Employee Onboarding | 11 mins read

Everything You Need to Know About Employee Onboarding

everything you need to know about employee onboarding
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow

What is Employee Onboarding, Really?

Business professionals must make sure to develop the best practice possible for employee onboarding within their company. Employee onboarding is the mechanism through which a new hire receives the training, information, skills, and behaviors to become an effective employee at a business.
While most businesses have a current employee onboarding process developed, there is always room for improvement. Many businesses focus on the first day or first week from the new employee start date instead of focusing on a six month or first-year employee onboarding program and beyond.
A successful onboarding program seeks to find a balance between making your new employee feel comfortable and feel welcomed while maximizing new employee engagement and performance. A formal onboarding may include the following actions-
Formulation of a job description and employee handbook

  • Applicant tracking and invitation for interviews
  • Interviews in accordance with company policy
  • Ensuring new hire fits with the work environment and company culture
  • Sending an official offer letter and other human resource generated documents
  • Creating a unique training plan or training program
  • Employee training for each new role
  • Give new hire appropriate paperwork
  • Introduction to any relevant co-worker or team member on the first day
  • Exposure to onboarding software
  • Requesting feedback regarding onboarding experience

The Four Phases of Employee Experience

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There are four main phases of employee experience that business professionals should understand in order to improve overall employee engagement and productivity. The four phases and their time spans are listed below-
1. Onboarding- Essential to the employee experience is the onboarding phase which spans from day one to month three. During this phase, your new employee should begin their training program and work closely with your human resource department.
The first impression your new employee develops is important in understanding your business's employee retention rates. In fact, 30% of new hire employees will leave a new position within the first 90 days after being hired.
While it is tempting to solely concentrate on the first day or first week of the onboarding phase retention is not guaranteed so quickly. Developing a multiple month employee onboarding phase is essential to make sure that your new employee will feel comfortable and feel welcomed enough to stay long term at your company.
2. Initial development- The initial development phase spans from week three to two years out. During this phase, your new hire will begin to look for development opportunities and ways to improve their own role performance.
Once you have gotten past the first few months of effective onboarding it is crucial to have a continuous training plan for development. Make sure to provide employees with new opportunities to grow and welcome new skill set development.
3. Continuous Development and Employee Retention- The third phase of employee experience is any time beyond two years at your company. During this phase, employees should feel comfortable and feel welcome working with their direct manager and human resource professionals to find new opportunities within your business.
Make sure to ensure new positions for these seasoned employees to bring their careers to the next level. Due to their knowledge and experience, these employees may now help new employee onboarding processes.
Retaining these employees and keeping them engaged is crucial to establishing a positive company culture and work environment for everyone including new hire employees The loyalty and commitment to your business that these long term employees have made them both indispensable as a team member and co-worker for the rest of your staff members.
4. Separation- Separation is the last phase of the employee experience and can happen at the same time as any of the above-listed phases. If employees do not feel engaged in their role they will often search for new job opportunities outside your organization.
Even if your employee onboarding process is outstanding, some staff members will inevitably leave. Employees who separate from the company can provide invaluable information to their direct manager and human resource professionals.
If possible, schedule an exit interview before your employee leaves their role. Get started by encouraging them to specific answer question rounds you previously formulated. Request honest feedback regarding employee experience at your company. Ask for recommendations to improve your company culture and work environment to ensure best practice in the future.

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Employee Onboarding Challenges

Both human resource professionals and a new hire's direct manager may face challenges during the new employee onboarding process. Many challenges result from a lack of cooperation or effective coordination between different departments. Human resource professionals should do their best to help cross-departmental cooperation and communication.
Departments should work together to make sure that the work environment and training program are ready in advance for their new employee. Previously, human resource departments focused on talent management but now the main focus is on new hire onboarding procedures.
Both employee engagement and employee satisfaction are dependent on the proficiency of your human resource professionals and their ability to decrease cross-departmental communication issues.

Employee Onboarding Best Practices

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Best practice procedures for new employee onboarding include a variety of methods ranging from resource management to employee onboarding software installation. Human resource professionals can optimize new hire onboarding experience by-
1. Planning paperwork- Human resource professionals can spread out the paperwork that would normally be completed on the first day or first week of work. Instead, your human resource team can choose to give paperwork over the first month of employment. Doing so decreases the amount of time your new team member will spend in front of a screen alone.
The same applies to documents that need to be read by your new employee including their employee handbook and training program materials. While formal onboarding documents cannot be avoided, they can be spread out to avoid a bad first impression and employee burnout.
2. Get organized- Create an employee onboarding checklist and keep departments accountable for their contributions. For example, a direct manager may be responsible for orientation, an hr professional may need to draft an offer letter or make an employee handbook update, and IT professionals may be in charge of employee onboarding software installation.
When everyone is aware of what parts of the formal onboarding process they are responsible for the hiring process will go smoother. Human resource professionals can master their onboarding best practice procedures and present the best first impression possible.
3. Create communication- Resource management is essential for new employee onboarding procedures. A new team member should feel comfortable asking for help or advice during their onboarding.
A way to proactively create these communications is to provide the new hire with a list of co-worker contact information from various departments. Make sure contact representatives are well connected and knowledgable about their respective departments.

