If you want your company to succeed, you can’t afford to ignore the importance of employee onboarding. In fact, nearly 90 percent of employers believe that a smooth onboarding process is essential to retaining employees because it helps new employees understand company policies and procedures, become familiar with their roles, and build relations. 

Despite these facts, too many companies often overlook this vital process to their detriment. Our ultimate guide to onboarding new employees provides an in-depth look at how to create a successful hiring process. We include step-by-step instructions, from sealing the deal and paperwork to team building and ongoing training. 

By following this checklist, you can ensure that your new employees feel supported and included throughout the process, leading them to success. 

So, don’t wait any longer—keep reading to start creating effective onboarding practices today.

What exactly is the employee onboarding process?

Before going any further, we need to break down what a new-hire plan is and what it is not. Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into an organization. 

It typically involves a combination of orientation, training, and socialization activities designed to help new hires acclimate to their work environment and become productive team members. 

Onboarding is not just about paperwork or documentation; it’s much more than that. It’s about ensuring new employees know what to do to succeed in their roles and understanding how they fit into the larger organization. 

This includes explaining company policies, introducing them to key people within the business, providing technical training on any necessary software or systems they will use while on the job, and ensuring their understanding of the organization’s culture.

You may ask yourself, “What’s the difference between onboarding and orientation? Great question!

Onboarding vs. orientation

When it comes to welcoming new employees, many business owners need clarification about the difference between orientation and onboarding. Although they are both crucial steps in acclimating a new hire to their role and the company, some key distinctions can help employers ensure they’re utilizing each process effectively.

Orientation is typically a one-time event focused on providing an overview of the company’s policies, procedures, systems, culture, and expectations; however, onboarding occurs over an extended period of time and helps integrate the employee into their job and team. 

Think of it this way: orientation is often a component of the onboarding process—another way to make sure you cover all your bases when bringing on new hires. 

To help you better understand onboarding vs. orientation and how these two concepts differ from one another, yet work together, we’ve put together a quick comparison guide.

Typically occurs on the first day of work; often includes paperwork such as benefits forms and tax documentsA more comprehensive process that extends beyond orientation to encompass knowledge transfer, skill building, and performance management
Introduces new hires to the culture, team, and physical space of the organization; may include a tour of the facilityCan last anywhere from one day to several months; may include activities such as job shadowing or mentoring 
Generally focuses on immediate needs like setting up computer access, discussing dress code, and other policies Includes an assessment of employees’ skills and development opportunities that address any gaps in their knowledge or abilities 
Provides a historical overview of the company’s journey, highlighting key milestones, challenges, and successes that have shaped its identity and direction.Focuses on helping new hires become fully integrated into the organization’s culture and values 
Delivers insights into the company’s long-term strategic goals and its position within the industry.Aims to provide employees with a better understanding of their specific role and how it contributes to the overall success of the company 

While onboarding focuses on the practical aspects of integrating employees into their roles, orientation offers a broader understanding of the company’s background, strategy, and industry context. Together, they form a comprehensive approach to welcoming and preparing new employees for their journey within the organization.

Now that we’ve laid out the differences, we must understand that these two processes work together. With an efficient orientation routine, employees are likely to feel more safe and comfortable with the longer onboarding process. 

Similarly, onboarding best practices are the key to ensuring employees receive a warm welcome and have all the necessary tools to be successful in their new roles. Now that you see how these crucial phases of employee training complement each other, let’s refocus on why employee onboarding is so important.

The importance of having a successful onboarding process

If your onboarding process works, you’ll see it in your employee culture and the bottom line. Here are some more reasons having a comprehensive training program for your new hires is critical for your business: 

Increased productivity

With an efficient onboarding process, employees can immediately hit the ground running and be productive. This means they’ll have more time to focus on what matters—their job! 

Improved retention rates

A well-structured employee onboarding program can ensure that new hires understand their role and how it fits into the company’s overall strategy, making them feel like an integral part of the team right from day one. As such, they are more likely to stick around for a more extended period of time.

Reduced stress levels

New hires often find themselves in unfamiliar territory when first joining an organization, and a successful employee onboarding process can help reduce their stress levels. Creating an environment that is welcoming, informative, and easy to navigate ensures new employees feel comfortable in their new roles and organizational culture. 

This leads to increased engagement and productivity while promoting better team dynamics within the organization. There’s nothing like working for a company with a supportive and progressive company culture to elevate job satisfaction!

