New Employee Starter Guide
Recruitment is a crucial part of any business. Bringing in new talent supports growth, it introduces fresh ideas and capabilities, and of course it is vital if you experience any turnover in staff.
Getting recruitment right takes time, energy and investment by skilled HR practitioners. But the process doesn’t end when the contract is offered and accepted. In many ways, that’s just half the job done. Because just as important is the next phase - introducing the new recruit into the company and getting them up to speed and working productively.
This is onboarding.
Early experiences in a new job make all the difference to a new recruit. How comfortable they feel, how welcome they feel, how well supported they feel, goes a long way to shaping the rest of their journey with that employer. Employees who are unhappy from the start are often never able to turn it around. They leave, and the company faces the recruitment process all over again, at a considerable cost.
That’s why employee welfare matters, it’s why supporting and nurturing positive relationships with staff from the very start matters. It’s why onboarding matters.
In this Employee Starter Guide, we will set out in detail what onboarding is, what it covers, and strategies for doing it successfully. We will also provide useful practical tips in the form of resource and equipment checklists and handy how-to guides.
What is an Employee Onboarding Process?
Nobody walks into the first day on a new job ready to sit straight down and work. There’s inevitably a learning curve involved in getting to know the company’s policies, processes, IT systems and where to find everything they need. Not to forget getting to know your new colleagues and finding your way around the business.
On top of that, there’s a long list of administrative tasks involved in getting a new starter set up as part of the company. And harder to define as specific tasks, though no less important, there’s the question of making a new starter feel welcome and integrating them as part of the team.
It’s not always easy making a new start in a new job role. It’s completely natural for people to feel anxious about it. It’s in everyone’s interests to do all you can to make a new starter feel happy and settled, so they can work to the best of their abilities and make the positive contribution they were hired for.
Onboarding is the catch-all term used for everything to do with welcoming and integrating a new employee. From office essentials to corporate credit cards, there's a lot for employers to think about.
Businesses develop formal onboarding processes to make everything as smooth and seamless as possible, to speed things up, and ultimately to increase the chances of a new starter becoming a happy, productive and successful member of the team.
How Do You Effectively Onboard a New Employee?
So, what does an effective onboarding process look like? It starts with having a plan. There are various ways to break down the different aspects of onboarding discussed above. This helps to make sure you cover everything and also create a feasible roadmap to getting everything done.
A common approach to an introduction plan is to think in terms of before the start date, an initial induction period, and then longer-term training and development. Let’s take a look at what each stage might look like.
A lot of the administration involved in onboarding a new employee can be done before the start date. The pre-start stage has arguably become even more important with the rise in remote working, as it means more tasks have to be done digitally rather than in person.
Some key pre-start tasks include:
- Carrying out background checks and confirming the candidate’s identity
- Completion of necessary paperwork, e.g. signing contracts, any employee confidentiality agreements, etc.
- Setting up IT accounts and permissions, e.g. company email, user profiles and passwords, etc.
- Adding the new person to the payroll system and HR database
- If the new employee is to work on site, arranging security access, e.g. digital passes or data for biometric entry
- If the employee is to work remotely, carrying out a survey of their home office equipment requirements, including an ergonomic assessment. Anything required should be sent to arrive in good time ahead of the start date
- Sending an official welcome letter/email
Whether working on site or remotely, day one and the initial days that follow are all about introducing a new starter to the company and the systems, procedures, policies and resources they will use in their day-to-day work. For many businesses, this takes the form of a formal induction process. Induction may cover:
- Orientation, such as meeting colleagues, being shown around the premises, and learning about the company, including its history, structure, values and culture
- Introducing the new starter to all the tools and resources they will need to fulfil their role. If working on premises, this will include setting up their desk and carrying out a workplace assessment or ergonomic check. If working remotely it will involve making sure that all connections are working smoothly etc.
Covering important company policies and compliance requirements. Important examples include health and safety policies (such as fire safety protocols), data & privacy, and acceptable use of company resources.
Training and development
Even skilled workers take time to bed into a new role. There will inevitably be aspects they will have to learn over a longer period of time than the initial induction, whether that’s company-specific ways of working or getting to grips with new equipment or IT resources.
This final step of the onboarding process may take anything from a few weeks to several months, depending on the nature of the business and the role. Some companies choose to run a formal probationary period, where performance and development is monitored over a fixed period of time, and employment beyond that is dependent on achieving specified goals.
Even if a business doesn’t go down the probationary route, it’s common to have checkpoints mapped out in advance - say at one month, three months, six months. These are used to review progress and performance, but also check in with the new starter to hear their views on how they are settling in.
The way a business chooses to run training for new employees is open ended. It could include shadowing an existing member of staff or having them serve as a mentor, one-to-one instruction, remote learning, being sent on an external training course or any combination of these.
Checklist for Induction of New Staff
As you can see, there’s a lot to think about when it comes to effectively onboarding new staff. Having a clear plan helps. So does having a checklist of things you need to provide so nothing is missed.
