New Employee Onboarding: 4 Things To Do To Onboard Like A Pro

A crucial part of the employee life cycle is the onboarding phase. Good onboarding is necessary to instill employee engagement, help newly hired employees to adopt company spirit and values and ensure long-term retention for new joiners. 

All in all, onboarding should be designed to assist new joiners throughout the beginning stages of employment, ensuring a positive (and lasting) employer-employee relationship. First impressions make a lasting impact. Establishing a positive initial perception within the early stages of onboarding is a must for achieving long-term employment rates. 

A strong onboarding experience also helps level out a new joiner’s learning curve, which can be the trickiest and time consuming (i.e. most expensive) part of the process. It’s also important to remember the human aspect of what makes an organization. Employees want to feel connected to their place of work—like they serve a real purpose within the organization, rather than feel like a number. This is why establishing a strong connection to a company’s spirit and values is important.

A Beginner’s Checklist

To ensure new joiners feel welcomed, HR managers and team leaders strive to create engaging and collaborative onboarding experiences. Listed below is a short checklist of essential elements to include in your planning:

  • Planning the first day: orientation and office/virtual tour
  • Setting up the new joiner’s desk and equipment
  • Sharing important documents
  • Presenting the company’s history, spirit and values
  • Pre-scheduling meetings with manager(s) and key associate(s)
  • Organizing timely and consistent check-ins
  • Establishing standard employee progress and feedback moments
  • Scheduling employee engagement activities (ex: team welcome breakfast)

For a more detailed checklist overview of all 4 stages of the onboarding process, check out: 4 Essential Onboarding Checklist for New Employees.

Top 4 Things to Do in the First Month of Onboarding

Cultivating Company Culture and Spirit

One of the first introductions a new joiner receives to a company’s vision, corporate values and spirit is through onboarding. A trend we can observe almost always amongst successful businesses is the existence of a strong culture. In many cases, companies with a strong sense of identity and values have a clearer vision regarding business priorities, focusing as much on the individuals as on their business goals.

Where company spirit is present, leaders can more easily embody the business values on the day-to-day, directly and indirectly translating cultural identities to employees and new joiners. As talent management agency ClearCompany puts it, “when leadership creates and embodies a work culture that matches the company’s mission and vision, it becomes part of the company DNA”.

There are many ways to cultivate company culture during the onboarding process:

  • By highlighting company culture starting from day one, at hiring;
  • By aligning company and employee values;
  • By fostering relationships between teams and across departments;
  • By investing in your employees’ roles and careers within the company through training videos, informative sessions and general information.

One method to ensure new joiners feel encouraged to foster relationships at work is by actively setting up moments to connect, for teams and colleagues alike. Like when teachers pair up students in group projects, HR managers and team managers can design collaborative tasks within the workplace, from one-on-ones to involving multiple departments with one another. Inter-employee friendships help increase engagement at work, which has been proven to positively influence productivity and extend the employment life cycle.

Having a strong company spirit benefits a company’s bottom line. Company spirit is a major factor in attracting and retaining employees—in fact, 47% of job seekers consider company culture as an important driver when looking for a new job.

Structuring the Onboarding Plan

The early stages of onboarding are purposed for setting up new joiners on the right track—maximizing potential as early (and seamlessly) as possible, while also fostering engagement towards the organization and peers.

Providing a solid structure is essential to building a solid onboarding experience. This helps new joiners have a clear understanding of objectives, align with the expectations of the role and step into the position with an organized mindset.

From the very start, it is suggested that HR or team managers meet with new joiners to discuss in detail the aspects of their position, and continue to do so throughout the onboarding experience. This can take the shape of feedback sessions at various check-in moments during the first months, where parties jot down ideas of projects best suited to excel the expectations for the role along the way. The results of these discussions can help in the construction of daily task lists for the first few weeks of onboarding, in order to provide new joiners with a better sense of direction, just as much as re-align in the later phases, adjusting for more realistic tasks and objectives in order to achieve higher performance.

Goal setting is a major component of every leader’s responsibilities and is particularly important in helping set up employees, regardless of their seniority, for success.

Setting up Clear Communication

Communication is key for fostering strong relationships. When welcoming new joiners, open communication can make new joiners feel comfortable and part of the daily conversation. Having an open line of communication and maintaining a dialogue throughout the beginning stages of the onboarding experience allows HR managers to set the stage and create clear and realistic expectations.

Implementing an open-door policy (or an open-screen policy for virtual offices) is a great way to help maintain a welcoming work environment. If working at an office with colleagues in close proximity to each other, managers can adopt an open-door policy as an additional layer of support for new joiners. If the workplace is remote (as we have seen a boom of in 2020), managers can reserve several time slots in their calendars throughout the week, allowing new joiners to “pop up” on screen and connect at any point within the allotted times.

Investing more time to check in with new joiners and keeping a close contact throughout hiring and onboarding—whether in a physical or remote setting—is a great way to help maintain good communication with new joiners.

Scheduling short meetings to touch base can help foster the feeling of support in a new setting. A good practice would be to organize weekly check-ins during the first month, bi-weekly check-ins for the second and third month, and monthly meetings thereafter. These meetings should be conducted separately from performance evaluations, and are solely done with the intention of establishing a support system for the new joiner.

For more tips on how to adapt onboarding experiences to a remote setting, check out: _Remote onboarding for new hires: Rethinking the onboarding process for the new normal.

Engaging Employees Early On

Many organizations underestimate the value of an engaging onboarding experience. There is a significant correlation between employee engagement and employee performance within a company, resulting in higher productivity levels—in fact, highly engaged teams show 21% higher profitability.

There are many ways HR managers and team managers can foster engagement in the workplace. One method is by hosting physical or virtual gatherings for new joiners to meet their peers—organizing lunch breaks with colleagues is a cornerstone bonding activity, and a quick way to help bring people together. 

In the physical workplace, managers can align schedules to ensure lunch times coincide with one another. As for remote settings, managers can host virtual team lunches through video chat apps, to eat and chat together. Other bonding activities can include cocktail hours, where new and current employees can get to know each other off the clock and within a more relaxed setting.

Managers can also organize team building recreational activities, such as offsite apple picking and board game tournaments. Adapting to a remote setting, managers can organize online group games, such as trivia competitions.

To enhance the integration process of new joiners, assigning mentors and buddies is key. HR managers can match up new joiners with current employees, solely assigned throughout the beginning stages of the onboarding experience. The objective is to offer an additional layer of support, where new joiners can connect and ask questions about topics separate from their role, such as about company benefits or even general questions such as where to get the best coffee. 

There’s an Easier Way: The Step-by-Step Guide

Effective onboarding benefits employees across the board. From engagement, retention and performance, onboarding results in a better and more profitable bottom-line for an organization as a whole too.

Although the investment is worth it in the end, there is an easier way to achieve engaging and collaborative onboarding: by using Softstart, make every first day the best first day

Softstart is a platform that connects new joiners to the people, knowledge, tools and spirit that makes your company what it is. Managers and new joiners alike can collaborate in creating full and genuine onboarding experiences, for themselves and future joiners, resulting in higher levels of performance, engagement and retention all around!