Onboarding sets the tone for each employee’s time with your organization. Their first weeks provide the foundation for their relationship with you and pave their way for success. That’s why making onboarding a positive, empowering experience is crucial.
But onboarding has only recently become a priority, and experts are still building the picture of an effective process. That might leave you wondering about best practices and what to include in your onboarding program.
We created this guide to help you perfect your employee onboarding process. Discover the top 14 onboarding ideas based on the latest industry advice and research.
Why is a good employee onboarding process important?
A good employee onboarding process helps recent hires adapt to their roles and integrate into the company culture. It ensures people transition smoothly from new joiners to effective contributors and fully-fledged team members.
An organization with a top-notch onboarding process can improve the employee experience profoundly. Gallup studies find new hires are 2.6x more likely to be satisfied with their jobs and 4.7x more likely to feel like they understand core business processes after intentional onboarding.
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14 top examples of onboarding processes
Here are some employee onboarding ideas that can help make the process more enjoyable and effective. Each has different benefits, but they all strengthen your company culture by putting your people first and affirming your values.
1. Preboard employees
Effective onboarding starts from the moment you offer someone a job. Talent Board found that employees are 91% more committed to a company if they receive information and have opportunities to ask questions before their official start date.
So, tell new hires what to expect and get a headstart on administrative tasks straightaway. Email them their contracts, onboarding schedules, and the employee handbook as soon as possible.
It‘s also an excellent opportunity to get input on your hiring process and win over new team members. Candidates are 87% more likely to recommend their employer to a friend when asked for regular feedback. As only a quarter of candidates get feedback requests, this could give you an early advantage.
- Alleviate new hires’ stress and anxiety — Sending employees key company information provides clarity on your expectations and shows you’re invested in their success. This will build their confidence and make them feel valued.
- Reduce the need for admin on the first day — As new hires look forward to their first day, spending the first hours filling out paperwork can be anti-climatic. You can avoid this experience by sending them their contracts and other documents ahead of time.
- Mark each employee’s transition from candidate to team member — Inviting questions and asking for feedback involves new hires in company processes. This signals they’re no longer candidates and helps them feel like they belong at your business.
2. Have fun with the employee handbook
One of the documents you can send new team members before the first day is the employee handbook. It‘ll be a resource they can refer back to throughout their tenure and may include:
- Company policies
- Company history
- Mission statements
- Core values
- Instructions and best practices
- Details about compensation and development
Without a creative touch, some of these sections may seem dry and uninspiring. Get your people excited about their new workplace by using a variety of media like images, audio, and video. You can even use GIFs, memes, and games depending on your organization’s brand and tone.
Also, write in a voice that reflects your company culture while engaging the reader. Valve has a good example of an employee handbook as the conversational, offbeat tone embodies the video game company’s ethos about independent thinking and innovation.
“What about all the things I’m not getting done?
It’s natural in this kind of environment to constantly feel like you’re failing because, for every task you decide to work on, there will be dozens that aren’t getting your attention. Trust us, this is normal. Nobody expects you to devote time to every opportunity that comes your way. Instead, we want you to learn how to choose the most important work to do.”
— The Valve Employee Handbook
- Provide an instantly accessible resource — Employees won’t have to wait for team members to be available to get their questions answered. This can make them feel more confident and in control.
- Create some hype — Highlighting some of your best initiatives, like your learning and development program and promotional opportunities, will help get new hires more excited about their role.
3. Set up the new hire’s workspace
New employees often spend a lot of time at their desks as they complete their initial training and get the hang of their new role. That’s why it’s essential to prepare these spaces before new team members arrive and make them as welcoming as possible.
So, get all their office furniture and equipment ready ahead of time. If they’re taking over someone else’s space, check everything is clean, undamaged, and in working order. When onboarding remote employees, add their login details to all the software you use and order any necessary equipment to arrive at their house before their first day.
To make a recent hire’s workspace more inviting, decorate and personalize it a little. You could hang up a welcome sign and some balloons. If you’re providing stationery, consider having their name printed on it. And although remote workers don’t have a physical office, they may use a professional dashboard you can customize with color schemes, images, or welcome messages.
- Help new team members settle in faster — Psychological studies show when you personalize an item or an experience for a person, it’s easier for them to connect with it. So, decorating your new hire’s workspace may help them feel a sense of belonging.
- Ensure employees have all the necessary tools — New team members will feel more confident when they have everything they need to follow your onboarding process and carry out their duties.
4. Announce new employees
Your organization probably has a social media platform, an internal newsletter, and an internal messaging system like Slack. Share news about the latest additions to your team on these channels to let your existing employees, collaborators, and clients know. You can stir up excitement and prepare your people for upcoming changes.
