A strategic employee onboarding process is crucial for building a team of resilient, capable, and high-performing individuals. Organisations with solid onboarding processes increase retention by 82% and improve productivity by 70%.
That means onboarding is a profit driver.
It makes the hiring process more cost-effective, reduces employee churn, improves the company’s culture and helps new hires become confident key team members sooner.
Follow our five-phased guide to build a solid employee onboarding process in your business.
(Related: Best HRIS Software In Australia).
Why Is Onboarding Necessary?
An alarming one-third of new hires look for another job within their first six months in a new role.
However, 69% of employees are likelier to stay with a company for at least three years if they’ve had a positive onboarding experience.
The onboarding process is crucial for a few reasons:
- Reduces mistakes by clarifying boundaries and rules.
- Encourages new hires to integrate into the company culture.
- Fosters collaboration within the broader organisational environment.
- Helps new hires feel included in the company’s vision and mission.
- Provides a framework for measuring success.
What Do We Mean By Onboarding?
It’s not the same as being hired, although it should overlap with your recruitment process. It’s also not organising a morning tea on a new hire’s first day. It goes much deeper.
Onboarding is a strategic human resource management approach designed to immerse new employees in your team’s policies, workflows and culture.
Typically onboarding includes the following components delivered over multiple phases:
- Finalising the offer: Conveying the offer with respect and enthusiasm, negotiating in good faith, providing new hire paperwork, setting a suitable start date, and accurately capturing the new employee’s details.
- Orientation: An overview of the company’s mission, values, culture, history, organisational structure, and policies.
- Training: Providing job-specific training on tasks, systems, and processes necessary for the new employee to perform their duties.
- Introductions: Introducing the new employee to their co-workers, direct managers, HR managers and key stakeholders.
- Feedback and expectations: Introducing the new team member to methods you use for ensuring accountability and improving their performance.
- Support: Providing resources to help new starter overcome challenges in their new role.
Every touchpoint with new hires matters. Bamboo HR found that employees who received a compelling offer letter were around 17x more likely to say they felt a connection to their organisation. Demonstrate your alignment and appreciation from the start.
What Is The Perfect Onboarding Timeline?
For smaller organisations or start-ups, the onboarding process may span a few days; for other multi-level corporations, factor in weeks or months.
Exact timeframes will depend on the complexity of your organisation and the role. For instance, a steeper learning curve might be necessary if you have a unique sales method or proprietary process.
When planning the timing of your employee onboarding process, keep in mind:
- Some steps need to occur before your new hire shows up — in order to make starting the new role feel seamless. This may require a coordinated effort across multiple functions in your business, which also takes time.
- Similarly, ensuring the onboarding continues to happen smoothly means being prepared in advance for the days and weeks that follow. Developing a reusable new hire onboarding checklist is critical.
- While some onboarding activities may be self-paced (e.g., working through online orientation materials), deadlines may encourage new employees to make consistent progress.
Build Your Onboarding Processes 5X Faster.
I’ve successfully used Microsoft Word dozens of times to create onboarding programs for new hires. It’s a cheap and scalable approach that works well – as long as you remember to use a lot of bullets and stick to a clear, logical subheading structure.
You can, however, build your onboarding processes 5X faster if you use an onboarding process builder, like the one from Moqups.
Shown above: Moqups creates an at-a-glance view of onboarding tasks and responsibilities.
The best thing about using onboarding process software is clarity. Every stakeholder knows precisely what they need to do, and at which stage in the process. Nothing falls through the cracks.
Phase 1: Before The First Day.
Get your ducks in a row before a new employee starts working to put them on the fast-track to productivity and a feeling of belonging.
Stay in touch with your chosen hire and prioritise handling all the paperwork, account creation, and practical set-up of office space or equipment required, in the weeks prior their start day.
Take care of the paperwork and office setup in the days prior to the new hire’s start day.
We recommend that hiring managers:
- Send a welcome email: Outline what the employee can expect on their first day and provide any necessary information, such as dress code, location, parking.
- Organise access: Facilitate necessary documents (mentioned below), front-door codes, and phone or computer access.
