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5 Ways to Help Employees Help Themselves Encouraging workers to be independent and confident from the get-go will have many benefits for the company's bottom line.

By Andre Lavoie Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With 90 percent of companies believing that their employees make the decision to stay at or leave a company within the first year, as found in a 2013 Aberdeen study of 230 organizations, making a great first impression to new hires is crucial.

The first step to making an immediate positive impression is having an effective onboarding process in place. A successful onboarding process is designed to develop and retain employees.

Luckily, the process can be simplified for managers and employees alike, by creating an onboarding system that helps employees essentially help themselves during their beginning stages at the company. Here are five ways employers can aid employees in being independent and confident from the get-go:

1. Assign new hires a mentor.

In an effort to expedite new employee training, consider assigning new hires a mentor for at least their first few weeks on the job. Mentorship programs give employees an opportunity to learn from more seasoned employees, as well as build connections within the workplace early on.

Related: Are Your Employees in Danger of Suffering Heartbreak?

How does this help employees help themselves? It provides them with a go-to person. Having a go-to person for questions, comments and concerns is comforting to new employees and helps combat nerves associated with starting a new job. New employees will likely feel more comfortable asking mentors questions than they would be asking a supervisor, which ensures that new hire concerns are being addressed. Mentorship programs bring new hires up to speed in less time, and serve as a much-needed reference.

2. Offer (and encourage) opportunities for development.

Only 15 percent of organizations extend onboarding beyond six months, and that number drops drastically to 2 percent for year-long onboarding, according to the aforementioned Aberdeen study. Traditional onboarding programs don't last very long, but in order to help employees be more self-sufficient, extending the onboarding process to provide continued development is a must. After the initial onboarding is complete, continue to offer new hires relevant training and development opportunities.

The responsibility of training doesn't just fall on employers, however. Many employees take it upon themselves to develop their skills professionally. Encourage employees to search for opportunities to sharpen their skills -- professional development events, relevant webinars, lectures -- on their own time. Recognize employees for their efforts to learn and develop work-related skills outside of the workplace. Better yet, have them present what they learned during team meetings so that everyone can benefit.

3. Automate the process.

This is a big one. Automating the administrative side of the onboarding process makes onboarding simpler for both employers and employees, by making it easy to assign, track and store new hire paperwork and tasks. Long gone are the days of costly paper packets and repetitive data entry. In its place, companies are adopting a paperless system for bringing new hires on board. Doing so will help employers and employees stay organized throughout employee onboarding.

Related: 5 Keys to Successfully Manage Creative Employees

Implementing technology into the onboarding process helps get that pesky paperwork out of the way sooner, so more time can be spent on other aspects of the process. Not only does automating the onboarding process make things easier for employers, but having everything all in one place enables employees to easily refer back to necessary info when needed.

4. Welcome new hire feedback.

Invite new hires to participate in creating an onboarding process, that benefits them, by welcoming their feedback -- both constructive and positive. They'll appreciate being able to give their two cents. Encourage new hires to provide feedback on the onboarding process by asking them questions pertaining to their personal experience. What did they find most helpful from the process? What would they have liked to see that they didn't?

There's no better way to create a successful onboarding program than by asking those who experienced it what they thought. Asking for feedback will help employers better tailor their onboarding programs to suit the needs to new hires.

5. Be MIA (sometimes).

Sometimes the best way to create self-sufficient employees is by being unavailable, as it forces employees to figure things out on their own once in awhile. Although an open-door policy is widely encouraged, occasionally it's necessary to close the door for a bit and hang that "Do Not Disturb" sign. Doing so will promote employee independence by making it so that employees have to get by without an manager's assistance.

This is another case where having a mentor assigned to an employee can be helpful. It provides new hires with someone to refer to and frees up some time for employers. Not to mention, encouraging independence in the workplace helps build trust between employers, employees and co-workers alike.

Do you know of some other ways employers can help their employees help themselves during the onboarding process? Please share your tips in the comment section below.

Related: How to Deliver Constructive Feedback With a 'You Suck Sandwich'

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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