The beginning of employment is such a crucial time. As an employer or manager, you've got the person selected for the role coming in to the business and you want them to get off to a good start, to quickly feel at home, and to start performing as fast as possible. Your new employee wants to get off on the right foot, too. They want to quickly find their place, to feel welcome and supported in their new workplace, and to start contributing.

It's a time for laying the foundations of a productive and healthy relationship that will lead a new employee to be a skilful, valued team member who sticks with the company and helps drive its success.

The process of bringing new hires into a company used to be known as induction or initiation, but these days is more commonly called onboarding.

Onboarding works best when it is a broad, well-designed process that gives each new employee all the tools, information, and insight they need to become an effective team member, while at the same time integrating them with the business, its people and culture.

The foundation document in all this is the employment agreement (formerly known as an employment contract). The employment agreement sets out the terms and conditions that govern the employment relationship and, by law, every employee must have one.

Because of its legal weight, the employment agreement is vital in setting expectations and stating what all parties are entitled to, and it provides a detailed reference should there be any issues or misunderstandings down the track.

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In this white paper, we take a close look at the initial, formative period of employment, exploring why onboarding is such an important process and how to get it right, what to watch out for when you create employment agreements, and why it's useful for companies and staff to have other important policies and procedures in writing.

The importance of onboarding

Taking on a new team member is a big decision, especially for small businesses, and the recruitment process can be time-consuming and costly. Finding the best person for the job is an important first step, but it's what happens when the person actually starts work that can make or break their success as an employee.

Even if it's an internal promotion, there's a mix of excitement and nerves when a new person starts a job. As an employer, you're unsure if the candidate who shone on paper and during int