A Productive Start: How to Onboard New Employees

05:00AM May 27, 2019
Use this 30-day checklist as a framework for onboarding success
( AgWeb )

By Jim Dickrell and Sara Schafer

Bringing new employees on board can be stressful for both the new hire and the manager. Done right, it can lead to a productive, long-term relationship that’s good for both parties. Done wrong, it can result in frustration all around and a potentially expensive firing.

“The first 30 days of a new employee on the farm dictate what kind of employee he or she will be,” says Michelle Painchaud, president and CEO of the Painchaud Performance Group, a human-performance consulting firm. “When you onboard effectively, you’ll have a higher performing employee. More productive employees lead to more profitable businesses.”

5 Times to Connect With New Employees

1. The First Hour of the First Day

Select a start date and time that doesn’t coincide with your regular work routine. “Your goal is to leave a positive impression,” says Trevina Broussard, a personnel consultant based in Houston, Texas. “New employees need to feel chosen, and they need to understand how important their job is and how it fits into the big picture of your operation.” 

Don’t have a new hire start on a Monday, Broussard says, because Mondays are generally hectic as people recover from the weekend and get ready for the new week. Also, set the start time either before or after your normal daily start time, to avoid the beginning-of-the-day rush. Then give the employee 45 minutes or so of your undivided time, orienting him or her to your operation and facility, break room, bathroom, safety equipment, etc. 

Take your new employee on a tour of the entire business and introduce them to everyone, not just who they will work with, suggests Wesley Tucker, University of Missouri Extension agricultural business specialist. “During the tour, share your business vision, mission and goals,” he says.

2. End of the First Day

Check back with the new hire at the end of the first day. Ask these questions:

  • Do you have the training and tools you need?
  • Do you have any questions or concerns?
  • What did we do right? What could we improve?
  • What was the most frustrating, boring or confusing thing about today?
  • Is this what your expected?  
  • What can we do to make this the best workplace?  

Asking these questions shows the new person they’re working for a caring boss, and you might even learn a few things that could be improved. “Fresh eyes to your business are really valuable,” Painchaud says.

3. End of First Week

Check back after five or six days to assess the employee’s experiences, again asking questions to solicit feedback. The first week is crucial.

4. First Paycheck

Make a point to deliver the new hire’s first paycheck in person. This reinforces his or her importance to your operation. “It can also be used as a teachable moment if there are any red flags,” Broussard says.

5. End Of 30 Days

“By the end of 30 days, you should know exactly what you’re getting,” Broussard says. “Does this person live the company’s values? Has the person shown initiative and ability to work without supervision?” Be open and clear. 

The final question: Is this person going to work out? If you believe you’ve done everything you can to help them succeed, the answer becomes easy. “The most expensive person you hire is the person you fire. So, fire fast if the employee is not working out,” Broussard says.


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