Tips to Level Up New Employee Onboarding

By Erika Rahman
Illustration of several resumes with magnifying glasses over them.

Since the dawn of time, companies have been onboarding new employees.

Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but the employee onboarding process has been around for ages. Whether you were a squire in the year 1350 or joining a SaaS marketing team today, every new employee needs a rundown of who’s who and what’s what.

But, even when it feels like everything in the world is being automated and improved, onboarding processes are often outdated. It’s time to defossilize archaic new employee onboarding and give your employees a great start to their employee experience.

So, from breaking the ice to including critical security training, here are 17 answers to the questions, "What are the most important parts of the new employee onboarding experience and why?"

Break the Ice for Introducing Remote Teammates

New-hire introductions are one of the most important parts of the employee onboarding process, especially in remote offices. In a remote office, it can be difficult for new employees to get to know their colleagues, as they cannot easily socialize with them in person.

In order to help new employees feel welcome and comfortable in their new environment, it is important to have a well-organized introduction process. This process should include an announcement in a public channel with some personal and professional background information, as well as an encouraging response from the team.

It is also a good idea to post a more specific introduction in a team email or Slack channel. Remember to reintroduce the employee during the next virtual team meeting. By taking the time to introduce new employees to their colleagues, remote offices can help to ensure that they feel comfortable and connected to their team.

Tasia Duske, CEO, Museum Hack

Simplify the Administrative Process

You don't want new employees to be held up because of an overwhelming amount of paperwork and software introductions. The more you add to an employee's onboarding process, the longer it will take for them to get through it and get started on what we ultimately hired them to do.

image with text - Simplify the process. The more you add to an employee's onboarding, the longer it will take for them to get through it and get started on what you hired them for.

Simplify the process as much as possible. Keep in mind that any new software program, whether it's related to payroll, time-keeping, or other administrative tasks, has to be learned by new employees. Try to keep everything as user-friendly as possible; new employees will have a better chance of starting strongly if they're not burdened with learning so many new software programs during their first week on the job.

Brittany Dolin, Co-Founder, Pocketbook Agency

Provide a Career Progression Blueprint

A job position and its associated details are no longer the only elements that influence the onboarding experience of employees. Workers today also look forward to a roadmap the company has drawn for them as a career progression blueprint.

Whether it is as a customized document or a one-on-one session with the hiring manager or HR team representative, an onboarding experience today must include a growth plan for the employee and, preferably, a learning and development chart to aid mentioned transitions.

Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.

Assign Meaningful Work Right Away

One crucial part of onboarding new employees is making them feel like they are a part of the team, and not just an outsider looking in. This means that managers need to include new hires in meetings, projects, and other social settings, even if it means disrupting the status quo.

A way to make new hires feel included and valued is to assign them meaningful work right away. This helps them feel productive and also gives them something to contribute when interacting with other team members.

For example, if a new hire is joining a design team, have them look at other designs the team is working on and give feedback. This gives them a feeling of ownership over the work and helps them feel like they are part of the process.

Matthew Ramirez, CEO, Rephrasely

Be Proactive by Facilitating Relationships

Some businesses believe that simple introductions to other team members during employee onboarding suffice in building bonds, but maybe the most important part of the process is actually facilitating relationships. Creating a sense of teamwork, even under the best circumstances, can be challenging, and waiting for it to happen organically can waste precious time and hurt productivity.

Taking a proactive approach to team building by scheduling "meet and greets," creating social events, having new hires sit in on department meetings, and encouraging mentoring are great ways to speed up the process. By taking a proactive approach during the onboarding process and facilitating relationships rather than waiting for them to happen on their own, you can build stronger teams and jump-start your productivity.

Cody Candee, CEO, Bounce

Pair New Hires With a Peer Buddy to Help Them Adjust

Pairing new hires with a peer buddy is an effective way to help them feel more comfortable and supported in their new jobs. A peer buddy is a colleague who can provide guidance, help, and support to the new hire as they navigate their new role and become acclimated to the organization.

Some benefits of pairing new hires with a peer buddy include providing a sense of familiarity and support, offering practical help, and providing an opportunity for networking and building professional relationships within the organization. By pairing new hires with a peer buddy, organizations can help ensure a smooth and successful transition into the company and support new hires as they adapt to their new roles.

Mark Pierce, CEO, Cloud Peak Law Group

Give Them All the Tools for the Job

From a company laptop to more specific software, I think it's essential to provide employees with everything they need to perform their daily jobs from day one or even earlier. Giving them early access to your team's collaboration portal and links to helpful company resources can help them ease quickly into their new roles.

I've noticed many employers take unnecessary time in equipping new hires with work essentials. This not only slows down their workflow but also serves to frustrate workers who might already have a hard time adjusting to a new team.

It reflects poorly on the employer when new employees ask them repeatedly for what should already have been there. It's also a good idea to check in on them regularly and ask whether they need anything else to facilitate their work.

Anjela Mangrum, President, Mangrum Career Solutions

Start Before They Do

More and more, I'm hearing about new hires ghosting companies and not showing up on their first day. Onboarding needs a major overhaul in most organizations, but when companies do it right, they also do one thing different from their competition—they start onboarding before Day One.

image with text - Start preparing the onboarding process before their first day. If they feel like they already belong, everyone wins.

I'm not saying you should ask your new hires to do anything (including personality profiles or surveys, pre-training, or anything else that's not crucial or legally necessary for their employability) before they start. What I'm saying is the hiring manager should start preparing the onboarding well before the new employee starts, and this includes reaching out in advance to make sure the new team member feels confident they have (or can get) all the information they need so when Day one does arrive, they are confident, excited, and prepared to be successful. After all, you've invested a lot of time and money into this person already. If they feel like they already belong, everyone wins.

