One of the most essential parts of taking on new employees is integrating them effectively into your workforce, referred to as the onboarding process. Throughout this critical time, new hires will learn about their job role, their colleagues, and your business’s company culture

You must learn how to perfect this area to ensure that everything runs smoothly and new employees feel supported and confident moving forward. Unfortunately, over 30% of new hires leave within the first six months, with more than half leaving in less than three months. 

So, let’s look at an onboarding checklist and a constructive timeline to ensure that you make the most of this vital period and do everything you can to increase your employee retention rates.  

1 - prioritise wellbeing
2 - pay competitive salaries
3 - offer flexibility
4 - growth opportunities
5 - incentives and rewards
6 - listen to feedback

Why is Employee Onboarding Important?

First impressions give employees invaluable insight into how a company operates and forms biases in their mind of what the environment will be like going forward. These ideas begin to form from the moment you sit down with someone to interview them for a position, so always go into a meeting prepared to welcome the applicant onto your team by the end of it. 

Onboarding is designed to introduce new employees to your company and prepare them for tackling tasks individually and independently. It involves:

  1. Introducing a new hire to team members 

  2. A tour of the area so they can familiarize themselves with the environment

  3. Provision of any resources they may need to complete their tasks

  4. Authentication of log-in details and electronic software 

  5. Further explanation of job role and expectations 

  6. Introductory tasks to complete

  7. Training, including health and safety protocols 

  8. Explaining the chain of command and showing new hires who they can ask questions to or where else they can seek help from

  9. Assigning a buddy for one-on-one mentoring 

An effective onboarding program leaves your employees feeling supported and confident, ready to progress with their new job. Without it, they can be left confused, uncertain, and unsatisfied.

Now let’s take a look at some of the best practices to create a perfect onboarding journey for your employees. 

Best Practices for the First Day

An employee’s first day is one of trepidation and excitement, but it’s helpful to know what they’re getting into before they have to show up or log in to work. 

Between the time it takes to hire an employee to them starting their new job, there’s a lot of opportunity to learn new things and get to grips with the basics of their position. This is an ideal time to begin the onboarding process so there’s less to do on day one. 

Let’s see what needs to happen before and during an employee’s first day. 

1. Get Paperwork and Authentication Sorted

No matter how hard you try, onboarding new employees will always be labor-intensive, especially when considering the paperwork involved. 

Make sure that both you and your new hire have all of the necessary forms and papers needed, such as:

  1. All relevant employee personal information 

  2. Employment contract

  3. Bank details

  4. Proof to work and identification

  5. An employee handbook 

A handbook will provide the employee with all the vital information they need about your company, such as your practices, goals, and core values. It should also contain information about your human resources (HR) department and any emails or phone numbers employees can use to contact superiors if they have concerns. 

Cartoon woman with a huge pencil and an even bigger notepad

Having a strong employee handbook means everyone’s on the same page, and there’s no confusion over job roles or expectations. Depending on the formality of your company, don’t just fill your handbook full of legal jargon and lists of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts.’ 

Try to make it welcoming and engaging so it feels less like a contractual checklist and more like the ultimate guide for succeeding in their new role. 

Then, unless there are specific details you need on a new hire’s first day, ensure you get all of their access codes and log-in details sorted before they arrive. 

Passwords can be customized later, but it will help an employee feel more valued and better integrated if they can be sat down at their own workspace, with their own desk, and instantly log on to a computer. 

2. Make Time for Training

Remote training can be issued to employees before they start working, allowing them to familiarize themselves with essential protocols without balancing a workload. 

Training will differ for every profession, and some sessions may be longer and more intensive than others. 

For example, a warehouse will have far more health and safety precautions than an office. Alternatively, if you work in the service industry, you may have to provide food safety training for new chefs or waiters. 

Software-intensive professions may require skill tests and questionnaires to be completed before a new employee is certified to proceed. If these can be done before their start date, more time can be spent on other tasks.

Some companies have specialized onboarding apps that offer:

  1. Key information

  2. Training

  3. Quizzes and games

  4. Education and history about your place of work

3. Allocate Important Resources

On their first day, you’ll want to have a space ready and waiting for your new employee so they can immediately feel like one of the team. 

A dedicated desk space for stationary workers or personalized equipment helps to incorporate new team members and ensures they have everything they need to get started without having to buy things out of their own pocket. 

Here are a few things to consider:

lanyard, uniform, computer, phone, stationery, desk

  • Laptop: Does your employee have access to a computer or laptop? If not, then you need to be able to provide them with one. This isn’t much of a problem for in-person arrangements, but if a remote employee is left without access to the necessary electronics, then you need to account for this and send one over at the earliest possible time.

  • Company phone: Often, employees are asked to access their work emails on their personal phones, but this can lead to a lot of issues when it comes to phone bills. So, having separate company phones that your employees can take home and use when on-call alleviates this problem and allows you to sort out bills much easier. 

  • Lanyards or identifiers: It would help if your new employees could get into the building they work at. Greet them with security passes ready to go to make the onboarding process a lot easier.

  • Stationery: No matter how much we rely upon technology, there will always be a time and a place for jotting down notes on paper. Give your employees a company notebook and pen so they have one on hand in case of emergencies.

  • Uniform: If your company has a uniform rather than a dress code, make sure to get this sorted in preparation for an employee’s first day. 

A welcome bundle containing company memorabilia and goods can also help to improve the employee experience of new hires, as you’ll be able to set them up for success with everything they’ll need for the first few weeks. 

4. Put Out a Welcome Email

If other employees are getting on with their jobs, they might not know you’re adding someone to the team. A friendly, informative welcome email will get everyone’s attention and make a new hire’s arrival less of a surprise. It could be a standalone email or incorporated as part of a weekly newsletter. 

