15 Ways To Improve Your Onboarding Process

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published December 7, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published December 7, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Related: First Impressions: Ask Informed Questions

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Welcoming new hires into your organization is an exciting process. An employee's onboarding can have a huge influence on their enthusiasm, motivation and performance. As your new hires learn the fundamentals of their new jobs, you have the unique opportunity to make a meaningful first impression. In this article, we discuss some best practices for onboarding your new employees.

Benefits of a good onboarding process

An employee's first impression of a new workplace can set the tone for their entire experience with a company. An engaging and exciting onboarding process can improve job performance in the long term by setting employees up for success from the moment they begin their training. In response, these employees see higher satisfaction in their jobs, increasing employee retention over time.

When a company makes the effort to create a captivating onboarding process, new employees are encouraged to engage immediately with their new surroundings, generating excitement about their role. An excited employee is likely to speak highly of the company they work for, improving a company's brand by word of mouth and contributing to the reputation that the organization is a great place to work.

Onboarding best practices

Here are some best practices to help equip your new employees with everything they need to be successful in your organization.

Start before the first day

Consider making use of the time between an employee's initial offer and the beginning of their first day. Sometimes referred to as pre-boarding, hiring leaders often use this period of time to reach out with a welcome message or even have new hires take care of preliminary administrative tasks, like paperwork or personality assessments.

Related: Welcome to the Team Email: Template and Example

Fill the first day with activities

An employee's first day of work is likely to be one of their most impressionable moments with your organization, so it's helpful to fill it out with engaging activities. Have a plan for your new employee's first day, preferably one that gives them the chance to begin learning right away. Deliver information in small, manageable amounts, and try to use a variety of learning styles to keep people engaged throughout the day.

Address essentials first

Before you begin the job-specific training, make sure your new employees understand the basics of their workplace. Helpful information might include where the restrooms, cafeteria or coffee machine are, how to get in contact with other employees during the workday or how to find the way from their desk back to the front door of the building.

Make them feel welcome

If your organization is regularly onboarding new employees, it can help to have a designated welcome group. This onboarding team consists of people who've committed to making themselves available as a resource for new hires in either a training or social capacity. Providing new employees with a network of experienced employees can empower them to ask questions and engage with the company culture.

Try to have someone from your onboarding team meet your new employees at the door when they first arrive. Consider stocking your employee's workspace with essentials like pens and notepads. Small gifts, like flowers, balloons or coffee mugs, can make employees feel welcome in their new space.

Related: 9 Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees

Have fun with the process

Be creative about how you deliver training information. Treat your onboarding process like a celebration, or turn fundamental lessons into trivia games and scavenger hunts. Consider having new employees work together in teams to complete a challenge, then hand out prizes at the end. People often retain information more thoroughly when they have fun learning it.

Give adequate time

The more time an employee has to learn their role, the more prepared they usually feel when it comes time to do it on their own. Try to spread the process out over multiple days, giving your new hires plenty of time to digest information and ask questions without becoming overwhelmed. Different employees may learn at different speeds, so be patient.

Keep a planned schedule

Establish a schedule for your new hires throughout the onboarding process. This might consist of training sessions, team lunches, shadowing opportunities or pre-scheduled meetings to get to know key coworkers. A balanced schedule can give new employees a sense of structure and purpose, allowing them opportunities to exercise their new knowledge with varying degrees of supervision.

Involve senior leaders

New employees often benefit from knowing who their senior leaders are. Employees can gain a better sense of where their role fits into the organization when they have the chance to meet people beyond their immediate circle of interaction. If possible, try to schedule one-on-one sessions during the onboarding process where new employees can ask senior leadership about their career journeys, past experience and vision for the work they are doing.

Set clear expectations

Develop a plan for onboarding your new employees, and communicate it clearly to them throughout the process. Take every opportunity available to make sure your new hires are clear on what you expect from them. Stated early and often, these expectations can help your trainees feel focused as they navigate each new learning milestone.

Related: How To Create an Onboarding Checklist: With Template and Example

Assign responsibility

New employees are likely to learn more quickly in situations with real, meaningful outcomes. Many companies assign projects to new hires within their very first days of work. This gives employees a sense of accountability and a designated opportunity for the practical application of their newfound knowledge.

Have accessible resources

From training handbooks and phone directories to standards of business conduct and cafeteria menus, a new employee is likely to be more successful with a wide range of resources for reference. Make sure your new hires have access to all the information they're learning and that they know where to find it again once they've completed the onboarding process.

Introduce company culture

The onboarding process is often an ideal time to introduce your new employees to the culture of your workplace. Talk to them about the values your company holds. Consider the ways those values permeate the workplace, from the way people interact with one another in the office to the lives people lead outside of it. You might challenge your new hires to identify where they see those values represented in their new surroundings or in themselves.

Related: 8 Reasons Why Organizational Culture Is Important

Socialize new employees

Try to introduce your new hires to as many people as possible. The more people your employees connect with, the more familiar their workplace will start to feel. Anyone can be a resource, so connect your employees with people outside of their immediate surroundings. Whether that means other teams or departments, these interactions can help new employees gain a better understanding of how different parts of the business work together to form a cohesive organization. Team lunches, outings or happy hours are good ways to make new hires feel included.

Gather feedback

Give your new employees the opportunity to provide feedback about the onboarding process. Throughout their training, they might share what is or is not working well for them and helpful suggestions for improvement. This insight is valuable and might even evolve over time, so consider asking your employees for additional feedback throughout their onboarding experience. This gives an employee time to settle into their responsibilities enough to know if the training they received was helpful.

Open the process to other employees

Consider offering review courses to existing employees. Onboarding can involve a lot of information, some of which might even change over time. Offering both new and experienced employees the chance to refresh their knowledge at regular intervals can increase job performance as information evolves.

Related: First Impressions Mistake: Waiting for People to Get in Touch with You

In this video, Jenn, an Indeed Career Coach, explains how to prepare for your first day, and explains the common first impression mistake that people make at a new job of waiting for people to get in touch with you.

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