Best Practices for Onboarding Employees
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Best Practices for Onboarding Employees

From first-day to feedback, well-planned onboarding is the first step to creating an engaged and productive workforce.

First impressions are everything, and top performing companies know it. When it comes to onboarding employees, organizations have quickly realized that onboarding is an opportunity that’s not to be wasted. In fact, SHRM found that new hires who receive an excellent onboarding orientation are 69% more likely to stay at a company for at least three years.

Onboarding is the process of helping new hires become familiar with their new company, understand job expectations and assimilate into workplace culture.

Four Elements of Successful Onboarding

Developing a formal onboarding process requires a written plan, detailed steps and desired outcomes. Using a defined strategy helps organize and manage the steps, supporting employees so they can engage quickly and succeed in their new roles. Just because a company adopts a formal process does not mean onboarding new employees can’t be fun. Infuse it with your brand’s personality and let new hires get a sense of your company’s unique style, environment and culture.

  1. Rules and Regulations: Get your new hires up to speed on important details like your company policies, dress code, employee handbook and industry-relevant regulations.

  2. Expectations: Clarify information about a new hire’s' job duties and responsibilities. It’s also important for an employee to know how their new role fits into their teams' mission, and the mission of the organization. When clear expectations are set, employees have a better understanding of how they can best contribute to the mission and improve their own performance.

  3. Culture: While onboarding programs generally include information about company rules, regulations and job expectations, many fall short of integrating new hires into the company culture. Research shows the potential for a new hire to be successful is determined within the first two weeks of employment. You don’t want an employee to spend this crucial time feeling like an outsider. Introduce them to your culture. Are they encouraged to take breaks in a special recreation or game room? Do employees have opportunities to telecommute? Does everyone wear blue on Fridays? The more included they feel, the quicker they’ll integrate.

  4. Socializing: Successful onboarding programs include the social aspects of the workplace. Whether your company implements first day group lunches, team happy hours or the CEO takes time to personally welcome new hires, ensure new hires bond with coworkers to establish an important sense of connection right from the beginning.


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Onboarding Begins Earlier Than You Think

A common misconception is that onboarding is a process that begins on a new hire’s first day of work. However, studies indicate the vast majority of top performing companies start onboarding well before that.

Phase One: Get to Know Your Applicants

Onboarding really begins at recruitment and hiring. As applicants engage with the company, they get an initial sense of the workplace vibe and how it operates. A buttoned-up process communicates the company is organized and efficient. Losing papers, requesting the same item more than once or starting late all could send the message that the company is ill-prepared and doesn’t really respect their time.

Phase Two: Prepping for Arrival

Once an applicant has accepted a job offer, organizations begin preparing for the new hire’s arrival. Steps for a successful Phase Two include:

  • Ensure their office or work space is clean and ready
  • Provide a computer, phone, or other necessary equipment
  • Create email accounts and other company login accounts
  • Secure necessary access badges
  • Identify a mentor or buddy
  • Prepare written onboarding plans to present to the employee upon arrival

Many companies engage a new hire prior to day one through an onboarding solution . The tool allows managers to welcome the employee with a personalized message, share links about workplace culture, employee handbooks, even details about where to report on their first day. Inviting new hires to fill out forms electronically, such as a W-4, and insurance and payroll documents, improves efficiency and reduces paperwork for hiring administrators. WIth an onboarding solution, hiring managers can check on progress and follow-up as necessary to keep things moving.

Phase Three: Employee’s First Day

Plan ahead and make it a great experience. On an employee's first day on the job, take them on a facility tour, introduce them to colleagues and show them their new workspace. Demonstrate how to access email accounts and any other company systems. Orientations usually begin on day one, but don’t feel like you have to cram everything into the first day. Onboarding is a process that can last months, even years. Prioritizing orientations and spacing them out reduces information overload and allows new hires a bit of time to adjust.

Make sure managers are available to greet new hires on their first day. Organizing a group lunch helps employees gain a sense of team dynamics and camaraderie. At the very least, it prevents the new person from having to eat alone on their first day.

Another best practice is to connect the new hire with a mentor or buddy. Having a seasoned coworker, they can approach with questions gives employees peace of mind knowing they have someone they can turn to for assistance. Providing guidance and answering questions common new hire questions also saves a manager’s time.

One final way to set an employee up for success on their first day is to give them a concrete task or goal to complete. When employees feel competent and productive, they gain confidence knowing they’ll be able to contribute to the team.


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Don’t Stop There

Onboarding doesn't end after the employee's first day. They’ll continue to need support, information, and assistance. Facilitate ongoing mentoring, regular team meetings and opportunities to interact with other groups within the organization. Continued clarity around job expectations and performance goals encourages open communication and develops trust.

As new hires begin to settle into their roles, providing feedback will help ensure they are on the right track. Plan regularly scheduled check-ins with mentors and managers, peer reviews, and performance reviews. It’s also important to let the employee know their opinion matters by collecting input about their onboarding experience through debriefings or internal surveys. The more a company can learn and improve its onboarding, the more likely they are to see the benefits of their efforts.

How would you rate your company’s onboarding process?

Companies that execute a structured, comprehensive and engaging onboarding process are more likely to attract and keep the best talent. Creating an employee-centric approach sets your new hires up for success and results in lower turnover, higher retention rates and stronger brand loyalty. Job satisfaction starts with feeling productive and valued. Satisfied employees create a constructive workplace culture that directly impacts overall company performance.

Maybe you think you can’t afford the time and money it will take to overhaul your onboarding process, but when you weigh the advantages, can you really afford not to?

Paycor can help you accelerate new hire productivity and impact your bottom line. Check out our latest Onboarding video, complete with a look at all the ways we can help you create a memorable first impression for your people. And if you’d like to schedule a personalized demo of the onboarding tool, contact us today.

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