Onboarding employees? Approach it like a project manager.

Agencies are great at managing projects from initiation to completion. Why not apply the same methodology to onboarding employees?

Savvy human resource professionals have a process that involves vetting, interviewing and onboarding staff. When done efficiently, an employee can be fully productive in less time, which translates to significant savings for your agency.

If your agency does not have a human resources department, you can still successfully onboard an employee. Just treat it like a project.


Establish an Onboarding Process

Project Managers know that having a process, a step-by-step workflow, is critical.  The key elements of a process are 1) all steps needed to complete a project and 2) the person responsible for each step. So, list all requirements and steps to bring a new employee into your agency and get them up and running. Then determine who should own each step.

Some people at your agency probably automatically do onboarding steps when you hire a new person. For example, Accounting may handle the W-9 and other forms, the Office Manager arranges the  workspace and IT ensures they have the right computer and an email account. Coordinating these established process elements will streamline the entire onboarding project. Are your new employees familiar with your agency policies? Are you providing consistent training when they start? Defining the entire step-by-step process from beginning to end  - including processing, orientation and training will make the entire process go smoother and faster. It will also ensure you have all paperwork and the new employee has everything they need to succeed.


Use Project Management Tools for Onboarding

Remember, onboarding is a project. You wouldn't close a client project before the final deliverable is completed.  The same is true of onboarding projects. If you use Project Management tools such as schedules or agile boards, why not use them to organize and manage onboarding projects? Each step will flow into the next, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. Here's a Gantt Chart of a simple onboarding schedule example with assigned tasks. You can make yours as detailed as you need to be sure nothing is overlooked. Remember, you're planning and managing just as you would a client project.


Onboarding an employee doesn't end on their first day. When the employee’s first day arrives, there is more to onboarding than completing forms and showing them to their workspace. What are the next steps? And who owns them? In the illustrated example, the process includes steps and responsibilities for orientation and training. Including them in a schedule allows you to keep track a new employee's progress in their first days and weeks.


Communicating Policies and Procedures

Even small agencies have policies and procedures. Documenting them is a lot of work, but it will pay off because the new employee can review the information themselves, saving time as well as confusion. If you don’t have an intranet system, you can provide the documents in a binder, or go paperless by emailing a pdf.  You can also place your policy and procedure documents in a repository, where any employee can access the latest version when they need the information.  Don't forget to use your project management tools. Use them to give the new employee an assignment to review the information.  Include a deadline. This will clearly communicate the importance of familiarizing themselves with your agency's policies and procedures.


Agency Software Training

Training is where it’s very easy to drop the ball. Everyone on your staff is busy, which makes it challenging to find someone who has the time for one-to-one training. And when an employee is spending hours training another employee, it's making them unavailable for billable hours. But someone needs to be responsible for this extremely important step. How do they fill out their timesheet? What if they need to submit an expense report?  How to they log into your system to get started? Don’t leave it up to the employee to ask questions. Most likely, they don’t know what questions to ask! If the new employee’s first impression is that no one has time to train them, they begin to feel isolated, stressed and burned out - right out of the gate. 


So, what's the solution? Software providers usually offer training, either online or in person. If this exceeds your budget, training videos are an economical and smart solution, especially as video training has become more common. Videos also provide consistent training content. If your agency software has a video library, it saves you from having to produce training videos. Create an assignment for the new employee to watch specific videos and include a deadline. Assign a staff member to be available to answer questions - which takes much less time than spending hours as a one-to-one trainer. 


Benefits of Streamlining your Onboarding Process

Your staff is your agency's most valuable asset. Start them off on the right foot and show them they made the right choice by joining your agency. Orchestrating onboarding like a project manager gives new employees the impression of efficiency and effective leadership. This can pay off with higher productivity and better employee retention.


An all-in-one solution means new employees only have to learn one platform, which speeds up the onboarding process. Advantage Software is purpose-built for full-service advertising agencies, creative teams, public relations firms, and marketing firms of all sizes. Over 850 agencies use Advantage for Accounting, Project Management and Media. With features like a built-in document management repository, schedules, agile boards and a training video library, it has everything you need to manage your business. We’ve been helping our clients maximize productivity, efficiency and profitability for over 40 years. Find out how we can help you by contacting us for a demo. If you simply would like to learn more, sign up for our free Newsletter.

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