5 best practices for onboarding 

Failing to recognise the importance of a positive employee onboarding experience could be costing your organisation more than you realise. Business News Daily reported that companies who focus on their onboarding process retained 50% more of their new employees than companies that didn’t. These higher retention rates could mean lower recruitment costs and increased productivity for your organisation. 

So, maybe it is time to start focusing on your onboarding process more, as clearly, there is a lot to gain from it. In this blog, I will run you through some of the best practices your organisation should be doing to create the best employee onboarding experience possible.

Treat your new employees’ time as valuable 

The American Psychology Association stated that employees who feel valued at work reported having higher engagement, satisfaction and motivation. All of which can lead to higher retention rates, better morale and improved efficiency in your workplace. So, the need to make your employees feel valued at work is obvious, but have you thought about the importance of feeling valued during onboarding?

Onboarding is the first real impression you are making on your new employees, and it’s true what they say first impressions matter. First impressions affect how we perceive crucial characteristics, and for months we will use this initial impression to shape our opinions. So if you want to show your employees that you value them, you must be doing so right from the moment you offer them the job. 

An onboarding process that takes hours to complete tells your new employees that you don’t value their time. Even if you were paying them to complete a mountain of forms, the sheer tediousness of the paperwork is not worth their time, any more than it is worth yours. Instead, you should be opting for a fully paperless, online onboarding software that takes minutes for your employees to complete. To further sweeten the deal, it should be fully mobile-enabled, so your employees can complete their onboarding where it is most convenient for them. 

Check in with your new employees regularly 

It takes a lot of courage for someone to leave the security of one job for another – no matter the circumstances surrounding the career change. Employers that regularly check in with new hires during this time, can seriously ease any fears they may be experiencing. 

Speaking from personal experience, the two weeks between saying yes to your new role and starting can be pretty scary. No matter how excited I might have been about starting a new role, it was always scary to think about starting fresh at a new organisation. I would always manage to think about everything that could go wrong – it was like I couldn’t help but assume the worst. 

A study conducted by Psychology Today revealed that I am not alone as 60-70% of our spontaneously occurring thoughts are said to be negative. This means our brains are designed to assume the worst. So, in the short time between saying yes to a new role and starting, your new hire could have gotten cold feet. Though this might have nothing to do with you or your company, you should regularly check in with your new employees to help put these fears to rest. 

Set yourself reminders to check in with your new hires before they start. Using our automated stakeholder notification system you can set up SMS or Email reminders for yourself or managers to check in with your new hires leading up to their starting date. 

Be prepared for the employees’ arrival 

There is no worse feeling than arriving on your first day and no one knowing you’re supposed to be there. I have had this happen before when starting at a new job, and it was an uncomfortable experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. 

When I arrived at my new job, I was informed by three different employees that I must have gotten my starting date mixed up because they hadn’t been told about me. It wasn’t until I showed the email on my phone with my training shift details that they finally called my manager to the front of the store to greet me. By then, it was too late. I was uncomfortable, and I hadn’t even clocked on yet. 

First impressions matter. The last thing you want is to make a poor first impression on your new employees that leaves them questioning their decision to work for your organisation. The best first-day impression you can make on a new employee is an organised and prepared one. 

Employees that are likely to have an interaction with your new employee on their first day, should know they are coming. This could be the person at your front desk, the new employee’s department or your entire office, depending on the size of your organisation. Though, certainly, anyone that is likely to be the first person to greet a new employee should know who they are and that they are coming. 

Furthermore, everything should be ready for them on their first day. Their desk should be ready for them to move into. Procurement offices should have been given enough notice of their starting date to secure any devices, uniforms, or logins needed by their starting date. Your new employees mustn’t feel like an afterthought. Being prepared for their first day shows your new employees that you have dedicated time to ensure their transition is as seamless as possible. 

It is understandable that in a busy work environment, you can get distracted, and forget about preparing for your new employee. That is where our onboarding software’s automated stakeholder notifications can help once again. Here you can set custom email or SMS notifications to be sent out to managers, receptionists and procurement relative to your new employee’s starting date. Meaning there are no excuses to be ill-prepared for their arrival when you are regularly being reminded.


Assign a buddy

While managers and HR both play a critical role in the onboarding process, they shouldn’t be the only ones involved. Team members should play a part in the onboarding of their coworkers as it can make their transition easier. The best way to do this is by using the tried and true buddy system

The buddy system, as the name suggests, involves pairing your new hires with experienced employees to help show them the ropes. Buddies are there to be a friendly face that can answer any questions which may be too daunting for an employee to ask their new boss. Buddies can show new employees around, introduce them to co-workers, and even take them to lunch on their first day. These activities will help to highlight the organisation’s culture and put to rest any nerves that the new employee might have been feeling. The buddy ultimately helps to acclimatise new employees quickly so that they are sooner productive and satisfied in their role. 

Choosing the right buddy is important because not everyone is cut out for the role. If you are considering using the buddy system, keep these qualities in mind when selecting your buddies:

  • Seasoned employee
  • Solid understanding of the organisation’s culture 
  • Well versed in company processes and systems
  • Friendly and approachable
  • Good communicator
  • High standards in their work 

Also, remember your chosen buddy should be willing to be a buddy. An unwilling buddy is not effective and could have the opposite effect than intended.

Once you have selected your buddy, keep them in the loop. Using automated notifications, you can alert your buddies after their assigned new employee has completed their onboarding pack. This notification could inform them of the hire’s starting date, encouraging them to reach out or even just be used to give them notice to prepare.

Set clear and realistic goals 

New employees need to see they are achieving something. By setting clear, realistic goals for your new employees, you are setting them up for success early. It takes a while for new employees to find their feet in an organisation, and during this time, they may get discouraged thinking they are not living up to expectations. Setting out clear, realistic goals is crucial during this time, as it helps reassure new employees that they are meeting expectations. 

The importance of goal setting is undeniable. Deakin University has said that people respond positively to even the smallest achievement. Meaning goals are great motivational tools, no matter how small. Behavioural psychology tells us this is because when we achieve a goal we don’t need validation from others. Instead, we feel fulfilled on our own knowing we were able to achieve a goal that we had set out to achieve. 

For this to happen, employees need to be achieving their goals, and it is your job to help them do so. Regular check-ins allow you to see what areas your new employee may be struggling with and need additional support or resources for. They also help you gauge when your employee is ready for more difficult goals as they grow in confidence and skill. 

Final thoughts

Onboarding a new employee is about more than simply filling out paperwork, and completing training. It is about supporting your new employees in their journey with your organisation and giving them the tools they need to succeed. Implementing best practices like the ones above will help increase employee engagement, retention and overall satisfaction. What is even better is that most of the heavy lifting of these practices can be done for you using modern onboarding software. So, what excuse is there for an organisation to be giving their new employees a less than satisfactory onboarding experience?