How to Best Onboard Entry-Level New Hires
Nine in 10 leaders say they already face skill gaps or expect them to develop within the next five years. Hiring entry-level employees—those with limited skills and knowledge—is a productive way to combat that.
The problem? A lack of experience and a skill set that needs refining can make those first few weeks tricky. The last thing you want to do is make your new hire feel stressed and overwhelmed, leaving their position and forcing you to restart the hiring process all over again.
In this article, we’ll share the importance of onboarding entry-level new hires, with six important things your onboarding process should include.
The importance of onboarding entry-level staff
Entry-level team members may not have the necessary skills for their role. They could be a recent graduate with no work experience, a parent returning to work after a break, or an older person pursuing a new career.
This lack of professional experience means they may be unsure of how businesses work and what’s expected of them.
A robust onboarding process is built on mutual trust and freedom to communicate. Not only will this create a workplace culture where entry-level recruits feel included and valued, but also investing in onboarding can pay dividends in the long run.
Replacing an employee costs up to 33 percent of their annual salary—an expenditure that can be avoided with an entry-level onboarding program.
An onboarding process for entry-level employees
Creating a process for your entry-level hires serves as the perfect opportunity for your business to review organizational procedures, improve retention, and give your new team members a positive working experience.
So, how do you onboard entry-level staff with no prior experience? Let’s take a look at six things your onboarding program should include.
- Welcome them to the company
- Have a relaxed first day
- Clearly define their job title
- Build a skills development program
- Allow space for questions
- Organize team-building activities
1. Welcome them to the company
Onboarding new employees starts long before their first day. As soon as they accept their offer, make new hires feel appreciated. Knowing who they’ll work with and what’s expected of them will give them the best chance of integrating successfully into your organization.
Before their first day, get in touch with your new hire and share an organizational chart. Explain job titles, roles, and responsibilities so they’re not walking into the unknown.
Similarly, share your employee handbook—a document containing need-to-know policies and procedures for their new workplace, such as:
- Working hours
- Dress code
- Employee benefits
- PTO allowance
- Health and safety
Standardize your new hire onboarding process with WorkRamp’s compliance training feature. It brings new hires up to speed on health, safety, and security information they need to know prior to their first day.
2. Have a relaxed first day
Recognize that entry-level new hires will likely be nervous. Schedule a large part of your day with your new starter on their first day.
“When you join an organization there is a feeling that everyone you meet has been there much longer than you, even if someone literally started the day before you did. This oddity means that people feel like outsiders, and it can take weeks, months, or even years to become fully part of the team.”
—Michael Alexis, CEO, TeamBuilding
Remember, this doesn’t have to be formal—there’s nothing worse than spending the first day reading policies and completing paperwork. Have a mix of formal and informal opportunities to meet your team. Their first day is for building relationships and making your new hire feel like part of the team.
Organize a social event during the first week to give new employees a chance to build relationships.
3. Clearly define their job title
Making sure your entry-level staff fully understand their roles and responsibilities is one of the most important aspects of successful onboarding. If your new hire doesn’t know what is expected of them, priorities will become blurred. Staff can easily lose motivation to carry out their role to the best of their ability.
As David Bitton, co-founder and CMO at DoorLoop, explains: “Employees at the entry-level who work blindly, not knowing what is expected of them or how their performance will be evaluated, result in lower productivity and morale.
“Setting expectations early on allows entry-level employees to work securely, knowing what they’re responsible for and the results they need to achieve to perform successfully,” David continues. “It establishes the tone for future progress.”
As part of your onboarding program, host regular check-ins with entry-level staff to review their progress. Cross-reference their work to their job description. This will help them understand what is expected of them and prevent confusion in the future.
4. Build a skills development plan
Entry-level staff have limited experience, skills, and knowledge in the workplace—sometimes starting their new role with just a high school diploma. A skills development plan highlights their strengths and areas for improvement, bringing them up to speed and ready to complete the tasks you assign them.
New employees with clear development plans are 3.5x more likely to say their onboarding process was exceptional. This can help with retention, too—some 94 percent of workers said they’d stay at a company longer if their employer invested in their careers.
Onboarding several entry-level hires? Save time with customized learning paths in WorkRamp. Build one sequence for your employee’s role, team, or seniority and standardize your onboarding process.
5. Allow space for questions
Leaders and managers don’t always provide the right information at the right time. Create a supportive environment where your entry-level staff feel comfortable asking questions. They’ll start to feel more confident as they begin to contribute to bigger decision-making discussions.
“At the end of each section of your onboarding training, always ask if there are any questions, or need for any clarification. This creates a safe space for new hires to voice concerns and confusion, which further sets them up for more success down the line.”
—Brett Larkin, CEO and Founder, Uplifted Yoga
As Andy Berkowitz, founder, and CEO of SuggestionOx, says, “Entry-level employees are eager to make a great first impression but are often reluctant to ask for help because they want to be seen as self-reliant. As a manager, it’s not enough to assure them that they can come to you with questions—you need to proactively create a safe environment for them to admit they don’t know stuff.”
An open-door approach to questions creates an opportunity to review your own organizational procedures, too.
If your entry-level staff is asking the same questions during their induction, for example, it’s clear that you’re missing vital information. Update your onboarding procedures based on this feedback.
6. Organize team-building activities
Entry-level employees may not know how to communicate with their team members. This can lead to anxiety at work and even misunderstandings.
Consider these social events in your onboarding program:
- Host a team night out at a fancy restaurant
- Organize a virtual quiz
- Hold a “bring-and-share” lunch
- Compete in a work sports day
- Visit a cultural festival
New team members need to get familiar with their colleagues at every opportunity. Develop your own company social calendar to help new starters feel a sense of belonging.
Kick-off your entry-level onboarding program
Having a skilled, trustworthy, and dedicated workforce is one of the most important factors in any business. That’s possible with entry-level candidates if you set them up for success during onboarding.
Learn more about how WorkRamp can help you design and implement an effective onboarding experience for entry-level employees. Contact us to schedule a free demo.
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