Employee Engagement

8 Employee Onboarding Best Practices

June 21, 2022
min read

The initial employee onboarding process is a delicate and important step in solidifying the new hires onto your team and ensuring they meet the needs of the business long-term. 

Your company will also be making its first impression during this period, and maintaining a positive reputation as an employer will help attract other high-performing individuals to interview for a position later on. 

So what does an employee onboarding process really entail? Well, it’s the employee’s first introduction to not only their position, but the company’s values and work culture as well. 

The successful implementation of employee onboarding best practices will result in a more positive experience for the entire team, not just the new hires. Providing abundant background context and initial resources to the new employees will help them get settled into their roles with ease and at a quicker pace, reducing the transition and adjustment time that arrives with stepping into a new job. 

Employee onboarding best practices result in a higher retention rate and set your people up for success which in the end, results in a healthier company culture. 

So, let's dive into how to take your onboarding process to the next level with best practices!

What Is Employee Onboarding? 

Employee onboarding refers to how new employees are welcomed into the team and the method used to introduce them to the company culture. This process is where new employees should receive the tools, resources and equipment they need to successfully integrate into the team and begin making productive contributions. 

It’s important not to confuse onboarding with orientation as the former is a more in-depth and detailed process. Employee onboarding experiences can last longer than an orientation too, with some processes lasting longer than 6 months; the length of time spent for onboarding depends on the job’s complexity, the length and time required for training and the employee’s level of responsibility in their role. 

Onboarding processes are long-term activities that should never be rushed or dismissed as unnecessary. Continuous practice of employee onboarding can provide productive feedback and help maintain a record of progress for each employee. It brings an opportunity for communication between new hires and employers so they can regularly discuss concerns and make adjustments where needed. 

The most crucial aspect of onboarding is that it allows new employees to ease into their position without being overwhelmed with too much information too quickly. Through this process, the new hire can gain on-the-job training while progressively increasing their responsibilities and learning every aspect of the job effectively and with close attention to detail. 

Employee Onboarding Best Practices 

Read below for the 8 best employee onboarding practices to successfully welcome your new hires into the regular work practice of your organization.

1. Start The Process Before The New Hire’s First Day

After a successful candidate has accepted their job offer, they’re commonly given a start date that’s within a few days or weeks after the date of acceptance. This in-between period is a great starting point for the onboarding process!

While your new employee anticipates their first day of work, you can create excitement by providing them with background information about the organization, including the company values and mission, and their specific position too. 

This is also the most efficient time to collect their personal details such as contact and payroll information. 

By providing your employee preliminary resources that define their position, you can help them feel more comfortable for their first day as this time lets them prepare and get to know the company before walking into a new environment.

Related: Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist

2. Start With A Welcome Package

New employee welcome packages make for an effective and positive first impression from the company. Not only do they set the tone for a welcoming first day into the job, they can help give the new hire a concrete sense of belonging and appreciation!

These packages can include items such as branded company merchandise including branded stationary for them to use on the job, shirts and jackets with the company logo on them and even branded mouse pads and coffee mugs. 

Let your new hire know that you’re happy to have them through a successful welcome package!

3. Explain The Basics

Preliminary employee onboarding should be introduced through helpful miscellaneous information about the workplace. It’s best to first introduce your new employees to their work space (e.g. their desk, office or cubicle) and then let them know about things like dress code and parking/transportation arrangements. 

It’s always great to give your new employees a personal tour of the work space too! Explain the office or building layout for them so they don’t get confused within their first week, and show them where tools like the scanner and printer are located, as well as the restrooms and the best place to take lunch. 

Equipping new employees with this information reduces the stress that comes with adjusting to a new work environment. If they feel comfortable and understand their space from the first day, they can focus on getting to know their position more efficiently. 

Letting the first day run smoothly and helping your new employees adjust to their new position definitely sets the tone for a positive and productive onboarding process!

4. Set Clear Expectations

One of the best ways to set your new hires up for success is to provide a physical, written guide that outlines all expectations and important goal setting. It’s common for people to feel overwhelmed and pressured during the first few weeks at a new job, so making expectations clear allows them better structure and organization as to the best way to integrate into their new positions. 

