Onboarding New Employees: Best Practices
— February 28th, 2022
Employee onboarding is the process during which new hires get familiar with the organization, the people, and the culture of the company they’ve just joined. It is an organization's chance to make a good first impression and to lay the groundwork for the rest of the new hire’s experience within the company.
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By the time the onboarding experience comes to an end, a new employee should have a clear understanding of how to carry out their job productively, build relationships with new co-workers, and have an in-depth understanding of the organization's culture and values.
Well-executed onboarding comes with many advantages and leads to 58% of new employees staying at a company for at least three years, HRCI found. Glassdoor also states that a solid onboarding process can help new hires achieve up to 70% productivity after starting a new job.
It’s important to remember that onboarding doesn’t begin and end on a new employee's first day at the company. It starts at the very beginning of the hiring process and doesn’t end until the employee is fully settled into the company and capable of carrying out their job productively.
Keeping an onboarding checklist will help ensure the process is organized and on track. Here are some important steps to include on the list:
Contact the employee to confirm first day details
An essential step in the onboarding process is to send a new employee welcome email. Reaching out to a new hire is a great way to make them feel prepared and at ease ahead of their first day at the company. The email should include important information such as:
- Workplace location, start date, and start time
- Dress code
- What to expect on the first day such as office tours, introductions, and training
- What to bring (e.g. ID, social security card, paperwork)
- Parking information
- Arrival instructions (e.g. check-in at reception)
Prepare the office for the new employee
When a dedicated workspace has been prepared, it shows a new hire that the company has put effort into making them feel welcome. It also prevents administrative issues so that time isn’t wasted and the employee’s first day remains meaningful. Items to have ready in advance might include:
- Email and network access
- Office supplies
- A welcome packet
Provide a staff directory
Providing a staff directory is a great way to help workers onboard with less stress and will allow them to get familiar with their coworkers fast. Employee directories typically include each employee’s basic identification, contact information, and job title.
Some companies include personal information like short biographies and fun facts about their employees.
Regardless of the size of the operation, an office tour is essential to ensure the new employee knows where to find important locations such as bathrooms, break rooms, conference rooms, and common areas.
This is also a good opportunity to provide the employee with their access key or code and explain any security protocols.
Give a welcome packet
Having a welcome packet waiting for employees on their first day is a nice surprise and proves to them that their new company is willing to go the extra mile. The packet might include:
- Company swag like t-shirts or coffee mugs
- Office equipment like pens or notebooks
- A map that shows the best lunch spots in the surrounding area
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Onboarding process examples
One effective onboarding process is to introduce a new hire to a peer or buddy within their department who can act as a mentor during their first weeks on the job.
The buddy system works well as it helps new hires navigate their questions and concerns while adjusting to their new role.
Responsibilities of an Onboarding Buddy
- Meeting the new employee on their first day
- Introducing them to other employees
- Answering questions about the job and the company
- Teaching the new hire unfamiliar tasks
- Covering the company guidelines, culture, and unwritten rules
- Allowing the new hire to shadow on the job
- Holding weekly check-in meetings
Team building events
Team-building onboarding activities, such as escape rooms, quizzes, laser tag, or scavenger hunts are a great icebreaker for new employees and give the team an opportunity to get to know one another away from the office.
Having a baseline connection outside of the workplace will encourage positive working relationships once everyone is back at their desks.
While team-building events are an excellent practice, they take a good deal of effort and expense. A team lunch, on the other hand, is often a more suitable option for certain businesses. Thankfully, such lunches still work well to start conversations and build communication among team members.
Team lunches can even be organized without having to leave the office - employees can bring their lunch and gather in a conference room.
It is the perfect opportunity for new hires to chat and get to know their co-workers on both a personal and professional level, making them more likely to stick around for the long haul.
Effective onboarding is not complete without following up with employees. Employers need to be actively involved in the onboarding process to determine whether or not any changes need to be made to the current training process.
Not only does following up give the company a chance to hear what their employees really think about their newly acquired skill or knowledge, but it also demonstrates an interest in the employees' success.
Onboarding is the process where new hires gain the skills, knowledge, and capabilities they need to become productive employees of an organization. Companies that implement strong onboarding processes have significantly better employee retention, employee satisfaction, and overall productivity levels.
When creating an onboarding program, there are many things employers can do to help new hires such as sending them a welcome email, arranging a team lunch with colleagues, or implementing a buddy system. All of these are great steps to ensure employees feel valued by their new organization and set them up for success.