The Ultimate Employee Onboarding Process Guide

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman

Cover Image Onboarding Blog Post

Starting a new job can be an exciting yet rather daunting experience. We all know how it feels to be the new face at a job, navigating new processes and striving to fit in within a new professional environment. 

The onboarding process plays a key role in shaping this journey, setting the tone for the new starters’ integration into the workplace. However, what happens when the onboarding process is less than ideal, and what steps can HR managers take to ensure that new employees hit the ground running?

In this practical how-to guide, we’ll explore the best onboarding process guide for new employees and how to map and implement them in your own organization.

What is onboarding? 

An onboarding process isn’t about filling in paperwork and brief introductions; it’s a holistic approach to integrating new employees into an organization. It involves a structured approach to the individuals’ orientation and assimilation into their new roles, responsibilities, teams, and the company’s culture. 

Think of it as the bridge between the excitement of landing a new job and becoming a fully engaged and productive team member. The onboarding process typically involves well-defined steps, including initial training into the broader company and role, introductions to colleagues, and company policies.

For a more detailed exploration of onboarding, check out: What is onboarding?

Benefits of great onboarding

We all have probably experienced less-than-ideal onboarding, leaving us feeling left at sea and struggling to stay afloat. But a great onboarding experience can be game-changing; here are some of the main benefits:

  1. Faster productivity: Well-structured onboarding helps new hires become productive more quickly, reducing the time it takes to make meaningful contributions to the team.
  2. Improved retention rates: When employees feel welcomed, supported, and engaged from day one, they’re more likely to stay with the company for the long term, reducing employee turnover rates.
  3. Better job satisfaction: A positive onboarding experience can increase job satisfaction, as employees better understand their roles and how they fit into the company’s mission.
  4. Cultural integration: New employees can become familiar with the company culture, values, and expectations, leading to a smoother assimilation into the workplace.

 

In the following sections, we’ll dive into the step-by-step guide for a successful onboarding process and provide the tools you need to implement or improve your own employee onboarding processes.

The importance of a great onboarding process

The first weeks of work can genuinely make or break someone’s career and job satisfaction. It isn’t nice for anyone to start a job only to discover it isn’t for them. Therefore, the importance of a great onboarding process cannot be overstated – either nurturing the growth of a fulfilling career or casting shadows of doubt on one’s job satisfaction.

As we’ve already highlighted, this is the window in which first impressions are made – positive employee experiences magnify dedication. At the same time, neglect during the onboarding phase may lead your new talent to seek out greener pastures elsewhere.

Continuous refinement and assessment are the foundation of a successful onboarding process. The effectiveness of your program can be gauged through periodic evaluations, ensuring that it evolves to meet the changing needs of your organization and the individuals it welcomes.

Happy employees = delighted customers, better retention rates, and improves your bottom line.  

Which is a win-win for everyone. 

The five stages of the onboarding process

You should think of the onboarding process as a roadmap. A structured journey that leads new employees from the threshold of their career with your organization to become valued, contributing team members. The roadmap contains five significant, well-defined stops, each playing a role in shaping a successful integration into the company.

The five employee onboarding stages are:

  •  Hiring & Offer

This is where the organization extends the formal invitation, shaping the initial impressions and commitments. It involves finalizing job offers, salary negotiations, and securing the new employee’s commitment to your team.

  • Preboarding

During the Preboarding stage, new hires are introduced to the company’s culture, policies, and expectations for their first few weeks well before their start date. 

  • Induction & Orientation

New employees are welcomed into the workplace and introduced to their colleagues. They receive a comprehensive overview of the company’s mission, vision, and values, aligning them with the organizational ethos.

  • Integration

The integration stage is when the new employee starts working on their assigned tasks and projects, actively contributing to the organization’s goals. The focus is on supporting their progress and ensuring they feel valued and connected.

  • Follow-Up

Regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and addressing concerns are integral to nurturing a lasting, successful relationship.

Collectively, these five stages outline a structured path, guaranteeing that the onboarding experience is not just a one-time event but an ongoing process that fosters growth and engagement within your organization within the first few months.

Onboarding Checklist (ENG)

Stage 1: Hiring & Offer

An effective employee onboarding process starts with the “Hiring & Offer” stage, where first impressions are essential. This phase involves finding a new employee, extending an offer, and setting the tone for their experience. 

