Formalizing onboarding for new employee success

Alisdair Barr

Great talent makes your practice—employees deliver output and secure long-term client relationships. This makes it critical to get any new recruit up and running quickly.

Once you have selected a new candidate to work for you, they need to be efficiently introduced into your accounting firm. This process is called onboarding. Some businesses might also refer to it as induction or orientation—but essentially, they all mean the same thing.

The ultimate goal of onboarding is to set up your employee quickly and productively so they can play a key role in helping you reach the goals of your firm sooner. There are a number of benefits to running a good onboarding program. These include:

1. Increasing the likelihood of retention.

Do you remember what it is like to start a new job? New employees can feel a bit nervous—especially those younger. Employees become more productive and will be more loyal when they feel a part of the team from day one.

2. Ensuring the essential paperwork is ticked off.

It is important that letters of offer or contracts are signed, employee bank and tax file numbers have been completed and other required aspects of the working relationship are formalized.

3. Sharing the bigger picture.

Smaller practices, particularly those with strong leaders, are often very good at sharing the vision of the firm and demonstrating how each staff member contributes to key objectives. It is not uncommon for employees of bigger practices to feel distanced from the bigger picture. Sharing your vision early on can help empower an employee, and show them that they have an opportunity to make a real contribution.

4. Instilling good work practices and habits.

Onboarding provides the opportunity to continue the conversation about your firm’s practices and culture that began during the interview process. Employees feel more secure when they know how the firm works and what the expectations are on both sides of the employment relationship.

5. Meeting key stakeholders.

New employees like to meet their key stakeholders quickly. Onboarding needs to enable relationships through early meetings and training.

6. Putting in place training requirements and a schedule.

Depending on the nature of the role, some training will be required. Every firm has their own procedures and processes, so it is good to get new employees familiar with these key practices early.

7. Meeting legal requirements related to occupational health and safety.

It is important to provide a safe workplace for every employee—new and existing.

8. Building your reputation as a good employer to work for.

With a good onboarding program, you are more likely to be seen as a professional firm. Practices that look after their employees have more successful and longer employee relationships. 

What should be included in an onboarding program?

To be effective, an onboarding program needs to be formalized. Sure, it might be tailored to different employees who complete different roles, but there are some core elements that apply to every member of staff. Let’s take a look at the key elements of an employee induction program.

Before employee arrives

Employee workstation set up: Stationery requirements, computer, email, telephone

Onboarding package: Welcome letter, job description, organizational chart, key contacts

Staff notification: Notification to key people and teams of new team member

Once employee arrives

Workplace welcome: Meet and welcome, office tour, their workstation

Employee paperwork: Collected letter of engagement/contract, tax form, superannuation details

Business introduction: Values, flexibility options, bigger picture, leadership values, career planning

Review of role: Objectives, job description, performance evaluation, remuneration

Probation objectives: Performance evaluation

Policies: Business policies/requirements

Processes: Business processes / how we do things here

Training requirements and schedule: Knowledge gaps and training requirements—schedule

Mentor contact and goals: Mentor meeting time and frequency

Occupational health and safety: First aid kit location, first aid officer, evacuation plan

Meeting key stakeholders: Setting appointment times after meeting key people

Follow-up and check-ins: Ongoing check-in, daily for the first week, weekly thereafter

Probation review: Review and assess, exit or proceed

Creating your own onboarding program

To help create your own onboarding program, Grad Mentor has put together an onboarding template that you can download and use in your accounting firm.

A good onboarding should continue the key messages you spoke about with employees in the recruiting process, and build the foundations for ongoing employee development and retention. Induction is just one step in a long-term and productive relationship between the employee and your firm.

With competition for good human resources greater than ever before, managing staff has never been more important. A sound onboarding program is one of the most important parts of this.

Alisdair Barr

Founder of Grad Mentor

Alisdair is the Founder of Grad Mentor, who provide a highly qualified conduit between graduates and the accountancy, financial planning and information technology industries. By identifying top performers and introducing them to workplaces, they allow each client to work with their chosen graduate prior to offering them full-time employment.


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