By providing them with a document that contains your expectations, and explaining it to them in person during onboarding, you can help make their position clear and let them know that you care about their progress and that they have your continued support. 

You can also gain immediate feedback through a vocal explanation and by creating a conversation about expectations, you can learn about their preferences (e.g. how do they like to receive updates, how do they learn the best, etc). A written guide will ensure all important information is laid out for employees to reference after onboarding is complete, keep them accountable for their actions and minimize any potential misunderstandings. 

That’s not to say you should expect them to be ready for the job through this written guide. It’s important to keep in mind that they’re absorbing a large amount of information at once and will require reminders and check-ins throughout the first few weeks or months.

Along with an initial onboarding guide, it can be useful to provide new hires with short-term goals and tasks during their onboarding process. They’ll be able to accomplish new things during their initial period and through this sense of achievement, your new people can stay motivated and be excited to take on more responsibilities. 

As you monitor their progress during the onboarding, it’s effective to add larger and more long-term goals, targets and milestones at a gradual rate. They’ll be able to see the impact of their actions and progressively learn how their work fits into the bigger picture. 

It’s important not to confuse your new employees by making goals as specific as possible. A great example of a successful short-term goal that can be reached in the onboarding process is to “finish half of their training videos by Friday”. 

Related: The Key to Retaining High Performers at Your Company

5. Make It A Memorable First Day

The first day of a new hire’s job can be intimidating not just for them, but the company as well. It’s a critical time in which the employee is deciding whether they enjoy the work environment and company culture, and if they plan to stay and grow in their specific position. 

It’s important for the company to be prepared and create a strong first impression for their new hires. An effective way to do this is to stay organized by having their desk ready for them on the first day. This includes having all access cards, work IDs and login information available for when they walk through the door. Do your best to make them feel comfortable and independent from the get-go! 

It’s also unproductive to drown your new hire in preliminary paperwork for their entire first day. Rather than forcing all administration work onto them, allow them time to meet their team too! This can even be through quick introductions while you take them on an office tour.

A lunch meet-and-greet is the most ideal way to incorporate your new hires into the team, and even if it’s not possible to have this occur on the first day, you can get them excited with an advanced invite to this event. 

Your team’s dynamic can shift when new people enter the workforce so it’s crucial for everyone to get to know each other casually before diving into work. This builds a collaborative spirit and lets them put their trust in each other. 

It will also help the new hire feel like they have a community of people supporting them as they adjust, leading to a stronger work culture over all. 

To go above and beyond as an employer, it’s productive to send a company-wide email or mass message to introduce any new hires and explain their roles before their first date. This will eliminate potential confusion about new faces in the office and help prepare your present team for when they have new people entering with little company knowledge. 

6. Provide All Necessary Resources

Again, it’s important to set your new hires up for success. This includes providing them with all advantageous resources to make their adjustment into the team smoother and with less pressure. 

This step requires you to think about your company from an outsider’s perspective to understand what information might be crucial that your new hire’s wouldn’t think to ask for. It can be as small as providing the office WiFi information for them or as large as giving them a company glossary with the most-used, important terms that your team communicates with. 

Why is it important for you to put yourself in your new hire’s shoes? Well, it can be difficult for new employees to ask for resources from an employer they are not familiar with. They are not aware of what your patience level is or the reaction you could have from their questions. These people are arriving to make their own positive first impression too and may be cautious about their behavior. 

Every new employee comes with a unique employment history and past experience, so even though you know that you’re an easy-going, approachable person, they may have experienced negative types of management in the past that can make confrontation difficult as they try to avoid a similar situation again. 

It’s also crucial that you stay on top of the onboarding process and gather their preliminary information in a timely manner. By collecting payroll and having their contracts signed before the first day can help make new hires feel more at ease and secure in their new job!

7. Get Your Team Involved

One of the main goals of the employee onboarding process is to help your new hire feel comfortable in the company! What better way to do this than with your team’s participation?

Set a time for your team to gather and introduce themselves to the new employees and let everyone mingle and get to know each other. New employees will be able to learn their new coworker’s names, figure out who they’ll be working closely with and learn how their team communicates. 

