The Ultimate Onboarding Guide for Florida Employers

December 29th 2023

If you’re an HR personnel in the Sunshine State, you know the challenge of maintaining employee engagement and ensuring retention. In October 2023, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded a 3.6% total monthly turnover in Florida. While this percentage may appear relatively low, it can still significantly impact team dynamics and overall productivity. So, how do you ensure your employees are happy, engaged, and doing their best for your company? Well, there’s a host of things you can do, but it all starts with one very important process – onboarding.

In this guide, we’ll tackle what onboarding is, why it matters, Florida’s legal onboarding requirements, and the steps you can take to establish a robust onboarding process. Let’s get into it!

This Guide Covers:

What is Onboarding?
The Benefits of Getting Onboarding Right
How to Effectively Onboard Employees in Florida
Can Employees Undergoing Onboarding Be Fired?
5 KPIs to Track Onboarding Success
Final Thoughts

Work orientation during the first day. Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

What is Onboarding?

The US Department of the Interior defines onboarding as more than just introducing a new employee to the organization. It’s an active process that ensures new hires acquire the necessary knowledge and skills to become dedicated and effective members of the company. This crucial phase involves everything from paperwork to understanding the company culture, ultimately setting the stage for a successful and engaging journey within the organization.

The Benefits of Getting Onboarding Right

A study by Brandon Hall Group revealed that companies with a robust onboarding process significantly boost new employee retention by 82%. Considering that the average cost of hiring an employee is around $4,000, a well-planned onboarding plan can save companies A LOT of money.

Other than its role in increasing employee retention, getting onboarding right can also help to:

  • Accelerate Time to Productivity: Efficient onboarding ensures that employees quickly grasp their roles and responsibilities, allowing them to contribute meaningfully at an earlier stage. This accelerated learning curve directly impacts productivity, enhancing it by more than 70%. This helps organizations achieve their goals more swiftly.
  • Foster Employee Engagement: Onboarding is not just about introducing employees to their tasks; it’s about integrating them into the company culture. A positive onboarding experience fosters a sense of belonging, loyalty, and engagement, which are essential for long-term commitment and sustained high performance.
  • Promote Talent Development: Onboarding is an opportune time to identify and nurture the talents of new employees. By recognizing their strengths and providing growth opportunities, companies can lay the foundation for a skilled and motivated workforce.
  • Create Positive Employer Branding: A well-structured onboarding process reflects positively on the employer. It sends a message to both current and prospective employees that the organization is invested in their success, thereby enhancing the company’s reputation and attractiveness in the talent market.

How to Effectively Onboard Employees in Florida

Step 1: Create a Comprehensive Onboarding Plan

It’s essential to understand that onboarding goes beyond basic orientation tasks like paperwork; it’s a comprehensive process involving both management and other employees and can extend up to 12 months.

Given this lengthy process, it’s best to start by developing a detailed onboarding plan encompassing all aspects of the new employee’s integration into the company. This plan should cover the employee’s first day and first week and extend to the entire onboarding process. Include introductions to key team members, an overview of company culture, training modules, and any necessary paperwork.

You can also include the following details in your onboarding plan:

  • When onboarding will start
  • How long onboarding will last
  • The desired impression for new hires at the end of the first day
  • Roles of HR, direct managers, and co-workers in the process
  • The goals set for new employees
  • How feedback will be gathered to measure the success of the program 

Step 2: Check Florida Labor Laws

To ensure compliance with Florida labor laws you need to familiarize yourself with regulations related to onboarding and employment. This includes laws on employee wages, working hours, Florida overtime laws, and other relevant aspects. Understanding the legal landscape is crucial for creating onboarding processes that align with state requirements.

Some of the main laws you need to keep in mind when onboarding your new hires include:

  • Florida Statutes, Section 448.095: As of July 1, 2023, employers are required to confirm a new employee’s eligibility to work within three business days from their first paid working day. Florida Statutes, Section 448.095 defines an “employee” as someone in a permanent position doing work under the employer’s control who receives salary or remuneration. This excludes individuals hired for occasional work done only in a private residence and independent contractors hired for specific tasks as defined by federal laws or regulations.
  • Senate Bill 1718: On May 10, 2023, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis approved SB 1718, a law mainly addressing the state’s response to the current increase in migrants. This law makes it mandatory for organizations with 25 or more employees to participate in E-Verify. Previously, Florida required E-Verify participation for public employers and private employers working with state and local governments or receiving state incentives. With the new law, public agencies and private employers with 25 or more employees are now required to use the E-Verify system to ensure a new hire is eligible for employment in the United States.

If you want a more encompassing view of Florida’s legal landscape, check out our comprehensive Florida Labor Laws guide.

