Nailing the employee onboarding process is crucial for retaining top talent and creating a smooth experience for all team members. But, the exciting nature of this transition and the sheer volume of onboarding-related tasks may feel overwhelming at first. 

The good news is that HR leaders can create a go-to employee onboarding process that improves consistency, saves time, and even reduces employee turnover

What is employee onboarding?

The employee onboarding process begins as soon as a business makes an offer of employment. The process aims to incorporate the new joiner into the company and familiarize them with company culture and policies. 

HR leaders can establish a structured framework for employee onboarding, ensuring that all essential tasks are addressed seamlessly. This process helps new hires quickly adapt, become productive team members, familiarize themselves with their roles, meet colleagues, and understand daily protocols.

<<Download a complete employee onboarding checklist.>>

Employee onboarding vs employee orientation 

Employee orientation is one part of the employee onboarding process. In many cases, it lasts a workday or less.

It focuses on providing new hires with relevant information about company policies and procedures and answering any initial questions they may have. It can also include filling out required paperwork, like tax forms and benefit enrollment. 

What is the employee onboarding process? 

The employee onboarding process spans several months and includes various teams, action items, and checkpoints. Following a set process mitigates some of the largest hiring challenges, reducing churn and creating a more cohesive team experience.


Preboarding starts when a business extends an offer and ends on the new joiner’s first day of work. This preparation period paves the way for a smoother onboarding process. 

Preboarding includes: 

  • Crafting a great onboarding email to kick the process off smoothly
  • Managing logistical items like ordering a new computer or providing login details  
  • Completing negotiations concerning employment terms and conditions like benefits and compensation
  • Sharing an employee handbook, onboarding roadmap, and internal FAQ document

<<Download a free employee handbook template.>>

Employee orientation

HR leaders generally take the reins on employee orientation, a one-time event designed to introduce new joiners to the basics of the business. 

Orientation includes: 

  • Hosting question-and-answer sessions
  • Clarifying expectations, like the company’s attendance policy 
  • Providing necessary forms and paperwork
  • Sharing basic information about company policies and team structure
  • Helping the new joiner set up company tools 

First week 

A new hire’s first week in a new role may feel disorienting. With a thoughtful first-week structure, HR leaders and managers can create a smooth and stress-free experience.

The first week includes: 

  • Introducing team members
  • Facilitating training for commonly used software and tools
  • Connecting the new joiner with a mentor
  • Providing a tour of the office
  • Ensuring the new team member finishes all compliance training, documentation, and paperwork

First month 

By the end of the first month, new joiners will be more self-sufficient. Of course, they may still lean on their manager for support and questions. 

The first month includes: 

  • Scheduling weekly meetings between the new person and their manager to address questions and concerns
  • Leading goal-setting for 30, 60, and 90-day touchpoints
  • Hosting team-building activities like lunches or happy hours
  • Introducing the new team member to adjacent departments

First 90 days

During the first three months, team leaders can provide ongoing support while assigning new responsibilities. By the end of this time,  the “new” team member will be comfortable with the company culture and all routine processes. 

The first 90 days include:

  • Including the new team member in all relevant meetings
  • Organizing ongoing team culture activities
  • Gathering feedback on the onboarding process
  • Checking in on 90-day goals

First year

After a full year on the team, the new joiner may feel a sense of belonging and ownership. They can take the lead on their projects with minimal supervision and occasional questions. 

The first year includes: 

  • Supporting goal setting for the coming year
  • Leading conversations around career development
  • Sending out questionnaires on team processes and onboarding
  • Conducting a formal performance review

<<Download a free performance review template.>>

Benefits of an Effective Employee Onboarding Process

An effective onboarding process starts your new relationship on the right foot. Let’s look at some key benefits: 

Enhanced employee engagement and morale

Managers with an effective onboarding process pave the way for enhanced employee engagement. They can foster a sense of belonging by promoting connections between team members and guiding new joiners to contribute to collective successes. 

Consistency in performance and standards

To set new joiners up for success, HR leaders can create easy-to-follow systems for communicating team standards. This way, managers can expect outstanding performance from the very beginning.  

Alignment with company goals and culture

A healthy company culture motivates top performers to stay within your organization and bring their best selves each day. During onboarding, take the time to explain the “why” behind company goals, approaches, and cultural details.

When new joiners can find true alignment with the culture of their new team, they contribute positive energy and voice their fresh ideas to strengthen the team and the entire organization. 

