What is employee onboarding?

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You just hired a new employee! The next step? Employee onboarding. It welcomes new hires into your organization and extends well beyond their first day.

Your employee onboarding process should set new workers up for success individually and as part of their team. It includes:

  • Admin tasks, like paperwork and setting up offices
  • Helping new hires understand your mission, values and culture
  • Highlighting how their teams fit into the overall mission and purpose
  • Explaining the value they’ll bring
  • Providing resources
  • Giving new hires an idea of what their work life will look like

Why is employee onboarding important?

The purpose of employee onboarding is to get employees comfortable and confident in their new role so they can start making an impact – fast. When you create a positive and structured employee onboarding experience, you’ll reap other benefits, too:

  • Increased short retention. A Gallup study revealed that 70% of employees who had exceptional employee onboarding said they had “the best possible job.” They’re also nearly three times as likely to be satisfied with their workplace (and stay there).

  • More engaged employees. Employees want to work for a company that aligns with their values. Employee onboarding that prioritizes company culture and values leads to higher levels of engagement – Harvard Business Review revealed that 51% of employees say they’d go above and beyond if they had a positive onboarding experience.

  • Positive company culture. Employee onboarding supports new hires with the resources they need to understand and embrace your company culture. The result? They assimilate into your culture seamlessly.

Key components of an employee onboarding program

Employee onboarding typically starts once a new hire signs their offer letter and continues for weeks or months as they settle into their new role. It includes:

  1. Preboarding. Employees fill out paperwork and complete a checklist of tasks, like reviewing the company handbook, benefits and resources, like how to schedule paid time off (PTO).
  2. Orientation. It’s about welcoming new employees and introducing them to teammates and senior leaders. Get them comfortable with your organization, culture and work policies.
  3. Role-specific training. You train employees on their roles and give them an idea of what their day-to-day will look like so they feel confident to hit the ground running.
  4. Transition. Help new hires transition into their role by setting expectations, guiding employees as they begin working alongside their team and conducting performance reviews.

Tailoring employee onboarding to different audiences

Employee onboarding isn’t one-size-fits-all. It may follow the same general flow but should look different for remote workers and at various job levels. And make it fully inclusive.

  • Employee onboarding strategies for remote workers could be sending welcome packages and hosting virtual coffee chats or lunches that connect new hires with people across your organization. Focus on creating in-office experiences in a remote setting.
  • Create an inclusive employee onboarding experience by considering what will make them most comfortable. It could be connecting new hires to employee resource groups (ERGs) or providing different office setups for workers with disabilities.
  • Continually evaluate your onboarding process, especially across different job levels and functions. Understand each new hire’s needs and tailor onboarding by adjusting how long it lasts or how quickly they move through employee onboarding.

Effective employee onboarding delivery approaches

Unsure about the best way to deliver your onboarding experience? If you’re virtually onboarding new hires, start with tech.

  • Can they access their company email address and any platforms they need to do their work?
  • Have you set them up on your videoconferencing platform? And your collaboration tools, like Slack or Teams?

Also consider a more interactive employee onboarding process with regular check-ins to keep out-of-office employees engaged. But if you’re doing in-person onboarding, you’ll need to adapt:

  • Set up their workstation before new hires arrive
  • Provide details about when to arrive, where to park and what to wear
  • Share a headshot and information on the new hire with their team in advance so they feel welcome the second they walk in the door
  • Assign them an office buddy to help them around and answer questions
  • Help them build relationships by setting up a team lunch or coffee with their manager

Measuring the success of employee onboarding

Even with a thorough employee onboarding process, there’s always room for improvement – it starts with data. Keep track of metrics like time to productivity (TTP), results from new hire satisfaction surveys and turnover rates to see if you need to tweak your onboarding.

The new hires should be at the forefront of that change. They’re the most recent employees to walk through your onboarding process and can give tangible feedback on what they enjoyed, where they wish you’d spent more time with them or what resources they still need.

Additional resources for employee onboarding

Want to brush up on employee onboarding or revamp your existing process? Check out these resources!

  • The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins
  • Successful Onboarding: Strategies to Unlock Hidden Value Within Your
  • Organization by Mark Stein and Lilith Christiansen
  • Onboarding courses on education platforms like Coursera and Skillsoft

If you want to streamline and automate your employee onboarding process, technology like Greenhouse Onboarding can help, too.

Want to learn more about creating an exceptional employee onboarding experience? Download our essential onboarding eBook, complete with checklists, timelines and action items for week one through six months.