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HR 101: The full guide to employee onboarding

Frank Mittag

It's no secret that first impressions are crucial for running a successful business. But the impression made on consumers isn't the only one that matters.

All too often businesses overlook how important the onboarding process is for retaining qualified employees. Onboarding is different from orientation. 

Onboarding guarantees your company completes the proper paperwork prior to an employee's first day. This puts new hires on the right track for a productive start. 

Did you know that 17% of employees reported leaving a company due to a lack of onboarding support? Don't lose valuable hires because of a disorganised onboarding process.

Keep reading to discover the importance of onboarding and how it's done!

What is employee onboarding?

The onboarding process is the process of introducing new employees into the company. New employees are virtually brought on board and are ideally prepared for the upcoming activity. Having an onboarding process benefits the company as well as the new hire. Employees get the chance to get a productive start in the company and employers benefit from an employee who can actively support the company from day one without going through a long and unstructured training.

The importance of employee onboarding

Many companies believe that employee retention and engagement are a given. After recruiting new colleagues, many managers believe the employee cycle is done. This is not true. The fact is that an effective onboarding process makes up for a 25% increase of employee retention increase and increments in new employees’ productivity of up to 11%. What’s more, over 40% of employees who do not undergo an onboarding process can wait up to a week for them to be productive.

Onboarding also has a direct impact on employee turnover. Companies offering a structured onboarding process can keep up to 90% of their new hires. Not surprisingly, the probability of retaining these employees for 3 years increases by a whopping 69%.

Why employee onboarding benefits companies and employees

The benefits of onboarding new employees are plentiful. An onboarding process for new employees can be implemented in a structured and transparent manner. Companies can delegate the onboarding process to the most appropriate employees. By delegating the workload, the onboarding process can be done in a quick and thoughtful manner. It is no longer up to an employee to take care of the entire training of a new employee. Laying out tasks clearly with onboarding checklists will increase transparency and efficiency. What’s more, an onboarding process will lead to a productive start and employer branding will be positively impacted. Not to mention a reduced employee turnover as a result.

All employee onboarding benefits at a glance

With a structured onboarding process, companies can welcome new employees right. The productivity of existing and new employees will increase.

  • Optimal welcoming for new employees
  • Productive start for new employees
  • Time-saving processes to train new colleagues
  • Clearly assigned responsibilities and tasks
  • Integration of new employees
  • Decreased employee turnover
  • Positive employer branding
  • Smooth integration into the company

Having a quality onboarding process is known to reduce employee turnover, while increasing employee loyalty. Investing in an onboarding process should be included as a part of a long-term HR strategy in every company.

Get started with a quality onboarding process today

How to create a structured employee onboarding process

The numbers mentioned above talk for themselves on the importance of having a structured onboarding process. A quality onboarding process can be split up into four important areas:

  • Before the new hire’s first day
  • New hire’s welcome day
  • Welcome day for managers
  • First tasks for new hires
  • The first month

What most people don't realise is that the onboarding process begins long before the employee's first day on the job.

When done right, onboarding prepares both the new hire and the employer for a smooth and successful transition. 

1. Before the new hire’s first day

All too often, the pressure to perform on the first day is placed squarely on the shoulders of the new hire. Not only is this unfair but it's impractical.

The proper onboarding process is performed by the current staff for new employees. Which is why the "Before First Day" checklist is directed at your company's onboarding team.

Before the first day of work, a company must make every effort to welcome the employee and enable a productive start. This includes:

  • Setting up the workplace
  • Providing the computer or laptop
  • Creating the email address
  • Creating access credentials for tools and softwares
  • Setting up a meeting with the team

This last point will enable the team to create a training plan and assign responsibilities ahead of the new hire’s arrival. After all, teamwork is likely an important part of your business mission. As a last step, a welcome email from the management should be sent upon the new employee’s arrival to give them a feeling of belonging.

New hires should walk into an organised and structured work environment. An effective onboarding process shows new employees that you're a professional, well-run company.

2. New hires' welcome day

The first working day sets the course for a successful cooperation between employee and employer. Show employees their new workplace and pass them important documents, access rights and company policies for reading, as well as an office key or ID card. An office tour and a an introduction to the team should be on the agenda. Ideally, they should get to know their team better during lunch.

