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Onboarding Best Practices

Employee onboarding is one of the most critical steps in the hiring process. When your efforts are effective, onboarding prepares employees for success by ensuring they’re engaged and supported from day one. Providing a positive initial experience with your company and equipping new hires with all the information and tools they need will help you reduce turnover, increase efficiency and assimilate new employees much faster.

To help make sure your process is successful, here are a few of the top onboarding best practices:

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Start communicating before your new hire’s first day

The best way to ensure a smooth first day is to prepare well in advance. Ideally, you should begin the onboarding process at least 1 – 2 weeks before a new employee’s start date. During this time, you should ensure they’re set up in the right systems, order all necessary equipment and notify other personnel, such as security and IT, to make sure they don’t encounter any challenges when they arrive.

Then, email the new hire with all the information they’ll need on their first day, such as when to arrive, parking information and instructions about where to go when they enter the building. It can also be helpful to share an agenda for their first day so they know what to expect, and let them know how to reach you should they have any questions or concerns.

By communicating with a new employee ahead of time, you’ll make a positive first impression and ease any anxiety or apprehension they may be feeling about starting their new job.

Set up the employee’s workspace before they arrive

Sourcing and setting up equipment for an employee workstation can be time-consuming and hold a new hire back from beginning their training or familiarizing themselves with your systems. That’s why it’s best you start this process well before the employee arrives. If possible, ask the new employee about their equipment preferences. For example, some people prefer to use a cordless mouse and keyboard with their laptop. Giving them a choice will show you want them to feel comfortable in their new setting.

Additionally, make sure all equipment is fully functional and ready-to-use, and provide all the necessary passwords and login information so they can sit down and get started without unexpected technology setbacks.

This is also an excellent opportunity to add a few special touches. Furnish their workspace with new office supplies as well as any branded gifts, such as coffee mugs, t-shirts, notebooks and other items that can help make sure they feel recognized and appreciated from the moment they arrive.

Send out a new employee announcement

Introducing a new employee to every person in your company is rarely feasible in larger organizations, but it’s still important to let people know a new team member has arrived. Sending a new employee announcement message is one of the best onboarding practices because it will help others become familiar with new hires and fosters relationship-building.

In the announcement, be sure to share the employee’s name, job role, a few key responsibilities and their academic and professional background. Highlight a couple of fun facts that can act as conversation starters with other employees—like their hobbies, special talents or favorite sports teams. It’s also helpful to include a photo so other employees know who to greet.

Depending on the size of your organization, you may choose to send this announcement to everyone, or just to those who will be working with the new hire directly.

Additionally, consider copying the new employee on the announcement email so people can welcome them directly.

Hold a group orientation

A new hire orientation program is a great opportunity to communicate your company’s mission, vision and values and introduce new hires to the culture. Generally, this is also when you’ll ask the employee to complete new hire paperwork and give them an opportunity to ask questions about their benefits package and the organization’s policies and procedures. Because you’ll need to cover a large amount of information, it’s often more efficient to hold these sessions with several new hires at once, rather than as individual one-on-one meetings.

If possible, consider scheduling multiple employees to start on the same day so they can attend new hire orientation as a group. This can help HR staff save time, and also gives new employees a way to bond over their shared experience and get to know others within the organization before they dive into their new responsibilities.

Pair new employees with a peer mentor

While new employees know they can always approach their direct supervisor with questions and concerns, managers are often busy and may not be as accessible as their peers. To help new hires assimilate and ensure they have a point-of-contact who can guide them through their first few weeks on the job, pair them with a “buddy.” This person should be in an equal or similar level and similar role, and act as the employee’s mentor as they complete the training process.

An experienced peer can pass along valuable knowledge and advice, introduce the new employee to important contacts within the organization and show them around the facility. And because the peer mentor is at their same professional level, your new hire will likely feel more comfortable asking how to do something or sharing their uncertainties than they would with someone in a more senior leadership position.

Prepare a collection of new hire resources

To help new employees avoid feeling overwhelmed when trying to locate people and information within the organization, take time to prepare a welcome kit. Gather all the necessary resources new employees will need to become familiar with the company hierarchy, departments, processes and people. Here are a few items new hires often find helpful:

Org chart

This is a diagram that represents an organization’s structure and hierarchy and illustrates how the company has divided each department and team. This can be useful for understanding who is responsible for what and where to go when you need information about a specific project.

Employee directory

This is an index of all the employees within the organization as well as their department, job title and contact information. Having a directory will ensure new employees can easily track down and contact the people they need without having to stop and ask others.

Facility map

A facility map is a simple guide to the building(s) and should identify spaces a new employee may need help locating, such as restrooms, kitchen, conference and meeting rooms, elevators and stairs and where to find each team or department.

Mission statement

While you may cover the company’s mission statement during the interview process and in your onboarding session, it’s helpful to make it easily accessible to all employees so they can refresh themselves at any time.

Company history

It’s important new employees are familiar with the organization’s background and foundation. Knowing this information will give them additional insight into company values and objectives as well as its culture, and help them build pride and trust in their new employer.

Policies and procedures

It’s essential all employees can quickly reference policies and procedures to ensure they’re not inadvertently committing any violations. This is also where you should include useful safety information as well as processes like how to request for paid time off.

If possible, provide both paper and digital copies of this information to ensure employees can easily access the information no matter where they are.

Educate managers on onboarding expectations

Managers are critical to providing a streamlined and effective onboarding process, so it’s essential you take time to educate them on your organization’s onboarding best practices.

For example, walk them through the new hire’s first-day agenda and all the information you’ll be covering. It’s also crucial you set proper expectations about training time so managers know how long before they can expect their new employee to be ready to take on all their new responsibilities.

Additionally, be clear about how onboarding duties are divided between the hiring manager and the HR or recruiting staff. For example, the recruiting team may be responsible for scheduling orientation and sending the first-day schedule to the new hire while the manager may be responsible for procuring equipment from IT and organizing a welcome lunch during the employee’s first week. Covering all of this information well before the new employee arrives will ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.

Ask new hires for feedback

Always ask new employees for their input throughout the onboarding process. Their thoughts and ideas can provide insight into whether your efforts are effective and whether there are any gaps or areas for improvement.

It’s important to ask for feedback both during the initial onboarding as well as a few weeks and months into the new hire’s employment. Because they’re often inundated with information during the first days, it can take time for them to recognize whether anything is missing.

By continually striving to improve and update your onboarding efforts, you can ensure you’re covering all the necessary information efficiently and effectively. And by following these onboarding best practices, you can make sure each new hire is prepared to succeed.

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