Essential Training to Include in Your Onboarding Program
Since no two businesses operate exactly the same way, training new employees is critical. While some training can be informal or learned on an as-needed basis, certain training needs to be handled at the time of hire in a more formal way, such as a new hire orientation. When onboarding new employees, consider adding the following training:
- Safety training
- Depending upon your business or the job your new hire is filling, you may be required to provide safety training under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. These requirements are very business- and job-specific, so check the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)’s website or speak with legal counsel for guidance. Generally speaking, if the job entails handling hazardous chemicals (including cleaning agents) or operating machinery, safety training is probably required.
While OSHA requirements vary, OSHA recommendations can be applied to any business, regardless of industry. You should train new employees on general safety procedures for your business, including your Emergency Action Plan, fire safety procedures, and medical or first aid policies. This information can save lives in case of an emergency – which keeps them and your business safe.
- Harassment training
- Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and it’s regulated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The best way to protect your employees against this discrimination is to provide new hires with sexual harassment training so they can either avoid harassing another employee or know the proper guidelines to follow if they’re being harassed.
Most employers cover sexual harassment training; fewer tackle diversity training, which helps prevent other forms of harassment that may be due to an employee’s nationality, religion or other protected class. If you’re not providing new hires with definitions and examples of all forms of harassment in the workplace, you may be inviting lawsuits, fines or investigations from the EEOC.
- Benefits programs
- Many benefits providers have their own training – typically videos or online tutorials – to help explain their offerings to new hires. If the service you use has this option, share it with your employees. It’s much easier to use their training than to create your own.
- If your company uses customized software, new hires who will be working with the system should be trained on how to use it. New employees should also be trained on other software they may be unfamiliar with, if they’re required to use it for their jobs.
While this training is all formal, it doesn’t have to be boring or one-sided. Instead of using training videos or generic presentations to share this information, try to engage new hires with interesting, interactive elements. For example, a game or quick quiz can help break up the material and also give you an idea of how much information your new employee is retaining.
When onboarding new employees, it’s easy to remember the formal training they need, like safety briefings or sexual harassment training. Employers often overlook the other information new hires want.
To avoid keeping new employees in the dark, try to put yourself in their shoes: Think back to the first day you started at your current company.
What were your biggest questions and concerns? Recall what it was like to enter a new workplace for the first time and go from there. It may help to address topics based on the Five W and H questions taught in school: who, where, when, why, how and what. For example:
- Where can I…?
- Your new hires likely have a lot of questions about where they need to go to get certain things done. Always give new workers – including non-employees – a tour of your office, even if it’s only one or two rooms. While some locations may seem obvious to you, like the break room or restrooms, chances are that new workers don’t know about them. If your office is large enough, consider providing a map of the building. Also, keep in mind that the entire area, not just your office, may be new to new employees. Providing a local map with relevant information (restaurants, parking or gas stations, for example) will help new hires get their bearings and make them feel more welcomed.
- Who is…?
- Whenever you’re giving new hires a tour, take the time to introduce them to other employees. For small businesses, new employees should be introduced to everyone; larger businesses may want to limit introductions to coworkers, direct supervisors and direct reports (if any). Try to arrange lunches or meetings with these individuals, too – certainly for the first day, but also in the days to follow, too. Consider helping to break the ice by having new hires fill out a survey that covers basic questions about hobbies and previous work or life history to make introductions easier.
- How can I…?
- Information on how to solve different kinds of problems should also be covered during the tour and introductions. For example, point out the IT department (or, better yet, introduce your new hire to an IT staff member) so your new employee knows what to do if he or she has a technical problem. Stop by your HR department – even if it’s a department of one – to show your new hire where to go if he or she has any questions or concerns. Include job-specific locations in your tour, too, if possible. If your new hire will be handling a lot of paperwork, show him or her where the nearest printer or photocopier is.
- What are my benefits?
- While official health or financial plans should be covered in a more formal manner, it’s okay to cover other benefits or perks more informally. For example, company parties, discount programs or on-site services can be discussed verbally or explained on a handout that outlines all the details.
- When can I use them?
- Of course, just covering what benefits you offer isn’t enough; employees also need to know when they’re eligible to start using them.
- Why do we do what we do?:
- Onboarding offers you a chance to start fostering employee engagement from day one. Your company’s missions, values and goals should be shared with the employee, possibly in video format using your workplace and actual employees or customers.