Finding the right fit:

Writing the job description: Crafting a complete job description is the first step in attracting suitable candidates. It should clearly outline the position’s roles, responsibilities,  expectations, benefits, compensation, and company culture. Be as transparent as possible when writing the job description to attract suitable candidates and not waste their time or yours. 

Informing current employees on the hiring process: Keeping your existing team informed about the hiring process ensures a smoother transition for everyone. It also fosters a sense of involvement and engagement among the team. 

Effective communication: Timely and clear communication with potential employees is essential. Provide candidates with as much information as possible about the job, the organization, and the selection process. It helps manage expectations and build trust. Timely communication should also go for unsuccessful candidates.

Tips for HR Managers:

Look for cultural fit: Pay attention to applicants’ cultural fit beyond skills and qualifications. Assess if they align with the company’s values and culture.

Assess soft skills: Soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and adaptability are often as necessary as technical skills. Assess an applicant’s ability to collaborate and thrive within your team.

How to create the Offer:

Meet expectations: When extending an offer, ensure it aligns with the employee’s expectations, including salary, benefits, and other job-related perks. This step minimizes the risk of misunderstandings.

Personal communication: Making a personal call to provide the offer adds a human touch. It allows immediate questions and clarifications and demonstrates a commitment to the candidate.

Set a precise start date: Establishing a definitive start date helps new employees plan their transition effectively and reduces uncertainty.

Sharing information: Ensure that applicant information is shared with the relevant teams and stakeholders within the organization. This step streamlines the onboarding process, as the team can prepare to welcome the new hire.

This initial stage is the foundation of the onboarding process, setting the tone for a successful journey ahead. It emphasizes the technical aspects of hiring and the cultural and personal aspects that contribute to a positive and lasting employment relationship.

Stage 2: Preboarding

Preboarding is often an overlooked part of the onboarding process. This stage occurs before the official start date, and it’s all about getting employees off to a great start. Here’s why it’s so important and how using tools like Oneteam can improve the preboarding experience:

Why preboarding matters:

Preboarding helps new hires transition smoothly into their roles and the organization. It’s all about providing essential information, setting expectations, and creating a welcoming environment even before day one. 

By doing so, it offers a multitude of benefits such as:

  1. Reduced anxiety: Preboarding eases those first-day jitters. It clarifies what to expect, helping new hires feel more at ease and confident.
  2. Cultural familiarity: It introduces new employees to the company culture, values, and mission, giving them a head start on becoming culturally integrated.
  3. Logistical preparation: Practical paperwork, equipment, where the onboarding will occur, and access to necessary tools can be sorted out in advance, ensuring a smooth transition.
  4. Higher retention: When new hires feel valued and well-prepared from the start, they are more likely to stay with the company long-term, reducing turnover rates.

 

Benefits of Using Oneteam for Preboarding:

Oneteam, a powerful preboarding tool, can revolutionize the preboarding experience in the following ways:

Centralized information: Oneteam provides a centralized platform where new hires can access all the information they need, from company policies to FAQs, fostering transparency and easy access to resources.

Customization: It allows for personalized preboarding journeys, tailoring the experience to each new hire’s role and requirements.

Feedback loop: The platform can facilitate feedback collection from new hires, allowing HR to improve the preboarding process continually.

In summary, the preboarding stage sets the tone for the onboarding journey by creating a welcoming, informed, and organized experience for new employees. Utilizing tools like Oneteam enhances this stage, making it more efficient, engaging, and personalized.

Stage 3: Induction and Orientation

The third stage of the onboarding process, Induction and Orientation, marks the point where new hires transition from anticipation to active participation in the workplace. This phase provides comprehensive insights into the company and prepares employees for their organizational roles. 

Practicalities:

-Legal documents: New hires are guided through the completion of essential legal documents, ensuring compliance and facilitating a smooth onboarding process.

-Payroll information: Clear explanations of the payroll process, including tax forms and payment schedules, help new employees understand the financial aspects of their employment.

– Profile picture: Introducing the importance of a profile picture humanizes the workplace and aids in team recognition and connection.

– Work tour: A guided tour of the working environment familiarizes new hires with their surroundings.

– Team Introduction: Connecting new hires with their colleagues through formal introductions or team-building activities fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork.