- Provide Technology: Coordinate with IT and security teams to set up employee accounts and provide access to relevant hardware and software.
- Cue Meetings: Schedule any necessary training or orientation sessions.
- Create Workspace: Prepare the employee’s supplies and desk space.
Is Your New Employee Overseas?
You will have to run payroll in a foreign currency. Avoid using obvious, expensive options like PayPal, which add 4% on your currency transfers. We’ve reviewed Australia’s best international money transfer services to cut your payroll expenses.
A. Sign Important Documents.
You will work closely with your HR department throughout the onboarding process. They will provide the necessary documents to be organised before the new hire starts. These might include:
- Employment offer.
- Employment contract.
- Non-disclosure agreement.
- Process & procedures manual.
- Superannuation, tax and payroll details.
Be sure to call your new hire and remind them about the details for their first day, what they must bring, the correct corporate dress code or uniform, arrival time, and any other essential information. Ask them if they have any questions they need answered.
B. Organise Equipment And Software.
Coordinate with IT and/or security teams to set up all log-in permissions in advance, so your new employee can instantly connect to your network and access company emails, intranets, and messaging systems.
This is especially important if your orientation or training materials are accessed this way.
Create standardised onboarding processes for each role. For example, a field salesperson will need a laptop for working on the go, while a finance manager may require unrestricted access to your company’s accounting software.
Some more examples of the differences that catch hiring managers off-guard:
- Administrative and support staff: Advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) permissions and training, access to productivity tools like Asana or Trello.
- Sales and marketing staff: Access to relevant sections of Salesforce, HubSpot or Shopify, as well as unrestricted access to Google Analytics.
- Technical staff: Software developers or SysOps will require access to sections of your technology stack, software development kits and testing tools. They may also need access to collaboration tools like GitHub, Bitbucket, or Jira.
C. Prepare The Workspace.
Ensuring a new employee’s workspace is ready demonstrates that you anticipate and appreciate their presence. It also sends the right message about your managerial skills.
We would include the following:
- Set up new employee’s computer, mouse, and keyboard.
- Print their welcome pack/training documents.
- Write a ‘Welcome [Name]!’ sign for their desk.
- Ensure all software login invitations are correct.
- Organise any company merch/swag (such as a drink bottle) to be placed on their desk.
If your new hire is in a temporary location or hot desk, ensure they have adequate materials and comfort to complete their onboarding. Remember to explain that this is a temporary desk space, and show where they’ll be settled permanently.
Phase 2: Day One.
Set the tone for a positive and worthwhile long-term employee-employer relationship by making Day One efficient, friendly and informative.
It’s crucial that the orientation process:
A. Facilitate Introductions.
Don’t assume current staff will introduce themselves to your new hire, or that the new hire won’t feel too intimidated to introduce themselves to everyone.
Prioritise making introductions, with a mix of both informal ‘walk around’ hellos and some scheduled catch-ups with key personnel, or maybe a team lunch.
Spend the most time introducing your new hire to their immediate colleagues and supervisors one-on-one. You can supplement this with:
- Providing a staff list: Ideally, you’ll develop a directory that includes people’s names, roles, images and contacts, which can be accessed online, so new employees can take time to familiarise themselves with both names and faces.
- Company messages: Use company-wide communication channels to introduce new employees in more detail, by including a summary of their background and interests. Encourage the wider team to introduce themselves to the new hire or go and grab a coffee together when they have time.
Assign 1-2 ‘buddies’ for the new hire. Immediately, they have two friendly faces they can turn to. For example, you could say, ‘If you need anything today, email or message David or Vanessa.’ Ensure people assigned as buddies understand their role and are measured (and incentivised) on the quality of support they provide.
B. Lead A Guided Tour.
A tour will help the new hire familiarise themselves with the workspace, particularly if your company spans multiple locations or departments.
Consider a 10-15 minute walk through the office and surrounding area. Be sure to include the following:
- Facilities and departments the employee will need to know.
- An understanding of where each department/team is and why.
- Introductions to any key figures such as IT, security, or maintenance.
- Common areas such as cafes, gyms, or local establishments that you recommend.
C. Provide Key Information.
Carve out time on the first day to share high-level information about being employed at your company. This might be delivered by the hiring manager or a HR team member and will usually cover:
- Clarity on company structure and reporting hierarchies.
- An overview of the company vision, values and strategy documents.
- Core workplace policies, processes and expectations.
- A rundown of payroll, available benefits, and leave processes.
Day One is also a great opportunity to discuss the specific responsibilities and performance management approaches that will apply to the new employee. You can touch on:
- Current major projects or team goals they’ll be contributing to.
- How success is measured, communicated and recognised.
- How you both prefer to communicate or receive feedback.
Assign a series of small, achievable tasks to your new hire immediately. This will help them feel like they’re contributing and making progress straight away.
Phase 3: First Week.
A person can forgive one bad day, but after a week, they’ll have formed a deeper impression of whether they belong in your company or team.
Get onboarding wrong here, and new employees will flounder, and perhaps reconsider their choice.
Your employee will be gradually working through orientation materials, so regularly check in to ask if they have questions.
It’s equally important to give them work.
Make initial tasks meaningful but not overly complex. Continue to assign discrete pieces of work that the employee can complete with their existing level of familiarity with the business.
Goals for this period include:
- Administration: Schedule your new hire’s regular 1:1 management meetings and allow them to shadow you through completing daily/weekly tasks.
- Resources: It may take time for your new hire to uncover the specific equipment or tools they require to thrive. Check-in at the end of the first week.
- Compliance: Outline best practices for logging into online portals and sharing documents.
- Collaboration: Schedule introductory meetings with each department, not just those the employee will work directly with, but all interrelated teams within the company.
- Boundaries: Outline the expected courtesies for work style within the office space.
- Roadmap: Develop expectations with the new hire for the first three months of training and development.
- Evaluation: Make it clear to your new hire that ongoing training and performance measurement will occur.
Phase 4: First Three To Six Months.
You might pare back onboarding activities after the first month, depending on how quickly your employee acclimates to the basic procedures needed to undertake their role.
Still, there are important onboarding goals to achieve up to the three-month mark and beyond. In particular, focus on training your employees in the skills they need to excel and drive business growth.
Internal training and development priorities could include:
- Software skills.
- Workflow protocol and campaign management.
- Client-facing negotiation.
- Brand or talent partnerships.
- Task delegation and SMART goals.
- Situational leadership.
- Skills and performance assessment.
Each organisation will have different requirements. You should develop this training in collaboration with your HR team, ensuring it aligns with your company’s growth goals.
Consider matching new hires to a mentor within your organisation to further cement their sense of belonging and motivate them to keep growing.
Probation period management is an important consideration during this phase. It’s important for managers to:
- Set clear and achievable goals for short-term achievements during probation.
- Identify and target knowledge and skills gaps, and initiate internal training.
- Regularly hold 1:1 meetings with the new hire to discuss progress. At the minimum, a 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day check-in is wise to uncover concerns or barriers that need to be addressed.
- Provide constructive feedback and recognise the new hire’s wins.
Phase 5: First Year Year.
As your new hire gains confidence and proficiency, you must evaluate their success and performance.
Be sure to communicate with your employees how and when this will occur. We’ve previously outlined a range of strategies to improve team performance.
Goals for the 3–6-month period include:
- Delivering constructive feedback on performance.
- Outlining your new hires’ strengths and weaknesses.
- Increasing responsibilities and tasks.
- Defining short and long-term goals for the employee.
- Encouraging collaborative work with other employees
By the one-year mark, you’ll have a precise understanding of an employee’s performance and commitment to the role.
You can begin to delve deeper into the employees’ long-term career development needs and discuss possible promotion pathways to help further foster engagement and inform your succession planning.
What About Cross-Boarding And Offboarding?
Companies with more than 20 staff must have processes in place for cross-boarding and offboarding. What exactly do these involve?
- Process of transferring an employee from one team to another.
- Focuses on the realignment of expectations.
- Gives access to necessary tools, equipment, and training.
Cross-boarding best when you assign the employee to a member of the new team who assists them in acclimating to that team’s dynamics, values and priorities.
