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Onboarding

You’ve searched for qualified candidates, completed the interview process and selected the best fit for your open role. How do you prepare the candidate you selected for success in your company? Onboarding is the process of preparing new hires for their day-to-day responsibilities and assuring them that they made the right choice in joining your organization.

Continue reading to learn what onboarding is, why it is important for new employees, how to create an onboarding process and tips about employee onboarding.

What Is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of bringing new hires into your organization and preparing them for long-term success in their role with the company. The main goal of the onboarding process is to make sure that new hires are as productive as possible in the shortest amount of time.

Employee onboarding is also centered around making sure that your new hire feels that they’ve made a good choice in joining your company.

Onboarding Versus Orientation

Onboarding is the complete process of integrating new employees into your company and preparing them for their day-to-day responsibilities. Throughout the onboarding process, you are focused on preparing each new hire for their specific role in the company.

Orientation is a preliminary step within the onboarding process where you help new hires acclimate to their new work environment. In orientation, you focus on welcoming the new employees to your company and reviewing general policies and procedures that apply to any position.

Why a Great Onboarding Experience Is So Important for New Employees

The onboarding process is an employee’s first experience with their new company. You want to create a great onboarding experience in order to:

  • Prepare new employees for success in their roles. The onboarding process is a crucial time to make sure new employees learn and clearly understand the responsibilities required to be successful in their role.
  • Expedite employee productivity. Though they aren’t expected to be an expert on day one, an effective onboarding process allows new employees to take on important tasks more quickly and become productive in a short amount of time.
  • Create a welcoming environment. First impressions are important and your onboarding process should create a welcoming, comforting environment to ease the nerves of new hires and help them feel valued at the company.
  • Assure the new hire that they made a good decision. The last thing you want is for new employees to question whether they made the right choice accepting a role at your company. A thorough onboarding process ensures that you highlight the value of new employees within the organization and assures them that your company is a positive work environment.
  • Increase engagement and retention. Employees that have a positive onboarding experience are more likely to engage and establish goals for a long-term career at your company.

How To Onboard New Employees

New employee onboarding is an extensive process and should begin well before their first day. Take the following steps in order to create a positive onboarding experience for new hires in your organization.

1. Send a Welcome Letter and New Hire Paperwork

As soon as the applicant accepts the job, HR and the hiring manager should collaborate on the initial onboarding communication. If you’re running a small business, you may take the lead on this step and the majority of the onboarding process.

Within 24 hours of accepting the job, send a letter to the new employee welcoming them to your company. You can send an initial email to welcome them while the physical letter is being mailed. If possible, provide any new hire paperwork that can be completed digitally before their first day.

Along with a letter, you can include resources to help new hires get connected with your organization. Some items to provide include:

  • The latest employee newsletter
  • A recent press release
  • Bios of executives and company leadership
  • A list of items to bring to complete the I-9 process on their first day
  • An employee benefits summary and benefit enrollment forms
  • Company swag (T-shirt, hat, pen, notebook or any other branded gift)

2. Call the New Hire

After sending the welcome letter and additional resources, check in with the new hire via phone for an official welcome call.

In the time between their acceptance and start date, your new employee may still be getting offers from other companies and they could change their mind at any time. By calling them during this waiting period, you can answer any questions that they may have and help them feel like an important part of the company before they step foot in the office.

3. Notify IT of Technology Needs

With every new hire comes a slew of technology requirements for the IT department to fulfill. You want all laptops, chargers, phones and other tools to be set up by IT so the employee can start using them on their first day. There will be a number of accounts for software and applications that you will need to create login credentials for.

Each employee will have different needs and it’s important that you gather all of the required information so that the IT onboarding process can be completed days before the new hire begins working.

4. Assign an Onboarding Buddy

To reduce their nerves and provide a support system for your new hire, assign an onboarding buddy. Their buddy should work in a similar role and serve as an informal source of support that the employee can relate to, making it easier to ask questions and feel less intimidated.

Once you’ve assigned the best fit, have the onboarding buddy send an introductory email welcoming the new employee to the company and providing an overview of how the buddy system works.

5. Prepare the Employee’s Workspace

As their start day approaches, take some time to prepare the new employee’s workspace. Whether they’re in a cubicle, at a desk, in an open workspace or in any other setting, you should set up all of their technology and equip the space with plenty of paper, pens, staples and any other items they may need.

