The complete guide to employee onboarding: How to welcome, integrate, and retain top talent

Learn the ultimate strategies and best practices to create an outstanding onboarding program that not only welcomes new hires but also seamlessly integrates them into the company culture and supports long-term employee retention.

Inês Pinto

The complete guide to employee onboarding: How to welcome, integrate, and retain top talent

Table of contents

This blog post was recently updated on April 15, 2024.

Attracting and hiring talented individuals is just the first step towards building a successful team. Without a proper onboarding strategy in place, companies risk losing valuable employees, hindered productivity, and missed opportunities for growth.

In this guide, we’ll explore the integral components of effective onboarding, providing you with the knowledge and tools necessary to create a seamless and engaging experience for new hires.

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is a comprehensive process that involves integrating new employees into an organization with the aim of facilitating their seamless transition into their roles. It goes beyond the initial orientation and induction phase and encompasses all the activities and support required to ensure new hires feel welcome, understand their roles and responsibilities, and are set up for long-term success.


Onboarding vs Induction

While onboarding may be confused with induction, they are not interchangeable terms. Induction typically refers to the initial phase of welcoming new employees to the organization, often involving paperwork, introductions to policies and procedures, and basic orientation activities. Induction focuses primarily on getting new hires up to speed with the administrative and logistical aspects of their employment.

On the other hand, onboarding is a more extensive and holistic process. It encompasses the entire employee journey, from the pre-hire stage to long-term development and engagement. It includes orientation and induction but also extends beyond that to assimilating employees into the organization's culture, providing necessary training, and fostering connections with colleagues and supervisors.

Onboarding vs Orientation

In the same vein, while onboarding and orientation may seem similar, they have different scopes and objectives. Orientation tends to be a one-time event that focuses on familiarizing new employees with the organization's structure, policies, and immediate job expectations. It is typically a brief introduction conducted within a few days of an employee joining the company.

In contrast, onboarding is an ongoing process that continues for an extended period after orientation. It aims to integrate new hires into the fabric of the organization by investing in their growth and development and helping them acclimate to their roles and responsibilities more effectively.

Types of onboarding

Onboarding is never a one-size-fits-all approach. Depending on the circumstances, there are different types of onboarding that can be implemented to cater to the specific needs of employees.

Reboarding employees

Reboarding is the process of reintroducing employees to the company, their role, and the culture after a significant absence or change in responsibilities. This is an important step that is often overlooked.

Reboarding requires many of the same elements as the initial onboarding, just in an accelerated format. It quickly reintegrates employees and gets them up to speed so they can thrive in their role.

Onboarding during the hiring stage

The hiring process is the ideal time to begin onboarding by setting the right expectations and building excitement for the role. At this stage, focus on communicating the company's mission, values, and culture to give candidates a feel for the organization and help them determine fit.  

🏆 Share mission and values

Clearly convey the company's purpose, vision, values and goals during interviews and throughout the hiring process. This allows candidates to understand the organization at a deeper level to decide if it aligns with their own principles.

Discuss what makes the culture unique, collaborative, innovative or otherwise distinctive. Highlight any social impact initiatives or community engagement to showcase your company's character.

For example, at Oneteam, we love to share about our remote working company trip to Madeira! We highlight it in our Vacancies page so that candidates can get a better feel for the culture at Oneteam.

💪 Set expectations

Setting transparent expectations prevents surprises down the line. There are a few things you can do to set the right tone: 

  • Be upfront about the responsibilities, goals and challenges of the open position. 
  • Give realistic previews of typical work assignments, processes, and systems.
  • Outline required skills and competencies needed to excel in the role.
  • Share expected training and ramp up time to full productivity. 

✨ Build excitement

Spark enthusiasm for the company and role through thoughtful conversations about growth opportunities, career development and company perks.

  • Get candidates excited about making an impact through their contributions.
  • Describe interesting projects and initiatives underway that new hires can participate in. 
  • Share success stories of employees who joined the team. 
  • Highlight fun social events and bonding experiences.

