14 Employee Onboarding Best Practices [2024]
Interviews / Opinions

14 Employee Onboarding Best Practices [2024]

, Content Marketing Manager

First impressions matter—especially when we’re talking about your new hires’ first impressions of your organization. When you want to start people off on the right foot, a well-structured onboarding program can make all the difference.

Onboarding best practices involve more than just paperwork and HR checklists. They should create a positive, informative experience that sets new employees up for success from day one.

Effective onboarding requires best practices that help incorporate employees into your company culture, equip them with the tools and knowledge to excel, and ensure they feel valued and supported.

Let’s look at why good employee onboarding matters and how to tell if your process is working. Then we’ll dive into onboarding best practices for building a successful program.

Benefits of good onboarding practices

A good employee onboarding process isn’t just a box-ticking HR exercise. It’s a strategic investment in your organization’s culture and future. Consider these benefits:

  • Better employee engagement and retention. In one poll, 70% of new hires said that the first month on a new job is critical in determining whether someone stays on. Effective employee onboarding engages employees by helping them understand their roles and make connections in the company. In another survey, 80% of newly hired employees who had a poor onboarding experience said they plan to quit soon. On the other hand, only 7% of those who felt well-trained during onboarding plan to leave.
  • Increased productivity. Getting up to speed in a new role takes time, which means each incoming employee potentially creates a gap in your company’s productivity. Onboarding helps you close that gap faster. When new hires complete a structured onboarding process, they’re equipped to reach full productivity faster.
  • Improved company culture. Onboarding is your chance to make a positive first impression and integrate new hires into your company’s culture. When employees feel appreciated—and understand the company’s mission and values—they’re more likely to be happy and successful.
  • Stronger employer brand. A positive onboarding experience gets people talking. Team members who feel supported are more likely to recommend your company to others, helping you attract top talent in a competitive job market.

Investing in onboarding doesn’t just set new hires up for success. It sets your entire company up for a brighter future. So how can you be sure your program has that effect?

How to measure the effectiveness of your onboarding process

To find out whether your process is working, measure the results. Gathering and analyzing relevant data helps you identify areas where your employee’s onboarding experience excels. It will also show you areas for improvement.

Some measurements are clear-cut and easy to quantify. You can see the numbers around productivity and turnover. Others are more qualitative. You’ll need to get a pulse on the employee experience and how your process affects it.

Here are some tips for measuring both types of results to understand the full effectiveness of your onboarding practices:

Track key metrics

You can start by measuring the obvious factors—things you can see with cold hard numbers. The trick is to seek out the data directly related to how new hires are getting on.

Look at data like:

  • Employee satisfaction
  • Time to productivity
  • Number of onboarding milestones completed
  • Customer satisfaction ratings (for customer-facing roles).

These are indicators of how quickly new employees are becoming effective contributors.

Conduct new hire surveys

Dig deeper to learn about the new hire experience straight from the source. Collect feedback from your new hires through surveys at key points in the employee onboarding journey. Ask questions about their experience, whether they understand the company and the role, and what could be improved.

These data points will help you see where you can offer more support for those just learning the ropes.

Monitor turnover rates

High turnover, especially in the first few months, can signal onboarding gaps. Track your recent employee retention rate to see if there’s a correlation between onboarding completion and staying power.

Pair this info with your new hire survey results to see if you’re missing opportunities to connect. Or if there are holes in your training content.

Collect 360-degree feedback

Get a complete picture of your onboarding success by asking others about a new hire’s engagement and achievements.

Gather feedback from managers, other employees, and even clients (if applicable) about the team member’s performance and integration into the team. Are they competent in their role? Comfortable asking for help? This well-rounded perspective can highlight areas where the program or specific onboarding practices may need to be adjusted.

Watch engagement metrics

When someone’s a good fit with a culture, they’re more likely to succeed in the company. This factor can seem harder to measure up front. But you can get a good sense by looking at metrics like participation in company events, usage of internal communication tools, and completion of training programs.

Engaged new hires are a good sign your onboarding is effectively integrating them into the company.

14 Employee Onboarding Best Practices [2024]

Creating the best onboarding process for new hires

Well-structured employee onboarding goes beyond paperwork and logistics. It’s about creating a welcoming and informative experience to help new team members succeed. Consider the following onboarding best practices as you build your process.

1. Start with an onboarding checklist

Your process is only as good as its execution. Ensure your employees benefit from every aspect of onboarding by creating a master list of the steps they must go through in their first days (or even weeks or months) on the job.

Building and rolling out good onboarding takes organization. When you document the details, you and your employees will feel confident in the process. You’ll also be able to move smoothly through it, ensuring a consistent and quality onboarding experience for everyone.

2. Do pre-boarding

Don’t wait until the first day to connect with your new hire. Send onboarding emails welcoming them, introducing them to the team, and outlining what to expect in their first week.

Send some company swag. And give them access to pre-boarding materials like company policies or training modules.

Initiating onboarding before they show up gets people excited, prepared, and feeling like part of the team from the beginning.

3. Streamline paperwork

The first day can be overwhelming, so minimize the paperwork burden. Where possible, allow people to complete onboarding forms electronically beforehand. This frees up time for more important activities like introductions and settling in.

4. Put together an onboarding kit

Nothing extinguishes an employee’s enthusiasm like sitting around on their first day of work waiting to be told what to do. Don’t let your new hire feel like an afterthought. Have an onboarding kit ready to keep things moving smoothly.

A helpful packet should include necessary documents, an employee handbook, login details, and company info. You can give it a more personal touch by including welcome letters or company swag to give the receiver a sense of your core values.

