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New hire onboarding is usually defined as the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors in order to become effective organizational members and insiders. In simpler words, this process defines the first impression a person will receive from an organization, even before their first day at work.

The onboarding process as a whole and the philosophies that encompass it tend to radically differ from organization to organization. And yet, generally speaking, new hires are usually left unsatisfied by their experience. This fact proves that employers are not taking into account the benefits of having an effective onboarding strategy.

Onboarding: A Top Priority

According to a recent Gallup research, only 12 percent of the more than 195,000 U.S. employees surveyed agreed with the proposition that their organization does a “great job” of onboarding. The negative effect on the remaining 88 percent usually translates into a misconception of the organization’s attitude towards new hires.

On the other hand, applying effective employee onboarding practices will positively impact not only the new hire experience but also your organization as a whole. Let’s take a look at how companies can benefit from it. 

  • Work on talent engagement even before your employee’s first day. Let your new hires know they have made the right choice even before they start working. The job offer they have just signed does not only imply a salary in exchange for work, but also a bond with a community that will accompany them throughout their journey.
  • Invest in brand marketing. When it comes to brand marketing, employees are one of your biggest assets. However, they are often left unused. A successful internal marketing campaign will impact how potential clients see your organization.
  • Be attractive to become even more attractive. Talent is always on the lookout for a better place to work. By applying effective onboarding practices, your organization will more easily attract top-tier candidates. Thus, generating an engaging first impression will also become an investment in organizational growth. 

Onboarding Best Practices Checklist

More and more organizations are engaging in virtual employee onboarding given the realities of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we believe it is important to highlight some of the common elements and characteristics crucial for a successful onboarding process that we have seen across the whole of our client base.

What follows is a basic checklist of effective onboarding practices that all organizations should look to incorporate.

Introduce Policies and Benefits Prior to Day One  

One of the goals of onboarding new employees should be to settle them into their roles in a quick, efficient way and with as high a degree of positive engagement as possible. And yet, more often than not, new hire onboarding typically begins with the monotony of a conference room, a stack of papers and hours of signing and reading. 

Many organizations fail to take advantage of the period of time that occurs between when a candidate accepts an offer of employment and their first day on the job. This period offers organizations a unique opportunity to eliminate administrative tasks while introducing new hires to organizational policies and benefits from the comfort of their homes.

Although far from the most exciting part of the experience of onboarding new employees, policies and benefits are an essential component to understanding company culture and acceptable behavior. When paired with a powerful SaaS solution, pre-boarding sets the tone for a positive, educational and rewarding new hire experience.

Define Roles and Responsibilities

Role clarity refers to the extent to which new employees understand the tasks and responsibilities associated with their position. Not only is role clarity a psychological precursor for new hire buy-in, but it is an absolute requirement before productivity can be achieved. Take advantage of the time between contract signing and a new hire’s first day at work to do this.

As role clarity proves most effective when viewed through the lens of performance expectations, organizations should consider clarifying roles in tandem with the use of a goal-setting framework. It is here that the objectives and key results methodology (i.e., OKRs) that we have previously discussed with regard to performance management proves instrumental in helping align new hires.  

Organizations that struggle to communicate the what, where, when, who and how behind their role are failing to heed one of the most consistent predictors of new hire satisfaction and commitment. As a bidirectional exercise in goal-setting, OKRs provide clarity and encourage new employees to develop positional objectives that coexist with an organization’s overall strategic vision. 

Incorporate Position-Specific Training 

Many HR stakeholders tend to view position-specific training and onboarding new employees as two separate elements of the productivity formula – the former a long-term investment in development, the latter an exercise in integration focused on company policy and culture. As such, it’s not uncommon for organizations to treat these two frameworks as separate components of the talent experience.

It is true that there exists a degree of separation between each element. However, a successful onboarding process depends on the degree to which HR and management can achieve a smooth and complementary co-existence between the two.

Position-specific training is likely to be a long-term skill development endeavor. But the primacy of role clarity necessitates that targeted training begins in the initial stages of new employee onboarding. Achieving transparency from the very beginning of a job experience is key.

Similar to a new hire’s introduction to policies and benefits, organizations should begin delivering tailored training materials to employees in the pre-boarding period. Even the most experienced new hires will be in need of an introduction to the tasks and processes that will come to define their role, so interactive video and e-learning content are essential resources in the quest for productivity – particularly in remote onboarding scenarios.

Familiarize Employees With Organizational Culture

Onboarding is also a perfect moment to introduce your new hires to organizational culture. As it plays a relevant role in network building, having a tailored employee engagement hub will help introduce a fresh employee to the core values and ways of working at your organization. Thus, helping them achieve a sense of belonging.

While it’s true that each and every phase of onboarding will present new hires with the opportunity to absorb company culture, the most efficient way to present and nurture culture in new hires is to encourage the development of networks. Bond-building is a major element at this stage, providing comfort in a moment when anxiety rules.

As many new hires will be onboarding virtually in these uncertain times, onboarding portals can help organizations make new hires feel at home by introducing them to their managers and team members prior to day one. Remember, whether digital or in-person, facetime matters.

Those organizations that make a concerted effort to encourage network building will position new hires to develop the social fabric needed to not only understand organizational culture but to quickly contribute to it.

Banner of Avature's guide on employee onboarding best practices and a link to the landing page to download it.

To Conclude…

With most new hires deciding to stay or leave within the first six months of employment, getting the onboarding experience right or wrong can make or break an organization – particularly amid pandemic uncertainty.

As a provider of a best-in-class SaaS onboarding solution to some of the world’s most dynamic enterprise organizations, we recognize that the candidate experience doesn’t end when an offer is signed. To learn more about the steps our clients are taking to ensure a successful onboarding process, don’t hesitate to reach out today.


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