IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Top MSP/VAR Onboarding Best Practices

Over the years, VAR Staffing has had the pleasure and privilege of observing some interesting and effective practices of on-boarding new employees.   While every firm is unique in so many different ways, there are equally important commonalities to improve the experience of bringing a new employee onboard.  We thought you might enjoy seeing what some of these business practices look like by many of VAR Staffing’s clients.

Before the start date

The offer was made; offer accepted, but the new employee has not started yet. Three effective approaches we have seen reinforce the excitement of joining a new firm include:

1. Taking the new employee out to lunch BEFORE they start.  Let them know how excited you are to have them join the team

2. Sending a new hire gift basket.  The new hire gift basket does not have to be expensive, and in fact, the more personal the touch, the stronger the impact.  For instance, one client sends a new hire basket to the spouse (in most cases the wife) which includes a few unique candy bars and snacks, a small gift certificate to a favorite local restaurant, and a welcome letter from an executive of the firm welcoming both individuals to the “business family”.

3. Take care of the fundamentals before the new employee arrives.

• Order business cards.
• Have their work environment set up in advance.
• Test the phone system, email, etc.
• Ensure any specific tools or office supplies they will need have ordered and will arrive on time.

Weeks 1 and 2

There are a number of items that will improve the effectiveness of the first week, as well as keep the excitement level high for the new employee.

  1. On the first day of employment, send an email to the entire company announcing the arrival of the new employee, a brief description of their previous professional experience, and the role that person will perform for the company.  Ask the employees to personally stop by and introduce themselves to the new employee to make them feel welcome.  Just be sure to not overwhelm them if you work for a large organization.
  2. Create a formal checklist of the steps to be taken with the employee during the first week or two of employment.  Do not leave it up to memory or ad-hoc approaches to ensure the necessary steps have been taken to make the new employee’s introduction to the company go smoothly.
  3. Provide written information on the company when possible for their retention and review.  Cover the company history, vision, values, and goals.  Address the company culture and why the culture is important to the on-going success of the company.  Be sure copies of handbooks, benefits guides and other necessary manuals are handed out the first 1 -2 days of employment.
  4. Formally assign a peer to be the official “go to person” for questions that may not necessarily be job duty focused, but can provide answers about the company in general.  This individual can educate the new hire regarding unspoken rules, acceptable and unacceptable behavior, and other unique characteristics about their new employer they most likely will not immediately recognize.
  5. Formally establish a 30 day performance review date, but not a salary review.   The 30 day performance review is to provide real-time, formal feedback on how the new employee is performing.  The fact that the review is performed after only the first 30 days provides the opportunity to take any necessary corrective actions early in the employment cycle, and also allows for quick positive reinforcement of a job well done.  The topics for the 30 day review should be developed in advance, and meant to last 30 minutes or less.  This review should not be performed in an ad-hoc manner, or without advance planning.Also, ask the employee for THEIR assessment on how their first 30 days has gone.  Reinforce this is a “penalty free” feedback opportunity that allows them to have direct impact on improving the performance of the company not only for themselves, but for other new hires.
  6. Spread the on-boarding process over 1 – 2 weeks if necessary.  Do not bring a new person in and then put them through 8 – 16 hours of classroom experience in the first 2 days if at all possible.  Make the onboarding process interactive, and delivered in small chunks so the new employee can effectively absorb the knowledge.  Back up the on-boarding process with written documentation whenever possible.
  7. If there is a training process to bring the new employee up to speed, create a formal document organized in a straight forward manner that allows for sign-off when a new employee has successfully completed the steps.  This reinforces knowledge advancement by the employee, but also allows for formal tracking that important steps have been taken to make the employee effective as quick as possible.
  8. Build opportunities for feedback into the employee’s first few weeks or months of employment.  Make sure they know that not only are they free to share their observations, but that the company desires their feedback to help the company continue to improve their business.



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VAR Staffing is passionate about our unique ability to proactively identify and recruit the best talent in the IT Channel community.

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