When you start a business, you need to wear many hats to keep it growing. It’s easy enough to hand-pick and train your first few new employees. But if you want to scale up your operation, you’ll eventually need to develop an employee onboarding strategy.

An effective employee onboarding process helps new employees acclimate to their new roles quickly, so they can acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors to be productive sooner. If you’re still relying on an impromptu employee onboarding process, here are five tips to help you improve it.

1. Automate what you can and focus on the mission

Hiring new employees means jumping through a few regulatory hoops. Not only do you need to submit paperwork to the government, but you must also conduct background checks, ensure your employees have access to all the relevant systems and help them understand your company’s policies regarding insurance and benefits.

To ensure your onboarding process doesn’t get bogged down by protocol, automate as much of it as possible. Many businesses take advantage of third-party employee onboarding and HR software to make their processes easier. Shared cloud storage devices, team password keeping tools and digital document signing solutions can make technical onboarding faster, too.

Most importantly, don’t make awkward steps like background checks a centerpiece of the process. Focus instead on your new employee’s core needs and your company’s mission.

2. Keep it social and interactive

Many businesses still use a new employee’s first day to focus entirely on paperwork. Even if your team worked hard on a comprehensive employee onboarding pamphlet, it’s just a reference tool. Let your new employee digest that information intermittently rather than sitting them down on their first day for a reading marathon.

Instead, make your employee’s first day a social and interactive event. Introduce them to the rest of the team so they can start learning about your culture and your team’s chemistry. Be proactive and add a few 1-on-1 lunches or a team coffee break to their calendar. You can even encourage your new employee to shadow one of your veterans, so they can start learning the ropes immediately.

3. Set expectations immediately

No matter how hard companies work at them, descriptions in job postings rarely tell the whole story. Make it clear on day one what you expect of your new employee. This includes their job responsibilities as well as how you expect them to conduct themselves in your workplace. You should also provide them with as much insight as possible into what can make them thrive at your company.

Encourage them to ask questions and be ready to answer them. If you don’t have the available time to train your new employee and answer their questions, delegate the task to an experienced team member, such as a manager or team lead.

4. Make them feel welcome

Starting a new job can make anyone nervous, so even small gestures of welcome can go a long way. Start a tradition at your company to welcome every new employee with gifts, swag or other tokens of goodwill. If they have a desk or personal workspace, encourage them to make it their own.

Make sure the rest of the team knows who they are and their role ahead of time, too. It's always easier being the new person if the rest of the team is on the same page about what you're there to do.

5. Draft an onboarding plan

Finally, keep notes on every experience you have with onboarding. You can also encourage your team lead to keep an eye out for what’s working well and what isn’t.

Once you have all these insights written down, you can use them to create an onboarding plan. Consider making a digital version of this plan so you can amend it over time. This can even become a document for the new hire to reflect back on when they have questions or may have forgotten something when all of the information is initially shared.

Remember, your onboarding process will need to change as your company grows. New tools and technology will require new approaches to onboarding. You may need to draft onboarding plans for specialized roles, new departments or new types of teams.

Final thoughts

According to an article by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they had a great onboarding experience. The SHRM also noted that organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 50% greater productivity from their new hires.

Employee onboarding is more than just a hurdle to get over. Your new employee’s onboarding experience can leave a lasting impression and have long-term implications for their success at your company. And don't forget: When you add to your staff, make sure you update your workers' comp policy to reflect those changes in your payroll. If you want to see how payroll changes affect your workers' comp insurance, you can get a workers' comp quote online from Cake in minutes.