10 Small Business Onboarding Tips Your Team Will Love


Properly and thoughtfully onboarding new hires lead to greater employee satisfaction and lower turnover. Small businesses can capitalize on onboarding trends by rethinking and crafting a stellar experience for their new employees. When connecting with a small business, new hires seek more personalized attention that is often overlooked in larger corporations. When your newly hired employee arrives, it’s their first look at your organization’s internal workings. Their first impression will likely determine how the working relationship will grow. We’ve put together ten tips for the small business onboarding process to help you create the best first experience for employees.

Get Clear On What You Need From New Hires Before Day One

Employees don’t have to spend their first day of work filling out dozens of pages of paper. It’s completely possible to eliminate paper from the onboarding and HR process. Instead of waiting for day one, try sending out digital paperwork a few days before their start date. You’ll likely want items like their:

  • W4
  • Form I-9
  • Employee handbook receipt acknowledgment
  • Direct deposit information
  •  Background check release
  • Benefits enrollment forms

Employee onboarding software like WorkBright allows your team members to fill out all their forms before their first day and on their own terms. We have a lot of great functionality around the I-9, so all your team members should need to bring on day one is a document from List A or List B+C.

You’ll also want to let them know any other important information they’ll need before arriving, such as directions, building access codes, the time the day starts, and their manager.

Taking steps like this before day one will help alleviate stress for you and your employees. It’s one of our best small business onboarding tips and should help the beginning stages of onboarding go smoothly.

Integrate The New Hire’s Entire Team And Leadership from Day One

To help new team members quickly adjust to the company’s culture, acquainting them with their key leaders and colleagues is essential and should be a first-day priority. Creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for that first day will help break the ice and bring all employees together.

A meet-and-greet for everyone to introduce themselves is a fun and interactive way to get to know your colleagues. You could also plan a welcome party, with some refreshments and snacks.

Invite everyone to this event in a fun way, such as sending a digital “thank you note” for choosing to accept the position. You can find cost-effective and amazing designs for virtual mailings at online vendors such as Greenvelope or Paperless Post.

Have your team sit down and add each other on professional networking platforms, such as LinkedIn.

Regardless of which route you take to integrate your new hires, it’s an important step and vital to the functionality and productivity of your team.

Utilize Current Employees Across Departments To Welcome Hires During Small Business Onboarding

The sooner a new hire understands the structure and departments in their new company, the sooner they can feel like a part of the team. Especially in small businesses, most departments are also cross-functional and collaborative, which can really come in handy in the training process.

When you use your current employees to help with the training process, not only do you expedite the learning curve your new hire is experiencing, but you also help them get to know their co-workers on a personal level.

Crosstraining helps them get insight on the company from their co-worker’s perspective, which can be very beneficial if you’re an ethically run company.

Lastly, it helps you curate your new hire’s learning experience, as you can send them to the “best-of-the-best.” If you have certain employees who are rockstars at different tasks, this will help your new employee understand the best way to handle those tasks. Greatness inspires greatness!

Anticipate The New Hire’s Needs And Expectations

First-day jitters are real. Put yourself in their shoes: What do you wish you had known sooner? What are some of the biggest questions that come up time and time again? What changes have occurred recently with your company?  Plan new hire onboarding by considering these questions.

Help ease their nerves by providing a welcoming and warm environment to get acclimated in. If your office is busy and hectic, help ease them into the normal workflow instead of pushing them into the deep end.

Provide a dedicated training room with encouraging sentiments and company documentation they can browse. This helps give your new hires a “home base” that they can get used to before being completely trained and doing everyday tasks.

Reinforce Your Business’s Mission And Values to New Hires

Your company’s mission and values have been thoroughly researched and covered by the new hire and the company’s hiring process. Now is a key time to reinforce those ideas and show those values in action.

The old saying is “actions speak louder than words,” and this is the case here. The integration period is when your new employees will form an opinion on your company. Ensure they form a great impression of your values and vision. Show them that you value them and their decision to work for your organization.


Review The New Hire’s Specific Job Title, Description, And Duties

Don’t assume that a new hire completely understands their new role. During the “honeymoon phase” of small business onboarding, misunderstandings can lead to unwanted surprises or expectations.

Take ample time to go through that specific job’s title, description, duties, and expectations with each new hire. This will help ensure they understand and can get any questions or concerns answered and addressed quickly.

All of this information can also be loaded into your onboarding platform so that your employees can easily access their job details. Having a clear and concise access point is key in today’s society and will make your employees’ lives more efficient.

Familiarize New Hires With Your Policies And Procedures

Policies and procedures may be dull, but leaving them out or putting them off could set new hires up for failure instead of ensuring their success. Most of this can be self-guided and rolled out over a reasonable timeframe for new hires to complete.

Try integrating this step into their first day to help ease them into the role they’ll play in your business. Going over procedures also helps reinforce your value as an employer because you can add information like benefits, paid time off, and other perks your company provides.

Set New Hires On The Right Trajectory With A 90-Day Professional Development Plan

Onboarding is not a one-and-done occurrence. The best onboarding programs extend past the first few days on the job. You should be discussing professional development more than once a year on your employee’s anniversary. Having short-term goals that are measurable and reachable within a certain time frame sets your new hires up for long-term success.

By providing your employees the right development plan, you’re helping them ease into the workplace smoothly. This plan will help alleviate any work-induced burnout or stress and encourage employee loyalty and productivity.

Try celebrating successes to encourage further growth, such as “Top Ten Customer Service Members This Week” or “New Hire of the Month.” At WorkBright, we’ve instituted Bonusly, which has really improved recognition opportunities for our new hires (and our team as a whole.) While it seems trivial, a little recognition goes a long way in the drive and development of your employees. Having something to look forward to gives them motivation!

Optimize Future Small Business Onboarding By Collecting And Implementing Feedback From New Hires

It’s incredibly tempting to create a process and stick to it for consistency’s sake. By constantly tweaking and making minor adjustments based on real-time feedback, you can make continuous improvements while improving employee satisfaction.

You get to fix any pain points in your business. Your employees will feel heard and like they’re contributing to the overall wellbeing of the company.

At WorkBright, we send out a survey after our initial week of company-wide training. This feedback is invaluable and has helped us a ton, especially after we went 100% remote in 2020. Feedback helps you iterate, craft a great small business onboarding experience, and stay ahead of the competition.

Start Documenting Your Processes To Streamline Onboarding for Future New Hires

It may be easy to onboard one-off now as you add to your team, but it’s only going to become more complicated as you grow. Start documenting everything now to reduce growing pains later.

You can do this by creating an internal wiki around onboarding at your company. Document the following:

  • What documents do employees need? How do they turn those documents in?
  • What tools do they need from the company before their first day?
    • Computers, printers, name tags, building keys, etc.
  • Who is involved in the onboarding process, and what do they do?
  • What activities are planned for new hires each day?
  • How are 90-day plans created, and who is in charge of keeping them on track?

Writing everything down ensures that you create a repeatable process that runs even if you have to take a couple of weeks off.

Conclusion: Create A Stellar Small Business Onboarding Process

As your small business grows, don’t neglect the onboarding process. These tips are here to help you create a company that feels organized and welcoming. We hope that you got some interesting ideas from it.

Above all else, focus on what makes you and your business special, and incorporate that into the tips you learned above. Every company’s onboarding program looks different, but you create what works best for your team.

For more information on how small businesses have used WorkBright, check out our case study with Toole’s Garage.