People need a variety of equipment and resources to be able to do their job properly. In the days where nearly everybody worked on company premises, it was taken for granted that the business would provide all of that.
But with the rise of remote working, that’s become more of a grey area. Do you assume new recruits have their own devices to work from? That they have all the stationery and other office equipment they might need?
As an employer, it’s better not to assume anything. Carrying out a survey of what the new employee does and doesn’t have prior to them starting means you can plug any gaps.
Here’s an example of what an induction checklist might look like. It’s a handy resource for quizzing remote workers about what they need. But it also doubles up as a reminder of what to provide new starters when they come into the office.
New starter IT checklist
- Company mobile or BYOD allowance
- Desk phone
- VOIP/Soft phone
- Company voicemail box
- Desktop computer
- Keyboard and mouse
- Flash drives
- User account
- Access to the company mailbox
Software and applications
- Downloads and installations
- New user accounts - username and passwords
- Cloud productivity - Microsoft Office 365, Google Workstations
- Collaboration solutions - Teams, Slack
- Personal and shared storage - Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive
Network and security
- Wireless router
- Lock and screen privacy filter
Home office equipment checklist
- Paper shredder
Filing and storage
Checklist to Improve Ergonomics in Your Workplace
In many countries, employers have a legal duty to protect employees from injury at work. This isn’t just about health and safety protections around heavy machinery in industry. It applies to every type of workplace, including offices and home offices.
For office workers, the biggest health risk comes from the long-term effects of sitting stationary at a desk for hours at a time. Sitting in the wrong position or with the wrong posture can lead to musculoskeletal injuries.
That’s why ergonomics has become so important. Ergonomics is the deliberate arrangement of workspace, and design of equipment, to reduce stress on the body. An ergonomically designed workstation also improves comfort, and the more comfortable someone is at work, the more productive they will be. So, whether an employee is working in the office, from home, or on the move, a healthy working environment is essential.
The main criteria for an "ergonomic product" is usability and adaptation to the requirements of different users. The IGR Institute of Health and Ergonomics have thoroughly examined Leitz products that are awarded the IGR quality seal. As we are all different sizes and have different body shapes, an ergonomic workspace must be designed to adapt to the individual. We know that no one person is the same, but everyone still deserves equally excellent working conditions! So, setting up an ergonomic workspace is something that should be organised from the very start as part of the induction process. For new staff working on premises, this can be done via an ergonomic assessment on day one.
For home workers, the ergonomic assessment is just as important and will likely need to be carried out remotely. This can be done as part of the pre-start process. That way, any additional advice, support or equipment can then be provided in time for their start date.
How to set up an ergonomic home office
Home office set up is becoming increasingly important with the rise of remote working, so we’ve created a checklist of things required to make a home office ergonomically safe and comfortable for a new starter.
Leitz Ergo Cosy Active Sitting Ball
The Leitz Ergo Cosy Active Sitting Ball encourages back and core muscle movement, improving posture and relieving back pain. Ideal for use as a desk chair to keep you active while you work, a yoga ball, or for back stretching, physiotherapy and gym ball workouts.
Leitz Ergo Cosy Adjustable Laptop Stand
The Leitz Ergo Cosy Laptop Riser raises the screen of your laptop to increase your viewing comfort and help improve posture. Using a laptop riser will also promote airflow, keeping the laptop battery and other components cool to maintain high levels of performance.
Leitz Ergo Cosy Standing Desk Converter with sliding tray
The Leitz Ergo Cosy Standing Desk Converter with sliding tray for keyboard and mouse allows the flexibility to move between sitting and standing while you work, encouraging muscle movement, improving posture and increasing energy levels.
Leitz Ergo Cosy Anti Fatigue Mat
The Leitz Ergo Cosy Anti Fatigue Mat is the perfect standing desk mat to help create a comfortable and active workspace. Designed to promote a healthy posture, improve circulation and provide strong sole support, resulting in reduced fatigue and leg and foot pain that can be caused by prolonged standing.
Leitz Ergo Cosy Adjustable Keyboard Wrist Rest
The Leitz Ergo Cosy Keyboard Wrist Rest is the perfect wrist pad to help create a comfortable and active workspace. Keeping wrist postures straight to prevent aches and pains, it is the ideal wrist support to maintain high levels of performance.
Leitz Ergo Cosy Active Sit Stand Stool
The Leitz Ergo Active Sit Stand Stool allows the flexibility to move between sitting and standing while you work, encouraging muscle movement, improving posture and increasing energy levels. Features a rounded base to encourage active movement by swivelling and rocking while you work to strengthen your back.
Positioning screens at eye level
A PC monitor or laptop screen should be raised so it is at a 90-degree angle to the user’s eyes. That keeps your head level and minimises strain on the neck.
Some things you can use to improve screen position are:
- A laptop stand to raise the height of the screen with the laptop “opened”
- A height adjustable monitor stand
- A height adjustable office chair
Repetitive strain injuries in the wrists are a common issue for people who spend a lot of time using a keyboard and mouse. The risks can be reduced by supporting wrists and improving arm position as a person works.
