How to Onboard Employees Successfully: Best Practices & Tips

Electra Michaelidou
Electra Michaelidou

Career and Lifestyle Writer

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to onboard employees effectively

You read through dozens of applications, conducted rounds upon rounds of interviews, and finally found the right person for your team. Though weighing all your options and making a decision was tricky, now comes a part that’s trickier: retaining your newcomer.

While many companies expect candidates to show up at their best and make an excellent first impression, few invest in optimizing their onboarding process to requite the effort. On the other hand, bosses who understand the role of successful onboarding in employee retention have a head start.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can successfully onboard new team members by setting expectations and delivering on them. Without further delay, here’s our 10-step onboarding checklist:

Step 1: Create an employee handbook

In larger companies, the HR department is responsible for creating an employee handbook. However, this document is a vital thing to have even if your company is a small one.

Employee handbooks are an excellent way of familiarizing new joiners with company values, policies and workplace code of conduct. If all that your latest team member has to go on is their job description, you can expect your employee engagement to suffer.

Step 2: Gather all necessary forms

The next step in onboarding new employees is for the HR department to provide all necessary documents to be filled out. New hire documents include employment contracts, tax documents and non-disclosure agreements. Print these out in advance, along with relevant information about the role, and keep them someplace safe.

Step 3: Come up with a training plan

When you onboard new hires, you must determine a clear set of objectives you’d like them to hit, both in the short and long term. A good place to start is by writing out an overview of what they should be working towards in the next 90 days.

Making use of online employee training tools, such as iSpring’s induction training software, can prove beneficial to you and your new hire. On one hand, your new employee can access precious resources in one place, from details about your product or service to deliverables and what’s expected of them. On the other, you can monitor their progress and compliance along the way.

Step 4: Sort out accounts and logins

This is where your HR management needs to cooperate with your IT department smoothly. Have your team sort out your new employee’s work email, computer passwords and software credentials prior to their arrival.

Consider how discouraging it would be for your new employee to arrive full of enthusiasm on their first day and find out they’re unable to even log in.

Step 5: Prepare their workspace

Preparing a new employee’s workspace can be exciting. However, not all companies are proactive — and even multinationals like Tesla don’t always get it right. Do you remember last summer, when Elon Musk ordered an end to remote work and found his car company grappling with an embarrassing shortage of desk space and chairs? Yeah, that’s the type of thing you’d like to avoid.

When setting up your new employee’s workspace, remember to place a copy of your employee handbook on their desk, as well as a schedule for their first day. Additionally, business cards, welcome letters from management and onboarding kits can make for a thoughtful touch.

Step 6: Assign them to a mentor

Before your new employee joins, you must consider who their mentor is going to be. This is especially important if they’re to job shadow someone, as that someone must also be willing to be observed while working.

Have a chat with your team in advance, and decide together who will be responsible for answering questions and providing guidance to the new joiner. Though a quiet genius may seem like a good option, they might not be able to convey meanings as well as someone who’s less experienced yet more bubbly. Consider everyone’s strengths and weaknesses when making a decision.

Step 7: Introduce them to the team

To help the new joiner integrate quickly with the team, it’s good to plan a welcome meeting on their first day. Personal interactions with the people they’ll be working with is a great way to make them feel more comfortable.

However, as first days can be overwhelming (what with the new surroundings, faces and information), you should aim to keep the introductions fairly short.

Step 8: Give them an office tour

There’s nothing worse than having to disturb the stranger working next to you to ask which way the bathroom is. Trust me, I’ve been there!

Employee induction days should, therefore, always include a tour of your premises. Let them know where the coffee machine is (and how it works), where they can find things like napkins and glasses, and where the communal spaces are.

Step 9: Monitor their progress

Once your new employee is settled in and their training begins, it’s good to catch up with them regularly to assess their progress. This can be done through daily one-on-one meetings during the first few days, and then weekly or biweekly as they get the hang of things.

These face-to-face conversations are more than just about providing feedback; you should aim to ask for feedback, as well. Perhaps the training materials you’ve provided don’t suit your new employee’s learning style, or training is moving faster or slower than they’d like. Hearing them out will help you enhance their experience and improve their learning curve.

Step 10: Adjust your training plan

Based on your new employee’s feedback and performance in the first weeks, you should be making adjustments to your training plan. The more you optimize your training to the needs of your new hire, the better their chances of thriving in your organization. That will benefit you in return, too; after all, onboarding is the process of maximizing your new hire’s potential to propel your business forward.

Key takeaways

At a time of severe talent shortages, competitive compensation and benefits alone aren’t enough to reduce employee turnover. In recent years, HR management around the world has had to view onboarding strategies as part of their employee retention efforts.

Indeed, companies must think hard about what they’re telling new employees — even the things they’re communicating through their actions or inactions.

To make sure your new employees are benefitting from your approach, here’s what you should keep in mind when building your onboarding plan:

  • An onboarding process can reveal a lot about a company’s culture and work environment; investing in it never goes to waste.
  • Keep things simple: onboarding overload is real, and your new hire will appreciate you for taking steps to prevent it.
  • Technology is your friend! From employee training software to project management software, keeping everything accessible and in one place helps a lot.
  • Listening to employee feedback is just as important as providing it. As everyone learns differently, your training plan must be tailored to individual needs.

How much attention have you been paying to your onboarding methods? Do you have any additional insights to share with other company owners or managers? Join the conversation in the comments section.

Originally published on February 5, 2019.