Step 3: Get Florida New Employee Paperwork Done Early

Paperwork might not be the most exciting part of employee onboarding, but it’s super important. Getting all the necessary forms and information from new employees early on helps onboarding run much more smoothly. In Florida, some of the important forms new employees will need to fill out include:

  • I-9 Form: The I-9 form serves the purpose of confirming that every new employee, regardless of citizenship status, is permitted to work in the United States. This form is mandated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security. The new hire is required to complete and sign Section 1, known as Employee Information and Attestation, on or before their first day of employment, but not before formally accepting the job offer. 
  • W-4 Form: The W-4 form, officially known as the Employee’s Withholding Certificate, is an important document for new hires in the US. Mandated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), this form is used to determine the correct amount of federal income tax to be withheld from an employee’s paycheck. Since Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, employees aren’t required to fill out a state W-4 form, only the federal one.

Other Optional Paperwork Requirements for New Hires

  • Employee handbook acknowledgment: The employee handbook acknowledgment is a document confirming that the new hire has received and understands the contents of the employee handbook, which typically outlines company policies and procedures.
  • Non-disclosures and non-competes: Non-disclosure and non-compete agreements aim to protect the company’s confidential information and prevent employees from competing unfairly upon leaving the organization.
  • Pay agreements: These agreements detail the terms of compensation, ensuring mutual understanding between the employer and the employee regarding salary, bonuses, or other forms of remuneration.
  • Consent forms for drug testing and background checks: These documents are crucial for companies that require such screenings. This step ensures that employees are aware of and agree to these procedures, promoting transparency in the hiring and onboarding process.
  • Direct deposit authorization: If your company offers direct deposit for salary payments, you should give new employees a form for direct deposit authorization. This allows them to choose the option of having their pay directly deposited into their bank account every pay period.

Step 4: Assign New Hires an Onboarding Buddy

An onboarding buddy is an existing employee who takes on the role of a mentor and support system for the new hire during their initial weeks and months with the company.

The onboarding buddy serves several crucial functions. For one thing, they help the new person get used to how things work in the company. This means showing them the company values, the usual ways of doing things, and the stuff that people don’t always say out loud but everyone knows. It makes the new person feel more at home and part of the team.

Secondly, the onboarding buddy aids in the new hire’s understanding of their specific role within the company. They provide valuable context that may not be readily available in the employee handbook, helping the newcomer grasp their responsibilities and how they can contribute to the team’s success. This context includes insights into relevant stakeholders and guidance on navigating organizational structures.

Step 5: Make the First Week Count

The first week is all about creating a positive and supportive environment for the newest team members. Start by providing them with thorough training that covers essential aspects of their roles, including any necessary tools or software they’ll be using. Make sure to introduce them to the team members they’ll be working with, allowing for a warm and friendly welcome. You can also organize welcome meetings, casual team lunches, or even virtual meet-and-greets, depending on the work environment.

Additionally, guide new employees through the physical workspace, explaining where key facilities are located, such as restrooms, break areas, and meeting rooms. Offer an overview of the company culture and values to help them understand the expectations and dynamics within the organization. Provide them with any necessary resources, like an employee handbook or onboarding packet, to support their understanding of company policies and procedures.

You want the first week to be productive but also not too overwhelming. To do this, try to space out first week activities evenly to strike a balance between providing essential information and allowing new team members to acclimate gradually.

Step 6: Set Long-Term Goals

Discussing goals for the first three months, six months, and beyond helps employees understand the expectations and provides a roadmap for their professional journey within the company.

In addition to task-related goals, employers can also delve into conversations about career growth possibilities. This involves exploring potential career paths within the organization and understanding how the employee’s skills and aspirations align with broader company objectives. By creating a vision for the future, employers empower new team members to see their role not just as a job but as a meaningful part of their career trajectory.

Step 7: Provide Ongoing Support

Beyond the initial welcome, onboarding’s goal is to sustain a positive and helpful environment for new employees as they integrate into their roles. This involves regular check-ins with the new hires to address any questions or concerns they might have. Encourage open communication and make sure they know they can reach out for assistance or clarification.

As part of ongoing support you can also consider organizing additional training sessions or workshops to deepen your understanding of specific tasks or company processes. This proactive approach helps new team members feel continuously equipped and confident in their responsibilities.

Step 8: Display Florida Labor Law Posters and Required Notices

Ensure that your workplace displays the necessary Florida labor law posters and required notices in visible areas. This helps keep employees informed about their rights and ensures compliance with state regulations.

