Your Ultimate Guide on Effective Employee Onboarding

team meeting and introduction of new employee

Can you remember the day you started at your new job? Do you recall the nerves, the worries, and the feeling of anticipation? That’s what most new hires feel during their first day at work.

In today’s competitive and success-driven world, it’s not enough to just hire good employees — you also have to put effort into implementing an effective employee onboarding process. Many employees have their fair share of great and horrible inductions: all the way from a fun and engaging first week with many orientation activities down to a colleague pointing at a cubicle and saying, “That’s your workstation. Good luck.” and walking off. Needless to say, the latter one leaves a terrible impression.

According to data from Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their company has an effective employee onboarding process in place. That means 88% believe their companies do a bad job of welcoming new hires. Given that an effective employee onboarding process results in higher productivity and retention, you don’t want your employees to be part of that 88%.

Here’s how to effectively onboard a new employee and ensure they settle in nicely in your organization.

How to Effectively Onboard a New Employee: Step by Step Guide

An effective onboarding process starts the moment your candidate accepts your job offer. The succeeding days, weeks, and months after are crucial to developing a productive, long-lasting, and mutually beneficial working relationship between you and your new employee. If you need an in-depth explanation of the intricacies of employee onboarding, head over to our article that fully explains what employee onboarding is.

After you’ve fully read up on the definition of employee onboarding and what it entails, here’s how to effectively onboard a new employee.

  1. Start the Onboarding Process as Early as Possible

Planning your new hire’s first day from the moment they accept your job offer is pivotal to implementing an effective employee onboarding process. Begin by using the information you gathered during the job interview and combine it with the responsibilities of their new role to create an orientation program that suits them. These include:

  • A welcome package with a comprehensive brief about their role, your organization’s mission statement and values, and branded merchandise such as a mug, a t-shirt, a lanyard, or stationery.
  • An employee handbook built on feedback from current employees that answer any questions a new hire could have.

There will be plenty of paperwork to fill out when you onboard a new employee so make sure you have a new hire checklist of documents. Any delays will result in your new employee unable to start work on the scheduled date. To avoid that, send out any required legal paperwork after they receive your welcome package.

Staying in constant contact with your new hire before their start date is also an excellent way to ensure they’re excited to begin and prepared for their first day. If they’re coming in to work on their start date, ensure their desk, equipment, software, security access, and ID are all ready to go.

  1. Get Your New Hire Settled In

With lots of information and many unfamiliar faces to take in, the first week for any new employee can be overwhelming. To ensure an effective employee onboarding process, avoid introducing them to the entire company on the first day. Instead, allow them to get closely acquainted with their immediate team.

Once introductions are done, ensure your new hire settles comfortably. A fantastic way to do this is to assign them a buddy or a mentor. This buddy can show them the key areas of your office such as break out areas, comfort rooms, communal dining spaces, and tips about the surrounding area like a nearby coffee shop.

First impressions matter during effective employee onboarding and connecting them with the key people they’ll be working closely with makes a huge difference. If possible, set up a team lunch so that they can easily feel closer with one another. It’s been proven that the closer your team is on a professional and personal level, the more motivated and efficient they’re going to be.

  1. Plan Your New Hire for Success

After you’ve made sure your new hire is settled in nicely, the next step in an effective employee onboarding process is to create a 90-day plan. It should encompass three key milestones during the first, second, and third months of their stay in the organization. This gives new employees direction and actionable items right from the start. By identifying clear, easy-to-reach goals, your new hires will find immediate success and become re-energized about their decision in joining your company.

Here’s how your 90-day plan should look like:

  • First 30 days: Let your employees learn their role’s key information such as tools, software, products, and services. This is also a crucial time to let your new employee become comfortable with your company’s culture. At the end of the first 30 days, your employee’s major milestone should test their new skills by having them achieve a small yet fulfilling goal.
  • Next 60 days: By this time, your employee is ready to take on larger and more long-term responsibilities depending on their role. They should also be able to collaborate with other departments and teams across your organization. Once again, the key milestone at the end of 60 days for your employee is finishing a project that showcases their new abilities.
  • Final 30 days: The last remaining month aims to take on all of their role’s remaining responsibilities and result in your employee completing a project entirely on their own, with little to no supervision required. However, your new employee’s development doesn’t stop at the end of three months. Ensure they stay engaged and committed to their role with monthly check-ins with their supervisors.
Woman teaching man procedures
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Creative Ways to Onboard Employees

Now that you know how to effectively onboard a new employee, there’s always room to think outside the box and find creative ways to improve your effective employee onboarding process. After all, new hire onboarding shouldn’t be boring!

Here are some ways to ensure that effective employee onboarding is as fun as it is rewarding.

  • Send a mass email to the company introducing your new hire. Don’t just limit it to their role and work history. Include interesting additional information such as their hometown, hobbies, spirit animal, go-to karaoke songs, etc.
  • Make a welcome card and get everyone from their team or department to sign it and leave a short, encouraging message.
  • Decorate the new employee’s desk with balloons during their first day! You can also give them a fresh cup of coffee and some pastries from a nearby coffee shop.
  • Send new employees on a scavenger hunt or a Human Bingo game that encourages them to learn more about their team members, meet people in every department, and understand or even memorize the office layout.
  • Organize a social activity that includes everyone in the new employee’s team, including their supervisor. This can be anything from a team lunch, a coffee break, a weekend Game Day, happy hour, volunteer work, or anything else you can think of!

Business video call

How to Onboard a New Employee Virtually

Over the past year, companies across the world have had to adapt to the new normal brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing and quarantine guidelines have forced hiring managers and recruiters to adapt to a fully digital hiring and onboarding process. Be it using recruiting software like interview scheduling tools or updating teams via an applicant tracking system, remote recruiting and onboarding has become the new normal.

Here are some tips for an effective employee onboarding process while everyone continues working from home:

  • Safety first

Prior to Day One, contact the new hire to discuss how the pandemic has temporarily changed how operations work. Talk them through your safety expectations and requirements as well as your future plans when you decide to bring everyone back into the office.

  • Create a detailed First Week calendar

In the office, it’s easy if a new hire needs some support or guidance, or if they have nothing else to do. This is more difficult to monitor in a remote onboarding situation. To ensure your new employee has the assistance they need and enough tasks for a fulfilling workday, have a calendar of pre-scheduled training sessions and meetings.

  • Connect on a personal level

During an effective employee onboarding process in the new normal, don’t forget to encourage social introductions. You can set up a virtual “coffee morning” that includes the new hires with their corresponding teams. This is a great way to introduce the new employee to their colleagues and help fill the interaction gap during remote onboarding.

  • Emphasize your company’s values and culture

When it comes to keeping new hires engaged and happy, company culture is king. A survey by LinkedIn shows that over 3,000 professionals in the U.S. said they would leave a company if the culture is bad.

Ensure your company culture shines throughout the onboarding process. This will also make the new hire excited about going to the office when the pandemic is over.

Start Building Your Effective Employee Onboarding Process Today

An effective employee onboarding program is vital to setting up your new hires for success, but these processes aren’t created overnight. So, internalize the steps and tips we highlighted in this article and begin developing your program as early as today. If you get stuck, remember that your greatest resource are the people who have already undergone your onboarding process: your existing employees.