Are you looking for ideas on how to design an effective onboarding process for new employees?
Make your new hires feel welcome and set them up for success with this ultimate guide on how to design an effective onboarding process for new employees.
In this post:
- What is onboarding?
- Why is it important to pay attention to the onboarding process for new employees?
- What are the different stages of onboarding?
- How long should the onboarding process last?
- What do new employees want from their organisation in the first few weeks of their employment?
- What can organisations do to maximise the onboarding experience of new employees?
- What are the key things that organisations should include in their induction processes?
- What metrics can you use to measure the onboarding experience of new employees?
- What advice can you give to managers about how they should treat new employees?
- An example employee onboarding process checklist for managers
What is onboarding?
Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into the organisation and setting them up for success.
Organisations may use different terms to refer to the onboarding process. For example, some may use the term “induction” to describe the initial orientation process for new employees. Others may use terms such as “orientation and assimilation,” “new hire onboarding,” or simply “employee onboarding.”
Whatever you call it, onboarding is a critical process that can have a significant impact on employee retention and productivity.
The goal of onboarding is to help new employees feel welcome and valued, and to help them become productive members of the organisation as quickly as possible.
Why is it important to pay attention to the onboarding process for new employees?
Paying attention to the experience of new employees is crucial for any organisation that wants to retain top talent. The onboarding process sets the tone for a new employee’s experience with the company and can significantly impact their productivity, engagement, and commitment to the organisation.
We have to assume that all new employees are fully engaged on their first day. However, data from our own onboarding surveys in the NHS shows that employee engagement can drop off within the first three months of employment if the onboarding process is not handled effectively.
Therefore, the effectiveness of your onboarding process can have a direct impact on employee engagement of new hires.
Here are some reasons why it is essential to pay attention to the experience of new employees:
1. A well-managed onboarding process creates positive first impressions
The first few days and weeks of a new job are critical for a new employee’s perception of the organisation. If the onboarding process is poorly organised or inadequate, it can create a negative impression and lead to disengagement or even early turnover.
By paying attention to the experience of new employees, organisations can create a positive first impression and set the stage for a productive and fulfilling work experience.
2. A well-managed onboarding process ensures employees are more productive more quickly
A well-structured onboarding process can help new employees get up to speed faster, reducing the time it takes for them to become productive. By providing the necessary tools, resources, and training upfront, new hires can quickly learn their job duties, understand the company culture and start contributing to the organization’s success.
3. A well-managed onboarding process will lead to improved levels of employee engagement and retention
A positive onboarding experience can increase employee engagement and commitment to the organisation.
When new employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to be motivated to do their best work and stay with the company for the long term.
4. A well-managed onboarding process aligns employees with the company vision, mission, values and goals
The onboarding process is an opportunity to align new employees’ goals with the company’s mission, vision, and values.
By communicating the organisation’s goals and expectations upfront, new hires can better understand their role and how their work contributes to the company’s overall success.
Where employees feel that the company has a strong focus on values they are more likely to have higher levels of engagement.
5. A well-managed onboarding process will enhance your employer brand and employee value proposition
A positive onboarding experience can help organisations build a strong employer brand, which can attract top talent in the future.
New employees who have had a positive onboarding experience are more likely to recommend the organisation to others, helping to enhance the company’s reputation and attract high-quality candidates.
What are the different stages of onboarding?
Onboarding begins the moment a prospective employee applies for the job they are ultimately going to fill, but the onboarding process can be viewed as being made up of different stages.
This stage starts from the moment someone applies for the job and continues until their first day on the job. Prospective employees know nothing about the organisation so every single interaction they have starts to shape their experience.
Prospective employees also have expectations about the recruitment process so if these expectations are not met then their commitment to the organisation will start to suffer.
During this stage, organisations can use pre-boarding activities to prepare new hires for their role and the organisation’s culture. This can include sending welcome emails, sharing important documents, and introducing them to key colleagues.
2. Induction training
This stage typically takes place during the new employee’s first week on the job and involves introducing them to the organisation’s policies, procedures, and culture.
This can include a formal induction programme, which may cover topics such as the company’s history, mission, values, benefits, and expectations.
We provide more detail on what to include in your induction programme below.
3. Job training
This stage involves providing new employees with the training and resources they need to perform their job duties effectively.
This can include on-the-job training, classroom training, e-learning, or a combination of these methods.
4. Ongoing support
This stage involves providing ongoing support to new employees as they settle into their role. This can include regular check-ins with their manager, mentoring or buddying programmes, coaching, and opportunities for feedback and development.
How long should the onboarding process last?