Sarah Ratekin, Chief Happiness Officer, Happiness Is Courage

Engage New Employees Across the Board

One of the most critical steps in any new hire's onboarding process is getting up to speed on what each department contributes to a company's mission and goals. To do this, ask each department to present new employees with a summary of what they handle, how their efforts contribute to the company's objectives and bottom line, and who their main points of contact are should they have follow-up questions.

Not only does this allow newcomers to meet and greet colleagues from across the organization, but it also immerses them in the culture and operations of the company from the start. These efforts help new coworkers feel a sense of belonging and familiarity from the moment they walk in the door.

Jessica Arias, Director of People & Culture, OnPay

Distribute Written Instructions

Communication can be limited in remote working situations, so new employees may have a bit more trouble keeping information. Managers should understand this by ensuring that their new employees have all the tools they need to succeed.

For instance, managers should provide written instructions besides explaining them verbally. This can be as a Google Doc or Google Slides. While we should always encourage new employees to ask questions, having these materials can help them to not forget things as much as they might otherwise.

Marilyn Zubak, Marketing Lead, Snif

Add More Communication Touchpoints

Most employers understand the value of a good onboarding experience. But a lot of employers also forget that there's a stressful gap in the space between when an employee puts in their notice and the time they start their new job. So, adding a couple of communication touchpoints can be so helpful to them feeling excited about the change instead of being hesitant.

One example can include a quick video intro of their future manager that's sent with a warm email. Or perhaps an onboarding video of the team, the facilities (if you're onsite), or anything else that's important for your new employee to know about.

By putting yourself in your employee's shoes and creating communication touchpoints, you're doing more than just giving your people a great first impression of your company. Studies show that by giving employees a good onboarding experience, you can improve long-term retention. And it's all because of the power of first impressions. So don't waste yours!

Justin Vajko, Founder & CEO, Dialog Employer Branding

Check-In More Often

Many employers will focus heavily on training as part of the onboarding process, which is fine; however, they often neglect actual check-ins with staff outside of the training to analyze whether there are any aspects of the role that they need support with in their initial onboarding period.

The more processes you have in place for these types of check-ins, the better you'll be able to tailor your training to the requirements of your new hires moving forward.

Dawn Wood, HR Manager, Woodyatt Curtains

Instill an Understanding of the Company’s “Why”

image with text - Understanding the "why" of a company is essential for employees to buy into the organization.

When onboarding new employees, it is important to ensure they understand the mission, vision, and values of your organization. Understanding the "why" of a company is essential for employees to buy into the organization.

When they understand more about what's behind the organization and what they are trying to accomplish, they can work to help achieve the company's goal. It's important we present this so employees can relate to it. Simply showing a PowerPoint with the vision, mission, and values will not get the employees excited. Instead, be prepared to offer scenarios and examples to ensure they truly understand the "why."

Caroline Duggan, Chief Brand Officer, Lumineux

Ensure the Process Feels Effortless

From the moment you pursue a candidate, you need to create a communication process that is seamless. Even if you are connecting with them via email or via LinkedIn, it is essential to have a transparent and detailed communication framework, so that you never leave candidates in the dark.

Tell them the specifications of the role, what you expect, what the package would be and whether it is negotiable, the joining date, and other perks. Once you onboard them, it's time to take things to the next level.

Start engaging with the candidate seamlessly, giving all the information, assets, support, and guidance they need to feel connected with the company. Essentially, ensure that the communication process is so effortless that the candidate will reach out to the concerned person with no friction. By not giving this opportunity, candidates might feel disconnected and it might lead to early attrition.

Sanya Nagpal, Head, Human Resources, Leena AI

Clarify Expectations and Goals

One of the most important parts of the new employee onboarding experience is providing clear expectations and goals for the employee to help ensure that they understand how their role contributes to the company's success and that they are set up for success in their new role. It also helps to align the employee with the company's mission, values, and goals, and it also facilitates the employee to feel like they are part of the company, which can increase engagement and retention.

Having a clear understanding of what we expect of them can help new employees to feel more confident and motivated in their new role, which can lead to higher levels of productivity and performance. Additionally, setting clear expectations and goals can also help to minimize confusion and misunderstandings, which can lead to fewer mistakes and rework.

Onboarding should also include helping the employee to understand how the company is going to support their growth and development.

Jarir Mallah, HR Specialist, Ling App

Organically Welcome the New Hire

Employee onboarding is normally a structured and rigid process. Although this approach ticks many boxes regarding talent management strategy, ultimately the human touch decides whether or not new hires feel welcomed into the organization. We humans can readily detect insincerity, and formal onboarding can often feel rather forced.

Giving new hires time to mingle with existing employees is therefore essential. This must feel as organic as possible, helping new hires to build meaningful and lasting relationships. By simply letting people connect with each other, new hires associate the organization with faces and personalities, not just employer branding or organizational charts.

Through these relationships, new hires will learn the ropes and acclimate to the organization, fulfilling the aim of onboarding. Without these genuine human connections, new hires only build a superficial relationship with their employer, lacking in depth or meaning.

Ben Schwencke, Business Psychologist, Test Partnership

Train Employees to Combat Security Threats

We must train employees to detect and prevent cybersecurity threats. From understanding the various online threats to keeping secure email etiquette, there are strict guidelines to show employees how to keep their and their employer's information safe.

The implications of a cyber threat go further than leaking one employee's personal information. One breach can lead to several that can be permanently damaging if any clients' information is compromised.

Understanding how to browse the web safely or what types of files to be downloading are cybersecurity basics, but they must be reiterated to ensure safe liability practices.

Zach Goldstein, CEO & Founder, Public Rec