An Employee's First Week: Colorado SCORE Presentation

Sep 30, 2019

An employee's first week is the most important week of the employment life cycle. This is when you create the foundation to the new employee's future behaviors, your future leadership capabilities and their perception of what working with you will be like.  Making sure you provide the right tools, resources and training opportunities will ensure optimal success.  Let's take a look at some common mistakes that small businesses often make and 4 steps to ensuring a great first week.  


Small Business Mistakes:
When it comes to onboarding a new employee during their first-week employers make a few mistakes. First, employers expect a new employee to hit the ground running. Quite frankly, no two business are ever the same. You can never have a plug and play employee.

The second mistake that we often see within an employee's first week is that the required paperwork is not correctly completed... if at all. It is required by law that the I-9 is completed within 3 business days and the W-4 is completed before the employee's first payroll run. In addition to the federally required paperwork, employers need to capture other important information: emergency contact information, direct deposit info, benefits enrollment documentation and much more. If this information is not collected upfront, it is not likely that it will ever be collected.

The third most common mistake we see during an employee's first week of employment is the lack of upfront communication. This goes hand in hand with employers expecting new employees to be up and running with little to no training. It is vital to the success of any employee that an employer communicates expectations and how they want the new employee to show up. New employees generally listen and do their best to exceed communicated expectations. People want to please.

4 Steps to a Great First Week:

New Hire Paperwork
New hire paperwork has to be completed during the first week of employment and it has to be correct. There are 2two documents that are required by the government: 1) W-4 (the tax withholding form) 2) I-9 (eligibility to work within the US).
In addition to the federally required paperwork, there are a few other pieces of paperwork an employer should consider to gather basic information. This can include: emergency contact information, direct deposit authorization forms, offer letters, applications, benefit enrollment forms, industry-specific information, etc.

Let Them Get Comfortable
During the first few days of employment, this is one of the most common forgotten tasks. New employees will be more productive if they are comfortable in their new environment. Give them a tour of the office- point out the supply room, copy room, restrooms and Let them sit in their office for half an hour to an hour and hang pictures of their family up or adjust their keyboard to how they like it. Let them set up their space and feel comfortable. Also, give them a moment to breathe and appreciate the moment- getting and starting a new job is a whirlwind event. You know what I mean? Also, take them out for a meal. Get to know who they are. This is a prime opportunity to know what makes them "tick", what their values are and give you a better understanding of how to lead them.

Set the Standards
Now it is time to set standards and expectations. Communicating expectations between you and your new employee is vital. Take some time to review your employee handbook. Your employee handbook is your playbook on exactly how you're going to execute all employment practices, your new employee should know this information upfront. Also, sit down with them and tell them what's going to be on their performance evaluation. What are they going to be rated on? How do they know if they are doing well? What does their schedule look like? What does their day look like? How should they answer the phone? Determine what is most important to you and your business and make sure that it is communicated.

Use a Training Plan
The core of any decent training is time. Plan to spend a decent amount of time with your new employee. On the first day, spend about 80% of your day with that employee. Make sure you have an agenda of items you need to teach them about your business and what they will be doing. By the end of the week, you should expect to spend about 30% of your time with them. During this period, you should have some entry-level project and tasks planned so they can start feeling a sense of independence in their work... maybe even a few quick wins. During the 2nd week plan on spending about 20% of each day with the new employees. Week three should be about 10% of each day and the fourth week should be a series of daily check-ins.

94% of employees that say that they would stay at a company longer if it's simply invested in helping them learn. We want to add value. We want to be able to grow. We all know one way that we grow is through, or if, people invest in us.

As small business owners, we have many mechanisms in place to manage a company's money, processes, procedures, product marketing, but not many companies value the ability to manage their people, which is the largest attributes of any business.

Contact HR Branches today to see how we can help you take your HR from hassle to "handled".


Disclaimer: HR Branches provides general information about Human Resources. Please note that the information provided, while reliable, is not legal advice. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location and circumstances. The purpose of this information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance on general HR matters.

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