Employee Onboarding at it’s Best: A Step-by-Step Guide

The Importance of Onboarding

Onboarding is a process by which organizations welcome new employees within the company. The period of an effective onboarding journey spans from the first day of hire until the first full year of employment. An effective onboarding experience considers the following: 

Pre-boarding: As soon as the new employee is hired and before the start of employment, this is where HR managers lay down the foundation of the onboarding plan, ensuring an engaging environment and necessary items are ready to receive the new recruit.

Onboarding: Spanning over the period of the first day of employment up until the first full year, where HR managers welcome new employees to the team and ensure their effective integration within the company culture.

First day of onboarding: Where HR managers welcome the new employee and focus on the orientation process.

First week of onboarding: Where team managers and HR managers cover all the basics that the new employees will need to know to properly fulfill their employment agreement.

Joining a new company can be as nerve racking as it can be exciting, and being the “new person” is never easy—even when the career opportunity is stellar. So, to ensure a seamless integration and positive start, hiring managers should map out a thorough onboarding checklist. 

There are important elements to consider at each stage when planning an onboarding process that is both personalized and interactive. For a more detailed overview on the different stages of onboarding, read our previous blog: 4 Essential Onboarding Checklists for New Employees.

Successfully creating an effective onboarding experience is crucial, as research has shown that first impressions go a long way. In fact, new employees who have experienced a structured and thoughtful onboarding process were 58% more likely to stay within the organization after 3 years. A strong integration experience during the early stages of employment causes a positive domino effect, leading to 62% higher productivity levels and 50% new hire retention.

COVID-19 and the Remote Onboarding Process

With the coronavirus pandemic, remote work has become the new norm as a result of cutting down on direct human interactions within the workplace. As such, hiring managers have had to adapt to this new reality and adjust not only their approach to recruiting and interviewing, but their onboarding process as well.

Effective onboarding goes beyond lists and forms, as we saw  in our Ultimate Guide to Successful Onboarding. Effective onboarding is about creating an experience—making new employees feel welcomed, immersing them in the company culture and fostering real connections. As working from home can feel isolating or even overwhelming at times, hiring managers now have the responsibility of implementing creative approaches within the onboarding process in order to fill the gaps where lack of human contact can affect work dynamics. 

Remote onboarding involves adapting several key elements of the standard in-person onboarding process to new norms. This includes:

  • Building engagement with new hires by setting up ahead of time an organized two-week agenda to take place at the start of onboarding, ensuring several check-ins and assigning mentors.
  • Implementing new communication tools and technologies by adopting softwares and apps such as Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, and even integrating AR experiences when it comes to training and tutorials.
  • Establishing strong relationships with the rest of the team by assigning an e-buddy and organizing remote social activities, such as virtual cocktail hours or online team building trivia games.

To read more on what to consider for remote onboarding, read our latest blog: Hiring From Home: Onboarding New Employees for the New Normal.

A New, Easy Solution for HR Managers

By now, we understand the importance of an interactive onboarding process and the positive effects it can have on a company’s bottom line. As the onboarding process has several stages and involves many elements, the preparation of an effective onboarding process can be lengthy and time consuming. It can often feel like a full-time project, as HR managers allocate a good chunk of their time in order to plan and execute this successfully. While onboarding templates and checklists can help managers draft up a strategy, there is much more to consider.

It’s not easy to find a turnkey solution for a problem that requires as much personalization as onboarding programs for the individuals that a company hires. Even under the same roof, a company can host a multitude of different jobs with different skills and aptitude requirements, influencing the types of onboarding experiences needed. 

This is where Softstart comes in. Here to introduce a faster and easier way to build interactive onboarding plans and implement them effectively, Softstart is a collaborative tool for HR, managers and new hires. We believe that collaboration is key to all types of successes within organizations, external or internal. 

Part of the GSoft family and from the makers of Officevibe, Softstart is a software that provides a platform for collaborators to ideate, implement, track and review onboarding experiences from inception to completion. This means that parties from both sides of the experience—managers and new hires—can participate in creating a dynamic and memorable onboarding experience, resulting in higher levels of performance, engagement and retention all around.

Softstart: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Onboarding As It’s Best

  • Preparation and Collaboration: It takes a team to build a village and it’s no different when onboarding new hires. Preparing an onboarding strategy involves the collaboration of several parties—such as HR managers, project managers, and even key executives—in order to bring a variety of perspectives, knowledge and objectivity, ensuring all bases are covered to effectively onboard and integrate a new hire within the company culture. Softstart is an easy to use platform, with built in templates and activities, where members of an organization can come together and combine expertises in order to build a comprehensive onboarding plan.
  • Promoting Stronger Connections: First impressions can last a lifetime, which is why building positive relationships from the get-go and maintaining these connections is crucial for long-term employee engagement. To accommodate remote onboarding experiences, managers have to be more hands-on and set up a core support system for new employees onboarding from home. As we have seen in our earlier blog, Remote Onboarding for New Hires: The New Normal, assigning mentors as well as e-buddies to new employees during the first year is essential in making up for the loss of proximity. With the help of Softstart, managers can easily assign and connect parties with each other and through different interactive activities. TalentLyft also provides additional inspirations for work-from-home employee engagement ideas.
  • Track, Review and Adjust: Each passing year brings a set of new challenges. Employee expectations have changed over the years and will continue to evolve as the world continues to navigate through COVID-19. As such, it’s safe to say that the onboarding process should continuously be reviewed, evaluated and adjusted in order to fit the changing realities of potential candidates and new employees. It is also important to take into account that, regardless of the context of current times, each employee has a unique working pattern and discipline. Therefore, a truly effective onboarding plan is one tailored to the individual. Softstart answers to this, offering a system where onboarders and onboardees can review the onboarding process and apply feedback, enabling managers to apply appropriate adjustments in real time. Thanks to interactive dashboards, Softstart gives HR, managers and new employees visibility over the entire onboarding process, upholding the principles of transparency and teamwork through and through.
  • Integrated Support: Whether it is a manager’s first or tenth time preparing an onboarding plan, there will always be new challenges to face and new tricks to learn. Having the right support when planning the beginning stages can be extremely helpful and time-saving. That is why Softstart looks to simplify the process by offering a library of built-in onboarding templates. Templates offer a core foundation to build upon and implement personalized onboarding plans, and Softstart additionally assigns a score to each onboarding plan created to help further guide managers in the right direction.
  • Follow up: A common mistake that occurs is neglecting to follow up throughout the onboarding journey once a plan is set up and started. This prevents managers to tweak and adjust an onboarding strategy along the way. Regular check-ins serve as moments where managers can evaluate the progression that new employees are making during the onboarding process, promoting an interactive and dynamic approach to training, and help better guide new hires through each step by answering any questions they might have. Real-time tracking and assessment of progression help managers identify blockers and opportunities to enhance the onboarding experience as it is happening—Softstart allows users to keep track of a new employee’s progression and support them accordingly.

In a nutshell, Softstart is a one-stop-shop solution for building a full-fledged onboarding strategy and ensuring its successful implementation. It is an interactive and collaborative easy-to-use tool with user-friendly navigation. The application can be shared between several parties within a business, allowing different collaborators to work together to create comprehensive yet cohesive personalized onboarding experiences for new employees. The tool also allows managers to make changes in real time with the help of tracking and feedback systems. Basically, when it comes to onboarding, Softstart ensures a strong start (yes, we went there).