Onboarding New Employees – The Definitive Guide

Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent.

Glassdoor

A well onboarded new hire is aligned with the company goals, familiar with their team members, and ready to perform at their highest in the toughest environments.

But how do they get there?

You want your new employee to be capable of accomplishing tasks that will make everyone’s life easier, so, in this article, I’ll go over the basics of employee onboarding.

Without further ado, let’s see what you ought to do before starting the onboarding process:

What to do before onboarding new hires

I hope you’re aware that the onboarding process is an opportunity to not only welcome new hires, but also to teach them about what’s expected of them.

A comprehensive onboarding program is an effective way for employers to get new hires acclimated to the company culture and also to learn about the benefits they will be receiving.

When it comes to retention, new employees who are fully immersed in the process from the first day of their hiring experience are much less likely to quit. 

It’s critical to set the tone for a high level of engagement, so we must get the onboarding process just right. Every step should be met with easygoing, pleasant confidence by everyone on the team. To pull this off, you have to be buttoned up and prepared, which can often be challenging when you’re coming from weeks or months-long interview processes that are likely to interfere with your productivity.

Employers who invest in their new staff will have happier and more engaged employees.

New employees are more than just “New Hire Orientations” in which they are briefed on benefits, photographed, badged, and sent on their way. Instead, an onboarding program is a comprehensive way to get new hires fully immersed in the company culture.

New hires come to a company knowing as much about the company culture, processes, and take-home tasks on their first day as they do after months of work.

They are often sent on their way with just a few briefing slides and an overview of benefits when there should be extensive training that gets them fully immersed in the culture from day one.

The process includes logistics, of course. But more importantly, it involves showing the newcomer a big picture: 

  • high-level strategies; 
  • current projects; 
  • company culture and shared mission; 

To expedite a broad understanding of all aspects of a business.

It also jumpstarts familiarity with people with who they will be interacting on a day-to-day basis – which ultimately leads to an easier transition into their position as well as better communication between colleagues down the road.

Every new person joining the company needs to be shown a “big picture” of what is going on in the company. It’s not enough just to know about logistics. It also involves seeing how your work fits into this big picture and understanding the culture of a team.

People are often scared and unsure of what they are doing. It’s important to spend time with them to make sure that they know what the company strategy is, who will be working with them, and how they fit into the company culture. This will increase their confidence in knowing what their duties entail.

The introduction of a new team member can be a daunting task for both parties involved. For an employee, it’s challenging to assimilate all the information about your employer’s high-level strategies, current projects, and company culture, but on top of that, you’re also expected to get acquainted with your colleagues so you can interact comfortably around them while completing tasks together.

On the other hand, there’s usually newness associated with this process as well: it takes time to get used to adjusting to different people’s personalities or work styles, which may not match yours right away. 

Despite these challenges, it’s important for both sides of this partnership (an employer and a new employee).

The first few weeks of a new job can be challenging. You’re learning your way around the office, trying to find out people’s names, and getting acquainted with all the little things that go into doing your job well. But there are some steps you should take to make it easier on yourself – for example, finding out what kind of coffee is in the break room!

That’s why a checklist is vital. 

We’ve created this extensive list of everything you should do to facilitate the kind of onboarding that will serve to let your new hire hit the ground running while fostering relationships along the way. It’s also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy: employees who were onboarded effectively will pay it forward and do the same for their future hires because they know.

You know what they say: you reap what you sow.

Well, maybe it’s time for us to start sowing the right seeds. 

Checklists are where the real magic happens. It’s in checklists that new hires can find out about all of their benefits, learn more about how to get around on campus, and meet some important people in your company. They also help foster relationships with supervisors and coworkers because employees who were onboarded effectively will pay it forward and do the same for their future hires.

what is employee onboarding

The 4 Phases of Employee Onboarding

There are 4 phases that you need to be aware of, when it comes to employee onboarding.

