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How to Build the Perfect Employee Onboarding Process

How to Build the Perfect Employee Onboarding Process

Did you know?

  • 76% of organizations underutilize employee onboarding practices.
  • Companies see a 25% increase in the employee retention rate with formal onboarding programs.

Employee onboarding is far more important than most of us would like to think. It is not a mere formality done to just comply with a corporate custom. Onboarding plays a crucial role in employees deciding whether to stay on with a company or not and whether they remain committed to the organization.

With this in mind, in this post, let’s understand the importance of employee onboarding and some of the strategies and tools that can help you make the most of it.

What is Employee Onboarding?

Onboarding is broadly defined as the process of familiarizing (new) employees with organizational policies, their role in the organization, and the corporate culture. It also includes creating a conducive environment where employees can interact freely with their colleagues and establish professional relationships in the workplace.

In particular, this includes employees filling out all the documents as required by labor legislation and providing  all the necessary tools to perform their job well.

During onboarding, employees get to learn the organization’s expectations from them in terms of skills, communication style, and attitudes towards work.

I got acquainted with several scientific works and studies on adaptation and its effectiveness. 

The conclusions of all these works can be summarized in two key points:

  • Hiring new employees is time-consuming and costly.
  • The retention of employees depends on how those hard-found employees go through the onboarding process. If you can’t get them to adapt optimally, you could lose them, leading to another costly recruitment cycle.

The success of online employee onboarding depends on the effectiveness of the onboarding program. The sooner employees can do their jobs, the faster they will become valuable members of an organization.

Onboarding is not just an HR task. It is also the responsibility of the line manager to educate employees about their role in the company, the expectations from them, and the corporate culture.

Plus, onboarding isn’t just about new hires. When employees are moving into new positions (which is known as rotation – cross boarding discussed later in this article), they also, in a similar way, need to go through adaptation.

Even though they are already familiar with the corporate culture, the new team’s culture may be slightly different. While they may be familiar with job function, they may still need a mentor to introduce themselves to their new role.

Why Does Efficient Employee Onboarding Matter?

An efficient employee onboarding process is significant for both employees and the organization.

Benefits for the Employee

  • Obtaining the full volume of up-to-date information. An employee does not have to run around the office looking for answers, distracting colleagues from work.
  • Reducing uncertainty and stress levels. According to psychologists, job change is in third place in terms of stress level (after the death of a loved one and divorce). The idea is to support a new hire during this honeymoon period.
  • Mastering the norms of corporate culture and rules of conduct.
  • Receiving feedback from a mentor or leader, that is, understanding your “growth zone.”
  • Professional development
  • Increased job satisfaction
  • Building relationships in the team
  • Quick infusion into the workflow
  • Acquisition of new skills and knowledge
  • Comparison of the expected performance with employees’ real activities
  • The fear of being fired during the probationary period gets reduced

Benefits for the Company

  • Decrease in staff turnover and, as a result, the formation of a favorable HR brand
  • A mechanism for evaluating the work of an employee based on the results of the first few months
  • Planning an employee’s career
  • Increasing employee loyalty to the company
  • Formation of a personnel reserve of managers (mentors)
  • Increased workforce efficiency and accelerated productivity level
  • Establishing and maintaining positive relationships
  • Prevention of severe mistakes that new employees could make
  • Reducing the time spent by experienced workers to assist a new employee in the process of performing their job duties

Stages of Employee Onboarding

The onboarding process can take place in four main stages:

  1. Assessment of the level of preparedness of a new employee

This assessment is necessary to develop an effective adaptation program. Even if an employee has special training and work experience in similar structures, getting into a new organization will present a different external environment, new personnel, and technology.

All this inevitably leads them into unfamiliar territory. For example, if they have gone from a B2B marketing role to a B2C marketing role.

  1. Orientation on the spot

This includes practical acquaintance of the employees with their duties and the requirements they need to deliver. The direct supervisor and the personnel management service are involved in this onboarding phase.

  1. Direct adaptation

This stage consists of transforming new employees to their professional status and is determined mainly by their inclusion in interpersonal relationships with colleagues. This element of adaptation is vital, as it affects how new employees will be accepted in the workplace.

