Employee onboarding is the process of providing new hires with the resources they need to successfully integrate with a company, culture, and new role. It’s an important opportunity for employers to welcome new hires and set them up for success—and doing this well is the key to retaining and engaging top talent.
According to research by BambooHR, those who have an effective employee onboarding experience are 29 times more likely to feel satisfied at work. The benefits associated with having a solid onboarding plan are clear, but starting or revamping one is often easier said than done. This article shares onboarding best practices; a step-by-step guide on how to onboard new hires; and onboarding checklists for the new hire, the new hire’s manager, and the HR team to help you cover all your bases.
Before we dive into the how-to on employee onboarding, let’s review a few of the key best practices to remember. Following these best practices is essential to ensuring your employee onboarding is as effective as possible.
Every company should have a detailed onboarding plan with goals for measuring success. For example, your goal might be to reduce employee turnover and track retention rates to measure your progress. You can also learn a lot about how successful your onboarding program is by sending out anonymous employee surveys and conducting exit interviews when someone leaves.
Once you have a plan in place with measurable goals, create or download an employee onboarding checklist (we’ll share a few broken down by department at the end of this article) to make sure you stick to it. Consistency is key—follow the same onboarding plan for all new hires to ensure your process is effective.
Even though your onboarding process should remain consistent, it’s still important to find ways to personalize the experience for each new employee. For example, you can ask employees to share a few fun facts in an email that introduces the new hire to the organization. Or you can personalize business swag by tailoring it to each new employee’s role. So if someone is starting a job in IT, they might appreciate a larger computer monitor or a personalized mouse pad.
Introductions are a big part of onboarding new employees and shouldn’t be forgotten. Take the time to introduce new hires to the team to help them assimilate with the culture and make friends. A new-hire lunch with the manager and/or team is a great way for them to break the ice and get to know one another. You can also encourage the new employee to set up introductory meetings with coworkers they’ll be communicating with often. This encourages them to use their new company email address and have face-to-face interactions with important team members.
The last thing a new employee wants is to play a guessing game—which is why it’s important to make their job duties and responsibilities clear from the start. Managers should sit down with new employees on day one to walk them through their daily responsibilities, share what’s expected of them in their role, and answer any questions they have about the company’s culture, rules, or expectations.
Company leaders can play a crucial role in the onboarding experience for new staff. Their involvement often signals to new employees that they are valued and that they will have a relationship with the managers who make key decisions within the organization, ultimately impacting the long-term goals of the employee. The result can be higher immediate engagement for employees.
Everything today has a digital component—including employee onboarding. An estimated 40 percent of companies have a dedicated web-based portal that they utilize during onboarding and for other HR-related tasks. Software like Pingboard and our BambooHR integration is uniquely designed to anticipate the needs of new hires and can make a huge difference in their initial experience at your organization.
Here’s a step-by-step guide with everything you need to know about onboarding new employees and introducing them to your company culture—the right way.
Pre-boarding, also referred to as “self-onboarding,” happens before the employee’s first day.
Recommended Reading: 9 Ways to Create an Engaging Employee Pre-boarding Process
Pre-boarding usually consists of a welcome email with the following information:
Starting date, time, and location
A copy of the company handbook
An agenda for the first day/week
Access to the employee portal
A list of documents to bring
Instructions (parking, dress code, and so on)
Pre-boarding/self-onboarding provides employees with all the logistics they need to start off on the right foot—and it means they don’t have to spend the whole first day filling out paperwork.
This is also a good time to organize the employee’s physical and digital workspaces so they’re set up for success on day one.
You can do this by setting up their desk space, working with IT to get their computer and email up and running, and putting together a welcome package. The welcome package can include the employee handbook, a guide with information on lunch spots and coffee shops in the area, an employee ID, and office supplies. Many companies also include swag such as a branded coffee cup or water bottle as a welcome gift, along with a letter from the new employee’s manager or the CEO.
Day one is an exciting opportunity for both you and the new employee—but there are a few things to remember in order to make it a success.
Arrange for someone to greet the employee when they arrive. You can start with an office tour and introduce the new hire to their workspace.
Then the employee should meet with someone from the HR team to review:
The company’s interactive organizational chart
Any new-hire paperwork that still needs to be completed
Information on compensation and the company’s payment solution, such as ADP
Details on company policies (vacation/sick time, working hours, dress code, and so on)
After the morning activities, the employee’s manager should take them out for lunch so they can get to know each other and take a break from the office. They can follow lunch up with a new employee/manager meeting to review the job description, explain expectations, and set goals. This is also an opportunity for the employee to ask clarifying questions.
At this point in the day, it’s a good idea to give the employee an hour or two to settle in and set up their new computer and company accounts. At the end of the day, consider hosting a get-to-know-you gathering to briefly introduce the new hire and help break the ice with members of the team.
Week one should be chock-full of information on both the employee’s new role and the company as a whole.
Have the new employee’s manager schedule a one-on-one meeting to touch base at least once during the first week. You can also work with the new hire to build their personal profile in the company portal.
Throughout the first week, the employee’s manager should schedule training for software and systems that the employee will be using.
It’s also a good idea to plan some kind of social event, such as happy-hour drinks or a lunch-and-learn.
A few months after the new employee starts working at your organization, their manager should provide them with feedback on their performance and progress. Keep in mind that feedback is (or at least should be) a two-way street.
Ask new hires for feedback on the onboarding experience to inform your future efforts and gauge how they’re doing so far.
Throughout the first few months, managers should also continue to organize social activities and build on any training the employee needs to perform their job.
By making every effort to enhance the employee onboarding experience, you can initiate a positive working relationship and improve both retention and engagement. But if you’re overwhelmed by the employee onboarding process and struggling to get started, we’ve got you covered. We created a few onboarding checklists to help you stay organized:
Download them for free so that you’re prepared to carry out an effective employee onboarding process that checks every box and allows you to seamlessly introduce all new hires to their roles and the company culture.
Org chart software like Pingboard allows employees to customize personal profiles with photos, fun facts, background details, contact information, key skills, and more. With access to a digital directory, new hires can put faces to names and learn who’s who in the organization.
Here’s an example of Pingboard’s searchable org chart software: