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Employee Onboarding

What is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of bringing newly hired employees into your organization, introducing them to their job duties, and preparing them for their new roles. Onboarding new employees is a collaborative process between human resources teams and hiring managers that helps employees ease into their new positions rather than diving headfirst into the work.

These are some of the actions that take place during onboarding:

  • New hires complete the required paperwork and provide any documents necessary for employment.
  • HR sets up new employees with the equipment they’ll need, including laptops and uniforms.
  • HR helps new hires choose and complete benefits enrollment (if applicable).
  • New hires meet their team members and get familiar with their new workplace (if working in-office).
  • HR and/or hiring managers introduce new hires to company policies and procedures.
  • New employees complete any required training, like safety or anti-harassment training.
  • Hiring managers talk to new hires about the company history, mission, vision, and values, and company culture.
  • Hiring managers and new hires set onboarding goals, review progress together, share feedback, and discuss growth opportunities for the role.
  • New employees work on their first project and gradually take on more and more of their role responsibilities until they are performing all job duties.

By the end of the onboarding program, new hires should:

  • Be familiar with company values, goals, and procedures
  • Have access to all of the equipment and resources they need to do their job
  • Have had the opportunity to meet all of their teammates, leaders, and some of their colleagues
  • Understand their job duties and responsibilities and how they further the company’s mission and objectives
  • Set, track, and meet onboarding goals and get feedback from their manager
  • Feel prepared to take on their new roles

Lots of evidence exists that demonstrates the importance and the myriad benefits of an employee onboarding program. Employee onboarding is shown to increase retention, engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction:

The evidence also shows that poor onboarding is not uncommon — and that can mean negative consequences for businesses:

  • One in five employees told Gallup their most recent onboarding experience was unsatisfactory or that their company had no onboarding process at all.
  • 12% of HR managers say poor onboarding increases turnover, which can cost 100-300% of an employee’s salary.
  • 16% of HR managers say ineffective onboarding hurts productivity.
  • New hires are twice as likely to start looking for a new job if they had a bad onboarding experience.

How Long Does it take to Onboard New Employees?

The average length of an employee onboarding program is 90 days, but Gallup research found that it can take up to one year for employees to reach their full potential. The length of onboarding programs varies depending on factors such as the role itself and the amount of training required. Regardless of the length of the program, onboarding employees shouldn’t be rushed.

HR and hiring managers can make sure onboarding plans are effective by:

  • Setting expectations by creating goals for new employees and defining what successful onboarding looks like
  • Getting colleagues outside of new hires’ departments involved in fostering connections
  • Checking in with new employees regularly and providing support throughout the program
  • Conducting new hire performance reviews to ensure they are prepared to take on their day-to-day responsibilities

How to Build a New Hire Onboarding Program

Employee onboarding plans are complex because they set the tone for the entire employee experience. Building an onboarding program helps standardize how companies approach onboarding and provide a consistent experience for new hires. A program also makes onboarding easier for HR and hiring managers, ensuring they don’t skip any important steps and empowering them to focus on connecting with new hires instead of administrative tasks.

It’s also essential that managers take an active role in onboarding because when they do, new employees are over three times as likely to say they had a great experience.

Here are some considerations for building an effective onboarding process:

  • Don’t forget to engage new hires in the time between when they signed the offer letter and their start date, also called pre-boarding.
  • Set aside time for new hires to meet their colleagues, like one-on-one meetings or team lunches.
  • Start a mentorship program and pair new employees with a more experienced mentor to boost retention and employee satisfaction.
  • Find ways to make new hires feel connected to company culture, like demonstrating how company procedures align with values and goals.

How to Onboard Remotely with Employee Onboarding Software

Three in 10 U.S. employees are exclusively remote workers, and five in 10 work hybrid, which means more and more HR teams are handling remote onboarding, too. It also means that more companies are turning to employee onboarding software to power remote, also called digital, onboarding. Digital onboarding is not exclusively for remote employees, either — it can help onboarding run smoothly in the office, too.

Onboarding software is great for HR, hiring managers, and new employees:

  • Cloud-based systems maintain accurate, updated employee records which are accessible to HR and hiring managers and prevent miscommunication
  • Automates onboarding processes for HR, like offer letter management and creating welcome packets
  • Allows HR to send new hire paperwork prior to employees’ first day, which they can complete digitally for a paperless onboarding process
  • Integrates with other HR systems, including payroll software and training platforms, to reduce time spent on data entry and prevent errors
  • Enables hiring managers and new hires to set and track goals, kicking off a collaborative, supportive relationship
  • Saves time and money spent on distributing and filing paperwork, updating employee information, and fixing errors