How to Onboard Accounts Payable Staff

Two sets of shoes arrive at a welcome mat

After weeks of interviewing, you've finally hired the perfect accounts payable professional. He's accepted the job offer, and you've agreed on his first day of work. Now, it's time to relax and wait for him to arrive, right?

Not exactly. If you want to get your new employee off on the right foot, you need to provide an onboarding experience — the final, and crucial, step of the hiring process — that sets him up for success. Get the onboarding process right, and you'll be more likely to have a solid accounts payable professional who will stick around. Get it wrong, though, and your new hire may end up feeling unsupported, unsure or uninvested in the firm.

Here are some tips for bringing new employees on board in an effective way:

Clearly define roles and responsibilities

Ideally, you will have explained the specific requirements of the role at the start of the recruitment process. But if that definition is less than precise, now is the time to create a more detailed description to share with your new team member.

Whether you want the employee to process invoices for payment, maintain accounts payable files, reconcile accounts, resolve nonpayment issues with vendors, or present financial reports — or all of the above — write those duties down. Then, go over the list with the new worker on the first day and address any questions that come up. That way, there won't be any confusion about what you expect.

Be prepared on the first day

Make sure that everything's in place and ready before your new employee's start date. That means creating a comfortable, clean workspace stocked with all the resources your new employee needs to do the job. It also means working with the IT and security departments to make sure your new hire's email account, systems login credentials and security badge are set up before the new hire arrives.

Be sure to connect with your company's human resources and legal teams ahead of the accounts payable professional's first day. They can help provide guidance around the type of documents the new hire will need to complete, how to communicate company policies and other important matters.

Extend a warm welcome

Meet the new accounts payable employee at the building entrance on the first day, and escort him or her to the work area. This simple tactic can dissolve a lot of your new employee's feelings of disorientation or anxiety while also reinforcing how glad you are to have the person on staff.

Once the new worker has had a chance to settle in, introduce him or her to coworkers one at a time, and explain each person's role on the team. If possible, encourage the new hire to spend more time with the people he or she will be working with most so the person can start to establish a good rapport with them.

Check in as time goes on

Ideally, by the end of the first week, you'll have covered all essential orientation and administration steps, such as standard operating procedures, company hierarchy and human resources paperwork. Also discuss training opportunities, which are very important to most workers today. Your employee should by now have a good sense of his or her role and position in the company.

But even the best new employees — the ones that fit right in without much effort on your part — will still have questions during their first few months on the job. Consistent, thorough follow-up is also a key component of the onboarding process.

Choose specific time periods for you or a supervisor to meet with the new hire and find out how things are going. Depending on the job's complexity and predicted evolution, you might decide to arrange meetings after the first two weeks, the first month and every two months after that, for example.

Go beyond answering questions and evaluating performance — find out how well your new employee understands the company as a whole and his or her role within it. Assess motivation and morale: Does the person enjoy open communication with managers and coworkers? Has he or she encountered any problems or demotivators in the new job?

During these meetings, you'll also want to make the new hire aware of opportunities for professional development and get feedback on any job-specific training the company's provided so far. This is a good time to find out if your employee believes the training was worthwhile and collect suggestions for future developmental experiences.

An effective onboarding process can take time, but it's well worth it. The end result is an employee who understands what's expected and feels comfortable in the new position from the start. That feeling, in turn, can give a worker job satisfaction and loyalty that will make him or her more productive and effective on the job.