What Every Small Business Needs to Know About Onboarding New Employees

Effective onboarding has never been more important. Learn how to ensure your new hires feel right at home and stick around for the long haul.

The pandemic has made finding new employees much more challenging. This makes the successful onboarding of new employees more important than ever. In simple terms, onboarding means the integration of a new employee into the organization. You accomplish this by giving them the information, the knowledge and the skills to become successfully integrated into the culture and operations of your business. 

RELATED: Importance of and tips for training employees.

It is a common misconception that onboarding begins on the first day of a new hire’s employment. In actuality, it begins before you actually hire them. It starts with a thorough background check and continues during the initial phase of their employment. This is important because a positive and effective onboarding process goes a long way toward employee retention. Studies have shown that as many as 69% of employees are more likely to stay in a position for three or more years if they received a positive onboarding experience. It is also a means of achieving a positive employee engagement which translates into increased productivity for you. If a new employee feels welcome, they are more likely to do good work and enjoy their job.

Successful onboarding decreases the likelihood of new hire turnover and fosters a strong positive work attitude. 

  • Here are some suggestions for successful onboarding:
  • Let other employees know you have hired a new employee and to make them feel welcome.
  • Provide new employees with a mentor or someone to help guide them in their new position.
  • Modify the onboarding experience to make it special for each new hire. Take their personality and skills into account.
  • Give every new hire a handbook or employee manual and make sure they sign that they have received it.
  • Let new hires know as much as you can about your business culture and values, especially during the interviewing process. 
  • Provide any training that is needed.

RELATED: Read more by Tim Dimoff.

  • Let new hires know as much as you can about any company policies and enforcements.
  • Give new employees time to get to know the company and their new co-workers.
  • Have workstations, computers, keys or passwords set up and ready when they start working. 
  • Have an open-door policy so they can ask questions and let them know who they can go to for advice, questions, help, etc.
  • Make sure new hires understand the responsibilities of their new job and any performance goals or deadlines. 
  • Make sure you are compliant with any local, state or federal laws relating to their employment. 
  • Successful onboarding provides a strong, secure work environment and can help you to retain new employees which saves you time and money in the long run. 

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security ExpertTimothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com.

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  • Next up: Do I Need a Strategic Plan? Who Cares?
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  • Do I Need a Strategic Plan? Who Cares?

    A strategic plan doesn't need to be overwhelming or scary. Read on as we review basic terminology and components of a plan and how it can help your business—and you.


    The answer to these questions depends on how you define a strategic plan and how you will use it.

    As owners and leaders of smaller enterprises, time and money are at a premium—there is never enough to do everything we believe we should be doing. Too many priorities create too much stress. We want more time for ourselves and our families. 

    Is creating and documenting a strategic plan just another task, or a way to help reduce stress, free up time, focus on what we do best, align employees and stakeholders, and help our businesses run more smoothly?

    You deserve all of this. A well-documented, communicated, and managed strategic plan can help you get there.

    Before we explore the question of “Do you need a strategic plan,” full disclaimer: I love strategic planning. I find it exciting. The only thing more fun than creating and documenting a strategic plan is gaining alignment around expectations, executing it, and communicating progress.

    I am a fan because I have seen strategic plans in action—helping leaders align teams, communicate to boards of directors, and feel the satisfaction of laying out and meeting measurable goals. I have seen chaotic change turn into manageable change.

    Strategic plans provide business leaders with the structure to execute in a well-thought-out and disciplined way. But they don't do that by sitting on the shelf.

    Strategic Plan Definition: Our Common Language

    Strategic planning can mean something different to everyone. Let’s set a common definition of what we are talking about.

    There are many popular frameworks and definitions that accompany strategic plans, including EOS Vision/Traction Organizer, The One-Page Business Plan, The One-Page Plan, etc. The frameworks are similar but differ in terminology. I will do my best to describe the components in a way to cover the various terminologies, so we are speaking the same language.

    Strategic Plan Components:

    Core Values: How we should/shouldn’t behave; our beliefs
    Purpose: Why we are in business, our work each day, our picture of the future, our core focus
    Targets/3-Year Picture: Where we want to be in 3-5 years, a picture of our business, target market, planned financials and other accomplishments, our customers’ view of our uniqueness, the promises and guarantees we will fulfill  
    Goals/1-Year Plan: What we plan to do this year, annual priorities, critical numbers we will track 
    Actions/Rocks: How we do it, planned and tracked in chunks (typically quarterly) to meet annual goals
    Schedules: Who will do what by when—setting the stage for accountability management

    RELATED: 3 Simple Brain Hacks for Goal Setting and Achieving

    So, Who Really Cares About All of This?

