What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of incorporating a new employee into a company and familiarizing them with the company culture and policies, so they can become an effective and contributing member of the team.

A good onboarding process is reminiscent of boarding a plane. At the beginning of an adventure, you’re greeted by someone who’s happy to have you. They help you find your seat and get acclimated so the flight will be comfortable and you’ll get to your destination safely.

New employee onboarding programs should help new hires:

  • Understand their roles and responsibilities
  • Get comfortable in their new setting
  • Meet their teammates
  • Learn company policies and protocols

Why should HR leaders care about onboarding?

Implementing a great onboarding program is the key to achieving:

  • Retention
  • Engagement (from the very beginning)
  • Loyalty

The smoother the onboarding process is for the new employee, the greater the chances they will become an effective, long-term contributor to the company. Keeping an employee is cheaper than hiring a new one, so it’s worth it to invest in quality employees right from the beginning. 

What can HR do to ensure a smooth onboarding process?

It’s best to welcome a new employee prior to their first day with an email which includes:

  • what time to arrive
  • expected dress code
  • where to park
  • who to meet with upon arrival

In addition, HR can send a personalized welcome letter and a small gift to initiate a positive relationship between the company and the new team member.

On a new employee’s first day, HR can run an orientation in order to introduce them to the company values, mission, and culture. HR can further support a new employee by matching them up with a “buddy” to walk them through company expectations and policies. HR should also provide a new hire with the necessary passwords, links, and relevant information they will need to know to begin their new role.

An HR manager can continue the onboarding process throughout the first three months, meeting one-on-one once a week, to ensure that the new hire is integrating well and understands their responsibilities.

How can successful onboarding improve company culture?

Onboarding lays the groundwork for a smooth transition for new hires, as they settle  into a new job and work environment. Just as an uneasy child may need a warm welcome on the first day of kindergarten, so too a new employee will appreciate a well-planned onboarding process.

The onboarding process is the first step in building a relationship with a new employee. A company which invests in a new employee’s well-being through a thoughtful onboarding process is well on its way to increasing long-term employee engagement, retention, and overall job satisfaction. Ultimately, caring for employees’ needs from the very beginning leads to a healthy and thriving company culture.