Business leaders and managers often have a hard time creating employee schedules that satisfy everyone. It is especially challenging for managers to create a weekly schedule for new hires. Successfully scheduling business requires balancing the needs of the business and employees and developing a streamlined process. It can be daunting and stressful, but it is a crucial component of creating a productive and positive working environment.

A successful schedule is the result of a lot of behind-the-scenes work, as you probably already know if you manage a team. You may already have mastered this process; if so, give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back. If not, then we’re here to help.

Employee Onboarding

In addition to on-the-job training and new hire orientation, new hires need additional support. Both in the short and long run, they need support both during their training and as they enter the corporate world. And that’s where onboarding comes into play. In fact, according to Brandon Hall Group research, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve employee retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

There is no one size fits all onboarding process, and new hires acclimate and engage at different rates. As a result, though, you’ll have a productive, engaged team member. So, with that said, here’s a template for the employee onboarding process for the first year.

Day One

It is important that your new hire feels welcomed as well. However, you should engage them with the entire group, as opposed to not just the person who is training them. Basics like greeting them upon arrival, accompanying them to their workspace, providing an introduction to the department, and setting up their IDs, key, and passwords are a given. In addition, you want to provide opportunities for meaningful interaction. Every first impression can be a reflection of the company’s culture, so make sure it’s a good one on their first day.

Their first day could also include meetings and feel-good activities. The most important thing is to inform your new hire of the duties and responsibilities of his or her position. Get your new hire started with training right away so they can feel productive right away. Instill a sense of responsibility by providing guided assignments that show how the work is performed, as well as self-guided tasks they can perform without supervision. You can make your new hire feel like they’re contributing meaningfully by communicating achievable, short-term goals.

Week One

Your new hire will benefit from lunches with different team members or groups throughout the first week. By doing so, the new hire will be able to find a group that they are comfortable with. However, be selective about the people you pair with these meal pairings. A new hire’s opinion of the company shouldn’t be shaped by the office complainers immediately. If your new hire’s manager hasn’t taken them out to lunch yet, he or she should do so after their first week.

You should reinforce the value you see in your new hire during the first week — both in the long-term and in the short-term. Why? This ensures that they get invested in the culture of your organization. Also, tying tasks to corporate culture wouldn’t hurt.

Take a few minutes at the end of every day of the first week to ask your new hire how they are doing. It’s a lot of information for them to digest this first week. But it’s also an invaluable source of information.

Be clear there is no right or wrong answer, but you want honest feedback. It is more likely they will provide direct answers if you ask specific questions. After all, your future plans for them should be informed by their responses.

Week Two

  • The payroll process should be reviewed in more detail, including timesheets, overtime, sick leave, holidays, and probationary periods.
  • Keep track of employee training registrations and completion plans.
  • Review department policies, procedures, and practices relevant to their roles in-depth.
  • Check-ins with employees should be scheduled on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Arrange on-the-job training with another team member.

Week Three

  • Make sure the employee’s role, responsibilities, and expectations are clearly defined.
  • Establish a network with the employees they will work with and a familiarity with the interrelationships between departments.
  • Assess whether additional on-the-job training is necessary.
  • In the first few weeks, list any other job-related requirements that are division or unit specific.

The First Few Months

One-month check-ins are important for HR to ensure that new employees are comfortable, happy, and engaged, said Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, an HR technology company. “Reviewing and giving thoughtful feedback on your new hire’s early contributions are also important during onboarding,” he said.

In a BambooHR survey, three-fourths of new hires said that training during the first week is most important. According to HR professionals, 41 percent of onboarding training needs to be updated.

“If you aren’t communicating what new hires are supposed to be doing and arming them with the tools to do it properly, you’re setting them up to fail,” Peterson added.

It is also important not to overwhelm your new hires with information.

“While it’s important to get your new hire ramped up and productive quickly, you also need to make sure you provide on-the-job training in a manageable flow,” he said.

The goal is for new hires to choose a mentor by the end of the first month, Peterson said. A buddy or mentor at work is very important when getting started, according to 56 percent of respondents in the BambooHR study.

Onboarding mentors or coaches are more likely to be assigned to high-performing companies than to lower-performing ones, according to a study by the Aberdeen Group.