Phase 1: Orientation

The orientation phase of onboarding is the first step in a new hire’s journey with your company.

This initial phase will introduce employees to your organization, senior leadership, and fellow team members. 

Orientation is a time for new employees of the company to learn about its history, culture, and values. The Senior Leadership team welcomes you before breaking up into smaller groups to discuss various aspects of the company’s mission and vision. 

One group will talk about diversity efforts that have been undertaken by management while the other goes over the compliance standards with HR reps. After learning more about these subjects, you’ll take a tour around the office to see what it feels like on a day-to-day basis.

Phase 2: Role Training

After orientation, new hires are set up for success with phase 2 of onboarding – role training.

Role training provides a foundational understanding of the day-to-day duties and responsibilities of every employee and ensures that they are set up for success in their future.

Once they know what they need to do, employees can carry out the key functions of their role with more confidence.

Role training involves the following elements: technical and process training, reviewing performance expectations, job shadowing, and safety training. It’s important to be well versed in these areas before you start your new role so that you’re able to work safely and efficiently.

Phase 3: Transition

This phase starts at 60-120 days in, and employees are transitioning to their permanent role during this time.

At this point, a new hire will be working with their direct supervisor for development and support because they are getting adjusted to what is ahead of them as an employee.

For new employees to feel welcomed and successful, managers need to have the skills of communication with them, strategies for their growth and improvement, and authenticity.

Phase 4: Ongoing Development

The final stage of onboarding is ongoing development and planning for continued growth. By creating a plan that outlines how employees can continue to contribute positively and grow, both the individual and organization will be able to achieve their goals and success.

Ongoing development involves five stages. 

  1. The first stage is Competency Assessment, in which employees learn about their professional skills and what they want to do with them.
  2. This leads to Career Mapping, where employees can see how their experience would impact specific jobs, so it’s easier for them to find the perfect fit.
  3. Next on the list is Individual Development Plans that help employees get an idea of what direction they should take to reach success at work.
  4. and 5. Personal and Professional Goal Setting comes last because this is all about setting goals for both sides of their life and deciding how much time each will get, based on their importance, then figuring out ways to achieve these goals every day.

7-Steps to a Successful Employee Onboarding Process

New employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into a company and its culture, as well as getting them the tools and information needed to become productive members of the team. 

To create a top-performing, high-quality team, employers need to invest in their employees. 

This is why an employee onboarding process is so important and vital. To ensure that the investment into new hires pays off for both parties, HR professionals work with candidates to provide them with a roadmap of what’s expected of them at their new company so they can successfully hit the ground running from day one.

One of the most critical things a company can do to ensure success is onboard new hires efficiently. This starts from day one and often goes beyond just teaching them their job duties. It also includes training on how the company operates, as well as strategies for maximizing productivity.

A carefully planned and executed onboarding process means that employees can hit the ground running right away, saving time and money during these difficult economic times.

Here’s a 7-step guide to help you with onboarding:

1- Two types of onboarding

There are two types of onboarding: informal and formal. 

Most companies can easily select the right approach for their company, even if they’re a startup.

Informal Onboarding

Informal onboarding is when new hires learn how to do their job without any structured assistance from their supervisors and human resources. 

Here’s one example of informal onboarding:

“A new employee walks in to find a room full of people, but no one is stopping what they are doing to greet him. He has no idea where he should start his work. 

A sense of panic sets in as he realizes that this place is not welcoming at all– it’s chaotic and confusing without any clear directions on how to do anything or get set up right away. The only thing he can gather from around the office is that everyone seems busy and tense; there’s a sense of urgency coming from every corner. As he tries to talk with his supervisor about setting up an email account, she just brushes him off, telling him that someone will show him later. She doesn’t even have time for introductions with her employees before showing him out so she can make her next meeting that is running late due to traffic.”

Formal Onboarding

Research has shown that organizations that invest their time into formal onboarding programs are more effective than those that do not.

