Employee Onboarding Process: 2022 Best Practices

New employee onboarding is the process of getting new hires integrated into your company culture and their new role. Effective onboarding provides new employees with the tools and resources that they need to quickly become a productive and successful team member. It’s a multifaceted process that includes paperwork completion, expectation setting, training, setting time for socializing with new colleagues, and so much more. Creating a welcoming and well thought out onboarding strategy requires time and energy from hiring managers and HR teams to plan, execute, and get right.
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What is an onboarding process?

Employee onboarding is the process of orienting and acclimating a new employee to their job and workplace. The goal of employee onboarding is to help the new employee feel comfortable and confident in their role, and to set them up for success in the long term. 

Typically, employee onboarding will include a combination of orientation (introducing the employee to the company and their job responsibilities), training (teaching the employee the skills they need to do their job), and socialization (helping the employee to connect with their co-workers and adjust to company culture). By taking the time to properly onboard new employees, companies can improve employee satisfaction and retention, and set everyone up for success.

Why is onboarding important?

The onboarding process sets the foundation for a new hire's entire experience of your company. Giving new employees the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in their new role will lead to happier employees that want to stick around for the long haul. That means better employee retention rates, improved productivity, and major cost savings for your company.

What are the 4 phases of the employee onboarding process?

The 4 phases of the employee onboarding process

Phase 1: Pre-onboarding 

Pre-onboarding is the process of getting new employees acclimated to the company before their first day of work. Pre-onboarding can include offering the position, sending an acceptance letter, sharing what to expect (or bring) on the first day, and providing information about the company culture. By taking care of these things ahead of time, you can help new employees feel more comfortable and prepared for their first day on the job. Pre-onboarding is a great way to make a good impression on new hires and set them up for success at your company.

Warm welcome package

Who doesn’t like a little box of company swag on their first day? Some branded t-shirts, a few trinkets that reflect your company’s culture, and a greeting card from the team gets day one off to the right start. If you’re remote, ship a welcome package along with other WFH materials to their door! This extra touch will make even distributed team members feel closer to their co-workers.

Prepare them for their first day

Day 1 can be a daunting experience for any new hire. To help them (and you) prepare, there are a few important documents they should bring with them: HR paperwork, identification, and payroll information. HR paperwork includes things like their offer letter, job description, and employee handbook. They'll need identification to fill out the necessary forms, and payroll information so they know when they'll be getting their first paycheck. If they have any questions beforehand, provide them with your contact information so they can reach out. By being prepared ahead of time, you'll help make their transition into the company as smooth as possible. 

Phase 2: Introductions

Starting a new job can be overwhelming, especially if you don't know anyone at the company. That's why it's important for managers and colleagues to take the time to introduce new employees to everyone they'll be working with. Introductions help new employees feel welcome and comfortable, and they can provide valuable information about the company culture and expectations. In addition, introductions help to build relationships and trust, which are essential for effective teamwork. By taking the time to introduce new employees to their colleagues, managers and co-workers can help them get off to a great start at their new job.

Send out an announcement

Remind the staff that someone new has joined the team! Find a template for people to share out their life stories, fun facts, and preferred working styles. Onboarding isn’t all about company policies and tax papers, it’s about getting to know the people you’ll be working alongside. Open up a space for your new hire to connect with their colleagues and find common interests! 

Set up tours, social time, and introductions

If you’re operating in an office, start things off with a tour to let new hires get acquainted with the space. This is a great time to introduce your new hire to interdepartmental coworkers and provide them with any keys or access codes that they may need for the building.If you’re in a remote setting, don’t skimp out on the ‘office tour’! Get all your team members onto an orientation Zoom call on their new team member's first day, keep it to a casual first day coffee and chit chat to make your new coworkers feel comfortable and excited about the prospect of working with this team. Sharing photos and welcome videos of the team, the company HQ, or past bonding events is a great way to show your new hire what your company culture is all about.

If you’re in a remote setting, don’t skimp out on the ‘office tour’! Get all your team members onto an orientation Zoom call on their new team member's first day, keep it to a casual first day coffee and chit chat to make your new coworkers feel comfortable and excited about the prospect of working with this team. Sharing photos and welcome videos of the team, the company HQ, or past bonding events is a great way to show your new hire what your company culture is all about.

Share policies, values and guidelines with an employee handbook

An employee handbook is a document that outlines the policies, values and guidelines of a company. It is an important tool for communicating with employees and ensuring that everyone is on the same page. A well-written employee handbook can help to improve morale and reduce turnover, as well as providing a reference point for resolving disputes. 

