Onboarding Best Practices

Your company should strive to follow onboarding best practices in order to successfully welcome new employees. Onboarding refers to the process of a company hiring a new employee and getting them settled and integrated into their new working environment.

Contact New Hires Before Their Start Date

By reaching out to new hires before their start date, employers can help to make these individuals feel more comfortable in starting their new role, even if the communication is just in the form of a simple welcome email or courtesy call.

Employers could also consider setting up an online portal for new employees in order to aid them in learning about their new company prior to starting. Although it is not appropriate to send the new employee work-related content or activities prior to their employment contract starting, employers can certainly send the new starter useful information and literature so that they can familiarize themselves with the company's policy and culture before their first day.

Making a New Hire Feel Welcome

Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking, however the employee's stresses can be mitigated somewhat if they are clear as to what is required of them from the onset. In an introductory email, the employer can outline all the information that will be required on the first day — for example, directions, parking lot information, dress code, and where to report on the first day.

Studies have shown that almost 4 percent of employees have left a new role after a negative first day experience, which is why it is imperative that employers strive to make a positive first day experience.

An employer can make a new hire feel comfortable by:

  • Organizing everything that the new employee will need on their first day (required paperwork, ID passes, stationery, etc.)
  • Providing a welcome gift (for example, containing branded items and accessories)
  • Planning a welcome lunch with the wider team so that the new employee becomes acquainted with their co-workers
  • Sending a company-wide announcement to confirm that the new employee has joined the organization
  • Utilizing the first day as an orientation day
  • Providing a tour of the office along with an introduction to the wider members of the organization
  • Creating standardized documents and "how to" guides to address the questions that commonly arise when someone new joins the company
  • Scheduling an induction day for all new starters — something which enables new workers to meet others in the same boat with whom they can discuss their experiences and concerns
  • Providing training for relevant software programs that the new starter is likely to use in their role

It may be worthwhile to hold a discussion with existing employees prior to the newcomer's first day to establish what they did and didn't like about the way that their own first days were managed, and any suggestions that they have for improvements.

Ensure Their Schedule is Structured for the First Few Weeks

It can be very unpleasant for a new starter to not be given a clearly defined induction schedule and to be sat with nothing to do so the employer should try to plan as many useful and relevant training or shadowing activities as possible in the first couple of weeks.

Time spent shadowing co-workers in the same department, and in other areas of the company where possible, enables the new starter to see how their role contributes to the bigger picture of the company and aids them in building internal relationships which will come in useful as their time at the company progresses.

As the new employee starts to become more and more involved with assignments and projects, they can be given more flexibility in their scheduling. If an employer is not sure about what they should schedule into the induction plan then they can, once again, consult their existing employees to ask what they liked about their own inductions to the company along with any areas for improvement.

Form a Cross-Departmental Onboarding Team

If a new starter is assigned with a mentor or a buddy who works in the same department, it provides them with someone whom they can comfortably confide in and ask questions to on a day-to-day basis. This is also a good opportunity for the mentor who can demonstrate responsibility and leadership skills.

Spread Out the Paperwork

Starting a new role requires the completion of a painful amount of paperwork, with forms such as NDAs, I-9s, payment information, etc., being required before the employee can even commence work. Sending the paperwork across to the new employee via email or onboarding software gives them some autonomy in completing the required forms in their own time.

Set Expectations Early and Often

Setting realistic and defined performance goals with a new starter from an early stage can strongly motivate them in their job role from the get-go. Working in conjunction with set targets enables employees to assess and measure their own performance. Managers should set both short- and long-term goals and hold regular catch-ups, or one-to-one meetings with employees to discuss their performance and whether they are meeting (or exceeding!) expectations.

Allow New Hires to Give Their Own Feedback

Employers should encourage new starters to provide their feedback regarding the company's onboarding process. Not only does this aid the employer in knowing how best to cater to the new starter's needs, it provides them with a fresh perspective on the organization and the way it is operated as a whole. This may make the employer aware of organizational problems and concerns that they were not even aware existed.

If you are currently in the process of finessing your onboarding process and would appreciate some guidance on the matter, then you you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's Marketplace. UpCounsel only accepts the top five percent of lawyers to its site, and they come from schools such as Harvard Law or Yale. Our lawyers have an average of 14 years of legal experience, which includes working with prestigious companies like Google and Twilio. For the latest legal news, and further information on running your business smarter, you can view the UpCounsel legal blog.