Best Practices

5 Benefits of Optimising the Onboarding Process for New Starters

Onboarding new starters effectively just is as important as the process of onboarding clients yet is often overlooked.

Think back to a time when you started a new job. Did you get the support you needed to do it to the best of your abilities? If this scenario is unfamiliar to you, you’re lucky. Poor onboarding processes are a common issue in any industry, but failing to offer new starters adequate support can be especially damaging in the accounting and bookkeeping sector. Research by Gallup discovered that as high as 88% of organisations don’t onboard new team members well.

Simply throwing new team members into the deep end can have negative consequences for them as individuals as well as for your firm. If they aren’t given the proper training and information to do their jobs properly, you risk mistakes, poor client management and even irreparable damage to your reputation.

Implementing a strong onboarding process is a non-negotiable for any accounting or bookkeeping firm. We’re talking about offering excellent training, strong support and helping your newest team members ease into the workplace culture. While this may take a little time and effort, it’s worth the investment.

Not convinced? Let’s dive deeper into the benefits of optimising your new starter onboarding process.

5 benefits for your firm and team members

1. Prevent mistakes later down the line

An essential aspect of setting up a good onboarding process is training. Offering fantastic training for new starters is a sure-fire way to maximise the chances of your team members’ performance measuring up to your high standards.

For accountants, mistakes can be critical. As your team has access to your clients' sensitive financial data and business information, you can’t afford to take any risks. Ensuring they are highly trained in your best practices and understand key industry regulations from their first day means you reduce the risk of mishaps.

Mistakes caused by new recruits can have financial repercussions for both your firm and your clients, which can be time-consuming to fix, even when caught early. While this may be the worst-case scenario, it’s important to do everything in your power to minimise the chances of it happening. One way to prevent mistakes during the early stages of employment is with training tools.

2. Set the whole team up for success

Teamwork really does make the dream work. Making sure your team works well together is crucial to the success of your firm because it impacts all areas of your business, from communication to client servicing. This applies to teams of all sizes, whether you manage one team in a large organisation or run a business with two employees. An amazing onboarding process is the first step to effective team building.

Onboarding processes often see new recruits isolated from their colleagues, watching training videos alone or picking through SOP documents for days. While this work is valuable, it’s important to ensure they get face time with the rest of the team as early as possible. If multiple new starters are beginning at the same time, consider group induction sessions to provide an opportunity for socialisation and bonding from their first day. They’ll also be able to offer one another support and encouragement as they move through the process together.

During this period, make sure to invite your new starters to any team meetings so they can get to know the wider team. Consider implementing a buddy system, which sees new team members paired up with an existing staff member. They’ll be their go-to for any questions or support during this critical learning period. Helping your new recruits start off on the right foot can boost morale, which has been shown to have a massive impact on teamwork and productivity.

3. First impressions count (and stay with you)

Optimising your onboarding process isn’t only for the benefit of your clients or your business; it’s equally important to ensure your team members are happy and well supported at work. On a personal level, that means the people you hire are happy. From a business perspective, that means lower turnover rates and harder-working team members. In fact, a study by Brandon Hall Group found that having a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82%.

Everyone experiences doubt when starting a new job, but a good onboarding process does wonders to make new recruits feel at home. Rather than focusing purely on paperwork and training during the onboarding period, it’s worth discussing development opportunities as early as possible; in fact, creating a strong development plan makes employees 3.5 times more likely to agree that their employer’s onboarding process was exceptional.

Plus, strong onboarding has the added benefit of gently introducing your new team members to the company culture, missions and values, which will help them reflect that culture in their work.

When putting together your onboarding process, it’s worth keeping the above in mind. Onboarding is when your new recruits will start developing a picture of your business and considering whether they want to work with you long-term. If you want to retain fantastic talent, we recommend making every effort to offer the best onboarding experience possible.

4. Documenting the process helps your firm develop

When devising an onboarding process, make sure to document everything. We recommend using a tool such as Notion to ensure your processes are clearly defined and easily accessible by all team members.

Doing so means that if — and when — errors occur, you can easily determine what aspects of the onboarding and training process need improvement. If new recruits repeatedly make the same mistakes, that is a clear sign that part of the process needs to be revisited.

The alternative is onboarding new recruits in an ad-hoc manner. Not only will this be inconsistent, but it risks key aspects of their training being overlooked and prevents any learnings from being taken on in the future. Continually reviewing your processes and asking for feedback from your recruits can help you make amends as you go. Your onboarding process will continue to evolve and become more effective over time, helping your firm reach new heights of success.

5. Prepare your firm for growth (even if your team is super small)

Small team? All our advice still applies. It’s fantastic that you’re looking to optimise your onboarding process during your firm’s early stages.

We recommend setting up an effective onboarding process as soon as you need to recruit your first team member. This is a fantastic opportunity to curate your processes and get prepared for expansion.

Testing your newly created process on your first recruit means that you have time to fine-tune it before you hit a period of growth. While it may feel like a poor use of time to set a whole process up for one person, you’ll be grateful you did when the time comes to hire multiple people at once. Remember, you can always make changes; work closely with your employee to understand what has and hasn’t worked, and amend the process as time goes on. With each new team member that joins, you’ll quickly see your hard work paying off as they’re able to hit the ground running and blend seamlessly in with your existing company culture.

Finally, this iterative approach to creating and optimising your onboarding process can help your team adopt standardised workflows from day one, which will do wonders for client satisfaction.


Ready to optimise your firm's onboarding process?

Getting started with any new initiative can feel daunting. One simple yet effective way to support the implementation of a newly optimised onboarding process is to ensure your workflows are water-tight.

That’s where Pixie comes in. Offering handy tools from automated task creation to team management, our practice management software helps maximise work consistency, with templated workflows giving new recruits everything they need to succeed in their roles.

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