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7 Best Practices for Onboarding Maintenance Workers

In 2020, the U.S. maintenance technician workforce reached 971,072 but finding a skilled workforce can be challenging for employers. This is why retaining your talents is critical, and an effective onboarding program that includes a mentoring program will lead to achieving that goal.

Bryan Christiansen

July 5, 2021

Strategic employee onboarding is widely practiced by many organizations. An onboarding process can enhance employee engagement and significantly reduce turnover. However, onboarding is a non-linear and ongoing process.

Even when a new recruit is coming from a similar position, having proper onboarding is vital. For every position, there are procedures and expectations unique to your organization. Your new staff needs proper guidance and some time to perform to their full potential.

Even when hiring an experienced maintenance worker, preparing an onboarding process for them to follow is essential. In this article, we take a look at 7 key steps to onboard your new maintenance staff, but first, let’s review some statistics that speak to the importance of a good onboarding process.

4 Key Employee Onboarding Statistics

  • According to Glassdoor, a solid onboarding process increases employee retention by 82 percent. The same study highlights that strategic onboarding increases productivity by 70 percent.
  • A study by Gallup found that only 12 percent of employees think their organization has a good onboarding process. This means that 88 percent of employees feel their employer can do much better.
  • Research by HCI highlights that 58 percent of organizations say their onboarding process is focused on paperwork. The same study found that most organizations focus only on Week 1 employee onboarding.
  • HBR found that over 33 percent of new hires look for another job opportunity within the first 6 months in a new position. This percentage is higher among millennials.
7 Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees

7 Best Practices to Set Up An Onboarding Process For New Employees

  1. Organize Your Onboarding Process Beforehand

First off, an onboarding process should be documented and followed the same way each time. You want to make sure that no important steps are missed. There is nothing worse than having a new maintenance staff report for work on their first day, only to find that their roles have not been defined yet.

Your organization should create a comprehensive onboarding checklist and follow it every time. Your HR department should be working closely with your new team members' direct manager for this.   Include the roles and responsibilities of your new maintenance worker for each item.

Key takeaway:

Plan and organize your onboarding process in easy-to-replicate steps. Include all relevant parties in the process to ensure no critical steps are missed.

  1. Introduce a Mentor to Your New Recruit

Your experienced and loyal staff are your best allies when onboarding a recruit. Associating new hires with senior employees allows them to observe your organization's procedures. Mentoring programs also encourage new team members to abide by your policies and work standards.

Senior staff assigned as mentors should have acute knowledge in their positions. Also, the mentor should be a patient teacher capable of teaching processes in detail. When the pairing is done right, training time is considerably reduced.

Key takeaway:

Strong onboarding buddy programs can increase productivity levels, employee satisfaction and lowers turnover. The mentor will be the go-to person for explaining the company values, culture, and processes.

  1. Have Well Defined SOPs

An effective onboarding strategy must include detailed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Well-defined SOPs serve as a reference guide to limit mistakes and eliminate redundant questions. Moreover, this enables your maintenance technicians to operate independently.

The daily operations of your maintenance staff should be well documented in the guidebook. This should provide an understandable explanation of the working environment and processes. To stay current, schedule an annual update of your guidebook.

Key takeaway:

Your SOPs must show new members the quality and performance level expected of them. Update your SOPs as your organization grows to create the best onboarding program possible for new recruits.

  1. Hands-on Training

Being a maintenance staff very often equates to a whole lot of hands-on work. On-the-job training can drastically speed up the onboarding of new maintenance staff. Nothing beats getting to the nitty-gritty of the job role, with the guidance of a mentor.

This makes them more productive as well as valued and engaged in the workplace. Third-party trainers or members of your maintenance team can provide the training. Again, the training curriculum can also be updated as your processes change.

Key takeaway:

Hands-on training is one of the most effective ways to get your new team members ready for the role. This gives you the opportunity to evaluate the skills of your new maintenance recruit.

  1. Share Your Long Term Vision

One of the top things new maintenance hires need to know right off the bat is your expectations. Clarify priorities about their job roles right from the beginning. Also, showing them what to expect down their career path can boost their engagement and motivation.

You should highlight the department/organization goals and objectives. Share your process for measuring performance and any relevant key performance indicators (KPIs). Finally, help them understand how high-level decisions are made within the organization.

Key takeaway:

Your new maintenance recruit should get an overview of your organization's structure. They should understand your management style, long-term vision, and performance appraisal process.

  1. Maintain a Fair Workload

Poor work distribution can harm employee morale, whether it's a senior staff or a new worker. When recruiting a new maintenance worker, you should already have a properly planned workload for him. When done right, workload distribution can serve as an informal retention strategy.

One costly mistake here would be replicating the workload of senior staff.  Keep in mind that your new hire has only recently started their new job and a formal onboarding program will give them some time to adapt to your organization's processes. Your planned workload for the new maintenance staff should not be overwhelming while minimizing idle time.

Key takeaway:

A fair workload reduces the risk of workplace burnout and employee turnover. People gain experience the longer they work for your company, and that experience is invaluable.

  1. Celebrate Achievements

Whenever your organization reaches certain milestones, it is important to acknowledge them. Celebrating your organization's success can boost employee engagement motivation. Plus, this shows your new maintenance workers that your organization values success.

Having a recognition program in place can also be a productivity trigger for many workers. On the other hand, many employees leave their jobs because they feel unappreciated. For example, this infographic shows how recognition can help employees work happier. Furthermore, celebrating milestones reminds everyone of what has been achieved and what is yet to be done.

Key takeaway:

Regardless of seniority, your staff’s efforts need to be recognized and rewarded. Consider having a formal employee recognition and reward program in place.

Conclusion

In 2020, the U.S. maintenance technician workforce reached 971,072 but finding a skilled workforce can be challenging for employers. This is why retaining your talents is critical, and an effective onboarding program that includes a mentoring program will lead to achieving that goal.

Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy-to-use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.

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