Onboarding during the offer stage

The offer stage presents a key opportunity to begin onboarding new hires. Here are some tips for onboarding during this phase:

💌 Send a welcome package

Send new hires a welcome package as soon as they accept the job offer. This could include company swag (branded t-shirt, water bottle, notebook, etc.), an employee handbook or onboarding guide, and a handwritten welcome note. Getting something tangible helps build excitement for their new role.

👋 Introduce key players 

Give new hires information about who they'll be working with. Share org charts, team bios, and photos. Set up intro calls or video conferences with their manager, direct teammates, and cross-functional partners. This allows them to put names to faces and start establishing connections.

❓ Answer any questions

Be available to answer new hires' questions about their role, responsibilities, the team, company policies, or anything else on their mind. Set up at least one call where they can ask questions and get them addressed before their start date. Responding quickly and transparently sets the stage for an open relationship.


The phases of the onboarding process

The employee onboarding process generally consists of several distinct phases, each serving a different purpose and contributing to the success of the new employee. These phases include:

Pre-hire: This is the preboarding phase and it begins before the new employee's first day. It involves activities such as background checks, contract signing, and initial communication to effectively set expectations.

Orientation: Typically conducted within the first few days of employment, orientation introduces new hires to the company, its policies, values, and general expectations. It focuses on logistical aspects such as paperwork, benefits enrollment, and facilities tours.

Training: This phase involves providing the necessary training and resources to enable new employees to perform their job functions effectively. It may include job-specific training, compliance training, or technical skill development.

Integration: As part of employee onboarding, this phase emphasizes assimilation into the company culture, team dynamics, and fostering relationships with colleagues and supervisors. It often involves assigning mentors or buddies to support new hires during their initial months.

Performance and development: This phase focuses on goal setting, performance evaluations, and ongoing learning and development opportunities. It ensures that new employees receive the necessary feedback and support to excel in their roles and achieve their professional growth targets.

Long-term engagement: Employee onboarding is not a one-time event but rather an ongoing process. The organization should continually invest in employee engagement initiatives, such as mentorship programs, team-building activities, and professional development opportunities, to ensure long-term satisfaction and retention.

Onboarding timeline: The first 90 days

The first 90 days are critical in the onboarding process, and a structured approach can help set the new employee up for success.

Day before the first day

The day before the first day should be spent ensuring everything is ready for the new employee’s arrival. Here are some steps to take:

Confirm start time: Reach out to the new employee to confirm the start time and provide any additional instructions, such as parking or building access.

Send a welcome email: Send an email to the new employee welcoming them to the team and providing them with any additional information they may need, such as the dress code or a list of items to bring on their first day.

Stock work area: Ensure the new employee's work area is clean and stocked with any needed supplies, such as pens and paper.

First day onboarding

The first day can set the tone for the rest of the onboarding process. Here are some steps to take:

Orientation meeting: Conduct an orientation meeting, either in-person or virtually, to provide the new employee with an overview of the company culture, mission, and vision.

Office tour: Give the new employee a tour of the office, pointing out any key locations, such as the break room and restrooms.

Meet the team: Introduce the new employee to their colleagues, including the team they will be working with.

First week onboarding

The first week is a critical time for ensuring the new employee gets up to speed with their role and the company's processes. Here are some steps to take:

Initial training: Provide the new employee with initial training relevant to their role. This may include software tutorials or shadowing other team members.

Ramp up on duties: Begin to give the new employee job duties, taking care to provide feedback and answer any questions that may arise.

Check-in on progress: Regularly check-in with the new employee to assess their progress. This can also be an opportunity to provide additional guidance and support.

First 3 months onboarding

The first 3 months should be spent ensuring the new employee is fully integrated into their role and team. Here are some steps to take:

Ongoing training: Offer ongoing training to support the development of the new employee's skills.