It is important, within this stage, to provide maximum psychological support to the employees, conduct regular conversations, and evaluate the effectiveness of their activities at the new workplace.

  1. Full involvement in work

This stage completes the process of adaptation of a new employee in the organization. It is characterized by the gradual overcoming of production and personal problems and the transition to stable work.

Suppose the adaptation process in the organization is well regulated. In that case, the adaptation period and costs associated with it are reduced several times and bring significant benefits to both the organization and the employees.

What is Strategic Employee Onboarding?

A structured onboarding process can be broken down into several phases, starting with signing a contract by the new employees and ending with the long-term commitment. Here’s how it goes:

1. Preparation

There is often a time between signing the contract and the start date that employers can ideally use to prepare for onboarding. Essential steps are:

  • Setting up the workplace. What equipment do the new employees need (desk, preconfigured PC, telephone, keys, business cards, name badges, passwords, etc.)
  • Who will take care of the deployment? 

2. Details of Contact Persons

It is always possible that future employees still have questions. A list of contact persons with telephone numbers and email addresses or business cards is therefore helpful.

3. Information Gathering

Even if new employees have already informed themselves about the company, its products/services, and culture, they will undoubtedly be grateful to have the information available on demand.

An information folder usually contains:

  • a company manual
  • brochures
  • further education and training catalogs
  • an organizational chart or a list of access data (email password, access to e-learning platforms, etc.)

Creative approaches are, for example, quizzes about the company, which ask about important facts playfully. The use of such gamification elements in recruiting engages and motivates employees to learn.

4. Informing Work Colleagues

The existing employees should be informed in advance so that the new employee is not viewed with skepticism.. A short text about the person with the exact entry date and, if necessary, a profile photo can be communicated, for example, on the intranet or by email.


In addition, it should be ensured that a company member accompanies the new employee to their workplace on the day they join. 

5. Assigning a Buddy/Sponsor

Does it make sense to provide the new employee with a sponsor? Who would be eligible for this? It can be helpful to select an employee with a similar area of responsibility who introduces the future colleague to their place of work and answers  any queries they have. 

Recommendations For Successful Employee Onboarding

#1 During probationary period, employees also evaluate their employer

In practice, adaptation is always a reciprocal process: the employer sees if a new employee suits them, and employees assess their manager and decide about their tenure in the organization.

The employer must do the following:

  • Work out the adaptation plan of new employees
  • Clearly define the tasks, deadlines, and intermediate checkpoints
  • Make the newcomers’ functions clear

#2 Discuss all the pitfalls with the new employee

For example, you can often observe the following practice: when a new employee goes to work, he or she is “hung” with functionality for two positions at once. This is often seen in small businesses due to a shortage of personnel and the absence of a selection system for candidates.

This leads to the disappointment of the new employee, a mismatch of their expectations with reality, and as a result, leaving the company during the probationary period.

Solution: At the interview stage with the candidate, discuss everything about the roles and responsibilities. 

#3 Understand the goals of adaptation

The purpose of adaptation is to reduce the costs of the organization.

Factors that can reduce an organization’s costs are:

  1. Fast induction. This means that the new employee is expected to reach the level of productivity required of them soon. Here, a standard onboarding platform can make all the difference.
  2. Reducing the number of errors due to effective training of new employees.
  3. Reducing the level of staff turnover as a result of the implementation of adaptation methods.

#4 Understand the benefits of adaptation

Having an onboarding plan brings benefits to both the company and the employee. Examples include compliance with company policies, clarity of job roles and company goals, and improved employee satisfaction and performance.

Personnel Onboarding Methods and Tools

Companies that understand that a strong workforce is a key to success (and profit!) are developing systems to accommodate new hires efficiently and effectively. These systems include activities carried out by employees, and they are designed to build two types of motivation:

  • External, that is, economic
  • Internal or personal

With economic motivation, everything is more or less obvious. Financial rewards should correspond to the level of a specialist, and bonuses only strengthen loyalty. This is understandable. 

But what is “personal motivation”?