11 key steps of successful employee onboarding

Perfection is hard to find, but you can aim for it in your onboarding process. Here are ten key steps you should consider when developing your own top notch onboarding program:

1. Create an onboarding plan

It’s essential to create a plan for new hires that outlines all steps for successful employee integration, including orientation, training, and performance management tasks such as setting objectives and goals. 

This must be the first item on your employee onboarding to-do list. Of course, feel free to tweak the plan as necessary so you can adapt and perfect it over time.  

2. Pre-onboarding

This involves gathering as much information as possible about the new hire before they start to work—from contact details to job descriptions, qualifications, references, etc. It also includes setting up IT accounts and any other paperwork that needs to be completed. 

3. Introduction

This is the first formal introduction of the new staff member to the team, usually in a group setting or meeting with their manager or supervisor. Everyone needs to get acquainted, so make sure you take time for introductions. 

4. Orientation

During orientation, it’s crucial to provide an overview of company policies and procedures as well as introducing key personnel, departments, and roles within the organization. Ensure all relevant information is delivered clearly and concisely during this stage. 

5. Training

Training is an essential part of any successful employee onboarding process. It’s vital to ensure that your new hire understands the job they are being hired for and any rules, regulations, and safety protocols associated with it. 

Training should be tailored to the individual needs of each worker. Offer interactive training sessions to ensure maximum engagement and understanding.

6. Review HR policies

In addition to providing information on specific job duties and expectations, review all relevant HR policies with each new hire during their onboarding process. This will help them understand their rights as an employee and any obligations they may have.

7. Set clear and realistic expectations

Your new staff member needs to understand what’s expected of them. They need to know their tasks, goals, deadlines, and any other requirements associated with their role. Give them an overview with specific details on each item so they can hit the ground running. 

8. Share your culture

Sharing company culture is essential for successful onboarding—it’s an opportunity for you to show off what makes your company unique and why people want to work there. Showcase your history, core values, mission, and the team dynamics that come with it. 

9. Tour of facilities

Make sure your new employee gets a chance to explore the workplace environment and get familiarized with where things are located and who everyone is—it will make them feel at ease quickly when they start working.

10. Assign mentors

A mentor can be a great way to help new workers acclimate and become comfortable with their environment. Assigning an experienced colleague as a mentor can provide direction and guidance while assisting the employee in setting clear and realistic expectations. 

11. Encourage brain-storming

Collaboration between colleagues is essential for creating a successful team, so it’s important to encourage brainstorming amongst the group when onboarding new staff. This helps them get to know each other better and promotes creativity and teamwork in the workplace. 

Using these onboarding best practices, you can de-mystify the onboarding process for you and your employees and start paving your pathway to happier, more productive employees, resulting in more productivity and fewer headaches!

What should go into your onboarding process?

Now we’ve outlined the steps of a stellar onboarding process, how do you decide which ones to include for your organization? With so many different stages and techniques available, how do you determine which ones are worth investing your time and resources? 

The answer is simple: start small and build up. You don’t need an elaborate onboarding process to make sure your new hires feel welcome; just focus on the basics first.

  1. Pre-onboarding: Before the new employee’s first day, provide them with all necessary information about the company, their role, and any training or paperwork they need to complete. This can include a welcome packet, online training modules, or a checklist of tasks to complete.
  2. Orientation: On the new employee’s first day, provide a comprehensive orientation that covers the company’s history, mission, culture, policies, and procedures. This can be delivered through a presentation, video, or interactive activities.
  3. Job-specific training: Once the employee has a solid understanding of the company, provide them with job-specific training that covers the skills, tools, and knowledge they need to perform their role. This can include shadowing, on-the-job training, or online learning modules.
  4. Mentorship: Assign the new employee a mentor or buddy who can provide guidance and support during their onboarding process. This person can help the new employee navigate the company culture and provide insight into their role and responsibilities.
  5. Feedback and evaluation: Regularly check in with the new employee to provide feedback on their progress and evaluate their understanding of the company and their role. This can include performance reviews, quizzes, or informal conversations.

By incorporating these components into your onboarding process, you can help new employees feel welcomed, prepared, and confident in their role.

Onboarding done right—set your employees up for success

A well-designed onboarding process can make all the difference in setting your employees up for success. By providing pre-onboarding information, a comprehensive orientation, job-specific training, mentorship, and feedback, you can ensure that new employees feel ready to perform at their best in their new role.

Not only does this lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction, but it also helps to retain top talent. So, invest the time and effort into creating an effective onboarding program and watch your employees thrive!

Ready to optimize your onboarding approach? Access our complete onboarding checklist by clicking below!