from your employee’s paycheck. There are a bunch of questions on there, but you don’t really need to know all the details for each of them—your employee should know the answers.
They should get a final number called a “withholding allowance.” That tells you how much money to take out of their paychecks for tax purposes.
If an employee lives in a state with income tax (every state except Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming—Tennessee and New Hampshire do not tax wage income, but they do tax interest and dividend income), they also need to complete a state withholding form. Click here for a list of the states and their acceptable forms.
DO NOT LOSE THIS FORM. Keep it filed in a safe place, and make copies.
Form #3. W-9
The W-9 is a Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, and you’ll send this to any contractors you hire. It’s so you can tell the IRS how much you paid them. You can read more about how to fill out the W-9 form here.
What documents should your employee or contractor bring?
Be sure to tell your employee ahead of time that they’ll probably need to bring several documents, including:
- Their ID
- A driver’s license and Social Security card, or passport
- The completed I-9 form (send it to them beforehand)
- The completed W-4 form (send it to them beforehand)
File a new hire report
OK! We’re getting there, but we’re not done yet. You need to report your new employee or contractor to the state, with info like their name, address, Social Security Number, and when they started working.
Check with your state—some have strict requirements on how quickly you need to report the new hire (most states give you 20 days).
Now, what about a background check?
If you choose to do a background check before you bring your new employee on board, there are a few rules you need to know. Read more about how to keep your background check legit.
There are a lot of parts to a successful, compliant hire. That’s why we made this checklist so you can make sure your bases are covered.
How to create a standout employee onboarding experience
The interview is the chance for your candidate to make a good impression. Onboarding is your chance to give yours.
The first day of your employee’s experience at work is a chance to wow them—to keep them engaged and in love with your business.
This isn’t a small deal. In one survey of HR leaders, more than three quarters said onboarding is underused in their organizations, and companies with great onboarding capability record 2.5 times the normal revenue growth of organizations with the least capability.
What are some onboarding best practices?
First, you need to make sure that absolutely everything is set for them the moment they walk in the door. That means you need to organize:
- Any technology they need to use, like their computer. (Some companies ask what type of tech their employee is comfortable with and organize appropriately.)
- Their email address and a listing in the company directory.
- Access to any Slack channels or IM networks.
- Any logins and passwords they’ll need for email, company networks, etc.
- Business cards, if you need them.
- Any access cards or FOBs to get in the building.
- Their desk! Nothing worse than not having a space to sit. Make it homey—add a few balloons, maybe a nice plant.
- Some swag! A T-shirt, hoodie, some pens and notebooks—these help the employee feel part of the team.
Plan out your employee’s first day
You want to take away the stress of your employee’s first day and help them achieve value as soon as possible. To do that, create a list of what they should expect and how to get around. This can include:
- Where to park, who to meet when they arrive, and what time to get there. Dress code too, if you haven’t talked about that.
- Link them to any social media so they can get a feel for what it’s like to work there.
- A guide for their first day, including what you expect them to do. Many businesses don’t offer instruction, and it’s hard for employees to just get into the work. For the first day, you may just say, “Get familiar with the business and talk to people.”
- Some businesses have new hires answer a fun questionnaire to share with existing team members so everyone knows a little about the new team member before they arrive.
If you have a hiring manager, send them an email reminder to prep for a new hire’s first day. Google found it helps speed up onboarding by 25 percent—which means your new hire can start contributing straight away.
Follow this checklist to ensure you’re totally prepared for your employee’s first day.
Help, I can’t think of any good ideas to help onboard my hire!
That’s OK! It can be hard. Thankfully, there are plenty of businesses that already do a good job of this. Let’s take a look:
The company sends new hires a welcome pack before their first day, including company values, history, and what they can expect on their first day, week, and month of work. The hire’s new manager even calls them the night before they start to check in.
Rackspace has a full, four-day onboarding programPlus, the whole team gets involved with games, costumes, and music. Might be a little intense for some… but if that’s your culture, go with it!
What’s better than a friend? Google gives new hires a buddy to make sure they get up to speed quickly—it’s a great way to make sure any questions are answered quickly. IBM similarly provides a mentor for 30 days.
The social network gives new employees a 12-week “roadmap”—a weekly guide—that gives detailed tips on how to be productive and effective in their new role.
Make sure you get on the same page
Onboarding is an important opportunity to get people excited about your company’s mission and goals. The more your employees buy in to your values (seriously, have you created those yet?) the sooner they’ll start contributing to your vision.
A Gallup study found employees are more engaged if their manager sits down with them and helps them create performance goals. You could fold this process into your onboarding experience.
FInally, ask new employees what they want! The more you can tailor your onboarding to specific employee requirements, the better experience they will have.
That’s a lot of stuff to know.
The good news? A lot of this is stuff you need to organize the first time you hire someone. Bringing on more employees will be easier once you’ve got everything in place.
But there’s more to your job of managing a team. You’ve got your hire, now you need to make sure you do right by them—and that they grow into the role.
So next, you’ll want to be thinking about…
- Payroll. Are you paying employees correctly and can your payroll system scale as your team grows?
- Retention. How can you get your all-star employees to stick around?
We’ll stick with you through those parts of the process as well. But for now, good luck—and happy hiring!