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6 Onboarding Best Practices for a Memorable Onboarding Experience

Whenever you hire a new employee, you have a short window of time in which to orient them to their workspace, introduce them to their co-workers, and get them up to speed on your company policies. Although it can be tempting to wait until a new hire’s first day on the job, an effective employee onboarding process starts well in advance and lasts as long as necessary to ensure that they’ve adjusted to their new role.

With the right onboarding software, you can use automation to standardize the process and guide new employees through the onboarding workflow.

These onboarding best practices will help you welcome new team members to your organization and make a good first impression from day one.

What Is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of welcoming new hires to your organization and giving them the resources they need to succeed at their new job. It includes everything from filling out new hire paperwork to completing training programs and assessments, as well as meeting new colleagues and direct managers for the first time.

An effective onboarding process is more extensive than an orientation, which tends to be brief and focused on practical things, like a tour of the work environment.

Onboarding may include a mix of in-person and remote onboarding activities, with the goal of increasing employee engagement and imparting your company values.

Why Employee Onboarding Matters

Depending on the size and level of turnover at your organization, you might have a one-size-fits-all onboarding process — or maybe you leave it up to individual hiring managers on a case-by-case basis. But having a consistent — and adaptable — onboarding process can benefit your organization in a few key ways.

Impart Company Culture

First, effective onboarding helps you establish a strong and cohesive company culture. When new hires know what you stand for, they’re more likely to abide by those values and less likely to engage in employee misconduct — willfully or unintentionally.

Plus, you can quickly foster a new employee’s bonds with their coworkers by making sure they’re introduced to everyone they’ll be working with from day one.

Increase Employee Retention

A successful onboarding process provides a better employee experience and makes it more likely that your new hire will stick around for the long-term. If an employee’s first day is filled with boring paperwork and training videos, they may struggle to motivate themselves or to feel like a part of the team.

By setting employees up for success with a personalized onboarding process, you can reduce turnover and increase retention throughout the employee lifecycle.

Improve Performance

An employee’s first week on the job is a starting point, and not a reflection of their full potential. The onboarding process is an opportunity to set clear expectations and get new employees comfortable receiving feedback from their manager.

By working through an onboarding checklist and making time for frequent check-ins, you can identify areas where they might need more training or support.

6 Employee Onboarding Best Practices

Onboarding best practices: colleagues using a laptop

The onboarding process for a small business may look very different from one at a large enterprise — but there are some onboarding best practices that apply across the board. Here are six tips to keep in mind as you develop your onboarding strategy.

1. Start with Preboarding

An effective onboarding process starts with preboarding — that is, the time between an extension of a job offer and the first day of work. According to Fortune, it’s increasingly common for new hires to “ghost” their prospective employer and fail to show up at all. Preboarding can help mitigate the risk by keeping new hires engaged.

What does preboarding look like? Start by sending out a welcome email to kickstart the process, and let employees know what they can do to prepare. Consider sending out a welcome package with company swag to make a good first impression.

2. Convey Company Policies

Next, ensure that new hires read the employee handbook and agree to be bound by your company policies. This should include everything from your dress code to your attendance policy, with a clear disciplinary process for conduct violations.

Consider making this an online training module with a short assessment afterwards to make it more engaging and verify that new hires have actually read it.

3. Use HR Automation

The most tedious part of the hiring process is filling out new employee paperwork, from payroll to benefits enrollment. You can streamline this by digitizing and automating the onboarding process. Instead of presenting employees with a pile of paperwork, pre-fill forms with the information that you already have, and ask them to complete and sign documents online using a self-service portal.

That way, they can get the majority of the paperwork out of the way ahead of time and don’t have to bring sensitive documents to work. You can even use HR automation to generate new user accounts and passwords so you don’t have to do it manually.

4. Get the Whole Team Involved

Everyone has a role to play in the onboarding process — not just the direct supervisor or hiring manager. Ask coworkers to welcome the new employee by greeting them on your employee messaging platform or on social media platforms like LinkedIn.

Consider assigning an onboarding buddy to act as a mentor for their first week or first month — and invite senior leaders to say hello too.

This step is especially important when onboarding remote employees who won’t get to meet everyone face-to-face. A hearty welcome from everyone they’ll be working with can go a long way toward making them feel like part of the team.

5. Prepare the Employee’s Workspace

Creating a comfortable work environment from the get-go will make it easier for your new employee to settle into their job. Prepare key cards, a locker, and anything else your new hire will need to make themselves feel at home.

If you’re onboarding remote employees, consider providing a work-from-home stipend so they can invest in new office equipment or join a coworking space. If the employee qualifies for an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), they may need specialized equipment like an adjustable office chair or a screen reader. 

6. Have One-on-One Check-Ins

Using HR technology to guide the onboarding process is key — but you’ll also want to make time to check in with new employees face-to-face. One-on-one meetings allow new hires to develop a positive relationship with their direct manager and get in the habit of giving and receiving feedback along the way.

Once the onboarding process is over, continue to check in as part of the performance management process, and track employee performance metrics over time to identify opportunities for professional development or advancement.

Create a Successful Onboarding Program with Pulpstream

Team having a board meeting

The employee onboarding process is more than just an orientation — it’s an opportunity to welcome new employees to your organization and impart your company values. But new hires can easily get overwhelmed with administrative tasks and forms to fill out on their first day on the job. By using employee onboarding automation to streamline the process, you can get new team members onboarded faster and with less effort.

Pulpstream’s HR automation platform offers cloud-based tools that facilitate employee relationship management. From automatic document generation to a self-service portal that employees can use to digitally sign documents, Pulpstream takes the hassle out of employee onboarding and ensures HR compliance in the hiring process.

Request a demo today to see how Pulpstream can empower your HR team!