Those companies that take time to teach new employees what is expected of them, how they should behave in certain situations, and what norms are established within their company are also better able to control turnover rates. This is because a well-informed employee will be much more likely to know when there are red flags and that something just doesn’t feel right about the work environment or team dynamics.

Organizations can help ensure that every person is on board by teaching them what it means to be there, from day one, so everyone feels like they belong no matter where they come from or how long they’ve been around.

2- Know What Your New Hires Need

To form a great onboarding plan, you must first understand what your new hires need from you. As they enter the company, they may be overworked, scared of failure, and in need of some socialization. The guiding principles of your onboarding plan should address four main areas:

  1. Basic needs – things such as introductions and orientation
  2. Intermediate needs – such as learning about how things work at the company or who is around them that can help them succeed
  3. Professional development needs – understanding what their day-to-day responsibilities will be like
  4. Personal development needs – how to take care of themselves outside the office.

3- Begin Onboarding During the Recruiting Phase 

Managers should never forget that onboarding is not a one-time event, but rather a process that begins before an employee ever actually starts.

They need to get involved with the culture of the company early before they even walk through their door.

Past research has found that new employees, who receive accurate information about a company and their new job, tend to adjust better than those who don’t. This is because unrealistic previews can lead to an employee suffering from unmet expectations. For this not to happen, companies and managers need to provide a realistic preview of the company and what goes on there.

4- Plan Ahead 

One of the keys to a successful onboarding process is preparing new hires for their first day in their job.

For example, you can’t just jump from recruiting to the first day. You need to make sure they know what position they are filling and how best to succeed in that role.

A newcomer’s first day is one of the most critical moments for a company because it sets the tone for future success. It can help set up an individual with everything from office etiquette to what kind of attire is appropriate in any given situation. Planning becomes even more important as some companies are now implementing technological changes that make employees use computers or tablets instead of pens and paper- which means there’s additional guidance that needs to be provided before someone walks into work on their first day.

Here are five things you should do before a new hire arrives:

  1. Make sure your workspace is tidy and clean. Wear a smile, and be warm to the person when they arrive. This will make them feel welcome from the start!
  2. Prepare for their arrival by gathering any necessary paperwork that may need to be completed during their first day with you. If there is anything out of place, now is the time to fix it! You don’t want to have one less thing on your plate while trying to show off how great your company can be!
  3. Create an itinerary or agenda so that your new hire knows what’s happening throughout their first few days with you, and have all necessary information at hand (i.e., coffee pots in each office). 
  4. Send a solid introduction email or letter to introduce yourself, address any questions they might have about starting time or location details,
  5. And highlight why working for this company would be beneficial for them!

Remember: the more detailed you are at welcoming new hires, the better their first impression will be.

5- Create the Best Day One

The first day can go a long way in establishing how a new employee feels about their time at your company.

Remember to give them structure and connection, and make them feel valued. Training will be important, but so will making sure they get some real work done on the first day too.

When hiring new employees let them know why you hired them. Make it personal because they would want to be part of something meaningful and not just a job where they can use their skill set.

Let them know what tasks they’ll be undertaking in the company and how you chose them for that specific position because of their skill set. Frame your expectations as a challenge tailored for them instead of giving tasks with no purpose or meaning behind them.

In today’s fast-paced world, new hires have a lot to worry about. There are so many things that they need to be taught on the job and it can be overwhelming for them. This is why you should assign them a mentor to guide them throughout the day. You don’t want your interns or recent graduates to be overburdened with tasks because then, they will start making mistakes and won’t feel confident in what they do. Having someone there who has more experience to show them how everything works will ensure that everything goes smoothly and your employees will be happy with their work environments!

6- Encourage connection

One of the most important things for new employees to do is to build relationships with their peers. This will lead them to feel more confident and perform better in their job, making it more likely that they’ll stick around.

