There is a lot more to onboarding than simply giving your new hires some skills and tools to get them started. Let’s break down the best practices you should follow to fully integrate your employees into your business.
Table of contents
- What Is Onboarding?
- What Are Typical Activities in the Onboarding Process?
- What Components Make Up the Onboarding Process
- Staff Members Involved in Onboarding
- Tailoring the Onboarding Process for Different Roles
- Best Practices for an Amazing Onboarding Process
- How Long Does the Onboarding Process Take?
- The Bottom Line On Your Employee Onboarding Process
Integrating a new employee into your business is easier said than done. In reality, there is a lot more to onboarding than simply providing them with some new skills and tools to perform their job.
A successful onboarding process ensures that every new hire adopts the company’s culture, values, and policies. It’s also about easing an individual into a new environment and familiarising them with a new team.
Depending on your industry and the new hire’s expected role, the onboarding process can vary in time and length. Ultimately, the first few days, weeks, and months of an employee’s job play a key part in your business’s turnover and retention levels.
And this is only scratching the surface. Let’s break down exactly what onboarding is, its many stages, how long it takes, and the best practices for onboarding new employees.
What Is Onboarding?
Onboarding refers to introducing and integrating a new hire into a company (as opposed to offboarding). Designed to help employees understand their new roles and requirements, onboarding ensures that every new hire seamlessly adopts the company’s culture, values, and practices.
Onboarding is a process that can include a wide variety of activities, from team bonding and training to policy learning. In terms of its timespan, onboarding can take a few weeks or even a year, depending on the role and industry the new hire is working in.
Once the onboarding process is complete, the employee should have sufficient competence and ability in their job.
What Are Typical Activities in the Onboarding Process?
There is no definitive outline as to what activities must be included in any given onboarding process. It purely depends on the role the new hire is taking and the industry they will be working in. However, there are common activities that are typically included in such programs. These include:
What Components Make Up the Onboarding Process
Onboarding usually begins when new hires accept their job offer and ends once they’re fully integrated into the company. But in between those stages, there are some components that are integral to the process.
Onboarding can begin before the employee even starts their first day. The company might provide the new employee with some preboarding steps to connect them with the business in advance. Some typical preboarding steps include:
- Sending a care package to the new hire as a token of goodwill. It can include company merchandise, candy, gift vouchers, etc.
- Giving the new hire a preliminary tour of the workplace before their start date.
- Sending valuable information about the company, including organizational charts, employee benefits information, and company values.
- Delegating an onboarding buddy to reach out to the new hire prior to the start date. They’re available to answer any logistical questions.
This activity allows the new employee to immerse themselves in the company’s core fundamentals, including values, structure, vision, and goals. Typical orientation steps include:
- Reading through the employee handbook and company policies
- Undergoing the first stages of on-the-job training
- Partaking in mandatory administrative processes
To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the information, new hires will often dedicate the first few days, maybe even the first week, to their orientation.
It can take months for a new hire to integrate into their company. A typical part of onboarding is learning about the pillars that form a company’s identity, including branding, company culture, values, and vision.
According to Gallup, onboarding should take up to a year. Also, there are five key questions that new hires must answer:
- What do we believe in around here?
- What are my strengths?
- What is my role?
- Who are my partners?
- What does my future here look like?
The answers to these questions are the foundations for the new employee’s journey within the company.
Mentoring and Buddy Systems
Employees can’t just onboard by themselves. It helps to have at least one designated peer who isn’t in a position of direct authority but who they can turn to for guidance, employee morale, and answers to any question.
When it comes to onboarding new employees, many companies provide “buddies” or mentors. They are there to point new hires in the right direction, whether it be to the right meetings, where to find the bathrooms, or points of contact.
A buddy will be officially available for the length of the onboarding period, gradually becoming less hands-on as time goes on.