“Mentoring programs can be as simple as assigning a new employee a go-to person or having an elaborate team of mentors for any questions that might arise,” said Amber Hyatt, director of product marketing at SilkRoad, a talent management solutions firm.

Month One: Getting Acclimated

  • Performance objectives and expectations should be reviewed and clarified. Changes should be made to the work plan and new assignments should be outlined. You can use this opportunity to assess the progress of your employee. Assess the employee’s satisfaction with their job and whether they need additional resources in order to succeed.
  • Verify that any required training has been completed by the employee. Ensure all tools, software, and system access are available to the employee.
  • Interdepartmental relationships should continue to be discussed with the employee as well.

Month Two

  • Integrate employees into the culture and workplace. Make time for employee and division/unit information sessions.
  • Assess the employee’s comfort level with their team and their ability to collaborate with others.
  • Continually assess the progress of the work plan and introduce new responsibilities as needed.

The First Three to Six Months

According to Peterson, HR should follow up with the employee between three and six months after the first check-in.

“Unfortunately, only 15 percent of companies continue onboarding after six months,” he explained. Remember, nearly 90 percent of employees decide whether to stay or go within the first six months. “You have a huge impact on that choice. Sometimes you just have to show that you sincerely care,” he said.

Month Three

  • Ensure that the required training has been completed.
  • Meet with the employee informally to discuss their performance. Discuss strengths and improvement areas with the employee. Get the employee’s feedback on what is and isn’t working for them.
  • Make any necessary adjustments to your three-month work plan. Your new employee and you should define success together. Remember, communication of job expectations and responsibilities should be clear and effective.
  • Check that each employee has access to all the tools, systems, and software they need to perform their duties successfully.
  • If you have any concerns regarding the performance of the employee, contact your Human Resource Administrator for assistance.

Months Four – Five

  • When the employee becomes more accustomed to the position, continue to meet with them weekly to address questions, gather information, and review training opportunities.
  • Determine whether the employee is familiar with and comfortable with the unit/division/department’s basic policies and procedures.
  • Keep employees updated on their performance and deliverables by providing regular feedback.
  • Set a review meeting date and confirm the end date of the probationary period. A request for an extension should be discussed with the Human Resources Administrator. On or before the anniversary date of the employee’s six-month probationary period or extended probationary period, the probationary period evaluation must be completed.

Month Six: The integration Phase

  • Communicate future performance expectations and review any changes to job responsibilities.
  • Invest in employee development:
    • Find ways to enhance or strengthen current job duties to support growth and development.
    • Identify training needs to enhance expertise and performance. There are options such as State Sponsored Training or Tuition Reimbursement Programs. Reading materials, training videos, and developmental on-the-job assignments are other examples.

The First Year

Ultimately, whether an employee is fully productive will be determined by his or her performance at the end of their first year,” explained Peterson. “Now you can plan for future development. Show them what their career looks like at the company. Sadly, sometimes they don’t belong there,” he said.

Employee retention and satisfaction are measured at the end of the first year after onboarding.

“Shift from on-the-job training to continuous development. It’s also a great time to have the compensation conversation,” added Peterson.

“Your new hires will thank you for setting them up on the path to success, and your company will be well on its way to turning those new hires into seasoned employees.”

Beyond Twelve Months

  • Maintain regular one-on-one meetings with employees — even if it is just 15 minutes to check in.
  • Keep an eye out for training and development opportunities on a regular basis.
  • Throughout the annual rating period, maintain a personnel file containing performance documentation.
  • Set up a calendar reminder for the employee’s annual performance evaluation one year after the completion of their probation.

Tips to Make the Ultimate Employee Onboarding Schedule

Give Them a Purpose

When an individual leaves their last employer after many years, starting a new job can be a jarring experience. Keeping their days filled with meaningful activities will take their minds off their nerves and anxieties. You should schedule meetings with key players in the organization, including upper management.

By providing new hires with brief, but meaningful face-time with executives and chief officers, communication barriers are broken down, and organizational silos are broken down.

Do Not Overburden Them With Work

Onboarding can be a miserable experience for far too many people. It is not uncommon for them to spend hours browsing the company’s website or past projects after they are led to their desks. Having a good understanding of your organization’s history and current offerings is obviously important. But the key is presenting it in a fresh and fascinating way.

