Q: What is Onboarding?
A: New employee onboarding is the process of getting new hires adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new jobs quickly and smoothly. It is the process through which new hires learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization.
Q: What forms do I need to complete when I hire an employee?
A: There are generally only two required forms that must be completed when hiring an employee: an I-9 and a W-4. There are a number of recommended forms, many dependent upon the specific business. HR Answers recommends having new hires sign an employee handbook acknowledgement form, appropriate benefits forms, emergency contact, internal payroll authorization (direct deposit), receipt of company property, if applicable, employment agreements, such as confidentiality and non-solicitation agreements, inventions agreement, and job description acknowledgment. An employer should also obtain a signed employment application (preferably prior to hiring).
Q: Is it true that job offers should be in writing and should we change our policies to make such an offer in writing?
A: Whether an organization wants to make such agreements and arrangements is up to each organization. You may want to make the offer with the conditions of employment in writing, but also state that employment is contingent upon the policies and procedures set forth in the employee handbook. The letter really serves as a confirmation to the discussion. The nice thing about putting it on paper is that it starts the “paperwork” for the personnel file and everything in the letter should come as no surprise to the new employee. We strongly encourage a signature line for both the new employee and the employer with a copy for each party. At times, the agreement is nothing more than stating that a particular new employee will be able to take a previously planned vacation from date of hire or some other “out-of-pattern” policy, and you should abide by it under any conditions. If you are uncomfortable with such agreements, then don’t write anything more in a letter than the date employment starts and the wages to be paid. All other conditions can be stated in the organization’s policies and procedures. If you are interested in a sample confirmation letter, give us a call.
Q: Which is a more appropriate term to use to describe the first 90 days of employment: “probationary period” or “introductory period?”
A: There are basically two reasons to change the language. First, the term “probationary period” can be seen as an implied contract, negating the at-will rights employers try so hard to maintain. The implication is that once an employee completes a “probationary” period they will be retained no matter what. It is also very important that you do not call an employee who has completed the introductory period a “permanent” employee. We recommend they become a “regular” employee. The term “permanent” implies that they will always be with the organization. We also recommend that you have in your policies a disclaimer that the transition from the introductory period to a regular employee does not alter the at-will employment relationship in any way. Another good reason not to use the term “probationary” for new hires is that this terminology is often utilized in the corrective action process when an employee is not performing to standards. Having two completely separate periods referred to by the same terminology can be very confusing, or even misleading. Therefore, our suggestion is to re-name the initial period introduction or orientation.