Experienced employees who have taken leave for a lengthy time period (medical and family leave, etc.) may require reboarding. This process helps employees reacclimatize to their typical workflows while updating them on new company changes and policies. It can help them get up to speed effectively, maintain productivity, and integrate seamlessly back into the team.
Reboarding may apply to promoted employees or those moving to another department. It also helps returning employees connect with new staff members. A welcome-back announcement can be a simple, effective way of benefitting both the returning employee and the new hires.
Staff Members Involved in Onboarding
Onboarding new employees isn’t the responsibility of one individual. While every business has its unique onboarding activities, there are usually multiple people involved in implementing the method. The following staff members and departments are generally given onboarding responsibilities:
- Human Resources (HR): Collecting new employee documentation (licenses, declarations, benefits, etc.); providing workplace tours and company resources such as organizational charts and employee handbooks.
- Managers/supervisors: Agreeing on new hires’ roles and responsibilities, standards, expectations, and workplace behavior; introducing to relevant team members and departments; establishing key relationships.
- Employee trainers: Providing onboarding resources; teaching about company culture, values, vision, and goals.
- Co-workers: Making the new hire feel welcomed; giving them a helping hand; showing how the team collaborates on jobs and projects.
- Onboarding buddies/mentors: Personally assisting the new hire with any aspect of their onboarding process; ensuring all steps are clear; answering any company-related questions.
Tailoring the Onboarding Process for Different Roles
Different job positions require different types of onboarding programs. They need to be tailored to meet the needs of the role, depending on their levels of responsibility or company status.
- Managers and supervisors need to review all company policies, processes, and employee handbooks in detail. They should learn how to mentor and coach their subordinates within the context of their new position.
- Remote workers need to be trained in how to manage their time, balance their work and personal responsibilities, and undergo regular check-ins, while still adopting the company culture and values.
- Differently abled workers need to be accommodated for depending on their specific circumstances. New hires may benefit from non-written onboarding materials, more hands-on guidance, adjusted expectations, alternative modes of communication, etc.
- Veterans may struggle to convert their military skills into the workplace. Their onboarding program should be tailored to maximize their current skill set.
- Previously incarcerated workers may require additional support from an onboarding buddy, in order to ease their way back into a traditional workplace.
- Independent contractors require a different kind of onboarding to full-time or part-time employees, including different billing instructions, conduct standards, policies, and benefits.
- Executives should learn about the organizational structure of the company, in order to maximize their relationships with department leaders and relevant stakeholders.
Now that you have a better understanding of the onboarding process, who it applies to, and typical activities, it’s important to adopt healthy habits to make the process as successful as possible.
Best Practices for an Amazing Onboarding Process
Take Your Time
A study found that 31% of new hires leave within the first six months, while 68% of those leave within the first three. During this time, there’s a lot of information to process, and it can be hard to stay afloat without enough help.
So, in order to keep new hires from drowning in information overload, keep the onboarding process going well beyond the first few days and into the first few months. When you do this, you’re helping the employee learn at their own pace about the company culture, their role, the benefits, company policies, and so on.
Set Clear Goals
Have clear goals in place and check in frequently to see the progress as it will help the hiree focus on what is actually needed and can clearly service their own employee development.
Under no circumstances should a new employee be confused and not know what they need to work on. New hires want to impress. How can they do that if they aren’t even doing what you want? When you set clear goals early on, everyone is on the same page, and confusion is avoided.
Have Seasoned Mentors
One survey actually found that 56% of employees believe having a work mentor was key when first starting. Managers above the new hire are there to ensure they are on track and confident. Assure them that the success and happiness of the team are a top priority.
Have the Best First Week
As a manager, you want to make a good impression on your new employee. According to Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, “the worst thing for a new employee is being wooed through the recruiting process and then arriving on the job and the receptionist isn’t even expecting you or your office isn’t set up.”
Everything should be set up from the minute they enter the building, for instance: decorate their desk, introduce them to everyone, give them a welcome kit, and include them in meetings.
