The employee onboarding process can vary depending on your organizational needs. A mistake companies often make is treating  onboarding as a singular event.

How to set up an Employee Onboarding Process that works

The employee onboarding process can vary depending on your organizational needs. A mistake companies often make is treating onboarding as a singular event.

You have set up an employee onboarding process and now it's time to onboard your amazing new hire which you selected for their skills, knowledge and cultural fit. You are now four weeks into onboarding and you just realized that your new hire is still unable to pick up tasks and does not know his way around the company.

What is wrong with my employee onboarding process?

Onboarding is the means through which new employees are introduced to an organization's culture, values and resources. The process itself can vary depending on the job in hand, your organizational needs and the degree of relevant knowledge the new employee needs to learn. However, it must be stressed that you should avoid at all costs making the onboarding a singular event. There is more to a job than filling out a couple of forms and being given a desk.

In reality, there is no standard employee onboarding process; it varies across industries and changes from company to company. Let's look at, a cloud computing provider who hires new talent for their potential rather than for a position. They give their new employees three months to learn about the company and integrate into the culture, then they let them choose which department they would like to join. Or an even more outlandish onboarding touchpoint is Zappos' offer of $2,000 to new employees to quit. Regardless of which method you choose for onboarding, it’s the companies that invest in an onboarding structure which enables new hires to connect with colleagues, learn the company culture, have access to appropriate resources, and understand their role, that have greater overall employee engagement and retention.

Why is employee onboarding so important?

Apart from the application process, onboarding is the first taste of the company and role the new employee has. Hw the business operates, who works within the office, and the knowledge of how to fulfil their role within the organization will be a few details of vital importance to a new hire. If you don’t make a good impression, you could be saying ‘au revior’ to talent before you can say the word ‘onboarding’, as expressed by The Wynhurst Group with “22% of staff turnover occuring within the first forty-five days of employment”.

However, if you can assert a winning employee onboarding process, you could be looking at a whole wealth of benefits such as; developing well-adjusted new employees, reduced time to productivity, greater employee engagement, greater job satisfaction, higher performance, loyalty, lower stress and not to mention greater retention rates, as new employees who partake in a structured onboarding process are 58% more likely to be with the same organization after three years. For more information on this check out our blog dedicated to the question of why employee onboarding matters. Here are some tips on how to set up your very own talent-winning, benefit-giving and team-building onboarding process.

Keep in contact

When you’ve had someone accept an offer to start working with you, if there is x amount of time in between them accepting the role and starting the role, it’s crucial you keep in contact. Not only will they be anxious about starting, they may also be given other offers within that time, and if there has been no contact since the acceptance, little personal connection has been built which could be the first weak point of your onboarding process. So keep in touch, let them know you are looking forward to having them join you. If you need email ideas, look no further:

  • Company news
  • Brief outline of their first week
  • Any work/reading they may want to complete before starting
  • A quick and easy task to keep them engaged
  • A list of company social events coming up
  • Or just ask them what they are up to

employee onboarding process the basics

Preparation for the first day

There are a couple of things you may want to consider before the big day comes. First and foremost get the essentials sent out such as dress code, who to ask for at reception and where to park. Depending on how organized you are and how much foresight you have as an organization, you should aim to have an itinerary ready. This could be as long/short or detailed/blank as you like, but the more information the better in my experience. You could include weekly goals, monthly goals, learning tasks, social events, and training implementation as well as of course company orientation.

Another great document you could gift is a small booklet on the organization with key information such as brand guidelines, history, office perks, job requirements, team roles, contact information, and a map of the local area. You could even take it a step further and bake a cake to welcome the new employee.

The three meals of day 1

After you have hidden your voodoo dolls and run to Tesco to buy the cake you forgot to bake, make sure your new hire's desk is all set up and ready with any devices/stationery that may come in handy, alongside the itinerary and information booklet. Once the new hire has settled into their desk, fiddled with the desk chair they are going to end up despising, and said a couple of awkward hello’s to their new colleagues, it’s time to introduce them to the three meals of the day;

Breakfast Have a founder or one of the senior members of the team take them out to breakfast. This will be a great opportunity to go over the company history, its values, purpose and direction over some grub. It also offers an opportunity for the senior member to dispense all their career wisdom and to answer any questions about the future of the organization - crucial to boosting employee engagement early on.

Lunch Take lunch as an opportunity for the team to get to know the new employee and vice versa in an informal setting. After all, you'll be spending a lot of time together in close confines. Open up the conversation of how they spend free time, play some awkward ice breaking games, show your individuality, show there is more to the team than their roles.

Dinner Don’t take them out to dinner. Give them a break. They’ve spent all day being bombarded with information; now they can celebrate their first day with a takeaway and reflect in peace on their bright future with their new company.

Of course, in between these key meals there are other aspects which you may want to consider and put in place for the rest of the onboarding process.

Onboarding beyond day 1

Buddy system

It can be tough introducing your new hire to each and every member of the office, especially if you have multiple departments spread around a building. So if possible organize a buddy in each of the departments, and get the new starter to spend time in each doing specific tasks as part of their onboarding and itinerary. This will allow them to get to know more people and engage with different areas of the business.

Give them some downtime

At some point during the day, they’ll need some time out to soak in the information and see if they can come up with any questions they need or poor jokes they can tell to buddy up with the senior members. This is a good opportunity to get them to fill out any forms or read company policies, procedures etc. That brings me onto the onboarding documents.

Onboarding documents

As you may well already know, the hiring and onboarding process comes with a lot of paperwork, and this will continue to grow throughout one's employment period. As an employer, it is your responsibility to keep employee records up to date and safe. Therefore make sure you have all necessary papers signed and stored away in a safe location - whether this is digitized or not is up to you but if you can, you should…

Facilitate technology

If you can digitize your onboarding process, do it. It will not only improve the experience for your employees, it will make the processes in your organization more efficient. Furthermore, it will allow for an ease of communication for the new starter to ask questions throughout the organization without interrupting others. So make sure you have training organized for any software you use as a company.

Follow up

Make sure you follow up, whether it be weekly or monthly. Keep the new employee engaged beyond the first day and don’t ever stop. Nurture them, guide them, check in on them, ask them questions, test them, push them. Keeping them connected to the organization helps keep them engaged and well organized.


Once you have created a system that works for you, keep it consistent. Use the same process for all new employees so as to make any results measurable. Lastly, think of onboarding as a relationship - it’s a two way system. Although you are educating and evaluating your new hire’s potential, on the flip side, they are deciding whether or not they made the right choice by joining your organization. Therefore, it’s vital that you make them feel welcome, appreciated, and engaged during the onboarding process.

Thinking of upgrading your onboarding process but don’t know where to start? Download our whitepaper to guide you through implementing change in your organization.

Henry Watson

Henry Watson

Employee Experience Champion

5 minute readPublished on June 27, 2019

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