A guide to creating a great onboarding process

Employee onboarding usually comes with a lot of admin, but creating a great onboarding experience goes beyond that.

Ensuring your new employees settle in properly, know what’s expected of them from the very beginning, and are motivated to succeed from the start is a quick-fire way to make your company boom long-term. However, when you don’t make the most of your onboarding process, it leads to decreased engagement, a lack of motivation, and potential staff losses.

What is an employee onboarding process?

The process of onboarding employees helps your new hires settle in and increases the success rates of them staying long-term. But this can only be the case if your company’s onboarding process is up to scratch.

Many businesses believe that simply having an onboarding process in place is enough to keep their new employees happy and content while fulfilling their new job duties. But, it’s the pre-defined, thoroughly thought-through onboarding processes that keep new hires engaged and motivated. A good onboarding process is designed to help:

  • Leave a good impression on the new hires
  • The new employees feel welcome and part of the team
  • The new employees fulfill their roles properly
  • Increase employee engagement
  • Increase productivity and motivation
  • Increase your company’s staff retention rates

For these reasons, implementing a new employee onboarding process is essential. In this blog, we’ll explain how to do so effectively.

What makes an onboarding process so important?

recent Glassdoor study shows that 89% of new hires with a good employee onboarding process successfully integrated into the business, their prospective teams, and company culture. Conversely, only 49%, who did not have a good onboarding process, can say the same.

The reason why having a good onboarding process is so important is to introduce new hires to their position, the company’s values, and the benefits it offers. It plays a crucial part in motivating workers to be dedicated to the success of the business and aids in the employee retention of new hires by making them feel welcome and part of the team. Ensuring you equip your new employees with the skills they need to be successful in their new schedule and job duties will only increase how your business performs overall.

3 things to include in your employee onboarding checklist

A good onboarding process should have three components that are the same across the whole economy, even though each organization is unique. These three elements are:

  • Culture add
  • Expectation management
  • New hire paperwork
  1. Culture add

    When creating your employee onboarding process, consider how your company culture will benefit from the skills and perspectives of prospective employees.

    Culture fit often leads to affinity bias, with interviewers hiring candidates who are similar to themselves. However, a new employee who is a culture add is someone who brings new ideas and skill sets, enriching your culture instead of fitting into it.

    Focusing on culture add at the beginning of your onboarding process will help keep your company culture evolving, help you create a more diverse and inclusive workplace, while keeping your core company values strong. Plus, it will make the onboarding process enjoyable and seamless, as new employees will feel valued for what they can bring to the table from the very start.

    In order to gauge culture add, communication at the beginning of your hiring process is key. Clarify and emphasize your company culture, mission, and values, so the prospective employee understands your culture and you can get more of a sense of whether they’re the right hire for you. Asking lots of questions at this stage will also help you get a better understanding of their perspectives, ideas and background, helping you see how they might add to your company culture if you choose to employ them.

  2. Expectation management

    Managing expectations from the outset could prevent disappointment on both sides during your hiring process. Expectation management starts with the advertised job role, with a clearly-defined description that allows candidates to be completely certain about the potential job before applying. It will also help define what you’re expecting of a new hire, without having to second-guess at any point during the process.

    However, it shouldn’t stop at the job description. Expectation management should also continue throughout the interview stage to ensure the employee knows exactly what is expected of them in their future role and for the company to know exactly what they’ll be getting in return.

    If all goes well during the interview and you decide to make the hire, expectation management should be seamlessly integrated into your onboarding process. This way, there will be no gray areas and the employee will be fully prepared to fulfill their role according to your expectations.

    Our top tip: Expectation management shouldn’t have to stop once your new employee’s onboarding process is over. Always provide an employee handbook with your organization’s key expectations for them to refer back to throughout their employment.

  3. How to manage onboarding paperwork

    Onboarding documents are what new employees must read, recognize, and sign so they can begin working at your organization. It can be a lengthy administrative process, but it is necessary to prepare an employee for success.

    New hire paperwork includes information about benefits, pensions, where they’ll be working, compliance touchstones like data security company policies, relevant new hire forms, and confidentiality agreements. Onboarding documents are also likely to include at least one contract of some sort. This paperwork is presented to the new hire once they have signed their job offer letter.

    To manage new hire paperwork, companies will usually opt for a type of employee onboarding software to digitally organize and work through the documents via an onboarding checklist, an arbitrary document on a shared drive, or an applicant tracking system.

    Some companies choose to sort through their onboarding documents manually, however, this route is not recommended as the process can lag as your company scales. In the worst circumstances, this can result in delays, conflict, and disengaged new hires who are still open to competing offers until they begin their work.

Your step-by-step guide to creating an effective onboarding process

  1. Highlight expectations from the get-go

    Before the onboarding process begins, have a discussion internally with important parties from your organization, such as management, direct reports and a direct manager so you can specify what you want from the new employee as well as what they can anticipate from the organization. Expectation management should continue throughout the new employee’s time at your organization, so be sure to maintain a clear communication stream with the new hires at all times.

  2. Introduce on-the-job training during the employee onboarding process

    To make new workers feel welcome and help them adjust to their jobs, teams, and organizations, an effective employee onboarding process goes beyond paperwork and administrative responsibilities. You should view the employee onboarding process as an opportunity to jump-start new employees’ learning and development.

    Your new hires can gain the skills and resources they will need to thrive early on by focusing on the history, mission, and culture of your business. Spend some time developing plans for each team member throughout onboarding and incorporating learning early into your onboarding process.

  3. Don't slack when writing a job description

    Spend time crafting a job description that doesn’t allow much room for interpretation. Be sure to be explicit about expectations and to ensure that the corporate culture aligns with the job ad. Our top tip: Let the new hire’s immediate co-workers draft the description.

  4. Make use of employee onboarding software

    Don’t let a burdensome administrative process slow down the onboarding of new employees; make use of the employee onboarding software designed to make your life easier. There are solutions available for employee feedback, employee orientation, employee satisfaction, workforce management, and employee well-being — use them!

  5. Create a positive environment for the job interview

    Creating a positive environment is important as people being interviewed are often uncomfortable and nervous. Think carefully about who you invite to the interview, as candidates are likely to feel more at ease during the interview when prospective hires’ immediate co-workers attend.

  6. Continue the positive environment on their first day

    It’s crucial to make a good first impression from the moment the new employee accepts your job offer. Ensure you have the first day’s schedule planned out in advance to motivate and make them feel welcome.

  7. Continue to guide them and pay attention to employee feedback

    Once you’ve started your onboarding process correctly, you’re already halfway there. But continue to give the new employee guidance and feedback during the first few months.

In summary

Creating a seamless onboarding process isn’t exactly easy, but it’s a great way to ensure the long-term success of your company. It requires managerial and HR effort to take control and consciously prepare a targeted strategy, rather than just throw the new recruit into the position without any training. However, it is a cost-effective investment that will enable your new employee to adjust and feel like a productive team member, positively impacting how your business operates overall.

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