Get your new hire’s approval of the post before you share it, or ask whether they’d like to write the announcement themselves.
- Keep your team informed — Existing employees might miss hiring news, especially if your organization is large or spread across several time zones. Well-broadcasted announcements make sure everyone is up to date.
- Show you’re proud the new employee is working with you — Sharing hiring news tells team members you’re happy about the person joining the company. It may get other employees and customers excited, too.
- Start forging connections — If you include interesting details about the new employee in your announcement, their colleagues could use them as conversation topics or icebreakers. For instance, perhaps they attended the same university or both enjoy rock climbing on the weekend.
5. Hold entrance interviews
Psychologist Adam Grant says companies should hold one-on-one meetings similar to exit interviews at the start of employee contracts. The idea is that managers can uncover what would create a positive work experience for people and make them want to stay before they leave, not after. He suggests asking questions like:
- What are you hoping to learn?
- What are some of the best projects you’ve worked on?
- Tell me about the worst boss you’ve ever had.
For instance, a new hire may reveal their previous manager promised them a promotion and didn’t deliver. As a result, you might prioritize creating career advancement opportunities for them and handle discussions surrounding role changes sensitively.
- Reduce turnover — The earlier you discover the factors that trigger employee resignations, the more time you’ll have to prepare effective retention strategies.
- Show new team members you value them — Talking to new hires about what motivates them will show you’re paying attention and want them to succeed.
6. Offer a welcome gift
Greeting new employees with a gift on the first day is a great way to welcome them to the company. If they work remotely, arrange to send a package, so it arrives within their first hours on the job. There are plenty of options to choose from, including:
- Tech accessories like headphones and speakers
- Kitchenware like mugs and milk foamers
- Practical items like backpacks and laptop bags
- A one-time remote work stipend for setting up a home office
- Gift cards for general retailers, tech stores, or furniture shops
- Keep the first day exciting — New hires should feel enthusiastic about their new jobs, and surprising them with a thoughtful gift will let them know you care.
- Instill company pride — Giving new team members company swag like cups or t-shirts may make them feel a greater sense of belonging with the company.
7. Involve all team members
The sooner recent hires meet their new colleagues, the sooner they’ll settle into their positions. So, encourage staff from their team, related departments, and management to participate in the onboarding process. Have everyone introduce themselves and rotate who’s responsible for tours, meetings, and orientation sessions.
Although it can be tricky to arrange, you should also involve senior management in onboarding. Ask them to organize a quick online call or send new team members a welcome video message if they can’t meet in person.
- Help recent hires learn about the company structure — If you limit new employees to their immediate teammates during the first few days, it’ll take them longer to learn how different departments interrelate.
- Build a positive rapport between leaders and team members — When managers take time out of their busy schedules to get to know new employees, it shows they prioritize their people and culture.
8. Assign a buddy
Employees may feel reluctant to ask their colleagues questions if they’re naturally timid, worry they should already know the answer, or feel they’re getting in the way. So, ensure recent hires have someone to approach with questions and concerns by assigning them a specific mentor.
Mentors can help new hires in several ways:
- Arranging regular check-ins
- Answering questions and helping resolve issues
- Letting employees shadow them
- Organizing introductions
- Gauging how well the company is integrating new people
“Our company has implemented a personalized onboarding program, where each new hire is assigned a mentor who guides them through the first few months of their employment. The mentor is then responsible for setting up regular check-ins and meetings to ensure the new employee has everything they need to succeed in their role.
We pair new hires with mentors who have similar backgrounds, experiences, or interests. This not only helps them feel more comfortable, but also fosters a sense of community and belonging within the company.”
— Kacper Rafalski, Demand Generation Team Leader at Net Guru
- Provide staff with a touchpoint — Like the employee handbook, a mentor is an easily accessible source of information (and they can provide much more detailed, personalized responses!)
- Facilitate new hires’ well-being — Mentors are well-positioned to offer feedback on how companies are doing integrating new employees and flag any problems that come up.
- Offer development opportunities — Some team members may seek new challenges and responsibilities and welcome the chance to mentor less experienced colleagues and practice their leadership skills.
9. Invite new hires to lunch on their first day
Organizing a staff lunch can help new employees break the ice. You can find a popular restaurant and invite their colleagues. And as you may be disrupting the team’s usual plans, it’s a good idea to pay to encourage attendance.
Remote workers can also benefit from a welcome lunch. All you have to do is arrange an online meeting at a time that works for everyone. Consider offering your remote team gift vouchers for popular food delivery services so they don’t have to worry about preparing their own meals.
- Foster interpersonal relationships — Gallup shows work friendships are vital to employee satisfaction, and you can facilitate them by giving new hires the opportunity to socialize with their colleagues.