Some of the posters and notices that Florida requires employers to display include:

  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Right Act (USERRA) Poster: This poster informs employees about their rights under USERRA, which protects job rights for individuals who leave their employment to undertake military service.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Poster: The FMLA poster outlines the rights of eligible employees to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons.
  • Florida Minimum Wage Poster (2023-2024): This poster communicates the state’s minimum wage requirements, ensuring that employees are aware of the minimum hourly wage they are entitled to receive for their work.
  • Florida Equal Employment Opportunity Is The Law Poster: Mandated by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, this poster informs employees about their rights regarding equal employment opportunities. It covers anti-discrimination laws and provides information on how to file a complaint if any violations occur.
  • Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law Poster: The Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster communicates essential information about employee rights and employer responsibilities regarding workplace safety and health under federal law.
  • Florida Law Prohibits Discrimination Poster: Required by law, this poster highlights Florida’s commitment to preventing workplace discrimination. Employers must display it prominently to ensure employees are aware of their rights and avenues for filing complaints.
  • RT-83 Florida Reemployment Assistance Program Law Poster: Provided by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, this poster outlines the eligibility criteria for compensation benefits under the RT-83 Florida Reemployment Assistance Program Law. Employers who qualify must display this poster, guiding employees on claiming benefits.

Step 9: Track Your Onboarding Process with a Time Tracking Software

Onboarding can be hectic, and we get it. To monitor progress and ensure things stick to the schedule, it’s best to use an employee time-tracking software.

This tool allows you to keep a close eye on the different stages of onboarding, helping you assess its efficiency and identify areas for improvement. With time tracking, you can monitor how much time is spent on various onboarding activities, from initial training sessions to team introductions and paperwork completion. This not only provides a clear overview of the onboarding timeline but also helps identify potential bottlenecks or areas that may require adjustment for a smoother process.

Additionally, time tracking software allows for the measurement of the overall duration it takes for a new hire to become fully acclimated to their role and the company culture. This data can be valuable for refining and optimizing the onboarding process over time, ensuring that it remains effective and well-tailored to the needs of new employees.

Can Employees Undergoing Onboarding Be Fired?

Yes, employees undergoing onboarding in Florida can be terminated due to the state’s At-Will Employment laws. These laws stipulate that employers have the authority to terminate employees at any time, for any reason or no reason, with or without advance notice.

However, it’s important to note that At-Will Employment does have limitations designed to protect employees from wrongful termination. These limitations include safeguards against discrimination based on factors such as race, gender, age, religion, national origin, disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, and other protected characteristics.

Additionally, employees cannot be terminated for taking Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, serving jury duty, filing a workers’ compensation claim, reporting unsafe work conditions or engaging in whistleblowing activities, reporting the employer for breaking the law, or if there is a breach of an implied contract.

To learn more about the legalities involving firing in the state, you may check out our comprehensive guide for firing employees in Florida.

5 KPIs to Track Onboarding Success

1. Involuntary Turnover

Involuntary turnover refers to situations where employees either had to leave due to a force reduction or were found to be subpar in meeting performance expectations. This KPI helps measure the effectiveness of recruitment, hiring, and onboarding practices. High involuntary turnover may indicate issues in the onboarding process or misalignments in recruitment strategies. To calculate this, use the formula:

New hire involuntary turnover rate = (Number of new hires forced to leave / Number of new hires) x 100.

2. Training Completion Rate

The training completion rate assesses the success of the onboarding program by measuring how many new hires complete their training. A high completion rate suggests employee interest in improving performance and achieving career goals. A low completion rate may indicate issues such as insufficient time for training or a lack of managerial support.

New hire training completion rate = # of new hires who completed training in a given period / total # of new hires in the same period

3. Employee Productivity

Employee productivity measures how effectively employee efforts contribute to business goals. In the context of onboarding, it assesses how well new hires integrate into their roles. Monitoring productivity involves evaluating input/output ratios or utilizing project management software to understand workflow efficiency. 

Calculation: Productivity = Input/Output

4. Engagement Rates

Engagement rates gauge the level of connection between employees and the organization. High engagement indicates a positive relationship and a drive to innovate and stay productive. Metrics include absenteeism, turnover, employer review site ratings, and the average employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS). To measure engagement, you can use the following formulas: 

New hire absenteeism rate = (# of workdays missed by new hires / Total # of days worked by new hires) x 100.

New hire eNPS = Percentage of promoters – Percentage of detractors

New hire turnover rate = (# of new hires who left employment in a given period / #of new hires in the same period) x 100

5. Onboarding Satisfaction

Onboarding satisfaction is assessed through surveys that gather feedback from new hires. These surveys help measure the success of onboarding initiatives and gather insights on the new hires’ experiences. Questions may include rating the onboarding experience, feeling valued at work, having clear goals, and having the necessary resources. Consistent questions allow for accurate measurement over time, aiding in continuous improvement of the onboarding process.

Final Thoughts

Effective onboarding in Florida is not just about paperwork and introductions – it’s about creating an environment where new hires feel valued, engaged, and ready to contribute their best from day one. This comprehensive guide is designed to be your go-to resource, providing practical insights, actionable strategies, and easy-to-implement tips for creating a successful onboarding experience tailored to the specific needs of Florida employers.

Not all companies are the same, and some positions may require a more personal approach to onboarding than others. Feel free to customize the strategies and tips outlined in this guide to align with the unique dynamics of your company and the distinct roles of your team members. Happy onboarding!