When it comes to onboarding new employees, you should chat with them as often as possible. This way, they feel included and welcome. If they have questions, they won’t hesitate to approach you. Far too often, employees just do what they think is right without really knowing the process because they’re too nervous to ask.
During their first week, check in every half hour. At the end of their first week, sit down with them, and recap what happened and what should happen going forward. Do this process every week for the first month, and continue to recap every month or every three months.
Evaluate Your Onboarding Processes
As the employer, you should always assess the effectiveness of your onboarding processes, as well as other key metrics to their success. These include:
- Productivity time: How long does it take for a new hire to get up to speed and become a valuable contributor to the company’s success? Identifying the time it took to reach KPIs will help measure this metric.
- Turnover/retention: Compare the levels of employee turnover and retention between groups of employees based on which year they started their job.
- Retention threshold: Calculate how long it takes for the average employee to leave the company. Employers can identify patterns while also tailoring their exit interviews to pinpoint the causes of turnover.
- New-hire surveys: Provide new hires with surveys and varying points of their first year to track progress. It can also prove useful for onboarding buddies to also submit similar surveys.
- Employee engagement and satisfaction: The onboarding experience should be a fun, engaging one that grabs the employee’s attention and makes them feel welcome from day one.
- Performance assessments: Compare how your new hire is performing from week to week. For example, there should be a vast improvement in performance after a year compared to when they started.
Life and work are frequently changing so make sure you are asking your employees their thoughts on how things are going. Create surveys and live polls to gain consistent feedback. Your goal is to ensure that your new hires are actually getting value out of onboarding.
Move the Onboarding Process to Digital
With all the processes that are involved in an employee onboarding process, it is absolutely essential that you have the right tools in place so that you can ensure nothing is missed and your new hires have everything they need to succeed.
Connecteam’s all-in-one employee management app gives you the easiest and most fun way to train and grow your team by offering onboarding, routine training, regulatory courses, quizzes, and professional skill enhancement.
With Connecteam, you can:
- Deliver employee training materials by using existing documents, PDF files, media, and web services like YouTube, Dropbox, Google Drive, or your company website.
- Create online quizzes by sections, employ an adaptable library, and monitor training progress from the admin dashboard.
- Create surveys to evaluate training needs and success or use the Suggestion Box to receive feedback at any time.
One of the best things about Connecteam’s training feature is that it allows managers to easily follow the employee’s progress throughout their onboarding. The dashboard shows where each employee is in his or her process, what quizzes they finished (what their score was), which material they read or didn’t, and so on. This allows the manager to know what’s happening in real-time so they can step in at any moment if needed.
Give Your New Hires the Best Onboarding Experience With Connecteam
Now that you know some good onboarding practices and have the employee apps to implement them, what should your new hire’s first day look like? What about the first few months? Read on to find out.
How Long Does the Onboarding Process Take?
Your goal is to have the new hire go home and happily say to his family and friends that he had the best first day ever.
- Set expectations. What’s the new employee’s job role? What are their responsibilities? Make sure everyone across the board is aware. Clearly explain all expectations and share the company policies.
- Introduce objectives. Acclimate new hires to the company culture. When employees know what to expect from their work environment, they’re able to make better decisions that align with the company’s mission.
- Take them out to lunch so you can easily build rapport. Plus, it helps rid of those first-day jitters when the new employee is in a relaxed environment.
- Make sure the work station is ready. The new employee should have a computer with login information and all training software downloaded, along with a uniform (if there is one) and company swag.
- Give him/her a buddy. The new hire should have someone they can freely lean on, and eat lunch with. An onboarding buddy introduces them to people and checks that everything is okay.
- Survey after the first day. Check-in with the new hire after their first day to gauge how everything went.
A new hire checklist can help the employee perform all of their necessary first-day tasks.
Make sure the new employee has established knowledge of his job responsibilities, internal processes, and expectations.