Employee Onboarding vs Orientation

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Many business professionals do not know the difference between employee onboarding and employee orientation. While employee onboarding is a continuous process, employee orientation is a one-time event that usually occurs within the first week if not before or on the first day of employment.
Employee orientation is usually a conference-style event that includes new hire employees from a variety of departments. The main goal of employee orientation is to make sure new employees feel welcomed and prepared to begin their new position.
There are many objectives that can be present in successful employee orientation, including-
1. Introduction to company culture and missions- Top talent employees and leaders traditionally launch the orientation with important information including missions, values, and visions.
2. Paperwork assistance- New hires are often overwhelmed with a lot of paperwork to fill out and documents to review. Make sure your human resource department is ready to help answer questions and provide guidance when needed.
Paperwork can be intimidating to get started so it is best to have speakers and introductions before dealing with documents. Encourage employees to ask any questions they have regarding their offer letter or employee handbook materials.
3. Benefit introduction- Your human resource team should be ready to help explain intricacies regarding employee benefits. Make sure employees understand timelines around certain benefits if any benefits are not immediately applicable.
4. Technology information- Have an IT professional show new employees how to navigate workplace technology. If you have various software systems be prepared to offer employee training for more complicated specifics.
5. Safety training- The safety of your new employee should always be the first priority. Make sure there is a professional available who has extensive safety protocol knowledge and provide guided tours of any relevant hazardous workspaces.
An effective training program should include both employee onboarding and employee orientation. They are not interchangeable and while employee orientation focuses on a one-time introduction of your new employee to the company, employee onboarding is much more department-specific and long term.

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Employee Onboarding Process

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Even before the employee onboarding process begins, employees must go through applicant tracking and lengthy interview processes. The entire hiring process is only the beginning of obtaining new staff members. Onboarding begins when you present an offer letter to the employee and continues indefinitely throughout their employment.
A proper employee onboarding process should include the following-
1. Employment offer- A human resource professional and direct manager should contact the new hire and provide various documents. These documents include an official offer letter and employee handbook but can vary greatly respective to the job description of your new hire.
2. Acceptance of offer- A best practice is to get back to a new hire quickly once they have accepted the offer. Your new employee will likely feel comfortable and more engaged if they feel like a priority. These interactions are crucial to the first impression that your new hire develops about your company culture and work environment so make sure to properly execute them.
3. Waiting phase- Just because an offer letter has been accepted does not guarantee that you have a new employee on your staff. Your employee may be reviewing multiple offers so it is crucial to stand out among your competitors. The waiting period is a great time to develop an employee onboarding program that is unique to your new hire.
4. First day of employment- Make sure your employee can feel comfortable and feel welcomed to their new work environment on day one of their employment. An employee onboarding checklist can help human resource staff begin the new employee onboarding process.
5. Department coordination- Introduce department staff to their new team member and co-worker and provide your new employee with contact information for external departments. If you want to introduce your new employee to other departments you can consider one-on-one welcome sessions.

6. Employee training and orientation- Both employee training and orientation are important factors of employee onboarding. Orientation is a great place to provide information about your company and introduce a new hire to various departments. Employee orientation can help a new employee know what to expect day one and going forward throughout their career.

For more specific interdepartmental questions, provide an employee training plan for your new hire. Employee training is essential to help new employees understand job description specifics and allow them to ask questions not covered in the orientation.

How to Build an Employee Onboarding Process

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There is much to consider when building an employee onboarding process including-

  • Formulating a clear job description
  • Providing guidance and timelines for the hiring process
  • Crafting an offer letter that is warm and informative
  • Setting up new employee accounts and paperwork
  • Introducing new hire to every applicable co-worker and team member
  • Supplying necessary technology equipment

A successful onboarding program is one that will make your new employee feel comfortable and feel welcomed in their new role. Instead of focusing on just day one of employment, make sure your employee onboarding process includes consistent check-ins.


Employee engagement and your entire company culture will be positively affected by creating and maintaining an employee onboarding process that is as ideal as possible

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