- A new-hire training plan helps business leaders bring new hires up to speed while helping them feel welcome at the company.
- Training is essential for ensuring new hires have the skills and tools they need to do their jobs and for helping them understand how they fit into the larger organization.
- An effective new-hire training program prioritizes existing employees’ experience, a new hire’s learning preferences, and constant improvement and refinement.
- This article is for small business owners who want to train new hires quickly and efficiently to start them off on the right foot.
Growing companies hire new employees who need onboarding, assimilation and training. Ideally, employers tap new team members with the in-demand skills and talents to perform their duties. An effective training program helps these promising new employees fully integrate with the company and gives them the tools for success and career growth.
We’ll explore what an effective new-hire training program requires and explain how to turn new employees into top-notch members of your team.
A poor onboarding process can hurt employee morale, engagement and confidence, leading to missed revenue targets.
How to develop an effective new-hire training plan
These five tips can help you develop a new-hire training plan that will get employees settled and ready to produce top-quality work.
1. Ask existing employees what you should include in the training.
The best way to develop a new-hire training plan is by consulting with current employees who excel in their roles. For the best results, follow these steps:
- Identify key employees. Pinpoint excellent employees who are currently in similar positions as the new hire.
- Find out what the job really entails. Ask your current employees what they think the new team member needs to perform their daily tasks. This advice can help you avoid overlooking critical job details, including the tools and setup the new employee will need to succeed.
- Have them evaluate their training. Your seasoned employees can help you identify gaps in your current training plan that they experienced firsthand. Ask them what they wish they knew on day one that would have made it easier to begin working.
“Setting up a new-hire training program can be daunting,” said Matthew Dailly, managing director at Tiger Financial. “You need to think about the most important aspects of the job but also the smallest details that they will need to learn to get right. The best way of knowing what new staff need to do is to ask your existing workers. They will make sure you know about everything that goes on in the role and how to set them up for it.”
2. Make training flexible, task-oriented and ongoing.
Create a dynamic process with the following features:
- Customized training for each employee. While all new-hire training plans should cover the basics of working at your company, it’s essential to incorporate unique elements for each hire based on their interview and professional background. “Each person will enter training with varying skills and different focuses on what they need to be able to get through the training process successfully, so while the basics are core features, the rest of the training should remain flexible enough to suit each individual based on their personal needs,” said Adam Korbl, founder and CEO of iFax.
- Incorporate task-oriented training. “Instead of having a fixed-time training, have a task-oriented training where each training item needs to be completed to a specific standard to move forward to full employment,” Korbl said. “This allows the flexibility to give each person the training experience they actually need, as opposed to the basic requirements.”
- Make training an ongoing process. While each new hire should be able to perform their job in a week or two, training should be ongoing, with regular check-ins to ensure new employees have everything they need to excel in their position.
Effective employee training tactics include customizing training to how an employee learns best, providing incentives for getting up to speed, and offering continual learning opportunities to enhance career growth.
3. Encourage team-level training.
Most companies hire for a cultural fit to ensure new employees align with the company’s mission and vision. However, all too often, training covers only basic expectations and administrative information, like compensation and employee benefits. Incorporating team-based training can help new hires get up to speed faster and assimilate into the company culture better than they would with corporate-level training alone.
“Companies often do onboarding on orientation at the corporate level,” said Mark A. Herschberg, author of The Career Toolkit: Essential Skills for Success That No One Taught You (Conosco Media, 2020). “While useful, orientation is also helped by being done at the team level. Helping the new team member understand team culture is equally important. How does the team operate in terms of conflict versus coalition building, or like to communicate?”
Team-level training can help new hires do the following:
- Understand their team’s unique workflow
- Recognize the team’s reporting hierarchy
- Appreciate the day-to-day expectations for their role
- Understand existing processes
- Meet other team members
- Learn the metrics used to track the team’s productivity
4. Accommodate each new hire’s preferred learning method.
People learn differently, so your new-hire training plan should adapt to various learning styles. Conforming to a new hire’s preferred learning method can help reduce the instruction a new hire needs to perform in their role effectively.
“When training new employees, it is important to engage them in a way that best suits their ability to learn the most,” said Jase Rodley, founder and SEO service provider at Dialed Labs. “People can often differ in how they will best get a handle on something.”
