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Starting Strong: Tips for Properly Onboarding Your New Employee

Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin

With company culture playing an important role in keeping employees satisfied, it's vital that businesses make new employees feel like welcomed additions to the team. This requires more than just beneficial training. Employees want to understand the ins and outs of the job while also feeling comfortable with their role in the company.

According to Click Boarding, an onboarding software company based in Minnesota, 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. Click Boarding also noted that 20 percent of employee turnover occurs in the first 45 days of an employee's tenure. This makes an effective employee onboarding program a necessity for businesses.

A beneficial employee onboarding program features a mix of training and social outreach by office members. These two key components limit turnover and keep employees happy. Here's how to build an employee onboarding program that successfully integrates new hires into your business.

What to do before and during the first day

First days can be overwhelming for new employees; one thing you can do to ease the prestart jitters is to send the new hire as much relevant information beforehand as possible, according to Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of career advice resource The Muse.

"Sending them benefits information and your employee handbook ahead of their first day gives them a chance to get acquainted with the culture before they step in the door," Minshew said.

According to Erika Kauffman, founder of EPR Publicity, before a new employee's first day on the job, all relevant staff members – HR, the person's direct manager, direct teammates, etc. – should be prepared for that person's arrival. You'll want to have all the requisite HR paperwork and tech equipment set up and ready to go prior to an employee's first day.

"You worked so diligently to recruit this new employee, but the process is not yet over," Kauffman said. "A [good] first impression on day one of the job is the most essential step in proper onboarding."

David Almeda, chief people officer of Kronos, said that many managers greet employees when they start and then send them to their desk to pore over materials like handbooks and manuals. However, you should be facilitating integration into the company's culture and community. When your new employee arrives, block off time to go through everything together and help them process information, he said.

"Make it personal," added Almeda. "Have the [new] employee's co-workers decorate his or her cube and leave personal welcome notes. Invite the new hire to a yoga class or play basketball at lunch. Folding new employees into your culture will increase their engagement and productivity and lower your turnover."

Mistakes to avoid

Developing a strong, consistent onboarding process takes time. Along the way, there are crucial mistakes employers should recognize, and avoid, to ensure a new employee's initiation period is successful.

Don't give new employees too much too soon. The first few weeks at a new job can be an overwhelming adjustment for an employee. You don't want to overload them with too much work before they're ready, said Deb LaMere, vice president of employee experience at Ceridian.

Don't assume new hires understand everything. You can't expect an employee to pick up on all the nuances, buzzwords and procedures involved with their new job after one quick run-through. Jack Hill, director of talent acquisition solutions at PeopleFluent, reminded employers that even new hires with industry experience should be given the chance to digest all the information they're given.

Don't forget to measure the onboarding process. As with any business process, measuring the results of your onboarding efforts is the key to improving it. Minshew said that The Muse sends out a new hire survey after a month of employment to assess the effectiveness of their onboarding.

Continue the momentum

One way to ensure your onboarding process doesn't end on the first day is to assign your new hire a mentor, someone other than their direct manager, to check in with them as they get settled. The mentor can use a company stipend to take the new employee out of the office for coffee or lunch as well as check in with them throughout their first few weeks, Minshew said.

"It means a lot for new hires to have a friendly face they feel comfortable talking to, and we've seen a lot of long-standing office friendships start this way," Minshew added.

LaMere advised scheduling detailed training sessions during an employee's first week as well as emphasizing and demonstrating the importance of open communication.

"During the first few days of the new hire's onboarding process, [frequently] check in with them via email or, better yet, in person," LaMere said. "It could simply be a 'How's it going?' or even sending them company information or industry news until they are added to the distribution lists. The more you can communicate and share with the new hire in the first few days, the better the experience is for him or her."

Onboarding is an ongoing process that helps employees feel welcomed through consistent engagement and involvement long after their first day on the job.

"Today's employees are looking for immersive and interactive communication channels, content libraries, and more that continue the experience post-hire," Hill said. "Onboarding [goes] beyond just learning tools and paperwork, [and is] really seen as a part of career development."

Additional reporting by Nicole Fallon and Jennifer Post. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Image Credit: Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock
Bennett Conlin
Bennett Conlin Member
Bennett is a B2B editorial assistant based in New York City. He graduated from James Madison University in 2018 with a degree in business management. During his time in Harrisonburg he worked extensively with The Breeze, JMU’s student-run newspaper. Bennett also worked at the Shenandoah Valley SBDC, where he helped small businesses with a variety of needs ranging from social media marketing to business plan writing.