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Employee Onboarding: Tips for Every Stage Along the Way

May 9, 2019

Employee onboarding looks different depending on what stage of the employee experience you’re in.

Knowing the right time to introduce each section of onboarding can be tricky to discern. When is the best time to have a new employee fill out paperwork? When should they get their first project? Not having the answers to these questions could frustrate your prospects. As a matter of fact, did you know 88 percent of employees did a poor job with onboarding? Yikes.

But don’t worry, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you. Below is your ultimate employee onboarding roadmap complete with tips and tricks for creating a memorable experience.

Your ultimate employee onboarding roadmap

There are several factors that play into successful employee onboarding. As an HR professional, your role is to keep things running smoothly. You are the project manager of the employee experience. It’s about more than just creating an employee onboarding checklist, it’s about creating an experience. We’ve got your guide for creating a perfect onboarding experience for every stage of the employee experience.

How to prepare before your new employee starts

Though it might seem like a lot of work, making sure your new hires feel welcome and prepared on day one is crucial to ensuring they have a happy start with your company!

1. Send them a welcome email

Everyone experiences first day jitters before they start a new job. One of the key things you can do to help a new employee shake those nerves off is to send them a welcome email before they start. Show your new hire that you’re excited for them to start and answer any questions they may have about their first day ahead of time.

A few things you should include in your welcome email are:

  • What time to show up and where they should go when they get to your building
  • The name of the person they will be meeting with upon arrival
  • A bit about your company dress code and what other people usually wear
  • Where they can park their car when they get to the office

You should send your welcome email a couple days before their start date. This will allow your new employee time to review the information and ask any questions they may have.

2. Get everything ready for their arrival

As an HR professional, your goal is to create a welcoming experience for your new hire. Creating a list of all the things your employee will need on their first day might seem daunting, but don’t worry, we’ve got a few things to get you started.

What does a new employee need for their first day?

  • A desk
  • A laptop / work-related technology
  • Parking pass
  • Building keycard
  • Employee ID
  • A copy of your employee handbook
  • Any building or bathroom codes
  • An agenda for their first day
  • Contact information for important colleagues

This can often be the most time consuming part of the process, but it’s the most important. You’ll want to work with each individual manager to understand the unique needs of each new hire. Employee onboarding for a new hire working for Sales might need different materials than someone working in IT. Make sure you set every employee up for success.

Tip: Learn more about real cost of employee onboarding.

3. Tell everyone they are starting – seriously

Believe it or not, there are some companies that forget to tell their current employees that a new hire is starting. Not only will this confuse your current employees, it will make a new employee feel unwelcome and uncomfortable on their first day.

Once your new employee signs their offer letter, send an introduction email out the Friday before they start. Include a quick bio about them and a link to their LinkedIn profile. This will give everyone a chance to connect with the new hire online and get familiar with them before their first day.

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What does employee on-boarding look like during the first day?

There’s a delicate balance between being underprepared for an employee’s first day and being too prepared. Remember, your new hire is likely nervous and feeling overwhelmed starting a new job. Don’t make the mistake of overloading your new employee with too much information at once. Keep things light and casual for the first day.

What does the ideal first day for a new employee look like? It really depends on your workplace culture and industry, but here are a few jumping off points.

1. Show them all of the important things first

The first thing you should do is take your new hire to their desk and let them set their things down. The day is going to be filled with walking around and meeting new people. You don’t want them to have to carry their backpack or purse around everywhere with them.

Tip: Give your new hire 30 minutes to log in to their computer and set up their email

Once you’ve done that, show them where the bathrooms are and offer them a chance to use them. This will give your new employee a chance to use the restroom if they need to and will avoid awkward questions about it later.

2. Get the paperwork out of the way

The next priority for employee onboarding should be the paperwork. You and your new hire should find a quiet room where you can review the terms of their employment, benefits and compensation information, non-compete agreements, state and federal employment papers, and the employee handbook.

Tip: When was the last time you updated your employee handbook? Check out these tips for tips on how to keep your employee handbook current.

Schedule at least an hour to review all these materials and allow your new hire time to read everything before signing it. Once everything has been reviewed and signed, give your new employee a copy for their records and let them know you’re available if they have any questions.

3. Focus on getting to know people

The rest of the first day should be focused on getting to know everyone. Take your new employee out for a team lunch and let them meet everyone in a more relaxed environment. You should always offer to pick up the check for the new hire. Schedule for about an hour and a half for your team lunch, and don’t panic if time runs over. This is about making them feel welcome!

