July 3, 2023

Onboarding: how to do it right?

Onboarding: how to do it right?

First impression matters! That is why a well-designed onboarding process can make all the difference between a new hire who hits the ground running and one who struggles to find their footing. Effective onboarding is not just about filling out paperwork and getting employees up to speed – it’s about creating a comprehensive experience that fosters engagement, productivity, and a sense of belonging from day one.

Let’s explore the importance of the onboarding process and share key strategies to ensure a smooth and successful transition for new employees.

Why onboarding process is important?

The onboarding process is a critical step in integrating new employees into an organization’s culture and values. It sets the tone for their entire employee journey and can greatly impact their long-term engagement and satisfaction. In fact, an effective employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%. What benefits a structured onboarding can bring to your company?

> Businesses with effective onboarding saw a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue. A well-structured onboarding program accelerates the time it takes for new hires to become productive and reach their full potential. It equips them with the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources to perform their roles effectively.

> New employees with good onboarding experience were 18x more committed to their employer. When employees feel supported and welcomed during the onboarding process, they are more likely to develop a sense of loyalty and commitment to the organization. Engaged employees are also less likely to seek opportunities elsewhere, reducing turnover rates.

> 93% of businesses agree that onboarding can help new hires decide whether they want to stay. Onboarding is an opportunity to familiarize new hires with the organization’s values, norms, and practices. It helps align their expectations with the company culture, fostering a sense of belonging and promoting cultural assimilation.

How to create an effective onboarding process?

Only 12% of employees agree that their company does a good job of onboarding new employees, while 1 in 3HR professionals reported that the quality of their onboarding was not up to the standard. Try these things in your onboarding process:

1. Pre-boarding.

Pre-boarding refers to the process of engaging with and preparing new hires before their official start date, typically between the time the job offer is accepted and their first day on the job. It aims to make the transition into the organization smoother, help new employees feel welcomed, and provide them with the necessary information and resources to hit the ground running.

> Provide them with relevant information about the company, team, and their role. This can be an email to introduce the immediate colleagues so there would be some familiar faces on day 1 on the job.

> Send a welcome package or introductory materials to help them feel excited and prepared. Arrange for the new hire’s technology needs, such as setting up their work email, user accounts, and access to necessary software or systems.

> First day and week can be stressful. Provide an outline of the onboarding schedule, including the first-day agenda and any training sessions, meetings, or orientations they need to attend.

2. Structured orientation.

Design a comprehensive orientation program that covers essential information such as company policies, procedures, benefits, and organizational structure.

> Identify the topics and information to be covered during the orientation. This may include company history, mission, values, organizational structure, policies, benefits, safety procedures, IT guidelines, and any other essential information. Offer training materials, manuals, or job aids that new employees can refer to for ongoing learning and support.

> Explain the employee benefits package, including healthcare, retirement plans, vacation policies, and any other perks or programs offered by the organization. Share information about employee resources, such as employee assistance programs, wellness initiatives, professional development opportunities, and employee resource groups.

> Provide ongoing support and resources to new employees beyond the initial orientation program. This can include regular check-ins with a mentor or buddy, additional training sessions, and access to HR or support channels for any questions or concerns.

3. Setting expectations.

It’s difficult to hit the road without a clear roadmap. Set clear performance expectations and communicate short-term and long-term goals to your new hire – this clarity helps new hires understand their role within the organization and align their efforts accordingly.

> Identify the specific goals and objectives that are relevant to the new employee’s role and communicate the key performance indicators (KPIs). These goals should align with the broader objectives of the team and the organization.

>Collaborate with the new employee to establish development goals that align with their career aspirations and the organization’s needs. This is crucial because 41% of respondents named a lack of career development and advancement as a number 1 reason for leaving. This can include acquiring specific skills, gaining industry knowledge, or pursuing professional certifications.

> Document the agreed-upon goals and objectives in a clear and accessible format. This can be included in the employee’s onboarding materials, performance management system, or shared in a dedicated goal-setting platform. Regular communication and reinforcement of the goals throughout the onboarding process ensure alignment and keep the employee motivated and focused.

4. Mentorship and buddy programmes.

Assign a mentor or buddy to each new employee. This person can provide guidance, answer questions, and help the new hire navigate the company’s culture and dynamics from professional nuances to where to get the best coffee around the office.

> Decide on the program structure and timeline that best suits your organization’s needs. Options include one-on-one mentorship, group mentoring, or a combination of both.

> Invite volunteers to participate in the program or identify potential mentors and buddies based on their expertise and compatibility with the new employees. Provide training or orientation sessions for mentors and buddies to equip them with the necessary knowledge and skills to support new employees effectively.

> Provide guidelines on the frequency and format of meetings, communication expectations, and the level of support expected. Provide suggested discussion topics or conversation starters to guide the mentorship and buddy relationships. This can include sharing experiences, discussing challenges, setting goals, or exploring opportunities for growth and development.

Don’t forget to schedule regular check-ins with new employees to assess their progress, address concerns, and provide feedback. This demonstrates that the organization is invested in their success and well-being, which always feels nice in a new work environment.

Leaning on technology

Incorporating technology into the onboarding process can streamline administrative tasks, enhance efficiency, and create a more engaging experience. Consider utilizing tools such as online learning platforms to deliver onboarding materials or AI to automate digital documentation – this not only makes it easier for your HR specialists but also allows new hires to learn at their own pace.

Lockdowns have taught us that almost anything can be done virtually – in the era of remote work, you can have an effective virtual onboarding by harnessing video conferencing and virtual collaboration tools.

Make it a party!

To reduce the stress for the new employee, the onboarding should be viewed as a celebration of a new beginning. If you have enough resources, here are a few tips for you to make the onboarding process more fun – most of them can be done online:

> Icebreaker games and activities

> A scavenger hunt to get to know the office

> Creative welcome kits

> Team building activities

> Welcome luncheon

> Employee spotlight or introduction videos

> Gamified learning

> Employee recognition


An effective onboarding process is a strategic investment that pays dividends in terms of employee engagement, productivity, and retention. By prioritizing comprehensive orientation, clear communication, ongoing support, and leveraging technology, organizations can set their new hires up for success.

Remember, onboarding is not a one-time event but an ongoing journey that continues well beyond the first few weeks. By nurturing and supporting new employees from the start, organizations can build a foundation for long-term success and create a culture of engagement and excellence.