Business Management / Human Resources

A step-by-step guide to onboarding new employees

Laura Dolan

Jan 24, 2020 · 9 min read

Toolkit for download in this article

reinventing employee onboarding

Per inc.com, “Nearly 40% of employees who leave their jobs do so within the first six months.”

This is attributed to companies that make the mistake of expecting employees to get “up-to-speed” within the first week or two sans proper training and a sufficient onboarding process to help ensure new employees have the essentials they need to be successful.

When you get a new job, it requires an adjustment period, the average being 90 days, which is why companies have designated that amount of time as the probationary period. Back when I entered the workforce, you weren’t eligible to get benefits for 90 days so the company could ensure you were a good investment for them.

It takes a lot of money to not only recruit new hires, but a lot of time and energy is devoted to writing job descriptions, promoting them on job boards such as Indeed, Glassdoor or LinkedIn, reaching out to potential hires, interviewing them and drafting offer letters. That’s all prior to the new candidate actually starting.

Some companies are reinventing employee onboarding processes, as onboarding is arguably the most important part of making sure an employee gets established and stays engaged and productive as a vital long-term associate of the company.

Tips for properly onboarding new employees

There’s so much more to onboarding than helping an employee get situated at their workspace with the proper equipment, although that’s an imperative part of it. Onboarding involves instilling a sense of belonging in the work culture, and creating a sense of security and contentment, which are huge components that factor into an employee’s well-being and success.

1. Start with the basics

Plan to have an orientation in place on the first day to provide new hires a crash course of your business’ history and mission. Answer the basic questions of why the company exists and what sets it apart for its customer base.

Create a presentation in PowerPoint or Keynote that you can reuse every time a new hire joins the team. Make sure it includes information that explains your company background, culture, values, target audience, etc. Then move on to what’s expected of the new hire, their role, how they fit into the company model, helping them understand how they can best contribute to the organization.

2. Set new hires up with a mentor

Designate a mentor or a “buddy system” during the onboarding process so the new hire has someone they can turn to for any questions or concerns.

Having someone in place who eliminates common ambiguities for the new candidate can remedy much of the frustration new hires experience when it comes to fear of the unknown.

Many new hires are timid and feel they ask too many questions. Make it clear that they can never ask too many questions and that the mentor is there whenever the new hires need them during the onboarding period and beyond.

The appropriate amount of time new employees need to complete their onboarding is totally at the discretion of each individual company, depending on the industry.

Some employees may need a full 90 days, others may settle in within the first week. No matter how comfortable they seem, it’s always a good idea for the mentor to check in every so often to ensure new hires are learning the ropes at a desirable rate and not feeling stuck.

3. Hold regular 1:1 sessions

The sign of a good manager is garnering a strong relationship with new hires via direct communication from day one.

Take your new hires to lunch or have food brought in and use it as an opportunity to get to know the new hire on a personal level. Gauge their personality; are they shy? Outgoing? What are their hobbies, their favorite foods, do they have any pets? These are great ice-breaker questions that will help managers and new hires connect and become more real with each other, building a sense of trust in upper management.

The manager can also use this time to explain the agenda for the new hire’s first week or two with the company so they know what’s expected of them and the tools they’re going to need to inspire and prepare them for how they’ll be adding value.

Above all, don’t forget to tell them how happy you are to have them join the team and build excitement for working together.

4. Create and strengthen connections

A very important part of the onboarding process is helping new hires connect with their teammates.

A manager can help by organizing activities for everyone to get to know each other such as a lunch outing, happy hour, a team building activity such as going bowling or to a spring training baseball game (here in the Phoenix area, where Keap is, many companies attend those with their staff as a fun outing).

New hires who establish meaningful relationships and feel more connected to coworkers are more likely to seek information and ask questions, which is crucial in helping a new employee get acclimated and succeed.

5. Check in on a regular basis

A manager’s job is to ensure new hires feel supported and an efficient way to do that is by checking in every so often. Schedule time on the calendar for a 15 to 30-minute powwow once a week to see how the new hire is settling in during onboarding.

Create a check-in process that looks something like this:

  • End of day one
  • End of day three
  • End of week one
  • End of week two
  • 30 days later
  • 60 days later
  • 90 days later
  • Use this time to ensure the new hire is comfortable, receiving the proper training, and integrating themselves into the company environment and culture in a natural way.

    Also, always look for ways to improve the onboarding process so it can be that much better for the future candidates you will welcome as your company grows.

    Onboarding at Keap

    I’m going to throw my personal experience into the mix. My first day at Keap was almost 90 days ago and I have to say, of all of the companies I’ve ever worked for, my onboarding time period here really flew by. I was up and running on my first day, which wasn’t even required, I’m just the kind of person who likes to jump into the deep end with both feet and hope I don’t drown.

    Drowning is the farthest thing that’s happened to me since I started here due to all of the support I’ve been given.

    I started my first day at Keap with 11 other new hires. Yes, 11. The company is growing by leaps and bounds, which was an awesome sign for me. I was honored to meet and start working with this many talented and engaging people.

    The first five hours of my first day were spent in a conference room where we were all simultaneously introduced to our Masters of First Impressions, HR, Benefits and Payroll, Facilities Managers and IT staff members. Each group presented what their essential roles at Keap are and how they can best assist us.

    Then they brought in our laptops and had us all sign in to our respective accounts to make sure everything worked properly. We also got a grand tour of our huge building, our pictures taken for our badges, which we could also use as our profile avatars for Outlook, Slack, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, anywhere we want due to its professional quality.

    Once orientation wrapped up, we all had a catered lunch with our respective bosses. After that, we were shown to our desks that featured our name plates, a Keap T-shirt, a Keap water bottle, and instructions to help us settle in.

    IT set up my monitors and made sure my docking station for my laptop was fully equipped. Any other questions I asked in Slack regarding payroll, benefits, setting up my direct deposit, accessing my 401K login, etc., were answered almost immediately by helpful team members who addressed all of my issues. It made me feel very secure knowing that support is there whenever I need it.

    Then, there was nothing left to do but learn the ropes. I was offered training by my boss on my first day and I gladly took her up on it. I spent the final two hours of my first day at Keap editing a number of blogs in Trello due to sufficient training. I was already comfortable and have felt that way ever since. When it comes to proper onboarding, this company gets it.

    Not only does it ensure that I have what I need as far as being able to do my job, but the morale is incomparable. They have perks including two coffee machines, a cereal bar, a cold brew station, a freestyle Coke machine, a pantry filled with ingredients for making PB&J sandwiches, a ping-pong table, massage chairs, a gym complete with locker rooms and showers, a meditation room, I can go on.

    The point is, Keap has gone above and beyond to ensure an efficient onboarding process, a comfortable environment for productivity and an upbeat work culture are experienced by all. This is what this company believes in most strongly, and it shows.


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