The time of most impact for any new yoga teacher occurs in the first few weeks at a studio, wellness center, or corporation. To ensure new and existing team members are on the same page, it’s helpful to create a new yoga teacher onboarding process. By sharing information about the company’s values, expectations, and operations, new hires see how they can contribute to the growth of that organization. And, they can step in with confidence and clarity as they do so.
For those of you who are yoga teachers looking to get hired at local venues, you can learn a lot from the amount of detail in a studio’s onboarding process. Use the items below as a checklist to see how effective a company is at coordinating their team members, sharing their message, and serving their community under a united front. You’ll probably realize very quickly with this information if a company is a good fit for you, too.
Over the past fifteen years in the yoga industry, I’ve experienced a wide range of teaching environments. There was a high level of detail when I taught at California State University, Chico. In fact, all university employees had to fill out paperwork, submit fingerprints, and even watch a few training videos. Then each department informed you of their specific expectations for each semester at their smaller staff meeting.
In contrast to this large institution, I’ve also taught at many smaller studios. One studio, in particular, had no established process for interviews or onboarding. I met the owner in a casual setting and paperwork was sent to me as an email attachment.
When it came time to learn about studio operations, I was shown how to use the computer once. Then, the day of my first scheduled class set for a 5:30 pm, another teacher was to meet me at the studio and give me a key
Yet, the very morning of my first class, that teacher could no longer meet me and expected me to change around my schedule to be at the studio that morning. The owner had forgotten to explain the alarm system, and just having a key would no longer suffice.
Needless to say, I rearranged my busy schedule to accommodate the other teacher. The messy onboarding was an early sign of the studio’s disorganization. Had I known what to look for then, I could have avoided many headaches and walked away from the studio much sooner.
Photo Credit: Diane Nicole Photography
BENEFITS OF AN ONBOARDING PLAN
Onboarding a new yoga teacher in a streamlined format is essential to your yoga business success. Just like doctors incorporate new patients or insurance companies bring on new agents, onboarding provides an opportunity for you to create harmony within your team. It also prevents a spread of misinformation or a misunderstanding of studio policies.
It takes time to create a new yoga teacher onboarding plan for your business, but it’s entirely worth the effort down the road. Not only do you set new teachers up for success within your organization, but:
- Your entire team gets on the same page
- New teachers feel welcome and confident integrating into an existing framework
- Your business remains organized and efficient
- Productivity increases
- Customer engagement increases
- Your team can tell a cohesive story about where you’re going
- Perceived value in the community grows
- Staff confusion diminishes, and
- Teacher turnover decreases
Now, who wouldn’t want those benefits?
Photo Credit: Paul Gilmore
ITEMS TO INCLUDE IN AN ONBOARDING PROCESS
We recommend you include the following in your new yoga teacher onboarding process. Keep in mind that while you want to have a structured plan in place, you don’t want it to become too academic or theoretical. Keep it simple. For you want them to understand your values and purpose, but also be able to bring their own creativity and strengths to the table without too much restriction.
Some easy ways to format this information could be a:
- Downloadable PDF to read at home
- Powerpoint presentation they can watch before arriving
- Private page on your website highlighting the basics
- Meeting between existing staff members and the new hires
Use your own creativity and personality to bring your business to life for new yoga teachers joining your team!
(1) TELL THE COMPANY’S STORY
Can you recall your passion and excitement to create an amazing place for people to practice?
Get your new teachers just as enthusiastic about your existence by telling them your story. Make them feel like they are part of something great and they will give back to the team with honor, pride, and dedication.
What to include in the story?
- The reason for your existence.
- Elements of the company culture
- Future aspirations of the business
You might even consider answering these simple questions and sharing them in the yoga teacher onboarding plan:
- Why do we exist?
- Who do we serve, and how?
- How do we behave?
- What do we do to serve our community? (We know you teach yoga, but how specifically? Styles? Formats? etc)
- What is our path to success?
- What roadblocks could prevent us from accomplishing our mission?
