Growth Strategies

How To Upgrade Your Employee Onboarding Process To WOW New Hires

By May 4, 2020 No Comments

How you welcome a new employee into your organization is a game-changer. A poor onboarding experience may compel your new hire to bolt from even the most reputable company. To help prevent that, it’s important to make your new employee’s onboarding experience as smooth, welcoming and productive as possible.

According to a Harvard Business Review article, your new hires won’t succeed unless you onboard them properly, and the first 3-6 months are critical as new hires are susceptible to turnover. On average, companies are said to lose 17% of their new hires during the first 3 months. Another Harvard Business Review article reported that 33% of new hires start searching for a new job within 6 months. Be mindful that it typically takes 8 months for a new employee to reach full productivity.

Glassdoor reported that organizations with a robust onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. The Human Capital Institute (HCI) said that investment in onboarding is more likely to experience the benefits of increased engagement levels, and decreased turnover. HCI described how most organizations stopped their onboarding process just after the first week, leaving new hires feeling confused, discouraged and lacking resources.

Hiring the right person is just the beginning. Without a smooth onboarding process, companies could be wasting all their interviewing efforts.

Here are some ways you can improve the onboarding experience for new employees:

Employee Orientation Is Different From Employee Onboarding

Orientation usually involves a single event which takes place over a few days. Onboarding is designed to support new hires through integrating their role with clear expectations, training, and support and provide them with every opportunity to succeed in their role. The most successful onboarding programs run-up to one year with frequent check-ins and feedback given throughout the process. L’Oreal offers a full two yearlong comprehensive onboarding process. When organizations commit to an extensive onboarding experience, they accelerate new hire proficiency by 34%.

Invest In Pre-boarding

From the moment a successful candidate accepts the position to the time they start work, pre-boarding begins. Engagement must begin as soon as the decision has been made for the newest member to join your team. These interactions can be valuable, therefore leveraging those moments are crucial. Hiring managers can communicate regularly with the new hire to complete administrative tasks, connect the new hire with co-workers to have a familiar connection from day one and reduce ambivalence by providing company information and what to expect in the first week.

Your New Employee’s First Day

The focus of the first day must be about setting expectations, clarity around their job duties and responsibilities and aligning expectations. BambooHR employees are taken out to lunch on their first day. Beyond the first day, one-month check-ins are essential with the purpose of providing thoughtful feedback and ongoing communication to set them up for success.

Digital Ocean promotes a ‘Make Day 1 Inspirational’ by making the new hire’s work area stand out with a balloon on their desk and a handwritten note so other team members can find them and make them feel welcome.

LinkedIn new hires spend their first day engaging in icebreakers and learning about the company culture. New hires write their names with a dedicated headline that describes an interesting fact about themselves. A collection of organized talks and tours which cover the campus, new hire orientation including employee benefits, engagement with executives and backpacks and laptops that have been prepared with communication tools sets the new employees up for success. Even more, those employees are provided with a 90-day onboarding plan to support their transition into the company.

Small Gestures Can Leave A Big Impact

Courageous leaders go out of their way to build inclusive cultures. Small gestures such as handwritten notes welcoming the new member on their first day or customizing a welcome kit to introduce your new person to the culture can make an impression.

Customized boxes can include pens, books, vouchers, gift cards, and a must, the company values. If your budget is limited, other welcome options may be small gift cards to cover coffee for the first week, take the team out for lunch so they can meet the whole team or decorate their workspace. A little thoughtfulness can make a difference.

Create A Roadmap

A journey map when starting a new position prevents the new hire from becoming anxious. By being prepared, you show the newest team member that you value their time and are investing in solidifying their decision to join your company. The roadmap invites conversation about certain phases, identification of clear goals and timelines of completion, and potential future opportunities for them within the company.

Google adopted an electronic checklist to highlight the importance of discussing roles and responsibilities with new hires, implementing check-in meetings for the first six months and partnering new hires with a buddy. Zappos offers employees a five-week course that focuses on understanding company culture and values. At the end of the course, employees are offered $2000 to leave if they don’t think they are the right fit.

Leadership And Team Buy-In

Companies must ask critical questions to attain leadership and team commitment to the onboarding process. Items such as

  • What imprint do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of the first day?
  • What do new people need to know about the culture and work environment?
  • What kind of standards must be set for the new employee?
  • How will you obtain feedback on the program and how will you measure its success?

Developing a plan of action will support the new hire to integrate within the culture and be clear about workflow.

Introducing Culture To Your New Hires

Efficient and effective onboarding processes can make a significant difference in the confidence and performance of your new hires. When people are more engaged with their work and the mission of the company the result is often a more productive organization.

Company culture shapes your workplace. If the company values are on the wall, engage people in the teams to share how the values come to life every day in the workplace. Share stories about how the team has lived them in the past or examples of values in action and potential ideas for the future that can be a shared experience.

Each team within your organization also has a mini culture. Team bonding experiences involve discussions around the following questions:

  • What are the expectations around supporting each member of the team?
  • How do people greet visitors when they enter the office?
  • What rituals does your team have that promote team values of respect, responsibility, communication, and collaboration?

By facilitating these conversations, the team brings awareness to their habits and behaviours that can be shared collectively and provides a more supportive transition for new hires.

Open And Continuous Communication Is A Priority

Humans are naturally wired to connect and to build thriving relationships in their workplace. The more you communicate and share with the new hire in the first few days, the better the experience.

Dedicating time through one-on-ones to a new team member creates an opportunity to build a deeper relationship. Through conversations, these sessions provide regular check-ins, ongoing feedback and how the manager and team can best support the new hire.


By assigning a buddy or mentor, new hires are given a starting point to build relationships. Having a mentor or buddy share the core values and how they can be seen throughout the organization, creates a space for people to feel like they belong with your team and company.

This connector role provides an opportunity to take the new hire on a tour of the office and introduce them to colleagues. One way is for the new hire to write an email introducing themselves with a bit about their background, where they grew up and a few random details about themselves. Meaningful conversations and new relationships are formed that support the transition of the new hire to their position.

Quora allocates a personal mentor to each new hire, organizes onboarding talks of the fundamentals for success including providing documents on the key concepts and tools they need.

Leadership Opportunity

Human Capital Institute describes that 87% of organizations that assign a buddy program during the onboarding process report that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency. Partnering a seasoned employee with your new hire creates an environment where check-ins can occur once a week for the first month and once or twice a month for the next twelve months. This experience supports the new employee in finding their way around the office, acclimating to the company culture and provides a leadership opportunity for the mentor.

Building An Individual Development Plan

Workers who feel like they belong are often more motivated, engaged, productive and 3.5 times more likely to contribute fully to reach their potential. A hiring manager can engage a new member in developing an individual development plan within their 90-day onboarding plan that highlights their strengths and motivations, identifies their goals and incorporates career development opportunities to ensure professional development and growth.

Don’t Make Your Onboarding Process An Afterthought

Training a new member from a starter to a superstar can be a long road. Successful onboarding is not just about welcoming a new team member and showing them where the bathrooms are. Onboarding is communicating how to support your new hires and team as authentically as possible.

Like customers, your employees have a high lifetime value. To increase the lifetime value of both is to invest in your onboarding and engagement process. When you set up your employee for success, you set up your company for success.