Like the head, the most comfortable, strain-free position for your arms and wrists is straight out 90-degrees from the body. Keeping wrist postures straight will prevent awkward typing angles and help maintain high levels of performance over long periods of time. This requires matching seating position with the height of the desk surface. This can be achieved using:
- A height adjustable office chair
- Cushioned wrist rests that provide support when typing on a keyboard
- Cushioned mouse pad offering support when using a mouse
Improving posture and back support
Contrary to popular belief, sitting bolt upright at your desk all the time is not the best position. Even with support, it puts strain on your back and abdominal muscles to keep you straight. Nor do you want to be hunched over.
If possible, you should sit with your back in full contact with the backrest. This will fully support the back and give a zero-gravity effect to reduce pressure on the spine. The most relaxed and therefore most ergonomically desirable seating position is reclined slightly backwards of 90 degrees. This can be achieved using:
- A reclining office chair
- Foot rests which raise your legs slightly, relaxing your leg and back muscles
One of the most important principles of workplace ergonomic is that no one should stay in one position for too long. Taking regular breaks and moving around avoids muscles becoming fatigued or parts of your body coming under undue strain. At the same time, moving promotes good circulation. The key to a comfortable working position is variety: you should spend 60% of your workday sitting, 30% standing, and 10% moving around.
As well as getting up and leaving your desk, there are ways to stay active while you work. Some simple solutions include:
- Switching between a seated and a standing desk. This can easily be achieved using a height adjustable standing desk converter to raise and lower your work surface as you sit and stand. You can also add a special sit stand stool, which raises in height to give you something to lean against as you work standing
- Taking spells sitting on a yoga or gym ball. Switching from your office chair to a yoga ball for short periods activates your leg and trunk muscles as you work
- Use an ankle rocker foot rest. The simple action of rocking your feet back and forth on a foot rest promotes good circulation in your legs
- Leitz sitting balls and stools are designed to provide comfort and encourage movement and may be the perfect solution for your new starter
What should a staff handbook for new employees include?
As well as taking a new employee through an onboarding process, it is also very useful to give them all the relevant information in a handbook for future reference. Given how much there is to cover, it would be unrealistic to expect anyone to remember all the information they have been given during onboarding.
Plus, an employee handbook provides a useful resource for sharing any policies that a company is obliged by law to have available in writing.
The easiest way to publish a staff handbook these days is online with all staff having access to it. As part of the onboarding process, some companies ask new starters to declare that they have read the handbook, or at least specified policies within it.
Here’s an overview of what to include in your staff handbook.
Health and safety policy
This is a key policy that is required by law in many countries. As noted above, health and safety should be covered during the induction process. A written policy backs this up with a detailed explanation of how you, as an employer, will work to protect the health and wellbeing of staff, what their responsibilities are, and who is responsible for what.
Examples of things to include in a health and safety policy are:
- Fire safety and prevention, including evacuation procedures
- Manual handling and lifting
- First aid and accident reporting
- Hazard avoidance (e.g. trips, falls, electrical hazards)
- Environmental control
- Ergonomic workstation design
Regulations like the GDPR now make it a legal requirement for companies to set out in writing how they protect personal data throughout the business. With stiff penalties for privacy breaches, this should be a key area of focus for employee training.
With more and more people working remotely from home, it’s even more important that expectations and protocols around data protection are communicated clearly and effectively. The fact that a data breach might have been caused by an error made by a person working from home is no defence for a business.
- Governance and responsibility throughout the organisation, including the role of the Data Protection Officer (a position required under the GDPR)
- How collection and storage of personal data will be minimised to what is absolutely necessary
- Privacy protocols and best practice examples
- Obligations of staff
- How data protection is monitored and supervised
It’s also important to remember that data protection is not just about digital systems and data. Personal information printed or written down on paper has to be protected, too. It’s important to remember to include this in policies.
One particular potential pain point to consider is the disposal of paperwork containing sensitive information. One solution is to mandate the use of a paper shredder for all paperwork that is no longer required.
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Acceptable use policy
Acceptable use covers expected behaviour using all company equipment and systems. It focuses on IT assets, so expectations around use of company mobiles, laptops, email, internet etc. It might range from not using devices and accounts for personal purposes, to setting out forbidden internet content etc.
Other important company policies
As an important reference resource for employees, a staff handbook should include as many policies as you think necessary to cover all relevant parts of the company’s operations and organisation. Examples might include:
- Code of conduct, including the company’s policies on drugs and alcohol, and behaviour towards other colleagues
- Key employment details, including pay, timekeeping, hours of work (inc. flexible working if applicable), holidays, sick leave, in-work benefits
- Complaints and grievance procedures
- Company mission statement and vision for culture
- Equal opportunities policy
Successful onboarding is a cross-functional process. It is not the preserve of HR alone, nor does it start and stop with an IT ticket for a new starter’s email address to be created. A successful start for a new starter is a collaborative effort that the hiring manager needs to champion.
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