- Process that takes place when an employee leaves the company.
- Helps the organisation understand the reasons why employees leave the company.
- May include a written evaluation of the employee’s performance and contributions, exit-related paperwork, and final pay package information.
Best Practices For New Employees Onboarding In 2023.
Follow these 5 rules to ensure your employee onboarding process delivers meaningful business ROI.
1. Over-Plan The Little Details.
A good new hire onboarding process is one that a 10-year-old could follow. Bed down the critical details needed at each step – even those that may seem insignificant. Some ideas:
- Who is the after-hours IT point of contact?
- What are the rules for communicating with the CEO and other senior executives?
- Where does the employee onboarding process checklist live? Who has the rights to edit it?
2. Make It Social.
Onboarding can be overwhelming for the new hire, so adding team-building outings and icebreakers can help them feel more welcome. We recommend:
- Take your new hire to lunch or coffee.
- Organise a walk with a senior executive.
- Play an icebreaker at a meeting (But use these cautiously. Junior teams may enjoy them, but more senior employees will find them less valuable).
3. Provide Success Metrics.
Ensure your new hire knows what you and the company expect of them.
Communicate this throughout the interview stage and during the onboarding process. Be sure to tick off the following:
- Develop a rubric/document to help staff self-assess their performance.
- Discuss measurements for work completion and KPI expectations.
- (Optionally) Organise training sessions with specific managers or mentors to speed up their growth.
(Related: How To Improve Team Performance).
4. Cover Multiple Learning Formats.
Learning styles differ. Some people are more visual and prefer to learn through videos and (gasp) PowerPoint presentations. Others are more auditory.
If you want to create a top-tier employee onboarding process, ensure that the learning materials cater to all learning modalities. Options include:
- Instructor-led learning: This includes classroom-style training (in-person or remote) and typically includes lectures, presentations, and group activities.
- E-learning: Online training delivered through a learning management system (LMS). It is often self-paced and can include interactive modules, videos, and quizzes.
- On-the-job training: Typically involves a more experienced employee or supervisor providing guidance and feedback and can be formal or informal.
- Job shadowing: Observing and learning from experienced employees while performing their job provides hands-on experience.
- Mentoring: Focuses on developing skills, career growth, and personal and professional development from a more experienced (mentor) to a less experienced employee (mentee).
Be sure to offer an internal mentorship programme if you don’t already. Employees who are mentored are promoted five times more often than those who are not in any type of mentorship programme.
5. Offer Feedback And Recognition Early.
Tell people their work is valued – 65% of employees desire more feedback. For new employees, it’s imperative they feel that their work is valued and that they are making a difference.
This incentivises individuals to go above and beyond, embed themselves in company culture feel like they belong.
Providing effective feedback is a skill – and one you learn by practising.
Frequently Asked Questions About New Employee Onboarding.
New hiring managers are most unsure about…
What Is Employee Onboarding?
Employee onboarding integrates new employees into an organisation by familiarising them with the company culture, policies, and procedures. It includes orientation, training, feedback, and socialisation.
Why Is Employee Onboarding Important?
Companies with a structured onboarding programme experience 54% greater new hire productivity and 50% greater employee retention.
How Long Should The Onboarding Process Take?
A good employee onboarding process is tailored to your organisation, which makes general predictions difficult. We recommend that you formally support your new employee for at least 90 days.
How Can Employers Measure The Effectiveness Of An Onboarding Programme?
A number of tools are available to hiring managers and executives:
- Employee satisfaction (measured by self-reported, anonymous surveys).
- Retention rates and exit interviews.
- Time-to-productivity rates.
- Revenue per headcount.
- Customer satisfaction (measured by NPS).
What Mistakes Do Employers Make During The Onboarding Process?
Common missteps include:
- Lack of structure. No formal onboarding process. No onboarding checklist.
- Lack of success metrics. Failure to provide insight into how success is measured.
- Poor integration into the company culture. What are the vision, mission and values?
- Overloading new hires with too much information too quickly.
- Inadequate preparation for new hires’ arrival, such as not having their workspace read.
All the best onboarding your new hire!