10 top tips for better employee onboarding

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Onboarding new hires is no easy feat. You can bring anyone into your company, but getting them to stay and actually enjoy their time while under your employment is a whole other ball-game. Everyone needs some top onboarding tips when you feel a little stuck!

That’s why we have compiled a list of some of the best onboarding tips! Working in even a handful of these tips into your current way of doing things will help you and your new hires!

Don’t just take my word for it. Companies that have a great onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%

That’s a pretty significant improvement! 

So let’s get this ship sailing!

1. Start early, go long

So many organizations lose valuable time with this mistake. The pre-boarding phase is crucial in the new hire journey.

Pre-boarding is where new hires are teeming with excitement and is an excellent opportunity to start sending them essential information to reduce any information overload on day one. 

The other thing that most organizations skip out on is after the first week or so, they drop the ball with continuing the onboarding. Onboarding is not just the first week or even the first month. It takes time for a new person to adjust fully.

How long that takes is dependent upon you and the new hire, but it’s a good idea to run it for at least three months after the start date. This time will allow the new hire to get a good feel for your organization. 

An excellent onboarding plan consists of starting pre-boarding early and making sure that the real onboarding goes on for as long as needed.  

2. Communicate with them before their start date

The time leading up to their first day is a mixture of excitement and terrifying anxiety. They are about to jump into a whole new work environment with new people and new processes.

Communicating with the new hire during this pre-boarding time is crucial because it can help to alleviate some of the stress and make the new hire feel more prepared. 

There are a few things you should and could communicate before their big day. The big thing is to try to learn some fun facts or personal preferences of your new hire. When you do this, you will have a better idea of how to make the all-important first day a little bit better and brighter for them. 

Also, try to teach them a little about the team they will be working with by sending them short bios. You can also give them an itinerary of the first day, so they know what to expect and when to expect it. 

Regardless if it’s a couple of days or a few weeks, this pre-boarding time is a place where you can stand out and show how awesome of a company you really are and how much you truly care about your employees.

3. Get to know them and vice versa 

Getting to know each other can be difficult for larger or remote teams but is no less critical. 

The key to great onboarding is fostering strong connections between people, and the only way is by getting to know one another.

This is why for the first week you should be encouraging other team members to welcome them into conversations and strike up conversations. Introduce them to people with similar interests, if you know what their interests are.

Helping to bridge new connections will be the surest way to reduce new hire turnover. After all, it’s a lot harder to leave a place where you’ve just made a bunch of new friends! 

If your teams are remote, worry not! It’s still possible to build new connections, but you may have to be a little more creative. 

The exact solution will be up to how your company usually interacts, but for new hires, you will want to be extra chatty with them. Discuss non-work related things. Get on one big conference call to welcome them to the team (for remote teams). Get them a welcome letter and box of company swag for their desk, so they have some physical items that link them to your organization.

Do what aligns with your culture, but make sure you are encouraging people to reach out to the new hire and welcome them to your crew!

4. Set expectations for the company and the role

People like to know what they’re getting themselves into. Regardless of your employer branding or how you talked up your culture, you need to set realistic expectations for your new hire.

There are two main things you need to set expectations for: the company and their role within it. 

For the company, let them know what office life is like. Is it a loud collaborative environment, or do people put their head-phones in and furiously type away all day? Tell them things that will reduce the learning curve that first week as they adjust to their new surroundings. 

Any little cultural artifacts or fun group activities will be essential too. Usually, the smaller and more routine something is, the more critical it is to tell your new hire about it. It’s easy to forget about these minor quirks, but I promise they are incredibly important.

With the role, it’s much more straightforward and more comfortable to remember and explain. If you already have a well-defined onboarding procedure, this step gets even easier. The key here is that you let the new hire know what is expected of them in the first few days and weeks. 

If you have all new hires run through a project for their first week, tell them and explain the different deliverables you’re hoping for. Giving them a heads up of what they should be doing once they get in the door will provide a direction and a sense of belonging in the organization.

Bonus points if you explain how their role is essential to the company, and you see them fit into the company’s long-term goals if everything goes alright. 

5. Be prepared on their first day

Preparation is especially key for a good onboarding experience. Arguably, this is the bare minimum. If you don’t have this, it doesn’t much matter what else you do have.

Being prepared doesn’t have to be hard; it just requires a little time and planning.

The biggest thing is to make sure that they have a desk. Not bad if it’s just a cleared desk with some of their work materials on it, but if you want to go above and beyond, try to have a welcome card waiting for them at their desk and some company-branded gear.

Also, make sure that their team or other relevant groups of people know of the new hire’s arrival. This helps prepare everyone to greet the latest team member. 

6. Introduce them to key people around the office

This will work well for some companies and less well for others, so feel free to bend this one to fit your situation. 

Your new hire should meet some important people around the office. Ideally, you would be able to introduce them to some more senior people. Give the new hire to feel like they know some significant decision-makers, but there are other important people with less formal positions.

For example, if your organization has sports teams, or leagues, or social committees, then it would be a good idea to introduce your newest crew member to the people who lead these. That way, they will know who to go to if they want to become more involved in your organization.

Also, something to think about is how cross-functional the role of the new hire is. 

If in a short time, the new hire will be working with different departments or teams, they should get to know the leads or heads. This will make them feel more comfortable approaching those teams and have a better understanding of how those teams work. 

7. Set them up with a mentor/buddy

A mentor or buddy can be a fantastic bridge into your organization for a new hire. They can help teach the ropes and are a crucial first connection. Click To Tweet

Now some organizations use the term mentor and buddy interchangeably, which is all fine and dandy. At the end of the day, you need to make these tips work for you, but splitting up the roles have benefits.

A mentor can be more for career development and helping with different skills that the new hire will need to be successful, not just short-term but long-term as well. They are generally more work-focused than buddies.

A buddy is more of a social connection. They help the new hire in the first few weeks as they adjust to the office. Although you can’t tell two people to be friends, the buddy should be a kind of bridge that helps the new hire find their social place in your organization. 

One person could do both of these jobs, but if your organization has the people and the resources to separate them, you might want to consider it.   

8. Do regular check-ins

There is only one real way to track the progress and happiness of a new hire. You have to talk with them face-to-face (or via video calls for remote teams). 

Checking with new hires will help you gauge how well they are doing, but you also have to do it regularly enough that you can see small changes. Doing infrequent meetings won’t give you the same picture.

It’s a good practice to, at minimum, have check-ins at the 30, 60, and 90-day mark. You should also consider doing check-ins after the first day and at the end of the first week. This will be the time of the most adjustment, so it’s good to get a pulse check early.

9. Get their feedback

New hires can bring some much needed fresh eyes for your organization. From your hiring process, to pre-boarding, to how things work, new hires can help you improve your company, but only if you get their feedback.

Getting feedback doesn’t just help you improve, it also makes the new hire feel valued. Asking for their input can really help the new hire feel like their voice and opinion matters. 

This gives them a quick win, and they will feel like they are already part of the team.

10. Be consistent

Providing a consistent onboarding experience for similar positions helps you make a better process in the long-term. As you work through a specific process a few times, you can see where new hires get caught up or stop engaging with your onboarding material.

Although this won’t provide an immediate boost to the experience, being consistent will allow for a proper measurement against all scenarios. By tweaking certain areas that are problems or bottlenecks, you can create a better experience over time. 

Luckily, AllOnboard’s platform helps you measure that kind of engagement and allows for a very consistent process.

If you want to know what not to do, go see our article about onboarding mistakes. Of course, you know your company best, so apply these top onboarding tips in a way that will work best for you. Any of them will help contribute to an overall better experience!