- Make training real. Share with them all the training programs they need to do, such as a deck about the company, getting to know the customers, and preparing for the year ahead. Do this with online course presentations or paper documents.
- Compliance. Make sure that the employee signs all the relevant documents and submits them to the company’s HR professionals.
- Socialization. The new hire should have lunch with senior team members and get a personal welcome from the group supervisor.
- Survey after the first week. Check-in to see how the first week has gone, see if the new hire has any questions or concerns, how they feel about their co-workers and manager, etc.
One Month Check-In
Check that your new hires are engaged, happy and that they don’t have any lingering questions.
- Get a face-to-face meeting. Sit down with the new employee and chat with them to see how they’re getting on. Review the first few weeks and answer any questions. Check with their buddy what they think of the new employee.
- Socialize. The new employee should continue to be involved in meetings and continually meet people from different departments.
- Offer feedback. Give the new employee ongoing feedback so they feel connected and involved, plus they should know how they’re progressing on a daily basis.
- Receive feedback. Allow the employee to share their feedback with you. Whether it’s about the onboarding process or ideas about company growth, there should be a platform (suggestion box, e.g.,) for them to speak up.
- Keep the momentum going. Continue to assign tasks and create professional goals together.
- Make a plan. Establish an annual training plan for the new hire. Check with them to see if they’re missing anything and what additional training they need.
After 3 Months (90 days)
Ensure the employee feels at home. Most new hires figure out in the first three to six months if they want to stay at the company for the foreseeable future.
- 1:1 with the manager. The new hire’s manager should be able to share his/her views on how the first three months have been going, what goals were met, and what more needs to be done. The new hire should be free to share his/her point of view.
- Informal check-in. Usually, a company has a six-month and one-year check-in to discuss KPIs met and the next quarter. However, when you have a new hire, have an informal three-month check-in so you can discuss performance reviews and goals.
- Create their own goals. Allow the new hire to set his/her own goals for the next three months. As they continue to be given assignments, they should always know what goals they need to meet every month and every quarter.
- Survey on the first 3 months. Conduct a survey to see how the new hire’s first three months have gone. Guage if they have a firm grasp on their responsibilities and goals.
After Six Months
Have the new hire deliver goals on time and beyond expectations while having a strong relationship with co-workers. The employee should be confident, engaged, and still eager to learn.
- Six-month check-in. Just like you did with an informal three-month check-in, do the same at six months but keep it formal instead. Review progress so far and continue to develop new goals.
- Socialization. How involved are they with company events? Are they involved in many meetings? By now, they should be going to all relevant company meetings. He/she should be involved with activities outside their job description.
- Meet with a buddy. Sit down with the buddy/mentor and discuss how the first six months have gone and see if it’s time to stop the mentoring process. Guage what else would be helpful to the new hire.
The First Year
Have a fully engaged, confident, and developed employee. He/she should have a firm grasp of the company’s culture and goals.
- Check productivity. What has their performance been like? What KPIs have been met? What additional work needs to get done? Celebrate successes and offer employee recognition for when they have excelled.
- Plan ahead. Choose to continuously develop your employees (frontline or otherwise) and lay the cards on the table, they should know what opportunities lie ahead.
- Professional development. What goals and learning opportunities are relevant for the year ahead? Discuss this together.
- Survey after the first year. The employee should be able to fully express how the entire onboarding process has gone from their point of view so that you can improve onboarding for the next new hire. This is essentially an annual employee evaluation.
The Bottom Line On Your Employee Onboarding Process
Now that you are aware of key onboarding practices and activities, and when to implement them, you should be more prepared when hiring employees and giving them the ideal start to their professional journey in your business (even during the holiday season).
And if you have the right software solutions at your disposal to implement these practices, then you can make the onboarding process effective, engaging, and efficient, all at once.
Remember, onboarding doesn’t wrap up once an employee starts to really work. It isn’t over after a week or even a month. Your employee onboarding process should be ongoing. You can also download our free onboarding checklist to get started.
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