The length of the onboarding process can vary depending on factors such as the organisation’s size, complexity, and culture, as well as the role and experience level of the new hire.
There is no fixed duration for onboarding, as it is an ongoing process that can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
However, research suggests that effective onboarding programmes typically last between 90 days to one year, with the first 90 days being the most critical.
During this time, new employees are still adjusting to their new role and the organisation’s culture, and they need support and guidance to help them succeed.
It is important for organisations to have a structured onboarding program that covers all the essential elements of the onboarding process, including induction, training, socialisation, and ongoing support.
Ideally, the onboarding process should be tailored to the needs of the new hire and the organisation, and it should provide the necessary resources and support to help new employees succeed in their role.
What do new employees want from their organisation in the first few weeks of their employment?
Our experience shows that new employees need a combination of practical things and relationship things. What do we mean by this?
The practical things include ensuring that things such as security passes, mobile phone, computers and job-specific equipment are all ready, working and set up on day one.
Nothing says ‘we weren’t expecting you’ more than this stuff not being sorted out and signals that if you are not organised enough to do this then working for you might turn out to be a little frustrating.
Just imagine arriving at the security gate on your first day, the security guard doesn’t have your name down and you haven’t been sent the pass you need to show him!
Other practical things include showing people where to find the key facilities, are there any times that certain things happen, eg there is a fire alarm test every Tuesday at 9am, or everyone finishes early on Friday afternoons…..
Once the practicalities are sorted the relationship things include:
1. Clear expectations
New employees want to know what is expected of them in their role. This includes understanding their job duties, performance goals, and the company culture.
2. Supportive work environment
New employees want to feel supported in their new job. This includes having a positive relationship with their supervisor, receiving adequate training and resources, and having a mentor or buddy to guide them through the onboarding process.
3. Opportunities for growth and development
New employees want to feel that their employer values their professional growth and development. This includes having access to training and development opportunities, clear career paths, and opportunities to take on new challenges.
4. Integration into the company culture
New employees want to feel a sense of belonging and connectedness to the organisation. This includes understanding the company’s mission and values, feeling welcomed by colleagues, and being included in social events and activities.
5. Feedback and communication
New employees want to receive feedback and have regular communication with their supervisor. This includes understanding how they are performing, receiving constructive feedback, and having regular check-ins to discuss their progress.
What can organisations do to maximise the onboarding experience of new employees?
Organisations can take several steps to maximise the experience of new employees during the onboarding process.
Here are some key strategies to consider:
1. Plan ahead
A well-planned onboarding process sets the stage for a positive experience.
Organisations should develop a comprehensive plan that outlines the goals, timeline, and activities for the onboarding process. This plan should be communicated to new employees upfront so that they know what to expect.
2. Provide a warm welcome
A warm welcome can make a significant impact on new employees’ first impressions of the organisation. You would be surprised how many times we hear stories where employees felt their manager was not expecting them on their first day!
This can include greeting new hires on their first day, providing a welcome package, and introducing them to their colleagues.
3. Assign a mentor or buddy
A mentor or buddy can help new employees feel more connected to the organisation and provide guidance on the job duties, culture, and expectations.
This can help new hires get up to speed faster and feel more confident in their role.
4. Provide clear expectations
New employees should have a clear understanding of their job duties, goals, and expectations.
Organisations should communicate this information upfront and provide ongoing feedback to help new hires stay on track.
5. Offer training and development opportunities
Organisations should provide new employees with the training and development opportunities they need to succeed in their role.
This can include on-the-job training, online courses, or access to mentoring programmes.
6. Gather feedback on how new employees feel about the onboarding process
Organisations should regularly gather feedback from new employees to understand what is working well and what can be improved.
This feedback can help organisations make changes and improvements to the onboarding process to make it more effective. An employee onboarding survey is by far the best way to evaluate the onboarding process.
What are the key things that organisations should include in their induction processes?
Induction is a critical part of the employee onboarding process. Induction can be informal and formal and many organisations carry out induction training.
Here are some key things that organisations should include in their induction processes:
1. Company culture and values
Introducing new employees to the company’s culture and values is an important part of the induction process. This can include explaining the company’s mission, vision, and values, as well as its history and key milestones.
2. Policies and procedures
New employees should be introduced to the company’s policies and procedures, including those related to safety, security, and privacy. This can include providing a copy of the employee handbook and reviewing key policies in person.
3. Job responsibilities and expectations
New employees should be given a clear understanding of their job responsibilities and what is expected of them in their role. This can include a detailed job description and goals and objectives for the first few months.
4. Training and development
Providing new employees with the training and development they need to succeed in their role is crucial. This can include on-the-job training, classroom training, e-learning, or a combination of these methods.