Training:

-Training courses: Whether online or in-person, new hire training courses equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary for their roles.

– On-the-job training: Practical, hands-on experiences complement formal training, allowing employees to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world scenarios.

– Communication training: Understanding how to navigate internal communication channels and tools is important for effective collaboration within the organization.

– Technical and software training: Familiarizing new hires with any specialized systems or software they will be using is essential for a seamless integration into their roles.

Company policies: An overview of company policies ensures that new hires are aligned with standards and expectations.

– Protocols: Understanding specific general and role-specific protocols ensures that employees confidently navigate their responsibilities.

– Workplace safety: Introducing workplace safety protocols promotes a secure work environment and minimizes accidents.

Stage 4: Integration

As new hires progress through the onboarding journey, Stage 4 – Integration, they transition from newcomers to becoming integral members of the organization. This phase helps to foster a deep understanding of the company’s identity, aligning individual goals with organizational objectives and ensuring a seamless integration process. Here’s how to successfully integrate new employees:

Explaining the company mission, vision, and strategy:

– Mission and vision: Articulating the company’s mission and vision provides new hires with a clear understanding of the organization’s overarching purpose and long-term goals.

– Strategy: Insight into the company’s overall strategy helps employees grasp how their contributions contribute to the broader success of the organization.

Explaining the company culture:

– Values: Exploring company norms and values lays the groundwork for understanding the behavioral expectations and ethics that guide the organization.

-Way-of-Working: Describing the company’s way of working clarifies the organization’s accepted practices, communication channels, and collaborative methods.

Following up on the new hire’s experience and needs:

-Experience check-in: Regular check-ins allow continuous evaluation of the new hire’s experience, providing feedback opportunities and promptly addressing any concerns.

– Identifying needs and wants: Understanding the individual needs and wants of the new hire in their initial weeks fosters a personalized and supportive onboarding experience.

Understanding key competencies:

– Unique positioning: Identifying and understanding the key competencies of the employee enables them to carve out a unique position within the company. This can lead to developing specialized roles that align with their strengths.

Setting goals for the new hire:

– Alignment: Goals set for the new hire should align with the broader organizational objectives, ensuring a cohesive effort towards shared success.

– Measurable targets: Establishing clear, measurable targets helps track progress and provides a roadmap for professional development.

Stage 5: Follow-Up and Feedback

The last step of the onboarding journey is Stage 5 – Follow-Up & Feedback, which is dedicated to the new employee’s ongoing support and professional growth. Regular and constructive follow-ups help ensure the individual’s experience remains positive and aligned with organizational goals. 

This stage involves:

  • Systematically checking in on the employee’s overall experience.
  • Addressing their evolving needs and wants.
  • Evaluating their performance about the milestones outlined in the preceding stages.

 By fostering an open employee feedback loop, organizations can adapt and refine their onboarding strategies, creating an environment where continuous improvement and employee success go hand in hand. In essence, the follow-up and feedback stage is the linchpin for sustained engagement, development, and the long-term success of both the employee and the organization.

Onboarding Survey Example
Example: Onboarding Evaluation Survey via Oneteam

The Five Essential Components of Employee Onboarding

1. Compliance:

Every new employee must have the basic information for a smooth onboarding experience. This includes understanding safety protocols, submitting declarations, collecting access keys and badges, knowing the appropriate work attire, and gaining login details for essential apps and programs.

2. Clarification:

Clarification is the compass that directs both the organization and the employee. Clearly articulating organizational expectations, outlining job roles, and recapping basic requirements form mutual understanding. This part ensures everyone is on the same page and fosters a sense of direction and purpose for the new employee.

3. Culture:

Embracing new colleagues into the fabric of the organization’s mission, vision, and values ensures that everyone in the team is running in the same direction. Communicating the company’s goals, highlighting core values, and elucidating the ‘Why‘ of the organization ensures a cohesive integration. 

Tip: Consider leveraging modern tools like the employee onboarding app to share engaging videos about the company’s history, mission, vision, and values before the start date.

4. Connection:

The importance of solid interpersonal connections has been realized, particularly for deskless workers. Feeling connected through informal interactions makes employees feel part of the organization. Facilitate social relationships by introducing new hires to a go-to buddy for questions or encouraging participation in team events, drinks, or activities – even if they take place online.