Improved employee retention

When new joiners experience a thoughtful and efficient onboarding process, they start their journey with positivity and clarity. This streamlined introduction creates ongoing confidence and buy-in, improving employee retention. 

Faster integration and productivity

A great employee onboarding process brings the new joiner into the company as quickly as possible, allowing them to contribute as productive team members. This integration increases overall productivity and boosts collaboration.

How to create a smooth employee onboarding process

Creating first-class onboarding processes requires cooperation between several key players and departments. HR teams, IT professionals, managers, and team members all play an integral role in welcoming a new joiner.

Employee Onboarding Best Practices

1. Outline goals and objectives 

Meet with all key players and determine what you need to accomplish throughout the onboarding process. Make clear goals to review the core tools, platforms, and team dynamics necessary to bring the new joiner up to speed. 

2. Create an onboarding timeline

It’s time to create a timeline for each goal and objective. Remember that the onboarding period begins before the new joiner’s first day, so your timeline will, too.

For example, IT teams may need to order a company phone or ship equipment to remote team members before they start. By organizing onboarding tasks on a timeline, team members can build assigned roles into their calendars. This helps teams streamline connected tasks and avoid unnecessary delays. 

3. Use employee onboarding checklists

In addition to team calendars and timelines, HR leaders can use an employee onboarding checklist to stay organized. You can adapt checklists for each team or hiring situation. For example, a remote onboarding checklist will look different from an in-person one.

<<Download a complete employee onboarding checklist.>>

4. Prepare onboarding materials

Onboarding materials can include internal documentation, computer equipment, a welcome kit or gift, and anything else you need to prepare the new joiner’s physical or virtual space. 

Gather everything in advance so you’re not scrambling for the items you need. 

5. Assign responsibilities to team members 

Get specific about who will take charge of each task. For example, which member of the IT team will show the new joiner how to access their laptop? Which HR leader will review compliance paperwork? 

Clearly defined roles can streamline these parts of the onboarding process. 

6. Provide training for company systems and software 

Even the most experienced new joiners will need training on some tools and systems. Provide an in-depth overview of company-specific systems and give the new joiner access to training on all key software. This includes project management tools, communication platforms, and industry-specific software. 

7. Prioritize an introduction to team members and company culture 

The social and cultural aspect of welcoming a new team member is just as important as the logistical and technical side. Teams can function smoothly when prioritizing a healthy company culture since this impacts retention, engagement, presenteeism, and performance.

Schedule meetings between the new joiner and colleagues they’ll be working with directly and facilitate introductions to everyone on their team. Over time, include introductions to adjacent teams and higher leadership. 

You can provide the new joiner with the employee directory and an overview of the corporate structure so they can contextualize the role of each new person they meet. 

8. Engage the new joiner

One main point of contact, usually a direct manager, can communicate with the new joiner about their onboarding experience.

Schedule one-on-ones frequently in the first month to check in and address questions and concerns. Use check-ins to gather feedback about the onboarding process so you can improve it with every iteration. This can help engage new joiners by involving them in every step and ensuring their voices are heard. 

9. Evaluate and adjust

HR leaders can analyze the onboarding process based on feedback from one-on-ones, employee data, and internal evaluations. 

Were there tasks that weren’t on the checklist? Are there additional ways you can improve the introduction to company culture? Were there periods of downtime when you could have scheduled software training? 

HR leaders can make these notes and implement changes to the process for the next new member of the team. 

Give new employees the best onboarding experience

A clear employee onboarding process reduces stress and tedious tasks while boosting productivity, efficiency, and morale. By giving new joiners the right tools and information from day one, you’re setting the stage for long-term success and a happier, more engaged organization. 

Investing in a thoughtful onboarding experience shows your commitment to your team’s growth and wellbeing. Put your best foot forward with your new team member by carefully crafting an exceptional employee onboarding experience.

Meet Bob

The team at HiBob designed a modern HR platform with an eye for modern business needs. With a focus on ease of use, we built an intuitive interface with robust capabilities to help HR leaders and employees navigate current and future demands. 

Employees can use Bob to access the necessary tools and information for connecting and growing their careers. 

Managers can use Bob to access employee data and useful insights, paving the way for more effective, streamlined people management processes. 

HR leaders can use the automation tools in Bob to streamline everyday processes. Using Bob, they can increase business visibility through centralized people data, greater oversight, and a secure, user-friendly platform.