What Is an Employee Onboarding Experience?

Onboarding encompasses an employee’s introduction to the company by way of new hire documents, perhaps an orientation of some sort, introductions to coworkers and other leaders within the organization, and most importantly, immersion into a company’s culture. Within that immersion, a new employee is introduced to the company’s mission, vision, and values.

Essentially this is a system of organizational behaviors at the time of hire that focuses on retaining the new employee. Onboarding is far more extensive than orientation. It may take up to a year for an employee to integrate into the company culture and be a fully functioning member of the team. Like any first impression, onboarding sets the course for your company’s relationship with that employee.

Why Is a Good Employee Onboarding Experience Important?

  • Retention. It is important to make a good impression from the start so employees know you’re invested in their success. If you’re invested, they’re invested; it’s that simple. Negative onboarding experiences increase the odds that a new employee will leave.
  • Engagement. Engaged employees are productive employees, and productive employees are what makes the company run. Not only are you doing the employee a disservice by not having a good onboarding program, but you’re damaging the company as well, as this can impact the employer brand. Happy, engaged employees impact your bottom line, but so does your reputation. Think about employee referrals, LinkedIn, and other social media and media platforms. If your employees are engaged, they will say great things about the business.
  • Advance the business. Having an onboarding program reduces the amount of time it takes for your new employee to become a productive member of the organization. The sooner you get them integrated into the culture, their team, and their jobs, the sooner they start contributing positively to the overall business mission. Invest up front in your team members and you will see a larger return on investment.

How to Create a Positive Employee Onboarding Experience

Let’s take a look at three things you can do to give new hires the best onboarding experience possible.

Step 1: Have an Agenda

Do not go in cold turkey on an employee’s first day! Have a plan and an outline to share with the employee so they know what to expect. Being unprepared is not only disorganized but may make your new hire second-guess their decision to join your team.

Step 2: Incorporate Team Members and Leaders

Your new team member should be able to understand all facets of your business, not just their own job. Getting the employee acquainted with other team members and leaders outside of the specific department they are working in is beneficial. You want them to start getting to know some names and faces in the organization, and this is a great way to do that and to learn about the business as a whole.

Step 3: Start Before Your New Employee Does

The onboarding process doesn’t start on your employee’s first day; it begins with the recruitment process. Throughout the recruitment and once an offer is made, be timely about your communication. Once they accept the job, maybe have a special picture or saying you can send them, welcoming them to the team and telling them they can share their new journey with their network on LinkedIn.

Before that first day, have them enrolled in any training programs you require, set them up with a mentor, and have their equipment, passwords, name tags, desks, and workspaces, etc., ready with all of the supplies they need. Lastly, send them a nice welcome gift, if the budget allows. An employee can tell if you’ve planned for their arrival or if you’re winging it. Make the right first impression.

Costs of Not Having a Good Onboarding Program

Many employers mistakenly think that having employees fill out new-hire paperwork is onboarding, and it’s enough. They leave the employee to fend for themselves, depending on their teammates (who may or may not be motivated themselves) to train and integrate them into the company. Not taking the time up front to set your employee up for success can lead to:

  • Increased turnover
  • Increased overhead costs
  • A bad reputation
  • Lower productivity

This will in turn impact your company culture and your customer experience.

On average, companies lose 23% of employees before they hit their one-year mark

Hiring Statistics

Other Tips for Creating a Powerful Employee Onboarding Experience

Here are a few last tips for creating an onboarding experience that will make new employees want to stick around for years to come.

Tip 1: Help Build Connections

Whether it’s scheduling lunches with key personnel or creating shadowing opportunities for employees to connect, it is important to create a space where employees can build relationships. Friendships and relationships are critical to retention and engagement. One great way to help a new hire connect with someone right off the bat is to assign them an onboarding buddy.

Tip 2: Communication/Check-Ins

Be sure to check in with your new hire. Set up regular checkpoints throughout the process to ensure your employee is doing okay and to answer any questions.This allows you to understand how they are feeling and for them to tell you. This is also a good opportunity for feedback on the onboarding program.

Tip 3: Remote Hires

Remember to customize your onboarding experience so it can cater to remote as well as in-person hires. Be sure the onboarding experience is set up to easily adjust for hires who will never be physically present in the office. Make sure remote hires feel included and immersed into the culture just as much as someone who is physically in the office.