5. Check back in:

Often overlooked but undeniably essential, check-back-in ensures that the onboarding journey doesn’t end prematurely. Soliciting feedback from the new employee and evaluating the onboarding program is necessary for continuous improvement. This critical evaluation moment shapes the HR cycle and contributes to the personal development plan, fostering a culture of ongoing learning and enhancement.

💡Tip: watch our onboarding webinar in which we share a step-by-step approach to making new hires successful.  👇

The webinar focuses mainly on retail organizations but is also relevant to other deskless industries.

Three general tips for HR managers when creating an effective onboarding process

Crafting an effective onboarding process demands a proactive investment of time, planning, and attention from the HR team. Begin by posing critical questions to improve your approach, such as:

How do I instill enthusiasm in a new employee for our organization?

The onboarding program should attract employees, encouraging them to get connected and engaged and ultimately want to stay. Make the program engaging and interactive by creating a pleasurable employee experience. You can incorporate interactive elements such as quizzes, personal blogs, or team welcome videos to instill team spirit and provide a personal touch to the onboarding journey. Ensure you check for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors while implementing these elements.

What vision, standards, and values do we aim to embody as an employer?

To ensure quick alignment with your brand:

  1. Clarify your company culture.
  2. Define your mission, desired atmosphere, and appropriate tone of voice, and integrate these elements into the onboarding program.
  3. Let these foundational aspects resonate throughout the onboarding experience.
 
What knowledge is essential for effective job performance? 

Beyond general information such as house rules and organizational details, a successful onboarding program deep-dives into specific job-related matters. The HR team should recognize each position and employee’s distinct knowledge and experience requirements. 

Facilitate a quick and comprehensive onboarding experience for every new hire by developing modular onboarding modules tailored to various organizational functions and levels. Utilize tools like an employee app with an onboarding component to create personalized, interactive, and modular onboarding experiences.

Take your time:

While speed is essential, a rushed onboarding can create tension. Shift away from the traditional induction week—onboarding is a process that can last months, not a one-time event. Initiate onboarding post-employment meetings, even before the first working day. Extend the program over a reasonable period, breaking information into digestible chunks. Foster a warm, welcoming environment that allows employees to absorb knowledge gradually.

Be flexible:

Flexibility is key to a successful onboarding process. Start the process early in the hiring process, as waiting for post-employment is counterproductive. Take a personal approach by tailoring the onboarding to each employee and understanding their specific requirements to settle into the team. 

To make this process easier, leverage a flexible onboarding app for a digital and adaptable experience, incorporating basic modules for all employees while customizing job levels, lead times, and content. You can even integrate gamification to enhance engagement and transform the onboarding journey into an enjoyable experience.

Free checklist: step-by-step plan to engage your new employees

How Oneteam can help create a great onboarding experience for new employees

Oneteam stands at the forefront of creating a personalized onboarding experience, offering robust features to ensure a seamless and engaging integration for new deskless employees. 

Here’s how Oneteam can help you transform your onboarding journey:

Efficient digital onboarding:

Simplify onboarding with Oneteam’s user-friendly employee app, minimizing paperwork and maximizing accessibility.

Tailored onboarding packages:

Customize onboarding packages to ensure new hires receive the relevant information, aligning the process with individual roles.

Gamification learning:

Inject enjoyment into onboarding through gamification features, which helps to keep engagement and learning retention high.

Organized events for networking:

Schedule events effortlessly to facilitate initial connections among new hires and colleagues.

Convenient document access:

Ensure easy access to important documents, from policies to orientation materials, simplifying information retrieval.

Feedback integration:

Quickly gather feedback and get insights into new employees’ progress through their onboarding. Helping you to optimize the experience for better results.

Modular flexibility

Adapt onboarding to different organizational functions and levels through Oneteam’s modular design, ensuring a tailored experience.

And the best part is that onboarding is just one of the powerful modules offered by the Oneteam platform. Look at a 2-minute summary of Oneteam below and book a guided product demo here

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman

Ruben Wieman is the founder of Oneteam. He mainly writes about the future of deskless employee experience and key frontline HR trends. Fun fact about Ruben: He started his professional career as a deskless employee at supermarkets and a pizza delivery guy. The frustrations he encountered lead him to build an employee experience app focused on making the deskless workforce successful and engaged.

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