Social interaction is big component for a successful first day in the office as it helps new hires feel comfortable and welcomed in the office.

Luckily, kiwiHR's onboarding checklists guarantee you'll have everything covered when it comes time to welcome incoming employees.

Download kiwiHR's onboarding checklists here

3. Welcome day for managers

In business, first impressions are everything. And as professionals, you and your managers want to make a good impression on your staff from the beginning.

The best way to do this? Introduce employees to the company resources, culture, and policies from the start. This includes going over employee handbooks, resources, best practices, and expectations.

You also want new employees to feel welcome and eager to start work with your team. Give them a tour of the building, introduce them to the staff, and at the conclusion of the day, ask if they have any questions.

Positive company culture sets the tone for the entire employee experience.

4. First tasks for new hires

While you want to ease new hires into the work environment, that doesn't mean you can't task them with small jobs from the onset.

Nothing is worse than not knowing what to do on the first day of work. Clear checklists are far more impressive here than a laissez-faire attitude and increasing boredom. The first tasks plan should include goals and clearly defined tasks.

After going over the company policies and procedures (and addressing any questions or concerns), give the new hire a simple job. Make sure it's something that helps familiarise them with your company's software and tools. 

All new employees will adjust at a different pace. Make accommodations for your staff's individual learning curves. For most, around a week is an adequate amount of time to learn the system and routines.

You can set a due date for this process using kiwiHR's onboarding checklists.

5. The first month

Many employees leave a company during their first weeks of employment. This can be prevented by encouraging and challenging new employees. In addition to being trained by colleagues, there should be regular feedback discussions with the supervisor. Feedback talks spark employee satisfaction and gives the employee a feeling of being an important part of the team.

After the new hire has settled in, it's time to offer constructive feedback. Following the first month of work, you can share your observations including areas for improvement and jobs they excel in.

How have they adjusted to the rules and regulations? Are they properly using the software? How are their inter-office interactions?

The more detailed feedback you can offer, the better. This gives employees the opportunity to address specific issues and improve.

Don't forget to offer praise, as well. Tell new hires all the things they're doing right. This not only boosts confidence and morale, but new employees can use their strengths to help address some of their weaknesses.

Did you know that 20% of staff turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment? Don't let your new hire become a statistic.

Introduce all incoming employees to your company's perks and benefits as an incentive. Also, offer them clear direction on your expectations. This eliminates any confusion or misunderstandings.

Other tips for a successful employee onboarding

Each company's onboarding process will look slightly different. But the basic principles remain the same – preparation, proper training, and a warm welcome go a long way.

Here are a few additional tips and tricks to keep in mind when designing your onboarding process and checklists.

1. Put it in writing

Unfortunately, words are often open to interpretation. Even when you think you've fully explained processes and procedures to new staff, they might be confused. And in some cases, afraid to ask for clarification.

To avoid any confusion or mistakes on the job, be sure to put everything in writing – from policies and procedures to your company culture and mission statement.

For both new hires and managers performing the onboarding process, goals and objectives should be written with detail and provide actionable steps. This also ensures consistency across the board.

2. Put names to faces

This tip is especially helpful if you run a large-scale business. Create a chart detailing every staff member in-house. Include pictures, positions held, contact information, and even hobbies or talents.

This makes it easier for new hires to make connections and create relationships without feeling shy or uncomfortable.

3. Assign a mentor

When you hire someone to fill a certain role, set them up for success by pairing them with a mentor. Choose someone who can act as a mentor for your new employee.

Mentors offer one-on-one training and the opportunity to share their expertise and experience within the company. Just be careful who you choose – the last thing you want is for staff to pass on bad habits.

Employee onboarding made easy

Employee onboarding is made easy using kiwiHR's expansive and detailed checklists included in the HR software. Not only will you save time but you'll ensure productivity from day one with kiwiHR's onboarding checklist templates.

What makes kiwiHR's onboarding checklists even better is the ability to adapt them to your specific company needs. This means creating an individually-designed employee onboarding process that works best for you and your staff.

Ready to learn more about how kiwiHR's checklists can transform the employee onboarding process for you? Check out our pricing page and or a free trial today!


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