What Is Employee Onboarding? Full Guide With Beginner Tips

What Is Employee Onboarding? Full Guide With Beginner Tips
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A robust onboarding process helps new employees get acquainted with a company’s operations, including its structure, mission, vision, and policies. It also makes it easy for workers to settle into their new roles and be productive.

An employee onboarding process begins after the recruitment stage and can last for weeks or months, depending on the organization. The primary objective of onboarding is to help new employees seamlessly transition into their new roles—but it also has other benefits, such as improving the employee experience and increasing employee engagement and retention rates.

Keep reading to learn more about the employee onboarding process, including benefits, key steps, and what to avoid when onboarding new hires.

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of introducing new workers to a company’s culture, people, and environment. During this process, new employees meet their colleagues and familiarize themselves with internal processes, tools, and workflow. They also meet key stakeholders and learn the company’s structure, mission, vision, and values.

A successful onboarding process helps new employees feel comfortable and excited about their roles. It ignites healthy relationships between employees and the management team. It also clarifies organizational goals and teaches new employees how their roles fit within the larger picture. At the end of the onboarding process, employees should be able to easily perform their duties and feel comfortable teaming up and collaborating with co-workers.

Why is it important to effectively onboard new employees?

An excellent employee onboarding process gives a positive first impression to new workers. It is also essential for long-term success. Here are a few key benefits of successful onboarding:

  • Improved productivity. A typical onboarding process introduces employees to key aspects of an organization, including its tools, resources, job expectations, and culture, making it easy for new hires to settle into their new job. Through the onboarding process, new employees learn what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and who to consult in case of problems.
  • Reduced employee turnover. A good onboarding process boosts employee retention. From the first day, employees are introduced to company processes and begin to understand company culture. Employees also meet their co-workers and feel welcomed into the team. All these activities help new employees develop a positive perception of your company, allowing them to be more satisfied, engaged, and dedicated.
  • Reduced employee stress. When new employees begin a job, they often rely on co-workers for training and problem-solving. Though this reliance is somewhat necessary, it can increase pressure on veteran employees and add to an already full workload. A good onboarding process trains new employees in their roles before they begin work in earnest, reducing their dependence on experienced co-workers. As a result, veteran employees feel less stressed and are more eager to collaborate with new team members.
  • Enhanced quality. Onboarding processes allow employees to get accustomed to organizational processes and tools. It also facilitates further training and development, which increases skills and knowledge, enabling employees to deliver high-quality work.
  • Increased safety. Since we operate in a rapidly changing environment, emergencies can occur anytime. Employee onboarding processes help promote safety in the workplace. Through these exercises, new hires learn about protective gear or clothing they should wear, things they should watch out for, and where to gather or what to do in case of emergency.

The process of employee onboarding

New employee onboarding should be an integral part of the hiring process. Successful new employee onboarding requires preparation, orientation, and training. Once employees settle in, you need a standardized system to measure and monitor their performance.

Employee onboarding steps:

1. Pre-onboarding preparation

A new employee joining your company can be exciting, especially if you’ve had an intense interview process looking for the right candidate. You should give them the best experience to help them feel welcome.

For a smooth onboarding process, begin preparing well before new employees start. Thorough preparation ensures your onboarding program will cover all the necessary information. Such preparation also allows new employees to feel valued and perceive the company positively.

Start your pre-boarding process by setting expectations. What do you want the onboarding process to achieve? What tone would you like to set for your new employees? How will you train the new hires? Outlining your expectations will help keep you on track, allowing you to focus on what matters.

Next, work with the HR team to establish a plan. Highlight the steps and actions required during onboarding. In the plan, note when new hires will meet the rest of the team, when they will learn organizational culture and processes, which training and development programs are required, and when performance assessments will occur.

You should also indicate team members in charge of all these onboarding exercises. This plan acts as an employee onboarding checklist, covering all important aspects.

Once you have a plan in place, gather information regarding company policies and employee benefits to communicate them to new hires. Remember also to arrange all the training materials and resources required to help employees transition into their new roles. You should identify and gather the required new hire paperwork, which normally includes the job offer letter, employment contract, policy acknowledgments, and tax forms.

Finally, determine if your new employees will be physically present in the office or will train remotely. Use this information to arrange the required office equipment and resources.

2. Orientation and training

Employee orientation is a fun and exciting time to connect with new team members and keep them motivated, engaged, and productive.

Though new employees may have some insight about the company, you can use this time to explain your vision, mission, and core values in more detail. Point out how new hires will fit into the company’s mission and help achieve organizational objectives.

Once you’ve highlighted your business overview, work with HR managers to clarify employee roles and responsibilities. You may have defined these roles in your job description, but reaffirming them is good to avoid confusion. You can also use this opportunity to discuss the overall workflow and any tools new hires will use in their job.

Next, introduce new employees to the rest of the team. This helps new and old co-workers forge connections, which is crucial for effective teamwork and collaboration. A warm welcome by the whole team will boost the morale of new employees, making them feel valued and like part of the team. As a result, it will be much easier for them to thrive in the company and will boost productivity and retention.