Intrinsic or intangible motivation is closely related to corporate culture. This is an employee’s desire for personal growth and development within the framework of a given company. For such motivation to arise, it is necessary to carry out several activities that help the new employee to get involved in the life of the company.

There are several employee training methods, strategies, and tools to meet this need:

  • Conducting training and workshops for new employees

ProProfs Employee Onboarding Software

New employees will quickly join the workforce if they are systematically trained on how everything works. This is especially needed when they cannot figure things out on their own by trial and error.

Here, employee onboarding software will prove immensely helpful. Using these employee onboarding tools, you can:

Employee Onboarding Training Course

In case you’re looking for ready-to-use onboarding courses, here are a few suggestions:

View All Courses

  • Facilitating communication between the manager and employees

It is essential to monitor how the immediate supervisor communicates with a newcomer. Employers should not leave employees in the dark about how the employees should manage their duties.

But communication should work in the opposite direction too. A new employee should ask questions to the manager and treat feedback & comments professionally.

  • Providing group assignments for better teamwork

Whatever the specifics of a job, it is crucial for a new employee to get to know colleagues, establish informal connections, and join forces. If you let the process take its own course, beginners can limit themselves to only a narrow circle.

  • Organizing team-building activities

Team-building events and discussion forums allow employees to get to know each other better and provide everyone, including new employees, with a comfortable psychological environment.

  • Maintaining corporate PR

It is no less important than external PR. Employees, like customers, must understand the values and aspirations of the company, and the company needs to shape its image as a reliable employer having a stake in every employee.

  • Providing a single source of information for employees

Everyone should understand what is happening in the company, represent it fully, know about its achievements, and quickly obtain information about colleagues and find their contacts.

Corporate social networks and knowledge base can be useful here.

According to McKinsey Global Institute, social technologies could raise the productivity of employees by 20% to 25%.

Employee Onboarding Tips and Tricks

The first basic idea is to be there for your new hires. It doesn’t matter how cool your company is and how much you pay. If you want an employee to pass the probationary period, then you need to be in touch with them constantly. For this, you can leverage chats, private messages, conversations, and calls.

The employee onboarding checklist below only supplements and helps the basic rule to be implemented.

1. Create a list of mini-tasks, quests that a beginner should complete in the first week/month. 

For example, if they are working on content marketing, perhaps a nice task would be to find their favorite piece of published content and present why it works well.

2. Mentor. It is good if the new employee asks for an assistant who understands the needs of the new employee. There must be a partnership, not competition. 

3. Provide an easy employee handbook. These can be nicely incorporated into a Notion template or workspace to keep things fun.

4. Make a post on the corporate network, let it be built on Instagram, or add to the general chat of the company.

5. Organize a team party where you can introduce a new hire to their colleagues in an informal setting.

6. Give a new workplace, a new computer, and a phone. It’s just nice to an employee that they didn’t borrow someone else’s.

7. Share a list of difficulties that new employees have. Including life hacks.

8. Discuss prospects for career growth. It is best to do this during the interview, but if there’s not much possible in terms of growth, explain how the salary will grow.

Make the Best of Your Employee Onboarding

Employee onboarding cannot be seen just as a process of learning a new job. It involves immersing an employee in a new environment, understanding the rules of behavior, teamwork, accepting corporate norms, and establishing relationships with colleagues and partners.

The adaptation process is reciprocal: the organization evaluates the employee, and the employee considers the organization. It takes a lot of time to search for a suitable candidate, especially a highly qualified one, so every employer is interested in the employee starting to work with maximum efficiency and benefit as soon as possible.

The onboarding of new employees can go in different ways: somewhere a newcomer is thrown into the thick of things, hoping that they will figure it out themselves; somewhere they are treated with care so that the stress experienced by the employee is minimal.

It is essential to understand that the duration of adaptation does not coincide with the course of the probationary period; it can take up to four months or more. A well-developed adaptation plan, a mentor system, and a training system will help speed it up.

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About the author

Kamy Anderson

Kamy is an eLearning & training expert. He has been published in eLearningIndustry, TrainingMag. As a corporate trainer at ProProfs, he has been instrumental in building an awesome eLearning management system that has simplified learning and training for thousands of customers across the globe. Follow Kamy @kamyanderson

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