Ah, you release a sigh of relief because that candidate you really wanted to fill your open position agreed to join your team. As a small business, the war on talent is fierce, and finding qualified people to join your small company versus a larger competitor is a feat itself.

Well, this is only the beginning. They say first impressions are everything and the one you make during onboarding could make or break your new hire’s tenure with your company. Here are some simple ways to ensure your process is smooth and enjoyable, even without a large budget or an HR team on hand.

1. Have everything you need.

Though you might wear 70 different hats as a small business owner, the disorganized cap is probably one you should leave at home.

Here’s a handy onboarding checklist of items that are a good idea to have on hand to begin the process.

  • Forms I-9 and W-4.
  • Confidentiality agreement.
  • Emergency contact information.
  • Any benefit forms, if you offer them.
  • Employee handbook that lists policies and procedures.
  • Offer letter and job description, so they have record of what to expect.
  • Direct deposit setup form so they can get paid, of course.
  • Phone list, office map and an organizational chart.
  • Safety instructions.
  • Personnel action form.
  • Every state has its own regulations. Provide anything your state requires for new hire pamphlets or documentation requirements.

*Of course all the legal paperwork will need to be reviewed, submitted and kept in a safe place to ensure you’re staying compliant. This is when the help of a qualified HR expert would likely be required. Outsourcing or hiring in house is completely up to you and there are benefits to both.*

As long as you’re organized and detail oriented from the beginning, you’ll earn confidence from your new employee that will help them want to stick around.

2. Consider going digital.

Without a full HR department, reviewing all of this paperwork can feel overwhelming. What if all those items listed above could all be taken care of by a few clicks online?

It’s less work for you and the employee. Electronic forms simply take less time to fill out and a lot of platforms can sync information up with other parts of HR management (ex. payroll).

While there could be more upfront costs on implementing a digital onboarding solution, eliminating printed paperwork can end up saving you money in the long run. Not to mention, it’s easier to remain compliant when you don’t run the risk of data entry error. 

Simplifying processes is a great way to create efficiencies for your small business. Moving everything to the digital side could take some time and outside help, but is certainly a great option to consider.

3. Make them feel at home.

Small business, small budget? A little goes a long way when you have the opportunity to make your new hire feel at home.

  • Fill the day with activities. The first day on the job is scary enough – no one likes to sit around awkwardly not knowing what to do and not feeling comfortable enough to ask. Be sure to have a structured (but not strict) schedule to follow for the day. You could even print out the schedule and put it on their desk so they know what to expect.
  • Answer the uncomfortable questions. Where should I park? Do people normally pack lunch or go out? Is it weird if I eat at my desk?  Put yourself in your employee’s shoes and anticipate those logistical questions.
  • Speaking of lunch, treat them to it on the first day. Opt for a casual lunch spot that gets you both out of the office and gives you an opportunity to get to know your new employee a little better. Note the word ‘casual’ as well – lunch doesn’t have to break the bank, but it’s certainly a nice treat.

Engaged employees are happy employees and happy employees are more likely to find passion and take pride in the tasks they are given. Their journey to happiness starts with onboarding. These tactics are simple enough to implement on a small business timeframe and budget.

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Tracking job applicants and onboarding new employees doesn't have to be hard.

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Disclaimer: Please note that this is not all inclusive. Our guidance is designed only to give general information on the issues actually covered. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of all laws which may be applicable to your situation, treat exhaustively the subjects covered, provide legal advice, or render a legal opinion. Consult your own legal advisor regarding specific application of the information to your own plan.