What is onboarding?
Not to be mistaken for orientation, onboarding is an experience that involves a comprehensive training and learning process for new employees. Supervisors, human resource staff and other key members of the new hire’s department typically get involved in the onboarding process to ensure the proper delivery of information.
Why is onboarding important?
Effective onboarding includes many benefits designed to help new hires feel welcome and prepared for their new roles. It also helps other employees within the company get to know them better. Here are three reasons why onboarding is an important part of the hiring process:
Onboarding helps new employees acclimate to their specific role, new colleagues and company culture. As new hires join your staff, they’ll feel better prepared to work according to your company’s expectations and philosophies. They also learn about company resources, performance reviews, unique benefits and other aspects of the company that are unique to each environment.
Because the hiring process uses a great deal of time, money and resources, it’s important to make new employees feel comfortable and valued from the beginning. The onboarding process promotes overall retainment through education.
Part of the onboarding process includes an engaging atmosphere with consistent dialogue and actionable goals. As employees continue to engage in their role and feel the support of management, they are more likely to increase productivity and improve performance.
Elements of the onboarding process
Consider these crucial elements when designing your onboarding process:
As new hires join your team, ensure they understand your company’s mission statement, values, key members of their department and how their role fits into the overall business goals. Introduce them to their colleagues and the rest of the company, even though it will likely take time for them to memorize names and faces.
Awareness of policies and procedures
Provide access to your company’s employee handbook and direct new hires to its key sections regarding policies and procedures that pertain to both the company and the individual. Go one step further and create a written statement that lists the employee’s responsibilities and objectives.
When bad weather interferes with transportation, employees get too sick to work or big projects result in overtime hours, special circumstances require special communication processes. Create a document for these types of scenarios that describes how to handle them, with a list of whom to contact.
How to effectively onboard new employees
As new hires join your company, it’s important that you follow the correct steps for an effective transition. Consider creating an onboarding checklist so you don’t miss any important details. Follow these steps to effectively onboard new employees:
1. Notify the HR department and company
Once you’ve contacted the job candidate and they’ve accepted your offer, contact the human resources department with a job requisition document. Depending on the company, the HR department may request a drug test and a completed background check before the employee begins work. Once the new hire has been cleared for work, send out a company-wide email, ideally the day before their arrival, introducing this person so everyone knows what to expect.
2. Select an employee to assist with onboarding
Think about who is the best person on your team to assist the new hire on their first day of work. Choose someone with a positive attitude who others view as a great role model at work. Then approach this person to gauge their willingness to befriend the new hire, at least for the few days during the acclimation period.
Related: New Hire Onboarding Checklist
3. Request devices, equipment and access
Before new hires arrive on their first day of work, ensure that their workspace is clean and ready to go. This includes having the computers, phones and office supplies needed to get their job done. Approach the IT department about setting up a new email account for the new hire, along with access to company software and computer programs.
4. Ask for feedback
Send out a friendly email to current employees asking for suggestions to improve the onboarding process. Find out about their first-day experiences and specifically ask how to make the transition better for new hires. Encourage managers to get involved with the onboarding process to demonstrate their level of commitment to the new hire.
5. Schedule orientation
Once you’ve prepared everything for a great first day, reach out to the employee and schedule a time of arrival. This way, they’ll know exactly when to come and who to ask for. Have the required paperwork ready to go, so the signing of tax forms and other critical documents goes smoothly.
Related: New Employee Welcome Email Examples
6. Conduct the office tour
Once your new hire arrives, give a warm welcome and begin your office tour. Take them around to every department for a brief introduction and show them important areas like the break room and restrooms. If your organization requires a special key fob or access code to enter the building, provide this now.
7. Schedule a check-in plan
Set calendar reminders to check in with the new hire every 30, 60 and 90 days. This provides the new hire with opportunities to provide feedback about the onboarding process and ask questions. There may be concerns or issues that arise, and you’ll be available to answer them.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding employee onboarding:
How long should onboarding last?
Onboarding is a process that may take several months, even up to a year. Most commonly, onboarding lasts 90 days or less, depending on the company.
Who should assist with onboarding new employees?
While the human resources department helps facilitate the onboarding process, there are other key members of the company that should assist with the process. These include IT personnel who set up access to company accounts and devices, the department manager and new colleagues.
Why use an onboarding survey?
Receiving feedback from employees who went through the onboarding process provides timely and valuable insight about what worked well and what needs to improve.