5. Offer a welcoming environment

As we said up front, first impressions matter. Create a welcoming atmosphere to greet an incoming employee upon arrival.

Personalize their workspace with a computer set up, office supplies, and maybe even a handwritten welcome note. Schedule introductions to key colleagues. Organize a team lunch to break the ice and foster connections.

Help them feel at home from the start to get them engaged and comfortable with their new job.

6. Set clear expectations

Aligning expectations from the start is crucial. Reduce anxiety and boost confidence by taking guesswork out of the job.

Start with a detailed job description. Then outline company expectations, including work hours, dress code, and communication protocols. Discuss performance metrics and goals to ensure everyone’s on the same page. And so the new hire understands how their success will be measured.

Further, set clear performance expectations and goals from the outset. This might involve establishing specific objectives and key results (OKRs) or outlining milestones they should achieve during onboarding.

Provide ongoing feedback throughout this time to help them stay on track and ensure they’re developing in the right direction.

7. Involve senior leaders

A good company welcome extends beyond a worker’s immediate team. Include introductions to and welcome messages from senior leadership as well. This will help new people feel their role is important to the company. And, as a bonus, it will help them understand the hierarchy within the organization.

8. Clarify roles

As you focus on expectations, don’t leave people guessing about their role. Provide a clear understanding of their responsibilities and day-to-day tasks. And outline how their work contributes to the overall goals of the team and company.

This fosters a sense of purpose from day one. It also helps people see the bigger picture.

9. Assign a buddy or mentor

Reduce anxiety and help put new employees at ease by ensuring they have support throughout the onboarding process. Assign a mentor or more experienced current employee as a guide and resource for the new hire. This person can answer questions and help them navigate company culture.

10. Provide a structured training plan

Training is crucial to employee career development starting on day one. Have a comprehensive training plan in place that covers topics essential for success.

Topics might include company policies and procedures, all the tools and technology they’ll use in the role, and role-specific skills. You may even help them engage with the culture by offering soft skills training like communication or time management through courses on your learning management system.

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11. Conduct regular feedback sessions

Successful onboarding isn’t a one-way street. Create avenues for new hires to provide input on their experience. This could be through onboarding surveys, anonymous feedback forms, or one-on-one meetings with direct managers or HR representatives.

You can also schedule check-ins with the person’s manager throughout the onboarding process. Providing an opportunity to discuss progress lets you address leaders’ concerns and identify where they might need additional support.

12. Encourage social integration

Employees don’t just need to learn the ropes of their job. They also need to feel like part of the team.

Encourage connections with colleagues through team-building activities and social events. Get them engaged in online platforms like team chat channels or social media groups.

This helps them build rapport with the whole team, feel welcome, and blend into your company’s culture.

13. Promote knowledge sharing

People are going to have a lot of questions at the start of a job. Empower recent hires to learn from the wealth of knowledge within your company.

Encourage knowledge sharing through internal wikis where employees can document processes and best practices. Provide online forums where they can ask questions and get answers from colleagues. Or host brown bag lunch sessions where company experts can share their knowledge on specific topics.

14. Regularly evaluate your onboarding program

Your onboarding program is a living document, and it should evolve. Regularly assess its effectiveness based on data (e.g. time-to-productivity metrics), feedback from new hires and managers, and employees’ overall success.

Frequent check-ins allow you to identify areas for improvement and ensure your program remains effective. And even though we’ve outlined our own take on onboarding best practices, you should tailor your program to fit your needs and expectations.

Tips for onboarding remote employees

Today’s workplace is increasingly flexible—remote or hybrid work models are now the norm for many companies. Onboarding remote workers requires additional considerations to ensure they feel connected, informed, and equipped to succeed.

Here are some tips to bridge the physical gap during onboarding:

  • Over communicate. Prioritize clear and consistent communication. Schedule regular video calls, not just for work purposes, but also for informal check-ins and introductions.
  • Set up their remote workspace. Provide clear instructions and resources to help them set up their home office. This could include recommending ergonomic furniture or tools. Or even offering a stipend for home office equipment.
  • Leverage technology. Use video conferencing tools for meetings, training sessions, and even virtual team lunches. Project management and collaboration software can streamline communication and project flow.
  • Buddy system with a twist. Assign a buddy who can answer questions and provide guidance, but consider pairing them with a remote and in-office employee for a well-rounded perspective.
  • Virtual team-building activities. Combat isolation and foster connections with fun, online team-building activities. This could be anything from collaborative brainstorming sessions to virtual game nights.
  • Focus on building relationships. Schedule one-on-one video calls with key colleagues across different departments to help them build relationships and understand the bigger picture.

These tips can set remote workers up for success. And ensure they feel like valued members of the team regardless of location.

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The power of continued support: A journey, not a destination

Employee onboarding doesn’t stop after the first week. New hires need ongoing support to feel confident and successful in their roles. That’s why following these onboarding best practices is the key to its effectiveness.

Offer resources like access to training materials, mentoring programs, or career development opportunities. Regular check-ins with the employee’s manager can ensure they’re still adjusting well and have the support they need to continue thriving. Provide support and development opportunities and foster a culture of recognition and feedback.

Proper onboarding is the foundation for a successful new employee experience. It will keep your new hires fully engaged and motivated. And ensure new hires blossom into high-performing, loyal members of your team.

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Marialena Kanaki - Content Marketing Manager

Marialena hates talking about herself in the third person. She loves to inspire people with authenticity. And she prioritizes that in all her content—without the need for smoke and mirrors.

Marialena Kanaki LinkedIn

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