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

A crucial part of the employee life cycle is the onboarding process. Good onboarding is necessary to instill employee engagement, company culture integration and long-term retention for new employees. The process should be designed to assist new hires throughout the beginning stages of employment, ensuring a positive (and lasting) employer-employee relationship. 

It is proven that businesses that invest time and money towards the implementation of an effective onboarding strategy benefit from higher levels of employee retention, productivity and engagement. First impressions make a lasting impact. For that reason, establishing a positive initial perception within the early stages of the onboarding process is a must for achieving long-term employment rates. 

A strong onboarding plan also helps level out a new hire’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 feeling like a number. This is  why establishing a strong connection to company culture is important.

A Beginner’s Checklist

To ensure new employees feel welcomed, HR managers and team leaders strive to create a seamless and interactive onboarding process. Listed below is a short checklist of essential elements to include when planning an effective onboarding plan:

  • Planning the first day: orientation and office tour
  • Setting up new employee’s desk and equipment
  • Sharing important documents
  • Company history and culture presentation
  • Pre-scheduling meetings with manager(s) and key associate(s)
  • Organizing timely and consistent check-ins 
  • Establishing regular 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

One of the first introductions a new employee receives to a company’s vision, corporate values and culture is through the onboarding process. 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 company culture have a clearer vision regarding business priorities, focusing as much on the individuals as on their business goals. 

Where company culture 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 hires. 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 employees feel encouraged to foster relationships at work is by actively setting up moments to connect for teams and colleagues alike. Like where 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. All in all, a strong company culture benefits a company’s bottom line.

Company culture 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. Businesses should work towards building an engaging work environment that stands out from the competition, and strive to move away from the more traditional, silo-structured workplace format—which is even more important these days, now that many offices have transitioned into remote work.

Structuring the Onboarding Plan

The early stages of onboarding are purposed for setting up new employees 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—a solid onboarding plan—is essential to the process. This helps new employees 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 employees to discuss in detail the aspects of their position, and continue to do so throughout the onboarding cycle. This can take the shape of feedback sessions at various check-in moments during the first year, 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 the onboarding phase, in order to provide new hires 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 employees, open communication can make new hires 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 process 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 hires. 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 employees to “pop up” on screen and connect at any point within the allotted times. 

Investing more time to check in with new hires. Keeping a close contact throughout the hiring and onboarding process—whether in a physical or remote setting—is a great way to help maintain good communication with new employees. 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 hire.
For more tips on how to adapt the onboarding process to a remote onboarding program, 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 process. Good onboarding practices play a key role in creating employee engagement for new hires. 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 employees 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 the 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 employees, assigning mentors and buddies is key. HR managers can match up new hires with current employees, solely assigned throughout the beginning stages of the onboarding program. The objective is to offer an additional layer of support, where new hires 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. The role for mentors is to act as a guide and coach, directing new hires through their initial phase of growth within the business, whereas buddies act as “office friends” to help integrate within social aspects of the company.

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

We don’t need to say it twice: effective onboarding benefits the employees across the board. Plus—from engagement, retention and performance—onboarding results in a better and more profitable bottom-line for an organization as a whole too. As covered in our previous articles, building an effective onboarding strategy could be a time consuming process, involving many steps, costs, and a lot of paperwork.  Although the investment is worth it in the end, there is an easier way to build an interactive onboarding program, by using the Softstart, a collaborative app for HR, managers and new hires to use that offers a faster and easier way to build effective onboarding plans.

Softstart is a step by step guide, providing a platform for collaborators to ideate, implement, track and review onboarding experiences from inception to completion. That means that parties from both sides of the experience—managers and new employees—can participate in creating a dynamic and memorable onboarding experience, resulting in higher levels of performance, engagement and retention all around. 
For an easy and proactive way to create memorable onboarding experiences, sign up to Softstart, the ultimate onboarding aid, for first-hand experience. It’s free!