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New Employee Checklists are Essential

Effectively "onboarding" new employees is a crucial task for small businesses. Putting it bluntly, the quicker a new employee becomes productive, the better. And it is nice to ease the new employees' initial anxiety and the anxiety of existing employees when changes are introduced.

This dynamic was noted by Michael Watkins, a professor at the International Institute for Management Development in Lausanne, Switzerland and renowned transition expert. His book, "The First 90 Days" is a respected guide.

"Transitions are periods of opportunity, a chance to start afresh and to make needed changes in an organization. But they are also periods of acute vulnerability, because you lack established working relationships and a detailed understanding of your new role," he says.

Detailed new employee checklists are an essential tool in creating the roadmap to a smooth transition. Some examples are here, here and here. Topics typically covered in such checklists are: company mission, employee policies, equipment, codes of conduct, phone etiquette, dress code, vacations, etc. Some companies employ a "buddy system" where an existing employee mentors the new employee for a short period of time. Another common theme is to schedule short meetings with supervisors at 30-day and 60-day intervals to clear up any confusion over job duties or company procedures.

A common mistake is that new employees are never integrated with departments outside their own. If the new employee doesn't meet other employees in distant departments at first, they probably never will. This potentially robs the company of important synergies.

Lack of an effective new employee checklist can be costly beyond just employee anxiety. Watkins estimated that U.S. and U.K. businesses lose $37 billion every year because new employees do not fully understand their new jobs.

Their recently released white paper, "$37 billion: Counting the Cost of Employee Misunderstanding," commissioned by international intelligent assessment company Cognisco, quantifies the losses that occur as a result of "actions taken by employees who have misunderstood or misinterpreted — or were misinformed about or lack confidence in their understanding — of company policies, business processes, job function or a combination of the three."

Of course, getting the right employee in the first place can make the transition process smoother. SurePayroll offers robust pre-employee screening services, including background checks, drug screening, behavioral assessments, skill testing and personal development inventories. The services are available on an a la carte basis — no contracts or lengthy commitments required. For more information, see our pre-employment screening.