- Reduce first-day anxiety and stress — Some people may worry about the social aspect of work. Arranging a welcome lunch can help them develop a rapport with their coworkers and alleviate some of those concerns.
10. Set clear goals
Goal-setting is vital to any employee onboarding program. Your new hires will have a lot to cover during their first weeks, and the workload may seem intimidating. But breaking down the onboarding process into manageable objectives can reduce people’s stress and give them a clearer idea of what they should prioritize.
You can also give new employees checklists for paperwork and practical tasks. But for development and training, consider investing in a people enablement platform like Leapsome. Our Onboarding features let you create custom learning paths for each team member that show their progress and what’s up next.
- Set realistic expectations about progress — Individual onboarding plans mean employees know what they should aim to accomplish at different stages. As a result, they’ll feel more informed, empowered, and satisfied when they achieve their goals.
- Remind employees to complete essential tasks — There’s usually a lot of paperwork and tasks to manage during onboarding, and clear goals help people keep track.
11. Create standard operating procedures (SOPs)
SOPs are guidelines for all your organization’s processes. Typically, they’re a collection of documents containing written instructions, links and images. And if your company depends on software, you can also take advantage of screen-capturing apps like Loom to create video instructions. These let you record yourself performing tasks on-screen while explaining your actions.
- Provide new hires with essential tools and resources — Comprehensive SOPs mean new hires can search for and follow step-by-step guides for any task at your company.
- Promote independence — SOPs give staff more control over their work and discourage leaders from micromanaging.
- Eliminate disputes over best practices — Creating SOPs means there’s a documented way to handle each task, so new team members won’t receive conflicting information.
12. Request feedback
Asking for new hires’ opinions can give you helpful insights about your onboarding program. One way to do that is by running an onboarding survey and prompting staff to rate their understanding of their roles and how welcome they feel at work. Or, use Leapsome’s Surveys module to automatically collect feedback at specific intervals. Be sure to conduct onboarding surveys within the first couple of months, so new team members’ experiences are still clear in their minds.
- Make employees feel heard — If you ask for feedback and, more importantly, act on it, your people will know you value their contributions.
- Foster a feedback culture — Asking new hires for their opinions may encourage other staff to share theirs, too.
- Finetune your onboarding process — Feedback can indicate weak spots in your program so you know what to change. That means future recruits will benefit from a more streamlined onboarding experience and settle into their roles more smoothly.
13. Check in regularly
Employees benefit from regular one-on-one meetings, and that’s especially true with new team members. They’re more likely to have questions or require support than more experienced staff. These meetings are also a good opportunity for managers to offer feedback on their reports’ progress and discuss their next steps.
Although companies understand the importance of check-ins, some struggle to prioritize them. Studies found organizations reschedule around 40% and cancel 30% of one-on-ones. To reduce the risk of delaying meetings and missing an opportunity to have meaningful conversations, add check-ins to your onboarding schedule and demonstrate how much you value them.
- Make new employees feel cared for — When you make time for team members and ask them specific, personalized questions, they’ll know the company is invested in their experience. This might be something as simple as asking someone how they felt about a recent task they completed.
- Discover issues sooner — Every new hire is unique and will find different aspects of their role challenging. Often, you won’t be able to guess where problems will come up and will only be able to find out by asking directly.
- Forge stronger relationships between leadership and staff — Managers and team leads may strengthen their rapport with their teams if they spend more time together, especially when they take a supportive role.
14. Recognize milestones
Keep the focus on new employees by celebrating their accomplishments. That might be the end of their first month, 100 days, or six-month anniversary. Or, you might recognize achievements like someone completing their first project or closing their tenth deal.
Whichever way you decide to praise new team members’ contributions, tailor it to individual preferences. Some employees may enjoy a small party, whereas others may prefer more low-key recognition like an announcement on your company’s messaging system or a small bonus.
- Highlight each employee’s progress — When you acknowledge your people’s achievements, you show them they’re making progress. This can make them feel more confident about their abilities and like they’re finding their groove in the role.
- Show your appreciation for recent hires — Praising new team members will make them feel recognized and valued, which has a positive impact on performance. Gallup shows companies with effective rewards and recognition programs are four times more likely to be engaged with their jobs.
Optimize your onboarding processes with Leapsome
An effective onboarding program is critical to your organization’s success. When implemented well, it lays the foundation for strong team relationships and a positive employee experience. It can also help companies foster and maintain a people-first culture.
With Leapsome, you can create a personalized onboarding process tailored to your people’s needs. Our Onboarding features let you build learning paths with custom content so you can structure each employee’s first weeks effectively. And they work on whatever timeline you choose to release learning content at the optimum time. That way, you can bring everyone up to speed at a manageable pace while getting them excited about their new positions.
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