Everything you need to know about employee onboarding
The employee onboarding process is important for the future success of the employee – we can’t overstate the importance of that. That also means a lot should go into this process, and it can feel overwhelming to map it out.
In this article, we’re going to cover what employee onboarding is, why it’s important, and how to go about it. Then we’ll offer some best practices to get the most out of your onboarding process.
What is employee onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process of bringing a new hire into the organisation and equipping them to do their job.
It might sometimes be known as HR onboarding, since it’s often handled by human resources. It’s an important part of ensuring long-term success for the employee. As such, it ultimately has a major impact on the company as a whole.
Onboarding staff begins long before the employee’s first day. In fact, it should start from the moment they accept your offer. As such, a lot should go into it – it’s generally a multi-step process that extends long beyond the first day (or even first week) of employment.
Why is employee onboarding important?
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you know that turnover is a real problem. Onboarding is, in large part, about combating this problem and setting the employee up to do their best work.
These are some of the objectives onboarding can help you achieve:
1. Increase retention
A strong onboarding process increases the likelihood of new employees sticking around. Finding and hiring new employees is time-consuming and expensive, so you want to retain new hires rather than replace them.
2. Reduce employee turnover costs
We hinted at this above, but losing an employee is expensive. First, you lose all the time, money, and effort you put into finding and training them. Then, you have to spend more time, money, and effort to find someone to replace them. Finally, you have to factor in the lost productivity from the employee leaving.
3. Boost employee productivity
A strong employee onboarding process can make an enormous difference in productivity. Onboarding is the time when you’ll be teaching your new hire the ins and outs of getting work done in your business. Habits and best practices established now will carry over into the employee’s entire career at your company.
4. Strengthen company culture
Culture is an important part of every organisation. It informs how decisions are made, how work gets done, and how employees relate to each other. A strong onboarding process will help solidify your company culture, introduce it to your new hires, and get them acclimated.
5. Reduce business risk
A thorough staff onboarding process covers all the necessary paperwork and formalities that need to be completed. That includes contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and legal documents. This is also the time to introduce safety procedures and policies to protect confidential information.
6. Attract top talent
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to attract new talent. Companies with an onboarding process — and that, as a result, have loyal, successful, more engaged workers — might be able to attract more people that want the same.
Key elements of staff onboarding
Employee onboarding takes care of several new-hire essentials in a systematic way. Additionally, it does so up front, so that the workers don’t need to start their job with unanswered questions or a lack of direction.
A thorough onboarding process will include time to handle all the essential paperwork and legal tasks, and will also introduce the new employee to important policies and regulations.
Onboarding should help ensure that your new employee’s questions are answered and that they clearly understand what’s expected of them.
Onboarding is the time to introduce your organisation’s culture to new hires and ensure that they understand it and are a good fit for it.
During onboarding, you’ll introduce the new hire to the team they’ll be working with, as well as other coworkers they’re likely to run into. These personal connections are an important part of culture and satisfaction at work.
The onboarding process should include regular check-ins to ensure the new hire is getting acclimated and meeting expected goals. These check-ins also give them a chance to ask questions and get clarification.
The three-step employee onboarding process
Now it’s time to look at how to onboard an employee, step by step. The three overarching phases are pre-employment, the first day, and after the first day.
Pre-employment onboarding steps
The pre-employment phase of onboarding new employees is all about getting ready. You should focus on paperwork, informing the proper people that someone new is starting, and getting all the equipment ready for your new employee.
1. Inform your staff
Let the existing staff know well in advance that someone new is joining the team. This helps to ensure that there are no surprises and gives other employees the chance to welcome the new hire.
2. Keep in touch with the candidate
Continue to touch base with the new hire in the time between the offer and start date. This keeps them updated and engaged — and could help keep them from accepting a job with a competitor.
3. Prepare documents
Pre-employment is the best time to get all your paperwork in order so that you can present it to the new employee on their start date. This includes company handbooks, superannuation documents, tax forms, and any agreements they’ll need to sign.
4. Set up their workstation
Get your employee’s desk or workstation in order before they start. This equips them to jump right in on their first day and also sets a helpful tone that shows you’re thinking about their needs. Make them feel welcome!
5. Set up their email address
Email is probably a crucial part of communication in your company. If that’s the case, get the new hire set up with an address before they start. It doesn’t hurt to send them a welcome email, either.