    First, let’s consider typical stakeholders and how the strategic plan can best help them help your business. Let’s explore stakeholder groups and ideas on how the strategic plan can influence their impact. You might think of others.

    Current Employees: Our core values set expectations for how we treat each other and our customers. The 3-Year Plan and 1-Year Plan create excitement about the company’s future and help employees see why their work is so critical. Schedules directly communicate the significance of each person and the criticality of achieving commitments. The strategic plan is a critical component in new employee orientation, indicating what we expect from employees and what they can expect from others. It provides the foundation for holding people accountable and is most effective when linked directly to performance and compensation management.

    Recruits: Our core values and purpose describe our culture and the work we do. Sharing this helps potential employees better understand the organization and decide if it is a good fit for them. It helps us make the same assessment, especially when linked directly to behavioral interviewing.   

    RELATED: Employee Retention Challenges and Solutions

    Customers: When we share our core values, purpose, long-term vision of who we are, and customer promise, we set the bar for what our customers can expect from us—and what we expect from them. This helps them decide if they want to do business with us. It helps our customer service team know how to interact with customers. To better understand this impact, think of some companies you love to work with and look for strategic planning components on their websites. (You might start with Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom, then check out COSE members’ websites.)

    Advisors/Board of Directors: How do you get the most from expert advisors positioned to help with your business? You must provide the information they need to help you. Starting with your strategic plan. Get their expert input. Gain their alignment and, if needed, their approval. This will provide the foundation for what you communicate to them regarding the accomplishments and status of the business. It answers the question board members often have of, “So what?” when they hear your reports on accomplishments. It helps them evaluate business performance and provide valuable feedback.

    Those with a Financial Interest: The strategic plan helps build trust with stakeholders, including those providing financial investment and support. It is the foundation for the details we provide, from what our business does and why, to target customers, financial projections, and employee plans. It’s the glue that ties the whole business story together.

    Third Parties (Vendors, Consultants, etc.): As with our customers, our core values, purpose, long-term vision help us articulate the softer side of what we need from the third parties. It helps them understand what we expect and it also helps us decide who to work with. Not only do we want to encourage and support other businesses sharing our values, but it makes working together easier and more enjoyable.

    You – the Business Owner/Leader: You have a burning vision for what you want your company to be. You know what it looks like and you believe you and your team can make it happen. The strategic plan is how you share what’s in your heart and mind. It’s the necessary tool for everyone to see what you see and feel what you feel. It paints the picture of your future and guides the initial steps to take you on your journey.

    What’s the Answer? Do I Need It?

    Consider the answers to these questions:

    Do I need to better align my team around common culture and goals vs. individuals working on their own priorities?
    Do I need a structure to communicate with my board, gain their input, and communicate progress on agreed upon goals vs. reacting to questions and changes in direction?
    Do I need common messages to consistently communicate with customers, vendors, financial supporters vs. scrambling to effectively describe who I am and who I do business with?
    Do I want to know when I have achieved measurable goals vs. chasing moving targets?
    Do I want to manage change vs. letting chaos manage me?

    If you answered yes to any of the above, you would benefit from a documented and managed strategic plan. Other side effects typically include improved business outcomes, reduced stress, freed up time, better focus on what we do best, employee alignment, and—yes—more fun running your business!

    Watch for related upcoming articles on:

    Strategic Planning: How Do I Get Started?
    Putting the Strategic Plan to Work
    Communication Planning
    Accountability Management
    Fractional Leadership: Can a Part-Time Leader Help Your Business?

    Janet Gosche helps business leaders struggling with too many priorities by providing systems and tools to clearly define their business strategies and lead their teams to execute. Previously, Janet was a senior executive at Accenture, global practice lead at Avasant, and COO/CSO at cybersecurity firm JurInnov, where she focused on strategy, complex program management, vendor relationships, and organizational change.  janet@janetgosche.com 216-496-6658.

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    Fostering equitable and inclusive economic growth throughout Greater Cleveland is a foundational component of the work of numerous public and civic sector organizations. 

    In a recent webinar, we explored the efforts of three such agencies – the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). Our panel discussed how each agency is actively integrating equity and inclusion into their missions, recent successes and challenges, and what opportunities lie ahead as our region prepares to emerge from the global pandemic. 

    Watch the recorded webinar below:


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    Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is in the process of being deployed globally, and it's already here in Cleveland, but what exactly is it? Why is it so important?

    In a recent webinar, experts from Verizon discussed everything from the differences between 4G and 5G, as well as some use cases that show the power of 5G for manufacturing, healthcare, and more. We'll also touch on Verizon's local footprint, our corporate social responsibility approach and our investment in Northeast Ohio.

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    The webinar was part of the "But What Does It Mean?" series, devoted to translating research studies and data into meaningful action.

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