How Startups Can Onboard New Team Members Securely

How Startups Can Onboard New Team Members Securely

Hiring new team members can be an exciting time for a startup — it’s usually a sure sign of positive growth — but the process of onboarding your staff into their new roles needs to be handled carefully, especially if you’re new to it. Doing so successfully and securely takes a lot of planning, admin, and organization. 

The onboarding process is the first real experience your new hires have of your business. It can make all the difference to how well someone adapts to their new role. By ensuring your onboarding process is clear and engaging, you’ll have new staff who are highly motivated, completely prepared, and ready to jump into work. 

However, there can be risks involved when you’re onboarding new staff. You’re giving someone access to your internal systems, accounts, and files, and you have to trust that they will be responsible. 

It’s important to effectively train new staff so that they understand your security measures and know how to handle files and data correctly — and this becomes even more complicated and important if you’re onboarding remote employees. 

To help smooth the process, we've put together some handy tips for how startups can onboard new team members securely.

Create an onboarding checklist

Hiring your first few employees is going to be a learning curve, but you need to take steps to plan out exactly how the onboarding process is going to work before they start. Not only do you need to have everything outlined for your new team member, but you also need to know what steps you need to take to ensure you don’t risk any regulatory or compliance issues. 

Create a checklist that includes everything they need to get started from equipment and software to accounts and login details, and any paperwork and forms they need to complete. Ensure this includes all the systems, files, and data that you’re going to be giving them access to. 

If you’re recruiting a remote worker from overseas, this step is particularly important. Let’s say you’re hiring in Canada, for example — you'll need to ensure compliance with Canadian employment laws and regulations, including any necessary work permits or visas. Additionally, consider cultural differences that may impact the onboarding process and provide resources for cultural integration.

Run through this list before and understand the procedures that need to be in place to securely (and legally)  set your new acquisition up as a full-time employee. 

Handle employee data sensitively


If this is the first time you’re hiring new team members for your startup, then you might not have had to handle personal employee data before. When they start, they’re going to share sensitive details such as their social security number, bank account details, address, and date of birth. You have an obligation to handle this correctly so that you don’t put your new team members at risk of fraud or identity theft.

It’s best practice to use encryption-based software to store employee data and limit access to their data to those who specifically need it. Safeguarding sensitive data involves establishing clear policies on who has access to this information and for what purpose, and it’s important to conduct regular access audits to ensure compliance with these policies

Provide all the necessary information

In the first couple of days especially, new staff are shown and told about so many different things that it can be overwhelming and confusing. To avoid this, set them up with a personal folder on your intranet or cloud storage that contains their onboarding checklist, your company handbook, policy documents, training materials, and any other important information, so they can easily find anything they might need.

You’ll still need to be on hand to answer questions or provide one-on-one guidance, of course, but ensuring your new starter has easy access to all the key documentation they require in their first few weeks will not only help ease them into their new environment without ‘information overload’, but also allow you to keep important company details in a single, secure location.

Carry out security training 

Before giving them access to important documents and information, security training for your new team members should be a priority. This needs to cover all of your security procedures and policies — especially what they should do if they think there has been a security breach or issue. Train them on what they can and can’t do with files, documents, and information that they are going to have access to. 

Cover basic security steps around setting up accounts and how to safely share passwords. For example, you might require them to use a password manager — there are many different options available, but generally they will securely store passwords and automatically generate complex passwords for new accounts. You can also install account settings that require your staff to update their passwords on a regular basis. 

Depending on their role, you might also need to get them up to date with how to handle other data; for example, if they work in a customer-facing role and have access to your customers’ or clients’ personal details, it’s essential that their actions are GDPR-compliant.

Set them up securely



Don’t leave sorting out equipment and IT set up until the last minute. Make sure everything is ready for your new employees to get started straight away, and if they’re working remotely ensure that everything arrives in plenty of time, providing support to get them up and running if necessary.

As a startup, you might consider asking employees to use their own personal computers at work, but this can put your company at risk. Personal laptops and computers won’t have the same high standard of security measures in place that you would need for a device that’s going to access your business’s files and documents. 

To reduce the risk of any security breaches, provide your new starters with a work laptop. One of the best options for startups on a tight budget might be a refurbished MacBook — this is an affordable way to provide a high spec, reliable, secure, and easy-to-use laptop, and there are lots of different options to meet your team’s requirements.

As part of the process, you should ensure that the computer is set up with all the necessary virus protection and security measures.  Using a VPN to protect against any unauthorized access is also a good idea. 

You also need to sort out all the other bits to create a work-friendly desk setup, such as a wireless keyboard, mouse, and a second screen — if your new starters are working on design or graphics then it could be worth choosing a monitor with a higher resolution.

Set clear guidelines around equipment usage

It’s important that you outline what responsibilities your team has in terms of looking after their work equipment, especially if they’re working remotely, using a co-working space, or commuting via public transport.

For example, if they’re provided with a laptop in the office, are they allowed to take it home with them? Do you have insurance that covers business equipment outside of the office? And can employees use their own equipment such as headphones or speakers alongside what you’ve provided? 

Setting out clear policies around equipment usage and security will ensure your employees aren’t putting data at risk by being complacent or picking up bad habits.

Offer a support network

To help them through their first few weeks, assign new starters with one person that will check in on them regularly throughout the onboarding process and ensure they’re following the right security procedures. Book in a catch up at the end of each week so that they can raise any questions or problems.

Part of the first day should include outlining how your startup is structured. They need to know who they’ll be reporting to and how their team works together so they’re clear about who to speak to if they do have a problem. This will also ensure that they know who to go to with any security issues or concerns immediately.

When you’re onboarding new members to your startup, you need to focus on making the process engaging and motivating while also covering all the essential procedures and policies that they need to be aware of. This will ensure your business’s security standards are maintained while your employees have a smooth and rewarding onboarding experience.

Editorial Team
This article was written by Editorial a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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