What is onboarding?

The Oxford Dictionary defines onboarding as –The action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization or familiarizing a new customer or client with one’s products or services.

The keywords in this above definition are ‘action or process’. Onboarding is something that you have to do consciously, or it doesn’t happen. Every company should have an onboarding process for new hires.

It’s a non-controversial definition that we can all agree upon. However, what ‘integrating a new employee’ means to one business might not be the same for another.

We’ve seen companies whose onboarding schedule lasts for a day, and others where it’s an 18-month process.

Where does it begin?

Another relevant question is about where onboarding starts. At Hibob, we believe that onboarding starts when the interview stops. An active engagement process from recruitment and through to their first day and beyond.

Your new hire is thinking about their new job and team from the moment they apply, so they’re already invested in the company. Your job is to ensure that emotional investment is not misplaced.

Onboarding is not one-size-fits-all, although there are common principles to follow.

Why onboarding matters

The saying ‘you never have a second chance to make a first impression” applies to new jobs as much as new people.

However, most companies don’t consider how much they need to work at making the right first impression with their new employees.

Two clear business reasons to make a good first impression

Improved retention

Replacing a departed employee carries a high cost, both in direct recruitment and loss of productivity. However, good onboarding makes a new employee more likely to stay longer. In fact, newly hired employees are 58% more likely to still be at the company three years later if they had completed a structured onboarding process.

Increased productivity

Whether a new hire is a direct replacement for an employee leaving the organization, or a new role is being created, it takes time to get them up to speed. 62% of companies in a study by The Aberdeen Group reported faster time-to-productivity ratios when using an onboarding process for new team members.

These are in addition to better cultural inclusion and increased engagement of the employee.

The objective of employee onboarding

What are we trying to achieve by having an employee onboarding process?

For smart businesses, there are a number of objectives:


This is something that everyone has to do, and if you have a good process in place, you can reduce the amount of time that compliance takes. Minimize your admin load to focus on the more important parts of your role.


New employees often feel like fish out of water, which is very uncomfortable for them. When they feel like they really belong, they are more committed to the company, and better able to focus on their work.


Each new employee means more administration for the HR team. For fast-growth businesses that are bringing in new employees on a weekly basis, the admin load can be enormous.


They’ll be productive more quickly, and therefore contributing to the business earlier on. They’ll feel better, and your business benefits.


The hiring process is expensive – in terms of person-hours and money. Losing embedded members of the team can be destructive to company culture. For both of these reasons, you want to keep down employee churn.


To make sure that all of the above are achieved effectively, you need a good and consistent onboarding experience. It’s too important to leave to chance.

What are the key parts of a good onboarding process?

A good onboarding process has a lot of parts that usually need to be juggled simultaneously. This is why it’s so important to have a solid procedure in place.

When creating the onboarding process for your organization, you have to make sure that you have covered five key areas: compliance, logistics, management, training, and cultural engagement.

Your organization may require additional items that are particular to your business or industry as well.


Legal compliance and compliance with your organizations’ rules, can often be completed remotely, and in large part before the new employee’s first day in the office:

  • Contracts of employment
  • Informing HMRC of the new employee and their tax code
  • Reading company policies
  • Health & Safety training
  • Any other legal requirements relevant to your business (e.g. non-disclosure agreements)


Logistics are the basics that mean your new employee can turn up at the right place in order to do their job:

  • Locations and directions, so they know where to go
  • Ensuring ease of access if the employee has a disability Locating their desk
  • Setting up their phone
  • Providing a computer or helping them set up their own device for your systems
  • Giving them internet access
  • Getting them set up for payroll
  • Giving them access to any specific systems that you use in the business – like bob


With good management, you’re not just allowing the new hire to do their job, you’re supporting them to get it right more quickly. This is where the hiring manager really gets involved:

  • Providing relevant company and team information, like what you do and how you do it
  • Setting up the new employee to use the company and team processes
    (e.g. booking meeting rooms or booking holiday)
  • Setting objectives and goals for 30, 60, 90 days so the new hire knows where to focus
  • Adding the new employee to the company holiday calendar, and letting them know when they can start using their allocated time off


The majority of employees will need some training on arrival, so it’s best to consistently provide new employees with learning opportunities that will bring them up to speed quickly:

  • Introduce your learning processes, systems and policies, so the new hire knows what’s expected and that provision has been made for their development
  • Carry out skills assessment to gauge knowledge and ability. This will influence their ongoing personal development plan
  • Set up supervision and mentoring for the new employee
  • Set up any role-specific training for the new hire


47% of the workforce has turned down a job offer because they felt that the culture wasn’t the right fit for them or that they wouldn’t get along with their colleagues. You need to get this bit right:

  • Explain company culture and values, so the employee understands your ‘why’
  • Meeting their direct team, and any people they’ll work closely with on a regular basis
  • Meet key people in the company, such as department heads, members of the management team, and IT support
  • Helping the new employee to foster personal connections with the team based on work and personal interests
  • Setting up welcome events such as new- starter meetings with the CEO, “First Friday” after-work drinks, and welcome lunches

Downloadable checklists

Ready-made onboarding emails

A nice welcome and introduction goes a long way toward helping a new hire to fit in.

Here are two essential emails that you can copy and paste. Just customize the parts in brackets:

Onboarding resources and tools

There are a number of places to go for information on some of the common HR things that you’ll need to do for your new employees. Some of these may change over time, so it’s a good idea to review them on a regular basis:

UK government links:

Checking ‘right to work’ documents: https://www.gov.uk/check-job-applicant-right-to-work

Types of checks you can make on job applicants: https://www.gov.uk/employers-checks-job-applicants

Setting up visa sponsorship for an overseas employee: https://www.gov.uk/sponsor-management-system

Government employers site: https://www.gov.uk/browse/employing-people

The pensions regulator:


CIPD guidance on setting up and managing HR policies:


bob – A central platform that will run your onboarding processes for you. Free trial available: www.hibob.com

What next?

After onboarding, how do you transition your new hire to the regular type of HR engagement that other people in their team receive? Do you have a plan?

Find the right time

We recommend looking at the cycle of things that you normally do with your employees and work out the best time to slot your new hire into them.

For example, if your new hire starts with you in May and you run your annual performance appraisals in June, it doesn’t make sense to have them join the process in their hiring year.

Let them know what’s expected

No one likes to find out by surprise about new procedures that they have to be part of, so let them know early on what’s required.

A short email with a list, or a guide in your employee HR documents file, would mean they can refer back to it. After all, what’s second- nature to you could be completely new to them.

Meet bob

We know how important it is to make holistic, data-driven decisions about your people, especially in light of today’s modern workplace changes. That’s why we built bob, a people management platform that provides extensive insights about your company’s wellbeing, employee engagement, and workforce stability.