6. Assign a mentor
Assign a mentor or buddy to your new employee. This mentor can work with them for just the initial week or two, or for the entire onboarding process.
First day of employment
On the first day of the job, your onboarding should focus on introductions, getting your new hire acclimated to the environment, and setting expectations for the first few days of work.
1. Remind your staff
Remind the team that it’s your new employee’s first day and that they may need help and direction.
2. Give new employees a welcome kit
If you have a welcome kit for new hires, now would be the time to hand it out. And if you don’t have one, create one! This kit should include the paperwork and documents you prepared, as well as any information they may need, such as login information and directions.
3. Arrange a team lunch
This is a great way to help the new hire feel more welcome. It can be awkward to dive into a new culture and meet so many new people, so a team lunch can be a welcome break from an otherwise stressful day.
4. Provide an office tour
A quick tour around the office can help alleviate a lot of confusion for new hires. You might have already done this during the hiring process — if so, do it again. There’s a good chance they’ve forgotten a lot since then.
5. Go over company culture
Review company culture and remind your new team member how your organisation works. Take the opportunity to reinforce this now.
6. Share week one goals and assignments
Outline your expectations for the first week — goals and milestones, assignments, and expectations.
7. Provide a 30, 60, and 90-day plan
Similarly, outline expectations and plans for the next few months. This helps the employee know what to expect and where they need to be after one, two, and three months of employment.
After the first day: What comes next?
After the first day, onboarding shifts yet again to focus on long-term success. Conduct check-ins, celebrate wins, and establish patterns of ongoing support.
1. Ask managers to set up daily or weekly touchpoints
Meet with the employee’s direct supervisors and managers and establish a regular check-in process. This ensures they continue on the track you originally got them started on.
2. Complete 30, 60, and 90-day check-ins
You’ve already outlined expectations for these check-ins — make sure you follow through. During check-ins, you can also ask your new hire how they’re adjusting to their role.
3. Celebrate early wins
Take some time in the early weeks and months of employment to call out the wins. This helps give the employee a sense of progress and engagement — and shows that you notice the good work they’re doing.
4. Provide ongoing training and support
Your job isn’t over when the early onboarding process is complete! Continue to provide support and training to your employees as you all move forward and grow as a team and organisation.
Important employee onboarding documents
Paperwork is an important part of onboarding — particularly pre-employment.
Any new hire will need to complete some paperwork. Documents and information to collect at the pre-employment stage might include:
personal and emergency contact details
bank details (for payment)
a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement.
Generally, these documents and paperwork should be provided and handled prior to the employee’s start date.
When the new hire starts, you’ll need to provide some additional documents. These are typically less about signing and meeting requirements, and more about providing needed information. So, documents at this stage might include employee handbooks and policies.
Employee onboarding best practices
We’ve covered a lot of information so far. Let’s tie it all together into some best practices. Keep these in mind as you implement the processes above.
Connect new hires with the team before Day 1
Introduce your new hires to their future coworkers before the start date. This could be a physical, in-person meetup, or it could be digital (using video calls or social media).
Make the first day feel memorable
The first day at a new job can be stressful. You can help alleviate some of those first-day jitters and ease your new employee into their role by doing something special. Go out of your way to be welcoming, and have your other team members take time out of their days to welcome the new person and introduce themselves. Make it fun!
Tailor onboarding experiences to the type of hire
Depending on your organisation, you may need a bit more than a one-size-fits-all onboarding process. For example, a remote hire will need a different approach than someone who will be in a physical office setting, and an internal hire will need a different approach than an external hire.
Prioritise company culture in the onboarding process
If company culture is important in your organisation (and it should be), then you should make it a feature of the onboarding process. This is the ideal time to introduce new employees to this culture and reinforce its importance.
Set clear expectations
This one is important – whatever your expectations are for the new hire, make sure they are clear. There should be no ambiguity in what is expected of your new employee, either during or after the onboarding process.
Don’t expect too much too soon
While it’s appropriate to have expectations, don’t expect a new salesperson to be making the quota of a longtime team member after just a few weeks. It takes time to acclimate.
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Onboarding is an important and powerful process. It’s also complicated because it involves so many steps. As such, it’s vital that you think through your staff onboarding procedure and make sure that you have everything planned out and ready to go.
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