The Payroll Blog

News, tips, and advice for small business owners

4 Tips to Make Your Onboarding Smooth Sailing

Posted On
Stephanie Davis

Does your small business have a plan for employee onboarding? According to a survey from Career Builder, 50% of small businesses have a structured onboarding process

A lined notebook page that says welcome aboard to introduce new employees to a company.

Even though your business may not have many employees, it’s important to have a plan in place when you are bringing on new employees. According to the survey, having a planned onboarding process can lead to positive results such as increased employee engagement, confidence, and productivity. Wondering where to begin for your business?

Start Early

Once your new employee has accepted their offer, it’s time to get a plan in place to introduce them to your business and the rest of your team. Communicate early and often and let the employee know what to expect for their first day. As examples, will you have them shadowing other employees, will they be getting right into work, will they have meetings to attend? Whatever you have planned for them be sure to let them know what is expected so they can come in prepared. It’s also important to have the office space prepared before the employees arrive for their first day. If they need a computer, phone, or other technology, get that set up as soon as possible. It’s frustrating for employees to come in and not have a sense of what they should be doing and sitting there struggling without a computer login. 

Have Necessary Forms Ready

Onboarding a new employee leads to a lot of paperwork for both them and you as a small business owner. The two forms your new employee must fill out are Form W-4 and Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification. The sooner you distribute these forms to your new employee, the sooner you can get them ready for payroll and they get paid as scheduled. In some states, your employee may need to fill out a state tax withholding form. To find out if that applies to you, check your state government website to find the requirements and forms if necessary. In addition to these forms, while not required by law, there may be other forms you wish to have your employee sign, such as an emergency contact form, non-compete or non-disclosure forms, or acknowledgment of an employee handbook. Additionally, employee onboarding is a good time to double check that you have the right employee posters hanging up to keep all employees informed of their rights and important safety information. 

Make a Plan

Now that have a first-day game plan, and forms ready to go, it’s important to have a training plan in place for your new employee. Some ideas to begin:

  • If you have a seasoned employee, they can serve as a guide for your new employee and share some information about the business they should be aware of. If you have multiple team members, this would be a great time to have your new employee sit around and shadow and talk to other employees to get a better idea of what they do and how the new employee can help them.
  • Prepare some tasks for your new employee to work on their first day or even the first week. Being new to a job is overwhelming, and chances are your employee is ready to jump right into work instead of sitting around. If there are items they should be training on, provide videos or reading materials. If there are tasks that will be easy for them to complete without having prior company knowledge, get them started.
  • Set attainable goals and communicate an evaluation plan to your new employee. Most businesses are going to have some type of review process, whether that’s annual, twice a year, or even quarterly. Weekly check-ins are common as well just to make sure that everyone is staying on track and goals are being met. By communicating this upfront with your new employee, the two of you can be on the same page and work together to make sure things are running smoothly. Creating goals early on will be good for both you and your new employee, so they have something to focus on instead of just wondering what is happening next.

How to Set Up Payroll

Now that you have a plan in place for onboarding your new employee, you need to ensure that you have everything you need to properly set up your new employee in your payroll to ensure they receive a paycheck. The first step is making sure you properly classify this new employee, meaning are they exempt or non-exempt. For a quick reminder of the differences between the two, exempt employees are those ineligible for overtime pay and are generally paid on a salary basis; non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay and therefore tend to be hourly employees. Ensuring your employees are properly classified is important because they could be missing out on extra money if you classify them the wrong way. From there, if you are doing payroll yourself, you will want to be aware of the various taxes you should be withholding for your employees and ensuring the right amounts are withheld. Similar to classifying improperly, a tax withholding error could leave you owing your employees a lot in back pay.

Bottom Line

As a small business owner, you want your employees to have a clear understanding of what they are expected to do and want them to stick around for a while. Onboarding new employees is the first step in that because, besides the interview process, onboarding really is the first impression your new employee is getting about you, your business, and other employees. By setting them up for success on day one with clear expectations and communications, chances are they will stick with your business for a long time and help you succeed.

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This website contains articles posted for informational and educational value. SurePayroll is not responsible for information contained within any of these materials. Any opinions expressed within materials are not necessarily the opinion of, or supported by, SurePayroll. The information in these materials should not be considered legal or accounting advice, and it should not substitute for legal, accounting, and other professional advice where the facts and circumstances warrant. If you require legal or accounting advice or need other professional assistance, you should always consult your licensed attorney, accountant or other tax professional to discuss your particular facts, circumstances and business needs.