30/60/90 day reviews: Schedule reviews at 30, 60, and 90 days to provide feedback and to assess the new employee's progress.

Refine role as needed: Use feedback from the reviews to refine the new employee's role, if needed. This can help ensure the employee is in a position that best fits their skills and interests.

Why employee onboarding matters

A strategic and thorough employee onboarding process provides significant benefits for both the new hire and the organization. Studies show that effective onboarding leads to improved new hire retention, faster ramp up to full productivity, and a reduced time to proficiency in the new role.

Indeed, an effective onboarding program benefits everyone involved:

  • It drives faster business results for the organization;
  • In helps employees prepare for their new role; and
  • It helps new hires integrate within the organization.

Benefits of onboarding for the organization

A solid onboarding process offers several benefits to both the organization and its employees:

✅ Reduced time to productivity: A well-structured onboarding program ensures that new employees are equipped with the necessary knowledge and resources to start contributing quickly. This reduces the time it takes for new employees to become productive in their roles.

✅ Increased employee engagement and retention: A positive onboarding experience leads to higher levels of employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees feel supported from the beginning and understand their roles and expectations, they are more likely to stay with the organization in the long run.

✅ Improved company culture: Onboarding provides an opportunity to introduce new employees to the company's vision, values, and culture. When new hires feel alignment with the organization's values, it helps foster a sense of belonging and leads to a stronger company culture overall.

✅ Enhanced employee performance: Clear expectations and proper training during onboarding set new employees up for success. When employees have a thorough understanding of their roles and access to resources, they are more capable of performing their jobs effectively.

✅ Positive brand image: An organization that invests in a robust onboarding program portrays itself as a supportive employer that cares about the success and well-being of its employees. This positive image can help attract top talent to the organization.


Helping employees prepare for the new role

Onboarding is one of the most efficient processes for organizations to prepare for a new employee’s arrival and their first day on the job.

To make the most of it, organizations should get the new hire’s workspace, accounts, and equipment ready so they can dive into their role on day 1.

⚙️ Set up equipment and accounts

IT and facilities teams should work together to order and set up any required hardware like a computer, phone, badge, and other tools needed to perform the job. Relevant software, programs, and access permissions to systems like email and databases should also be established. Having logins and technology ready on day 1 prevents productivity lags.

🖥️ Create training resources 

Managers should develop training materials, documents, manuals, and resources to aid with ramping up the new hire on critical systems, processes, and duties. These may include step-by-step guides, videos, slide decks, and more. Having these prepared shows investment in the employee's success.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑 Assign a mentor

Connecting the new team member with a mentor helps provide guidance and assistance in navigating the new workplace. The mentor serves as a go-to resource for answering questions and troubleshooting issues. This accelerates the new hire's ability to get up to speed. Select a compatible mentor who can devote time to the role.

Helping new hires integrate

A key part of onboarding is helping new employees integrate into the team and company culture. This goes beyond just introducing people – it's about making connections and building relationships from day one.  

Here are some ways to facilitate integration of new hires:

  • Introduce new employees to team members individually. Set up brief 1:1 meetings with each team member during the first week. This gives new hires a chance to put names to faces and make personal connections.

  • Encourage collaboration from the start. Assign new hires a buddy or mentor on the team and involve them in group projects. This promotes integration through working together.

  • Host informal social events. Arrange a welcome lunch, coffee break, or happy hour. Social events in a casual context allow new employees to interact with co-workers and form relationships.

  • Highlight shared interests. During introductions, find overlaps in hobbies, backgrounds, or interests. This gives new hires an easy starting point to bond with team members.

  • Provide venues for unstructured interaction. Keep the break room stocked with snacks and drinks to spur organic conversations. Unplanned chats help new employees feel comfortable.

  • Onboard new hires in groups. If multiple people are joining at once, onboard them together. This built-in network gives them an immediate sense of camaraderie.

