Onboarding A New Hire When You Don’t Have an HR Department

The Situation: If you work in very small workplaces, there is a good chance there is no full-time, on site Human Resource professional or department. Typical HR responsibilities may be handled by an office manager, an administrative assistant, the team lead, or may be divided among several people. With no designated HR in house, how can you ensure a smooth transition for both the workplace and the new hire when bringing on someone new?

Handshake over a desk

The Problem: To adequately prepare for and onboard a new hire, a number of logistical questions must be answered. Where will he/she sit? What computer, network access, and software are needed for the position? What paperwork do new employees need to fill out? Are any clearances or background checks required? How will responsibilities and performance expectations be communicated to the new employee? Who will he/she report to?

If the workplace doesn’t have an onboarding plan or set of processes in place for what to do when a new person is hired, a lot of unnecessary time and energy can be expended on all sides trying to integrate the new person into company life. This may give the new employee an unfavorable first impression of the new job and lead to an unproductive first few days.

Tips and Tools: With a little planning, you can develop a smooth and foolproof process to guide you through the onboarding, even if different components are handled by different people every time! Here are the basic steps.

  1. Make a list of all the things that have to happen in order in order for the new hire to become an official employee. This list should include all HR and payroll requirements, IT needs, office space and supplies, and so on. These steps should be applicable for any new employee, regardless of what position he/she will fill.
  2. Once you have the full list, divide the items into three categories: 1) things that need to be completed before a new hire’s first day, 2) things that need to happen on his/her first day, and 3) things that need to be completed in the first week or beyond. Then order the items in each category based on when they need to happen (for example, order new laptop would need to be completed before “install required software” can be completed). It is very likely you will think of additional items to add as you are ordering the list.
  3. Create a table or spreadsheet listing each item in order of when they should happen, separating the 3 categories. Leave a few blank rows in each section, for now, in case you need to add items later.
  4. Add the following columns to the table/spreadsheet: Start Date, End Date, Person Responsible, Completion Status, and Notes.

Now you have a basic template that you can use to plan for and keep track of all preparations for new hires! As soon as the employment offer is accepted and a start date is determined, assign a point person to be responsible for filling in the dates and assigning responsibilities for each item on the list. While the point person will likely not be able to complete all of the items on the list, he/she can delegate to and regularly check in with the responsible parties to make sure each step is completed on time.

There are additional steps to making the template even more useful, including building in estimated task durations and customizing the table for individual positions. If you are interested in learning more or bringing me in to help you develop your onboarding process and tools, send me an email!

Photo Credit: "Handshake sealing the deal" by franchise opportunities is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.