This email can have an updated list of relevant information and lists, which is useful for both existing and new employees. This could include:

  1. HR numbers and emails

  2. A timeline of any ongoing corporate events

  3. Company social media links

  4. An early introduction to the team or senior staff

5. Introduce the Team and Assign a Buddy

As a manager, you probably won’t have time to be part of the employee onboarding process from start to finish. But you still want to make sure your new workers are looked after and settled in correctly. 

In this case, providing a buddy who can work with the fresh face one-on-one until they are comfortable is useful. A knowledgeable colleague works best in this position, as a direct manager can often be quite intimidating to ask questions to. It also helps to build a sense of camaraderie and union if you’ll be working in the same sphere, facing similar challenges. 

What to Do in the First Week 

So, the first day is out of the way, and things seem to have gone well. That’s not the end of the story, however.

Throughout the first week, there are several things that you need to do as an employer to help facilitate a sense of belonging and community. Now is the time to really help your new worker connect with their colleagues and the rest of the staff.

1. Conduct Regular Check-Ins

Even though you’ve assigned a buddy to show the new hire around, don’t leave it at that. Take an active role as manager and step in to check on how they are doing and if any problems need to be addressed. 

A new work environment can be stressful, particularly when an employee isn’t sure how things work or where they fit in best. Offering some words of advice and a friendly face is sure to boost their confidence and let them know they’re on the right track. 

Be understanding if and when mistakes arise – no one is perfect, and it’s rare that people do something new correctly 100% of the time. 

Make use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps such as Slack or Microsoft Teams to keep in regular communication with remote workers so they don’t feel isolated and left to fend for themselves.

2. Devise Onboarding Activities and Team-Building Opportunities

If you want to foster a team spirit faster, then organize onboarding activities that everyone can take part in. This could be:

  1. Food and drinks after works

  2. Team-building exercises in the office 

  3. Escape rooms or event days out where members have to work together

Part of an effective onboarding process is to thoroughly incorporate new members into the team. Having dedicated areas for lunch, breaks, or general relaxing, such as game rooms, can help facilitate chat with co-workers and encourage strong bonds. 

Ultimately, this helps to separate where people work from where they go to relax, encouraging healthy boundaries and reducing stress and burnout. 

3. Promote Company Values Wherever Possible

Whilst this should also be done on the first day, the coming weeks will give you more time to properly demonstrate what it means to work as part of your business. Company policies, practices, and values should be made abundantly clear, and it’s up to not only employees but also senior management to showcase them to the best of their abilities. 

If you pride yourself on your “fun work environment” and preach “respect and kindness,” then it’s not good practice to shove a new hire into a cubicle and leave them to sort through mountains of paperwork. You’re not delivering on any of those promises. 

Rather, you should help inspire your employees to be proud of your company by giving them ample opportunity to explore and learn. Case studies and promotional content which highlight the good you’ve done for others is a great way to instill pride in where you work.

If a prospective employee is presented with two identical job offers, they’ll tend to go with the company that better aligns with their own moral compass and values. 

1 - make values meaningful & memorable
2 - practice what you promote
3 - self-select and self-correct
4 - remember to measure

4. Provide Introductory Tasks

Now’s the time to get started on assessing an employee’s true capabilities by providing them with simple, introductory tasks they can complete. This way, you can gauge their workflow and see how they operate under pressure. This then allows you to adjust your strategy with them going forward. 

Most new employees operate within a probationary period. Make sure to clearly state how long this period will last for, but also explain that it is open to negotiation should a new hire not be performing as anticipated. 

This doesn’t have to be a harsh conversation – it just means that they need a little more help getting off the ground. You’ll find this happening everywhere, but especially when the job requires a lot of training and skill before someone can work at full efficiency. 

After all, everyone starts somewhere. An introductory period is the first step to producing top talent that everyone can be proud of. 

Perfecting Employee Onboarding in the First Few Months

After the first month, a full-time employee should hopefully know where everything is and how it all operates. It’s knowledge they can keep adding to and accumulating all the way throughout their time with you, especially if you have plans to scale your business and adopt new technologies. 

By this point, you’ll be able to know how well the levels of employee satisfaction are, but it’s useful to conduct a first-month interview to check in and confirm any suspicions. Be open to feedback in this period, as a fresh set of eyes could help uncover any poor working practices that could be off-putting for any new employees. 

Depending on the nature of your job and the city you operate in, you may still find that you have quite a high staff turnover in the first year of an employee being there. Towns or cities with a high student population are most at risk here since there’s a constant flow of people coming and going from all over the country. 

Don’t be too demoralized, though. Conduct exit interviews to see if there’s anything you can do to improve and gain useful insight and metrics into the reasons why people leave in the first place. 

A graph showing various statistics:
9% - Career development
0% - Employee perks
27% - Compensation & benefits
3% - Upward mobility
42% - My feelings/what I think of my team members
19% - I fully understand the business goals

Final Thoughts

Perfecting your onboarding experience looks different for every company depending on where your main priorities lie. 

If you are a more laid-back establishment with a smaller group, you may prefer to get your new employee introduced and familiar with their co-workers first. Or, for more active roles, the most important aspect of onboarding is for an employee to know the lay of the land so they won’t get lost when navigating. 

Whatever strategy you use, always ensure your workers have someone to turn to in their time of need. Starting a new job can be a time filled with anxiety, so it’s your duty to ease employees into their roles as smoothly as possible. 

With all of this in place, you’ve got yourself a successful onboarding program you can be proud of, and a Most Loved Workplace® employees will be eager to come back to.