New employees should be informed about the company’s benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and any other employee benefits such as wellbeing initiatives etc.
6. Introduction to team members
Introducing new employees to their colleagues and other key stakeholders is an important part of the induction process. This can include setting up meetings with team members and arranging a team lunch or other social activity.
7. Technology and equipment
Ensuring that new employees have access to the technology and equipment they need to perform their job duties is crucial. This can include setting up a computer, phone, and access to necessary software and tools.
8. Feedback and support
Providing new employees with ongoing feedback and support is important for their development and success. This can include setting up regular check-ins with their manager, mentoring programmes, coaching, and opportunities for feedback and development.
What metrics can you use to measure the onboarding experience of new employees?
There are several metrics that organisations can use to measure the experience of new employees during the onboarding process.
1. Retention rate
The retention rate is a measure of how many new employees stay with the organisation after a certain period of time.
A high retention rate indicates that new employees are having a positive experience and are likely to stay with the organisation long-term.
A low retention rate, especially in the first few months of employment suggests that something is going drastically wrong with the onboarding process.
Time-to-productivity measures how long it takes new employees to become fully productive in their role.
A shorter time-to-productivity indicates that the onboarding process is effective and efficient.
3. Employee engagement
Employee engagement measures how engaged new employees are with their onboarding experience. This can be measured through employee experience surveys or other feedback mechanisms.
6. Performance metrics
Performance metrics can be used to measure how well new employees are performing in their role. This can include metrics such as sales targets, customer satisfaction ratings, or other relevant performance metrics.
What advice can you give to managers about how they should treat new employees?
Here are some tips for managers on how they can treat new employees to make their onboarding experience more positive:
1. Be welcoming
Greet new employees with a smile and introduce yourself. Make them feel welcome and comfortable from the moment they arrive.
2. Provide support
New employees need to feel that there is someone they can go to for support.
Managers should provide support throughout the onboarding process. This includes answering questions, providing guidance on job duties, and offering feedback on performance.
3. Be patient
New employees may take some time to adjust to their new role and the organisation’s culture. Be patient and understanding, and provide the necessary support to help them succeed.
4. Encourage questions
Encourage new employees to ask questions. This will help them learn more about their role and the organisation, and will also help them feel more comfortable in their new environment.
5. Set clear expectations
Set clear expectations for new employees from the outset. This includes outlining their job duties, performance goals, and the company culture. Make sure they have a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
6. Provide feedback
New employees feel more secure if they feel they are doing a good job. Managers should provide regular feedback to new employees. This includes constructive feedback on where they are doing well and where they can improve.
7. Offer development opportunities
Offer development opportunities to new employees. This can include training, mentoring, and coaching programs. Encourage them to take advantage of these opportunities to help them grow in their role.
8. Celebrate successes
Celebrate successes with new employees. This can include recognising their achievements, offering positive feedback, and celebrating key milestones in their onboarding process.
An example employee onboarding process checklist for managers
Here is an onboarding checklist for managers:
1. Prepare for the new employee’s arrival
Make sure the new employee’s workspace is clean and ready for their arrival. Ensure that all necessary equipment and technology is set up and functioning properly, such as a computer, phone, and access to necessary software and tools.
2. Introduce the new employee to the team
Introduce the new employee to their colleagues and other key stakeholders. This can include setting up meetings with team members and arranging a team lunch or other social activity.
3. Conduct a thorough induction
Provide the new hire with a thorough induction to the organisation, including its culture, values, policies, and procedures. This can include a formal induction training programme, as well as one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders.
4. Provide job training
Ensure that the new employee receives the job training they need to perform their job duties effectively. This can include on-the-job training, classroom training, e-learning, or a combination of these methods.
5. Set clear expectations
Set clear expectations for the new employee’s role and responsibilities, as well as performance expectations and goals. This can include setting up regular check-ins to discuss progress and provide feedback.
6. Provide ongoing support
Provide ongoing support to the new employee as they settle into their role. This can include regular check-ins with their manager, mentoring programmes, coaching, and opportunities for feedback and development.
8. Monitor progress
Monitor the new employee’s progress and performance, and adjust their onboarding plan as needed. This can include setting up regular performance reviews and feedback sessions.
The effectiveness of your onboarding process will have a significant impact on how your newest employees feel about the organisation. But it is more than making new employees feel happy. An effective onboarding process will ensure new employees integrate with the company culture more quickly, they become productive more quickly and they are more likely to be engaged and stay with the organisation for longer. Conversely, a poor onboarding process will lead to rapid dissatisfaction and low productivity.