A Guide to New Employee Onboarding

MARYNA DEMCHENKO

Published: 24 Sep 2020

CTO Guide

Effective onboarding is a necessary step to engage and retain a new team member. The bigger your company is, the more mature onboarding you need. 

In hindsight, onboarding has grown from a sink-or-swim attitude to a structured process. To find out what is onboarding, why it matters, and how to build one, read on. 

Onboarding is a process of integration of a new team member into the company's operations and culture. It starts with accepting the offer and ends when that employee becomes a productive member of the team. During onboarding, a new hire undergoes orientation, training, sets up goals together with the manager, and receives feedback extensively. 

Sometimes the question of onboarding vs. orientation process arises. The popular opinion is that the difference only lies in the semantics. However, if we take a close look, these are two different things. Onboarding is a process aimed at helping a recently joined employee fare well in their role. Orientation is an event of welcoming a new employee to your company, which is a part of the onboarding process.

Why do you need an effective onboarding process?

Above all, the onboarding process sets a new employee on a path to success in their role. It helps a newcomer learn how the company ticks (in terms of the workflow and culture) and get acquainted with the coworkers and their responsibilities. 

Secondly, HR experts say that onboarding is crucial to ensuring high employee retention. Having accepted your offer, a candidate usually has high expectations of the role and company. Efficient onboarding helps them not to lose their enthusiasm while staying focused on their goals. On the other hand, poor onboarding can be the cause behind leaving the company since it failed to meet their expectations. 

The task of employee onboarding typically rests on the shoulders of HR managers. The main goal is to build a transparent onboarding process that is easy to follow for both employees and HR managers. 

Crafting your onboarding plan: Where to start?

As an employer, you want to ensure that your team is productive and happy. The staff onboarding process is key to building an A-team. Onboarding goes beyond paperwork. It's not about creating your branded welcome kit either, let alone routine tasks like setting up the new hire's tech and showing around the office. Onboarding is a complex process that takes up at least 12 months. Before designing your onboarding roadmap, your HR team needs to answer several crucial questions. 

  • What is the time-frame for a new employee orientation and onboarding?
  • What roles will HR, managers and colleagues play in this process? 
  • What your new hires should know about your company culture and policies? 
  • What their first few days should look like? 
  • What are the goals and metrics for the role? 
  • How will you measure success and offer feedback? 

As suggested by SHRM, these questions will be the foundation for a road map that will help new employees familiarize themselves with your company and build rapport with coworkers. 

On your new employee's start day

The first day is typically devoted to introducing the role and goals. It also includes a few routine formalities like paperwork, office tour, setting up their accounts, and "welcome" arrangements, such as an onboarding meeting with HR and the team. Ideally, at the end of their first day, a new employee knows their responsibilities, goals, expectations, and success metrics. 

One more important thing in the first stage of onboarding is helping a new employee adapt to your environment. That's because employees tend to make better decisions when they know the company culture, communication style, and practices. Additionally, before introducing a new employee, it's best to meet with the existing team to fill them in on the new employee's goals and responsibilities. 

Onboarding new employees: Checklist from Resources Workable:

  • Make sure someone meets your new employee upon their arrival. 
  • Show the new employee around the office.
  • Inform them on their schedule for the first week.
  • Introduce the new employee to their manager and the team during a welcome meeting.
  • Outline the role and responsibilities. 
  • If the paperwork process isn't automated, schedule an appointment with Finances, HR and other depts. 
  • Schedule lunch with the new employee's team. 
  • Set some time to set up the new employee's tech, accounts, and workplace. 
  • Introduce them to your company's policies, structure, culture, values during a formal meeting with HR managers. 
  • Make them feel welcome with small gifts. 

First week

It's important to have a plan ready for your new employee's first week to help them stay laser-focused on their goals. The week one agenda needs to be handed out on their first day. During the first week, a new hire will have one-on-one meetings with management to set their success metrics and goals for the next 3, 6, and 12 months and align expectations. You will also need to set some time to discuss critical projects they will be working on in detail. At the end of the first week, a new hire should walk away with a stack of key tasks they will be working on. Don't forget to check in with them to address questions or help them overcome a possible roadblock. 

First month

The goal of onboarding is to make sure that the new hire is happy and comfortable. A vital role here plays training, reviewing results and offering meaningful feedback during the first month into onboarding. 

By the three-month checkpoint, your new employee has to cover so much ground that they might feel under pressure. While they need to be up and running quickly, you need to make sure the training goes at a reasonable pace. 

It's important to pair your new employee with a mentor or a coach who will help them get started. It needs to be someone to whom they can turn should any ideas, concerns or questions arise. 

Second, third and fourth months

The first quarter is a checkpoint for reviewing the expectations of an employee and an organization. During this period, there needs to be an ongoing conversation about a new hire's progress and their success in becoming a part of the team. 

What should be done at this stage?

  • Make sure the new employee's experience is in line with their expectations.
  • Review their performance followed by detailed feedback.
  • Ask if the new hire faces any bottlenecks.
  • Check if they need any additional training.
  • Discuss their career plans and progress.
  • Ask for their feedback on the onboarding process.

One year anniversary

Most companies discontinue the onboarding process after six months. However, of all stages of onboarding, the period between 6 and 12 months is the most essential. That's when new hires turn into experienced and loyal employees. 

Plenty of employees decide whether they belong in your company within the second half of the year. A well-thought-out onboarding can be that leverage that turns their decision to the "stay" side. 

During this time, you review their performance, and if they have met their goals, it's time to plan their progression. The best move is to show them what opportunities your company can offer and see whether they match their expectations. Many companies have their salary conversations at this point. 

Summary

The onboarding process defines the success of new employees in many instances. For companies with a structured onboarding roadmap, it tends to be a fruitful effort to welcome employees and set them on the path to success. On the other hand, poor onboarding may cause losses among recent hires. 

 

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