Tip: You can ask your new employee what food they like and their dietary restrictions ahead of time using the welcome email you send them before they start

4. Give them an office tour and introduce them to anyone they haven't met

After your team lunch, show them around the office and introduce them to anyone they haven’t met yet. Show your new employee where their boss sits and where your office is in case they have any questions. You should also cover where the break room, phone room, and kitchen are.

Tip: Give your new employee an org chart, so they know who everyone is and what job they do

Don’t forget to ask your new hire if they have any questions as the tour progresses. Oftentimes, new employees are overwhelmed and won’t want to ask questions unless prompted. Give them the opportunity to say what’s on their mind.

5. Let them leave early

Introductions and paperwork are the two most important things to get out of the way on the first day. Once those are finished, let your new hire call it a day early. Walk them to the door and tell them how nice it was to meet them and that you look forward to them working with the company.

What does employee on-boarding look during the first week?

After you’ve gotten the first day jitters out of the way, you can focus on getting your new employee up to speed. The first week on the job is crucial for letting your new hire know what to expect and show them how valuable they are to your team. Here are four ways you can do that during the first week of onboarding a new employee.

1. Start their orientation and online trainings

If your employee onboarding process includes any required training or orientation, you should aim to complete them during the first week. Try splitting the training sessions over several days so the onboarding process doesn’t become overwhelming.

You can also use a mix of online and in person training programs to help keep your training fresh. Online learning platforms are perfect for allowing employees to work at their own pace and guide themselves through the employee on-boarding process.

Benefits of online learning

These programs give you the flexibility to set deadlines, include knowledge-checks, and track employee progress. If you anticipate that new employees will have downtime during the employee onboarding process, you can use online training programs to give them something to do.

This will provide them with clarity for their new position and allow them the chance to ask any questions they may have. This will also help the hiring manager set expectations for what they expect from their new employee. Clear communication early in the employee onboarding process is key to success.

As your new hire begins the employee onboarding process, they’re going to wonder how they fit into the bigger picture. It’s important that you schedule a time for your new hire to meet one-on-one with their new manager to review their role and their goals.

2. Give them an easy project to start

Speak with your new employee’s hiring manager and brainstorm a simple first project the new employee can begin working on. It’s important to make sure this project is something that relates to their role and will add value to the company.

Giving your new employee a project to work on will make them feel like they are doing actual work instead of just attending meetings during their first week. It was also give you a quick glimpse into their strengths and what areas they might need help improving on. Plus, it will prevent your new employee from feeling bored during their downtime.

What does employee on-boarding look like a month in?

After the first week, your new employee is probably getting into the groove of the new job, but your employee on-boarding experience doesn’t stop there. In order to ensure continued success, you need to regularly check in with your new hire. Here are four things your employee onboarding experience should include one month in.

TIP: Remember to give your employees guidelines and instructions for all software. More than half of employees are unhappy  at work due to the software they use. Track how your employees are using software by activating your free G2 Track account.

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1. Check in after the first 30 days

This is not a performance review; rather, it’s a casual check-in to see how things are going. Sit down with the new employee and chat with them about their experience. Review their training and onboarding, ask what they enjoyed about the process and what could be improved. This will allow you a chance to see what blindspots your new employee has that still need addressing and will give you an opportunity to improve your employee onboarding process.

Tip: Here are 6 easy tips for identifying and improving your employee onboarding process

2. Set long-term performance goals

Once your new employee feels settled into their role, it’s time to set performance goals for them. One easy way to do this is to create a career development plan for your new employee. Show them what you envision success looks like in the first six months for them and give them a few key metrics they can aim to hit.

Allow your new employee to share their ideas for what they envision for the role. Don’t pigeonhole your employees by dictating everything to them. Keep the lines of communication open and allow their fresh ideas to influence the conversation.

3. Provide them with a mentor

Setting your new employee with a mentor is a great way to help with the onboarding process. A mentor will provide your new employee with someone other than their manager that they can go to with questions about the role. This will also give you the chance to match them with high-performing employees that you want your new hire to learn from.

Quotes about mentorship

4. Give them a chance to give you feedback

Set a meeting with your new employee and take the time to listen to address any concerns they may have. If your new employee still feels uncomfortable using a certain software program then you should schedule a training to get them up to speed. Review the meeting with the employee’s manager and let them know what they can do to provide the new employee with an improved experience.

The employee onboarding experience is a long one

That’s why having a clear plan for transitioning new employees into your company is so important. Creating a uniform onboarding process will help keep you sane during the craziness that unfolds when a new hire starts and help your new employees feel welcome and ready to seize the day!

Want to learn more? Find out if you should invest in partner relationship management or check out the best onboarding software according to G2 user reviews.

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