Photo Credit: Jehyun Sung
(2) INTRODUCE THE TEAM
The goal of this component is to help your teachers develop meaningful connections. In the example above, I didn’t even know the teacher who was set to train me at the new studio. Was she a studio manager? Just another seasoned teacher or someone who was going to be there to mentor me? It was all unclear.
Since many yoga teachers do not see each other unless in passing at the studio or around town, it’s essential to facilitate meaningful, trusting relationships among teammates.
This could include checklist items in their onboarding packet to:
- Have them read teacher bios on the website
- Encourage them to attend classes by other teachers (especially if they have not done so already)
- Invite them to ask questions of you and the other staff via email or in person
- Sponsor meetings between them and other teachers on the team. For example, you could provide a $10 gift card to a local tea or coffee shop where two teachers could meet face-to-face and build a bond of trust.
(3) COMPANY POLICIES
While this is often referred to as compliance by hiring managers, you’ll want to introduce legal and company-specific policies in a new yoga teacher onboarding process. The following items are essential to have signed by new yoga teachers:
Teacher Information Form
This can be a simple, one-page form that asks for contact information, a current mailing address, emergency contacts, special health or dietary requirements (these can be useful when planning event catering), and date of birth.
Tax Withholding and Eligibility Forms
If you hire teachers as employees, new hires must fill out the following forms within the first 48 hours on the job: a W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate, and Employment Eligibility Verification. Many states also require their own version of the W-4, or offer it as an option for calculating state income tax withholding.
If new teachers are hired as an independent contractor, then the Federal I-9 form (along with any other state-specific forms) will need to be included.
This information might be outlined in a yoga contract. In any case, ensure that the new yoga teacher onboarding process includes a written explanation of how much they will be paid and how frequently this will occur.
Other Important Items
It can be helpful to share company rules and regulations that all team members are expected to follow. This can include dress code, social media usage, grievance or disciplinary procedures, and security and building access guidelines. Have employees sign such a document and then keep it on file. (Just make sure you print a copy and give one to them to keep for their own records, too)
These are the day-to-day tactical operations that keep your studio in business. While new yoga teachers might not be responsible for every logistical detail, it’s helpful to make new teachers aware of this information during the onboarding process.
Some sample ideas to cover in your logistics section:
- How to access the building
- How the studio accepts payment
- The process of onboarding new students to the studio
- Who is responsible for taking student payments at the beginning of classes (each teacher, other staff, etc)
- The process for finding a substitute
- Frequency and dates of studio cleaning
- Information about other clients in the building
- How to handle an emergency in the building
- Who is the point of contact in an emergency (other than 9-1-1)
Again, be detailed yet simple with your instructions.
Photo Credit: Aziz Acharki
If you share a powerful message in the teacher onboarding plan, this will help new hires speak about their new role with your company. It can also help them bring in more clients to the studio and encourage existing students to stay with their practice at your location.
To clarify your expectations about marketing, include what responsibilities will be covered by the studio and those which will be left to the teachers. This could outline items such as:
- Free class cards
- Business Cards
- Studio Flyers, or
- Discount codes online
The more you can spread the word about your studio, and the more success each teacher can have, the more the entire group benefits. Just make sure your marketing message is clear from the beginning.
THE GOAL IS TO INCREASE COMMUNICATION
When you onboard a new yoga teacher, you set the tone for communication within your organization. It’s also how you inform them of expectations around the communication process within your company. Provide clarity at the beginning, and continue to add more clarity over time by:
- Making sure you provide time for feedback and questions, not just when they are learning but throughout your company’s lifespan.
- Communicating openly and frequently
- Encouraging honest input from staff and clients
Because each new teacher will join the team at various times, it can help to include updates about what is most important with your studio right now. Just do your best to keep everyone in the loop and on the same page!
Photo Credit: Ember and Earth Photography
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
To help new hires adjust to your business quickly. This process will explain the attitudes, skills, and systems of your yoga studio. This is what a new yoga teacher onboarding plan is all about. It’s a way for you to share your story, values, policies, and logistics of your organization in a clear way. This makes new yoga teachers feel welcome immediately and allows them to be prepared to do their job well.