A handbook should be clear and concise, and should cover topics such as attendance, dress code, harassment, and workplace safety. In addition, the handbook should be reviewed and updated on a regular basis to ensure that it remains relevant.

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Phase 3: Settling in

Starting a new job is exciting and stressful all at the same time. As a manager, you’re a coach, so lean into that part of your role by helping new hires settle in quickly so they can hit the ground running and be successful from the start. This not only helps reduce friction with existing employees, it lowers the chance that your new hire will regret taking the job.

Match new employees with an onboarding buddy

Setting up new hires with a point person to guide them through their first few weeks and months helps to ease the transition. And although their manager is there for any questions that they may have, sometimes it feels more natural to raise the little questions and growing pains to a peer rather than a higher up.

Provide onboarding checklists and valuable resources 

Equip your new hires with the resources they need to excel and get up to speed in their role with our guide for creating an onboarding checklist. When onboarding a new employee, it’s important to create a personalized experience based on their role. The onboarding process for new hires in sales will look differently than those onboarding in HR or People Ops and having a structured onboarding that includes role specific resources will help keep your new employee engaged and on track.

Consolidate new hire resources into one searchable place 

Give new team members a clear place to start. A simple welcome email with a dense to-do list will only make your new hire’s first day feel more daunting. Instead, try utilizing a user-friendly employee onboarding software that stores everything from company policies, new hire paperwork, device setup info, various tools and logins, and every other part of your onboarding program in one searchable place.

How Guru helps you save money in onboarding

Onboarding software that keeps information accessible even after the formal onboarding process is over will help your new employees feel confident in their roles faster in the short term and give them the flexibility to look back on those early learnings to keep productivity up in the long term.

Curious how Guru uses Guru for employee onboarding? Check out this post by Bobby Lundquist, Guru’s Lead People Operations Specialist.

Phase 4: Follow up 

Once you’ve established clear expectations for your new hire, it’s important to check in with your employee regularly to ensure a smooth transition into their new role. Maintaining consistency with how an employee is doing can help with any hiccups or confusion they may have along the way. Being actively involved in a new hires onboarding will show that you’re invested in their experience and can help establish trust, as well as increase performance and workforce retention. 

Establish a plan for review

Onboarding doesn't end after the first few weeks or months at a new job and check-ins shouldn't either. A 30-60-90 day plan is an important tool for any manager to have in their arsenal. This simple document can help to ensure that a new hire is focused and has a clear understanding of their goals and priorities. It can also be used to track the progress of a new hire, and to identify any areas where additional training may be needed. 

When creating a 30-60-90 day plan, be sure to include a mix of focus areas, goals, and priorities. For each focus area, identify one or two goals that you would like the new hire to achieve. Then, prioritize these goals by order of importance. Finally, establish metrics of success for each goal, so that you can track the new hire's progress. By taking the time to create a well-rounded 30-60-90 day plan, you can set your new hire up for success from day one.

Use Guru’s 30-60-90 day plan template to create a check in cadence with your new hire to get continuous, long term feedback about their onboarding experience and to ensure you're setting them up for long term success.

Challenges of employee onboarding

We’ve all been there: it's your first day on the job and there are names to memorize, processes to pick up on, new programs to learn, and positive first impressions to make. It’s overwhelming, and if you’re starting at a new company in a remote setting, it can feel even more isolating.

If all onboarding resources and training are spread across tools, email sends, and one-off Slack messages it’s easy for those feelings of stress and isolation to be amplified. Investing in an onboarding software that consolidates all of the materials that new hires need to get off to a productive start is a great way to make them feel immediately empowered in their position. And that matters; people who had a negative new hire onboarding experience are twice as likely to seek a different opportunity in the immediate future. 

Time to productivity is important, but don’t rush it. A Harvard Business Review article points out that up to 20% of employee turnover takes place in the first 45 days of employment, and that the most successful companies spend a year fully onboarding new hires.

Costs of employee onboarding

The real cost of onboarding and training a new employee is about $2,000 for smaller businesses to more than $3,000 for larger ones. Even the most successful companies can spend months fully onboarding new employees, meaning that most new hires don’t achieve full productivity for many, many weeks. 

new hire revenue impact

Taken all together, these costs have a quantifiable impact on the bottom line: new hires (and transfers!) can reduce total revenues by between 1 and 2.5%. Regardless of the size of your company, that is a significant percentage of revenue lost in the process of improving your business

Learn how to cut the average cost to train a new employee.

Looking for more ways to help your new hire? Get all of our employee onboarding templates.

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