As you continue onboarding, you should be aware that new hires possess unique values and behaviors that may differ from those of your company. Introduce new employees to your company culture, and clarify company beliefs, norms, core values, and expectations.

Remember to provide job-specific training to help employees feel more comfortable and confident with their roles. Knowing your new hires’ learning styles can also make the training process more effective.

3. Integration and performance monitoring

As official onboarding finishes, new employees still need help settling into their new roles. They need support as they begin their new job and also need careful monitoring and feedback to ensure excellent job performance.

Start by assigning a mentor to new team members to guide them through the company’s day-to-day activities. This mentor will help new hires adjust to the workplace culture, improve their skill set and knowledge, and gain confidence in problem-solving and decision-making.

Next, set performance expectations for the first week, month, and quarter. Clear expectations allow employees to work confidently. You can also refer to your list of expectations to assess employee performance and determine if follow-up training is required. Be careful to set realistic performance expectations that set new hires up for success.

As new employees continue their work, remember to check in regularly with one-on-one meetings to support their transition and answer questions. Ask for feedback regarding the onboarding process and work on integrating their suggestions to refine the onboarding experience.

When measuring the success of your onboarding process, use metrics such as new hire morale, productivity, job satisfaction rates, and teamwork and collaboration success. New employee turnover is another strong indicator of onboarding success or failure.

Tips for an effective onboarding process

Great onboarding processes have some things in common. Here are some best practices for successful onboarding:

  • Begin onboarding early. Have a clear onboarding plan even before your new hires’ start date. Once you have recruited the right personnel, start onboarding on day one.
  • Create a structured onboarding program. Regardless of how experienced in the company you are, the new hire onboarding process should be carefully planned to avoid negatively affecting the new employee experience. Review your organization’s workflow, noting what new hires need to know. Start with your company’s overview, then create a structured program to thoroughly prepare employees for their new roles. You may want to consider using employee onboarding software to help you plan, streamline, and improve the functionality of your onboarding process.
  • Provide continued training and support. Regard training not as a one-time event but as a continuous improvement process. Assess your organizational needs and monitor your employees’ skills, knowledge, and performance. Use the information to organize regular training sessions and employee development programs.
  • Encourage feedback and communication. As a leader or manager, strive to create an open and transparent work environment. Start by encouraging all employees to speak up when issues arise. Remove existing organizational barriers to promote active feedback and effective communication between employees, leadership, and different teams.
  • Personalize the onboarding experience to the employee. Assess your new hires’ needs and wants, and tailor the onboarding experience accordingly. Personalizing the onboarding experience can help new employees feel valued and prepared.
  • Provide all the tools and resources necessary for the employee to be successful. Employees need the right tools and resources to work effectively. Be it a computer, work desk, employee handbook, or productivity tools, ensure new hires receive everything they need for their new roles. Additional training may be required to help new hires learn specialized tools or programs.
  • Make onboarding an inclusive experience. When onboarding new employees, cultivate a spirit of teamwork and collaboration. The best way to do this is to include existing employees in the onboarding process. Learning directly from co-workers improves the work environment and facilitates healthy workplace relationships.
Employee onboarding

Common onboarding mistakes to avoid

A successful new employee onboarding process is fun, exciting, and informative. It should help new team members learn about the company, its culture, and its people. To create the best onboarding program, here are a few things to avoid:

  • Not having a formal onboarding process. Lacking formal onboarding exercises can lead to the accidental omission of important information. It can also make the onboarding experience feel random and frantic, confusing new hires and dampening their excitement for their new job.
  • Failing to communicate expectations. Without clear expectations, new employees won’t have confidence in their job. Lack of employee confidence negatively impacts productivity and performance.
  • Not having tools and resources prepared for the new hire. Failure to provide appropriate resources to new employees can leave them unable to properly do their job and frustrated at the lack of support. If onboarding failures extend to human resources, employees can experience delayed paychecks and benefits, which quickly leads to dissatisfaction and turnover.
  • Neglecting the role of company culture. Organizational culture can affect employee satisfaction and engagement. Failure to include this area in the onboarding program can make it difficult for new hires to feel comfortable and fit in, which could negatively impact their performance.
  • Providing inadequate training or support. Without job-specific training, it may become challenging for employees to deliver quality efficiently.

Build a solid onboarding program with help from Upwork

Whether you have in-person or remote employees, an effective onboarding program helps new hires feel welcome and instills a sense of belonging. It also ensures that new employees know their roles and responsibilities well. Onboarding sessions also facilitate the creation of meaningful connections that foster collaboration.

For a smooth onboarding experience, collaborate with your human resources team, outline a proper onboarding structure, and provide appropriate tools to new hires. Remember to complete regular check-ins to ensure new hires are adjusting well.

Looking to improve your existing onboarding program or create a more exciting one? Get started today by teaming up with employee onboarding experts and HR professionals on Upwork, the world’s largest talent marketplace.

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What Is Employee Onboarding? Full Guide With Beginner Tips
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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