You’re likely to see three main learning styles among new hires:
- Visual. Some new hires prefer to learn processes by watching someone actively perform tasks.
- Hands-on. Other employees like to take a hands-on approach to learning by performing the task themselves several times before they can commit it to memory.
- Reading. Some employees prefer to read a packet of written instructions and keep it on hand in their first few weeks on the job.
“While not all aspects of training are made to move between [these three learning styles] … it is good practice to give the new employee the best chance of success that you can by providing the method that most inspires them,” Rodley said.
5. Promote good leaders and involve them in the training process.
Without good leaders, your staff will have a hard time succeeding. This is especially true for new hires. When promoting or hiring for managerial positions, carefully consider which candidates could best guide and coach other employees. Then, involve them in developing and executing your new-hire training plan.
“The leadership ability of the manager is the No. 1 determining factor of whether a new hire will have a positive or negative employee experience over the long haul,” said Jessica Donahue, owner of Adjunct Leadership Consulting. “Employee engagement, retention and turnover can all be predicted by the quality of leader an employee works for. In this way, providing an exceptional onboarding experience is the first step for a leader looking to retain and engage a high-performing team for years to come.”
Solicit feedback from onboarded and trained new hires to refine and improve your hiring process. As your company grows and evolves, so should your new-hire training plan.
What is a new-hire training plan?
A new-hire training plan is a company’s well-defined process for onboarding new team members and bringing them up to speed. It should do the following:
- Cover administrative concerns. Make sure new team members complete any necessary administrative paperwork.
- Introduce new hires to their teams. Introduce your new hires to team members, and share processes for communicating with colleagues and leadership.
- Teach critical tools. Train new hires on software and other tools they’ll need to do their jobs effectively.
- Share the company vision. Introduce new hires to core concepts, like the company mission, organizational structure and company culture.
Why is new-hire training important?
A comprehensive new-hire training program can help your company in the following ways:
- Ensures a strong start. A strong training plan can prevent misunderstandings or a sluggish start, thereby helping the company reap the benefits of filling a vacant position as soon as a week after the new hire begins in their role.
- Helps employees feel welcome. A comprehensive new-hire training plan helps make new employees feel like members of the team. They’ll meet key organization members, learn about job perks, and identify sources of support within the company.
- Makes employees feel confident. Training makes new team members feel comfortable in their positions while giving them the knowledge, tools and skills they need to become successful and productive members of your company.
- Improves morale and reduces turnover. Training can also boost morale because it helps new hires feel like they are welcome, competent members of the team, and high employee morale decreases turnover. In contrast, new employees without proper training may get frustrated and leave their jobs soon after getting hired.
Keep your employee handbook updated so new hires understand their job functions along with the company’s mission, vision, policies, dress code, and code of conduct.
Training mistakes to avoid
Avoid these common training program mistakes to help create the best onboarding program possible:
- Not giving new hires a warm welcome. How you greet your new hires on their first day will color their impression of the company. It can even affect how productive they’ll be in the long term. You’ll seem callous and uncaring if you show them to their desk, give them an assignment, and let them figure out the company on their own. Instead, your hiring manager or a senior employee should greet them at the door. A tour of your facilities and team member introductions can help new employees feel more connected.
- Using too much technical jargon. Many industries have developed their own shorthand, but you shouldn’t assume a new employee speaks the lingo. Take your time introducing new hires to the industry lexicon, and give them resources to learn it at their own pace. Give them a cheat sheet with common acronyms and phrases, or connect them with an in-house mentor who can explain any unfamiliar terms.
- Failing to nurture their interests. Many new hires are excited to start the job, and it’s possible to harness that energy to kick-start a solid connection to the company. However, just because that connection exists doesn’t mean it will last. Without guidance, a new employee’s passion for their role can fade, and their productivity will vanish along with it. Communication is crucial for maintaining a new hire’s excitement. An HR representative or manager should check in regularly with the new hire to ensure they haven’t run into trouble. Make sure they understand their responsibilities, and share exciting plans.
Hiring employees can be a complicated process. Consider using the best HR software to streamline employee paperwork and onboarding.
Turn your new hires into top-quality employees
Many of the best employees in any industry are made, not found. But turning an untested new hire into an employee who reliably provides excellent results requires serious work and dedication. With this guide to training programs, all that work can be much easier – and your team can be better, too.
Isaiah Atkins contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.