The goal is to integrate new employees socially and culturally from day one. When they feel connected with co-workers and the company, they become productive members of the team faster.

Roles and responsibilities for effective onboarding

Onboarding is a critical process that involves various stakeholders in an organization. From HR to managers, colleagues, and mentors, each role plays an important part in ensuring a smooth transition and the successful integration of new employees.

Let's take a closer look at the roles and responsibilities of each of these individuals during the onboarding process.


The HR department serves as the backbone of the onboarding process. They are responsible for designing and implementing a comprehensive onboarding program that covers all aspects of your new employee's integration into the organization.

HR handles essential administrative tasks, such as paperwork, benefits enrollment, and payroll, making sure that everything is in order for the new hire's first day. They may also create some training materials and facilitate coordination between different departments to ensure a seamless onboarding experience.


Trainers and specialists play a crucial role in providing job-specific training and orientation to new employees. They equip new hires with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles.

By delivering comprehensive training, these experts ensure that employees are well-prepared to handle their responsibilities and contribute effectively to the organization from day one. Trainers also play a vital role in delivering training related to company policies, procedures, and compliance matters.


The immediate supervisor or manager plays a key role in the onboarding process. They provide guidance, set clear expectations, and offer continuous feedback to new employees. 

A supportive manager fosters a positive work environment, encouraging new hires to thrive and helping them overcome any challenges they may face during the early stages of their employment. This ongoing support and mentorship from the manager contributes significantly to the success and satisfaction of new employees.


The role of co-workers should not be underestimated during the onboarding process. Colleagues have a significant impact on the experience of new team members. Welcoming and inclusive co-workers make new employees feel valued and accepted, fostering a sense of belonging.

A collaborative and friendly work culture enhances the newcomer's confidence and helps them integrate into the team more quickly. Co-workers can also provide essential support by answering questions, offering guidance, and sharing insights gained from their experience in the organization.


The involvement of executives and top-level management in the onboarding process is crucial. Their engagement underscores the company's commitment to its new employees and reinforces the organizational values and strategic vision.

Executives can participate by delivering welcome messages, sharing their experiences, and expressing their expectations for new hires. Their presence and involvement create a positive impression and set the tone for the importance of onboarding within the company.


Assigning a mentor or buddy to new hires is an effective way to facilitate their integration into the organization. Mentors serve as approachable points of contact for any questions or concerns that new employees may have. They offer guidance, share insights, and help navigate the company culture.

Having a mentor significantly accelerates the learning curve for new hires, making them more comfortable and confident in their roles. This 1-on-1 support system can have a substantial impact on the success and job satisfaction of the new employee.


How to onboard different types of employees

Onboarding requires different strategies depending on the type of employee. Organizations should develop tailored onboarding programs that reflect the unique needs of each new employee. Let’s take a look at the main differences between onboarding:

  • Executives
  • Managers
  • Remote workers
  • Freelancers
  • Deskless workers

Onboarding executives

Onboarding executives requires a tailored approach that reflects the significance of their roles within the organization. It involves providing them with a deep understanding of the company’s vision, mission, and strategic objectives. Executive onboarding should focus on building relationships with key stakeholders, familiarizing them with the leadership team, and establishing clear expectations for their roles.

Additionally, offering executive mentors and a well-structured integration plan can accelerate their assimilation into the company’s culture and facilitate their decision-making process.

Onboarding managers

Having an onboarding process for managers is necessary for their successful leadership within their teams. Apart from introducing them to company policies and procedures, it should emphasize developing their managerial skills and communication abilities.

Providing insights into the organization’s overall structure, departmental goals, and team dynamics enables them to navigate their new roles effectively. Tailored training on people management, goal setting, and performance evaluation is essential to equip managers with the knowledge they need to lead their teams confidently and achieve business objectives.

Onboarding remote workers

Onboarding remote workers demands a comprehensive virtual approach that promotes a sense of inclusion and connectivity. Employers should prioritize clear communication channels, virtual coffee introductions to team members, and technology training to ensure remote employees feel supported and equipped to work effectively in their off-site roles.

