Onboarding Process Considerations
Onboarding is a key part of the orientation of a new employee into a School District. Onboarding follows the hiring process and is a key step to successful retention of new employees. The onboarding process focuses on a strong employer welcome, affirmation of the employee’s decision to choose the district as an employer, affirmation that the employee fits into the organization and long-term relationship building.
The onboarding process is a comprehensive approach that starts before the employee’s first day of work and continues into the start of the school year. Onboarding is a structured way to provide new employees with district information and to provide a system for establishing communication and bonds between the new employee and his/her department members.
With the uncertainty of normal school operations resuming in the 2020-21 school year, adjustments to onboarding best practices may need to occur. Begin by creating an onboarding checklist that provides the basic list of processes that need to be consistently applied. Review how a virtual setting may require alterations to key processes. The following provides a typical list of onboarding processes and considerations for successful onboarding of new staff in a virtual or hybrid environment at the district, site and department levels.
District Onboarding Considerations
- Contract Issuance - Does the HR department have the ability to issue these electronically and capture necessary signatures?
- One-on-One Meetings - Can required paperwork be completed via electronic records storage platforms (i.e. FileBound, Yellow Folder, other systems)? Can HR department members utilize video conferencing platforms for one-on-one meetings (i.e. Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, Zoom, etc.)? Is there a plan for I-9 employment verification if employee meetings are not held in person? How will staff ID pictures and badges be created?
Benefit Enrollment Meetings - Can large group meetings be scheduled via video conferencing platforms? Will benefits consultants be invited to attend? Can a benefits enrollment video be created and shared with each hire? How will enrollment paperwork be completed?
- Technology Device Deployment - If personal devices are typically issued during an in-person individual or large group meeting and those meetings move to a video conferencing platform, what is the plan for deployment? Can the IT team schedule individual device pick-up? How will systems training (i.e. staff and student databases, email, file drives, other instructional software, etc.) be conducted?
- Meetings with Other Key Individuals - If new employees typically meet with the Superintendent or other district administrators upon hire, is there a plan in place to schedule these via video conferencing?
- Summer Collegial Connections - If summer social functions which are typically scheduled to establish and maintain strong collegial connections cannot be held, what plans are in place to help welcome new staff? Can social media groups be formed?
- District Tour - If group tours are cancelled, how will new employees meet all key individuals in the district and community? Does the district have a list of addresses for all locations and the suggestion of a self-guided tour with information about each site?
- Orientation Days - Does the Teaching & Learning team have alternate plans for delivering the orientation days virtually? Are all instructional materials digitized or available for pick-up? Is spirit wear being made available for pick-up?
Site Onboarding Considerations
- Mentoring - how will mentors connect with mentees if no in-person sessions are scheduled? Is there a checklist of items for review in August?
- Site Orientation - schools often customize their new employee onboarding experience, and the following is a list of topics typically reviewed in-person during back-to-school preparation days. Is there a plan to provide information virtually?
- Pictures of building administrative assistants and details of responsibilities (Who Does What Guide)
- Distribution of access cards and room keys
- Review emergency procedures
- Frontline AESOP training: general overview, how it links to employee database (i.e. Skyward), process of inputting information, how subs requested virtually (external subs and on-staff subs)
- Substitute plans: ties into above processes and how to prep for an absence requiring a substitute, submitting lesson plans, best time frame for submitting requests
- Phone System: how to set up voicemail, answer voicemails
- Visitor and volunteer process
- Parking Pass
- School Specific Information
- Staff Website overview
- Mailroom function: location, how to mail (interoffice/USPS), office tour, how to use the copy and fax machines
- Entering building protocol - app, checklist, attestation/acknowledgement form, other site requirements to maintain physical distancing and contact tracing protocols
New Employee 30-/60-/90-Day Check-Ins - formal check-ins are often conducted as a means to ensure new employee success. These interviews, often conducted by the new employee’s principal or supervisor at the 30/60/90-day mark, assist in measuring new employee integration progress as well as learning of any needs, questions or concerns of the new employee. Is there a plan in place to provide for these electronically?
Department Staff Onboarding Considerations
Staff members hired to work in District Offices, Buildings & Grounds and Food Service may have different onboarding needs. Department members are typically involved with the onboarding process to help each new hire become familiar with department roles and responsibilities and receive specific training. Is Human Resources actively engaging department heads to ensure that plans are in place? Topics that may include:
- Hourly time clock-in and out
- Time off
- Building access
- Handbook language
- School tours
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