Feel free to include swag like mugs, t-shirts and stickers to provide as a welcome gift. You can go above and beyond, giving candy or snacks as an additional welcome gift to create a memorable experience.

6. Provide a Welcoming Environment on the Employee’s First Day

A new employee’s first day is their first true impression of your company and the work environment you provide. Make sure you do everything in your power to create a positive experience and a welcoming environment.

Have someone at the door to welcome them as they arrive and consider hosting a catered breakfast to help new hires ease into the day. It’s important that the employee’s direct-report supervisor is in attendance on their first day and other co-workers on their team should introduce themselves.

The first segments of orientation will take place on the first day. You may be able to complete orientation by the end of their first day, though you shouldn’t cram too much information into your program to try and complete it in one day. At a minimum, introduce them to the company culture and provide a workplace tour.

7. Complete New Hire Orientation

New hire orientation is typically a one or two-day program. As mentioned before, try to extend your orientation program to cover multiple days so employees aren’t overwhelmed with a wealth of information that they can’t absorb in one sitting.

A comprehensive orientation program will cover important information like the company history and culture, policies and procedures, payroll, benefits, general training and more. During orientation, review the employee handbook and have all employees sign your employee handbook acknowledgment form to confirm that they’ve reviewed and understood the policies.

Any new hire paperwork that couldn’t be completed digitally should be filled out. Some important documents that should be completed by the end of new hire orientation include:

  • I-9 form
  • W-4
  • State tax withholding forms
  • Direct deposit authorization form
  • Employee emergency contact form
  • Any non-compete agreement or non-disclosure agreement
  • Drug test consent form (if applicable)
  • New hire questionnaire

8. Conduct IT Onboarding

Along with general onboarding, your IT department should conduct technology onboarding so all employees are competent and comfortable with the devices required to successfully complete their duties.

In IT onboarding, your IT department will answer any questions about devices, provide login information for required applications and software, review cybersecurity and data privacy information and answer any additional technology-related questions.

9. Setup Weekly 1:1 Check-Ins

The new hire and their direct manager should meet on the first day to establish a working relationship. In this meeting, make sure that managers set up recurring weekly one-on-one check-ins for a consistent line of communication through the onboarding process.

In these weekly check-ins, managers can answer any questions, work on goal-setting and provide any additional support necessary for the employee to feel confident in their new role.

10. Schedule 30, 60 and 90-Day Reviews

As the employee acclimates to their new environment and settles into the day-to-day responsibilities of the job, you should schedule 30, 60 and 90-day reviews with your new hires. In these reviews, you can gain insight into the effectiveness of your onboarding process and assess the performance.

30-day reviews and 60-day reviews can be conducted in person or using a templated questionnaire, while the 90-day review should be held in person.

Other Onboarding Tips

Following the steps above will help you create an efficient onboarding process. Here are a few additional tips to make your onboarding process beneficial for everyone.

  • Don’t overwhelm new hires with too much information at one time. Information overload can intimidate your new employees and create a negative first impression. Spreading out the onboarding process allows your new hires to absorb as much information and feel as prepared as possible.
  • Use onboarding software to reduce paper usage. Onboarding software can help expedite the process, allowing new hires to complete some of their required documents ahead of time without using any physical paper.
  • Keep it light. To create a comfortable environment, don’t place too much pressure on your new employees in the onboarding process. Keep your activities lighthearted and low-stress for the first part of the onboarding process to reduce any nerves and anxiety.
  • Involve management and executives. While you want to keep the content light, involving management and executives in the onboarding process can help new hires feel like an important, valuable component of your organization.
  • Check in outside of scheduled meetings. Aside from weekly one-on-ones and your 30/60/90-day review process, check in with new hires periodically to make sure that they don’t have any questions or concerns and are feeling good about their onboarding process.

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Onboarding

How long does onboarding usually take?
New employee onboarding should extend several months past a new hire’s start date. A comprehensive onboarding program can last a year or longer.
Can I onboard employees remotely?
You can onboard employees remotely using onboarding software and other technology tools. You’ll have to tailor your onboarding process to accommodate remote hires, focusing on creating an inclusive, engaging experience despite the physical distance.
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