Onboarding freelancers

Onboarding freelancers requires a streamlined process that swiftly integrates them into projects and tasks. Clear contractual agreements, project expectations, and communication guidelines are essential. Offering access to relevant company resources and establishing a point of contact for queries ensure smooth collaboration and reinforces a positive working relationship.

Onboarding deskless workers

For deskless workers, a hands-on and safety-focused onboarding process is required. Beyond the standard procedures, providing comprehensive training on job-specific tasks, safety protocols, and equipment operation is necessary. Engaging supervisors and mentors to guide new deskless employees during the initial period helps foster a sense of belonging and reinforces the company’s commitment to their well-being.

Onboarding best practices for deskless workers

As we’ve seen, deskless workers require a tailored onboarding experience. After all, these workers are often dispersed and therefore more likely to be disconnected from your organization’s headquarters.

Implementing effective onboarding strategies for deskless workers can greatly contribute to their engagement, productivity, and overall satisfaction.

Here are a few tips to help you create a successful onboarding program for your deskless employees:

Preparation is key: Before the employee's first day, ensure that all necessary paperwork and documentation are completed and ready for their arrival. These could include employment contracts, non-disclosure agreements, safety training documents, and any relevant industry-specific certifications or licenses.

Leverage technology: Technology should play a crucial role in streamlining the onboarding process for deskless workers. Leverage digital platforms to provide easy access to information, training modules, and company policies. Consider leveraging mobile apps that allow employees to access onboarding materials from any location, providing flexibility and convenience.

For instance, Oneteam is an employee experience app designed specifically for deskless workers. In one mobile app, employees can access onboarding materials, group and private chats, e-learning courses, relevant work documents, forms, and more.

Provide a comprehensive orientation: Make the orientation process as engaging and informative as possible. Consider organizing a physical or virtual orientation session specifically tailored to deskless workers. This will ensure that they receive the necessary information about the company's values, culture, and expectations. Provide an opportunity for them to interact with key stakeholders and colleagues, fostering connections from the start.

Task-oriented training: Deskless workers often rely on specific skills and tasks to execute their roles effectively. Provide focused and hands-on training that equips them with the necessary knowledge and skills required for their particular responsibilities. Use visual aids, videos, and simulations to create an interactive learning experience, making the training sessions engaging and practical.

Assign a buddy or mentor: Pairing deskless employees with a mentor or buddy can significantly facilitate their integration into the organization. The mentor can assist in answering questions, providing guidance, and sharing insights into the company's processes and culture. This connection can foster a sense of belonging and offer a support system for the new employee.

Maintain ongoing communication: Implement regular check-ins and follow-ups with deskless workers to gauge their progress, address any concerns, and provide continuous support. Utilize various communication channels to maintain an open line of communication, especially if they are geographically dispersed.

Recognition and feedback: Recognizing the efforts and achievements of deskless workers is crucial for their engagement and motivation. Implement a system that allows supervisors, peers, and customers to provide feedback and acknowledge exceptional performance. Ensure that feedback is specific, constructive, and timely, reinforcing a culture of continuous improvement.

Regular training and development: Provide deskless workers with opportunities for continuous growth and development. Offer training programs, workshops, or e-learning modules that enhance their skills and knowledge. This not only boosts their performance but also demonstrates the organization's commitment to their professional development.

You can use our E-learning tool to do this. Simply click on Academy and select E-learning to start creating your new e-learning training modules.

To start creating your own e-learning course, click on Add course +. You can then start adding content by creating Content modules or Quiz modules. Both of these are fully customizable with text, videos, images, PDFs and YouTube videos.

As you edit your content, you’ll also get an automatic preview of your content on mobile so you can keep track of your employees’ learning experience on the go.