When you help your new hires make connections and introduce them to coworkers, the introductions must be set up so that they can authentically introduce themselves.

7- Continuation

Onboarding is a long-term process that should be done slowly and surely. Frequently checking in with employees at certain milestones will help you progress towards success, but there are other factors to consider as well:

  • Allowing your employees to grow and develop their skills is crucial for any company. Increase your new hires’ knowledge and make them eager employees with a reading list of material. You don’t have to send the same article or book every time, just create variety in what you share – training, articles related to their work, and even books on creativity or time management. Take care of your employees by providing them with growth opportunities!
  • Encourage your new employees to provide feedback or ask them for it. By listening to what they have to say, you can make adjustments that will better the process and overall experience of new hires. Not only does this allow improvement, but also a chance for engagement with current employees who are providing their insight.
  • Make sure you’re on the same page with your entire team. New hires need to be treated equally and the worst thing you can do is to allow them to fall through the cracks in the system. It’s important that they feel like they are taken seriously from day one, so make sure every new hire is going through a similar process across the board.
  • This will require coordination between you and their supervisors, but it’s worth making new employees feel more welcomed into your company culture and less lost due to constantly changing processes.

Your new employees can be an incredible asset to your company. Follow the steps outlined in this guide and you’ll have a smoother transition for your new employee while they provide value to your operation from day one.

how to onboard new employees

What documents are needed for new employee onboarding?

Before you welcome your new hire to the team with a handshake and an offer letter, make sure that they have all the necessary paperwork. Some documents are required by law, and others are optional

Before we start, one thing to keep in mind: Before you hire new employees, it’s important to check your state and local laws. It is also crucial that once they have signed an agreement with you, their sensitive information is securely stored.

Common documents needed for onboarding are as follows:

1- Employment contract

An employment contract includes:

  • Job information (job title, department)
  • Length of employment
  • Employee responsibilities
  • Work schedule
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Termination conditions

2- Employment forms required by law.

Forms are necessary for new employees to be properly classified and compensated. You may not need all the forms, but you will need the ones that apply to your state or country! The most common types of employment forms are:

3- Prepare and obtain signatures on internal forms

To establish a relationship with employees, make sure you get signatures on your company forms. These could include:

  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Non-compete agreements
  • Employee invention forms
  • Employee handbook acknowledgment forms
  • Job analysis forms (responsibilities, goals, and performance evaluation criteria)
  • Employee equipment inventory lists
  • Drug and/or alcohol test consent agreements
  • Confidentiality and security agreements

4- Employee benefits documents

New hires need to sign paperwork that tells them about the benefits they will receive from working at your company. The most common employee benefits are: 

  • Life and health insurance
  • Paid time off for vacation, sick days, and personal days 
  • Dental plans
  • Employee wellness perks (e.g. gym memberships)
  • Disability insurance
  • Stock options
  • Retirement plan

5- Personal information for emergencies

You want the workplace to be a happy and healthy environment for all who work there. To do this, you must keep records of them:

  • Emergency contacts
  • Brief medical history
  • Food allergies or preferences

Conclusion

Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into an organization in a way that allows them to prosper and grow with and within the company.

This process is never-ending, as your employees adopt your culture and add their unique contributions to it. Onboarding then becomes a cornerstone of your overall talent management strategy.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is Employee Onboarding?

New employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into a company and its culture, as well as getting them the tools and information needed to become productive members of the team.


How does onboarding improve employee performance and workforce retention?

Numerous studies found that tailored and well-structured onboarding processes for new employees has drastically improved productivity and workforce retention, simply because a well onboarding can help align employee under the company vision.


How to measure the performance of your employee onboarding?

A great employee onboarding reduces the time it takes a new employee to be aligned with the other teams and the company vision, so calculating this time can be effective in measuring the performance of your onboarding.

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Osman Koc

Osman is the CEO and Co-founder of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that helps teams scale user onboarding and boost user engagement.