Scavenger hunts for new hires can be devised where they search the website for information or answers to quirky questions. To help familiarize them with your site and product line, you could ask them, “Can you find a product on the site that has four flat sides and a handle?”

Make Sure They Are Trained Carefully

No matter how many years of experience your team member has or whether they are still just getting started, you need to make sure they have the proper training to succeed. Even if they have used the software before, don’t assume they know all the ins and outs.

Over the course of their first few weeks, have a subject matter expert who knows the program well, train the new employee. Your new hire will gain confidence and understand how the tool is used specifically in your organization if you do this.

How to Develop a Work Schedule for New Employees

Here are some tips for designing an employee schedule that works for everyone in addition to the onboarding schedule. The first step is to identify your business’s needs, factor in labor costs, define policies and expectations, and assess employee needs. From there, you can use the following strategies to develop a schedule for your new team members.

Define Your Scheduling Requirements

Creating a schedule begins with understanding and defining your business’s needs. Without knowing what skills and resources are needed, you won’t be able to fill shifts effectively. Here are some things to consider when defining your business needs:

  • Operating hours
  • During each shift, what duties must be performed?
  • How are these responsibilities performed? What skills and competencies do employees need?
  • Legal issues such as time on the clock and breaks

Establish the Core Hours and Bandwidth of Your Company

A business’s core hours are the times when it needs all hands on deck. During a bandwidth, you can remain flexible with your schedule during certain hours. There may be differences in bandwidth depending on holidays, the day of the week, or weekends, or it may be the same all the time.

The core hours of your company, for example, may be 9 a.m. to 5 -p.m. — since that’s when you interact with clients and customers. On the flip side, your daily bandwidth might range from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. if there is urgent work outside core hours.

Planning and Preparation

Put some effort into front-end scheduling. In the long run, it will save you time, reduce turnover, and establish credibility and trust between you and your team. Despite what they may believe, people like structure.

For example, be clear about your sick leave policy and whether or not late arrivals will result in disciplinary action. In addition to being a more effective manager, you will also gain the confidence of your team by communicating clear, well-defined expectations.

Plan a Flexible Schedule for Each Day

Similar to a regular flexible schedule, a daily flexible schedule lets employees choose their hours as long as the core hours make sense. While an employee still puts in the same number of hours each week, they can change their start and stop times every day.

Each employee should be assigned a regular flex schedule and adjust the schedule after each workday is complete. Under this arrangement, the employee may leave early or come in later the next day if they choose to work through lunch.

Compress the Workweek

Compressed workweeks are flex schedules in which employees work 40 hours in fewer days. In a typical compressed work schedule, employees work four 10-hour days with regular breaks for lunch. In a similar arrangement, employees alternate between working four days one week and five days the next.

Some employees prefer this scheduling option since it offers them three-day weekends a few times a month. Additionally, they can schedule doctor’s and dentist appointments without having to take time off from work.

Think Ahead

Planning for the future shouldn’t be left to the last week or day of the month. It is best to plan ahead as far as possible. It is less likely for employees to need shifts and swaps if their schedules are set up early.

For each job and shift, determine the skills required. You may have employees with the same skills and qualifications or you may have employees with different skills and qualifications. For every shift, create a master schedule that defines the requirements for each role.

What’s more, consider your future hiring needs. For example, if you’re a seasonal business, then you don’t want to wait until the last minute to hire. In other words, if you’re a retailer, you don’t want to start the holiday hiring process in December.

Make Use of Scheduling Software

You can automate scheduling using many tools. You could save a great deal of time over the course of a week by implementing today’s HR and employee scheduling technology.

Learn About Your Workplace

Managers have access to information regarding their stores and offices, such as peak hours. You can use this information to determine when you need several team members to cover your busiest times and when you may not need as many during downtime.

The employees who work better during quiet hours and those who cope well with peak times may also be identified. When employees are scheduled to work at their most productive times, errors can be reduced, and productivity can be maximized.

Flexibility and Humanity Are Key

Even though it may seem contradictory, it’s important to remember that the people you’re scheduling are also people. You will have to be nimble, understanding, and pivot from your original plan when things come up for your employees. In order to build trust and respect with your team, you should show a little empathy.

Image Credit: Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!