When you’ve finished creating your course, you can set your target audience and course deadline:

  • Audience: This can be filtered by name, language, days in service, Community, or Function group. These options allow you to deliver your training to the employees who need it.
  • Deadline: A deadline can be a static date in the future (for example: June 15, 2024) or a dynamic deadline set for a specific number of days after the course is assigned (for example: 30 days after assignment).

If you’re looking to deliver a more complete training program with multiple e-learning courses, you can also group courses together into a Learning Path. You’ll find this option in the E-learning tab, right next to Courses.

To create a Learning Path, simply group existing courses together and assign them to your target audience. In our example, we grouped together the courses Giving Feedback, Time management Crash Course, Organizing!, and Social Skills to create a Soft Skills Learning Path.

Measure success: Establish key performance metrics and evaluate the success of your onboarding program for deskless workers. Monitor turnover rates, performance indicators, and employee feedback to identify areas for improvement and ensure that your onboarding efforts are yielding positive results.

An easy way to evaluate the success of your onboarding program is to send out a survey to your new hires after they’ve completed their onboarding.

You can use our Survey feature within the Oneteam app to create your survey, send it out, and track results.

Start by clicking on the Surveys icon in the menu on the left, and tap Onboarding survey (or Create survey if you’d like to start from scratch). 

You’ll be taken to our Onboarding Evaluation survey template which you can then customize by adding or removing Content or Quiz Modules or by editing the existing content.

Preview your survey on mobile as you go. When you’re finished, click on Select audience to determine who will receive your survey. You can customize your audience in a few different ways:

  • How to send: Send out your survey to employees who meet your requirements right now or keep sending it on an ongoing basis.
  • Anonymous: Toggle this option to make survey responses anonymous.
  • Filters: You can further filter your survey audience by name, language, days in service, days before out of service, Community, or Function group.

Once you’ve sent out your survey, it’s easy to keep track of responses. Click on the name of your survey to view them. You can review all responses in the Summary tab or check individual responses in the Responses tab.

Adapt and evolve: The onboarding process should be a living and breathing system that continues to adapt and evolve according to the changing needs of deskless workers. Gather feedback from employees and use their insights to refine your onboarding strategies consistently.

Key takeaways

Effective employee onboarding is critical for organizational success and employee satisfaction. Here’s a quick summary of everything we covered in this article:

  • Onboarding is the process of integrating and orienting new employees into an organization, ensuring they are equipped with the necessary resources, knowledge, and support to succeed in their roles.

  • Effective onboarding not only boosts new hire retention rates but also accelerates their productivity, leading to a quicker time to proficiency.

  • By helping employees prepare for their roles, facilitating integration into the team, and providing ongoing support, organizations can optimize the onboarding process.

  • It's essential to prepare in advance, start onboarding before day one, and provide necessary documentation and resources.

  • Understanding different types of onboarding processes and following a structured timeline, such as the first 90 days, can further enhance the onboarding experience for both deskless and office-based employees.

How to create an onboarding program with Oneteam

With a clear onboarding strategy and the right tools in place, you can create an onboarding program that allows your new hires to start their new role on the right foot from Day 1.

Oneteam offers a comprehensive Onboarding tool:

  • Create onboarding modules: Give your employees all the information they need with interactive and engaging e-learning modules tailored to your onboarding needs.
  • Assess learners with questions: Elevate the learning experience with interactive quiz modules that evaluate employee knowledge retention and engagement. 
  • Monitor progress: With our in-app statistics, you can track new hires’ progress and completion rate of your onboarding courses, as well as their assessment results.

And that’s not all. Oneteam is a comprehensive employee experience solution that helps you connect, train, and engage your deskless workforce at every moment of the employee experience.

Inês Pinto

Inês Pinto

Inês is the Head of Content at Oneteam. She mainly writes about employee experience and other HR topics. Fun fact about Inês: she is originally from Portugal, grew up in Canada and the US, and now lives in the Netherlands with her husband and 3 daughters!

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