Solidifying communication habits with new employees is important for two reasons: 

  1. The employee will know where to turn for important information and messaging. Some companies still follow the traditional email format for professional communication, but if your organization has progressed to apps such as Asana, Slack, Chanty, etc. then the new hire must make the adjustment smoothly too. 
  2. Well-understood communication structures help reduce conflict. Communication styles differ from place to place and often need to be learnt, so by giving your new employee an opportunity to observe the internal work culture of the company, you set them up to fit into the team faster and easier 

8. Offer Rewards and Perks 

Offering perks and rewards from the employee onboarding stage is an effective way to introduce a positive company culture and maintain employee retention (which in general, is at an all-time low). 

Once your new hire has started to accomplish key goals and milestones that you’ve set for them, it’s effective to reward them for their effort. They’ll know that this is a worthwhile company to be a part of and that they’ll receive productive recognition for their efforts on a regular basis. 

The main benefit - they’ll want to stay with your company! 

However, it’s always important to offer perks and rewards that are personalized to the individual and that they are gifted something they can actually use and have the time for. Don’t waste your own funds on a thoughtless reward you don’t know if they’ll enjoy. 

You can find out more about our platform that allows you to reward employees for any milestone you wish here.

Benefits Of Implementing Employee Onboarding Best Practices

Setting your new hires up for success and ensuring they understand their place in the company is key to maintaining a productive and active team. Read below for how onboarding best practices can directly impact your work dynamic. 

1. Higher Employee Retention

If employee onboarding best practices are implemented correctly, new hires will know what to do, how to do it and who to collaborate with. When people are set up for success, they feel more secure and have less questions about their place in a position. They will also know who the best person to ask for help is and will feel more comfortable asking questions and even making mistakes while they learn. 

By beginning the onboarding process before the first day at the job, your new hire will gain confidence about their role by preparing themselves with necessary information! This can lead to higher retention long-term as they are knowledgeable and understand what they’re walking into. 

A positive attitude in new employees will be determined by the level of support you provide, and a smooth onboarding process can easily facilitate the journey from a successful candidate to fully engaged and high-performing employee. 

2. Increased Productivity

The onboarding process aims to acclimatize new hires, build relationships among coworkers and adequately train them to minimize the time they spend adjusting to their role alone. By reducing moments for your new employees to feel lost or confused, you will instead give them a concrete foundation to build genuine professional confidence from.

This will only result in a more productive team in the long-run!

Clear communication is also key in maintaining productivity as frequent check-ins, progress tracking and regular adjustments can do wonders for letting your employees use their time efficiently. Flag concerns and resolve mistakes and problems as soon as they come up!

3. Stronger Workplace Culture

Successful employee onboarding includes introducing your new people to your current team and letting them learn successful communication habits. Lunches are a great and informal setting to facilitate this exchange, and it’s definitely worth considering how to organize team lunches.

Introducing the workplace culture to new hires is crucial if you want to build a team of people with high morale and who understand your company’s vision. Take time to share company and employ success stories, let them in on how the company came to be and find moments to connect them with the people already working in the same environment. 

How Long Does Employee Onboarding Take?

One fact to keep in mind during your onboarding is that most employees decide whether they want to grow in the company or move on to a different career within the first 6 months in their position.

With this in mind, it’s beneficial to incorporate employee onboarding best practices for about a year. By providing continuous support to your new employees, you’ll let them feel validated by knowing that the company is invested in them and will also help to maintain a low turnover rate. The greater trust you form with your new people, the more connected they’ll be to their job. 

However, always remember to work with your specific company and employee needs to determine how long onboarding should last. For example, new hires with considerable past experience in the same role might not require the same level of training as others. 

Final Thoughts

Employee onboarding best practices are key to maintaining a positive and productive workforce. Minimize the risk of high employee turnover by investing time and energy into the people you bring on and always set them up for success from their first day.

Every step outlined in this article will help you create a successful onboarding experience and in return, your company will maintain a healthy workplace culture, increased productivity and greater employee retention.

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