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How to Develop an Effective Employee Onboarding Process?

The employee onboarding process is an important part of integrating new hires into the organization. Learn to design effective processes with this guide.

Table of Contents

The employee onboarding process involves steps and responsibilities of HR for swifter employee integration into the organization. One can think of it as a new hire orientation. The process is multifaceted and includes steps such as team introductions, job responsibilities, awareness regarding company policies, etc.

Unfortunately, HR departments often overlook or do not emphasize enough on this process. If rightly applied, it can help with quicker hires, talent retention, and smoother team assimilation. According to a report from BCG, the employee onboarding process is a crucial element after hiring for impacting the organizations.

Furthermore, onboarding also helps immensely with maintaining worker retention in the company. Often organizations report losing talent to competitors. This happens when the companies do not invest diligently in the growth of their workers. Onboarding is necessary for welcoming new members and making them comfortable enough to stay a part of the team. A report shows that onboarding improves worker retention by up to 82%.

Types of onboarding processes

  • Social -  it focuses on building connections and welcoming the new recruits into the work environment.
  • Knowledge - sharing of specific job-related knowledge with the team. Also, identifying what the new hire needs to learn and connecting with the right resources. 
  • Operational - emphasizes on steps for swifter office operations i.e. sharing the right tools and gadgets to sort the employees.  
  • Performance - setting up new hire goals and assigning initial projects to help them understand their role and expectations of the organization from them.

An all-encompassing employee onboarding process incorporates elements from all these types. However, depending on company needs, the processes can differ as well. Therefore, decide on the type that covers your company's needs and requirements.

See also: Employee onboarding training guide for HR managers.

Steps for developing an employee onboarding process

It is important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating an onboarding process. As you begin, keep in mind the purpose behind it. Which department are you focusing on? Who are the target employees? What are the essentials pointers to include? Etc.

This section looks at some key steps that will help you structure your employee onboarding process better.

1. Send an offer

Onboarding starts the minute HR decides to recruit the applicant. A lot of the time, applicants apply to multiple places at once. The one with a better bid gets to call the shots. This is why be careful with designing the job offer. Ensure that it covers the necessary job details. Once it is sent, you wait for the response.

2. Pre-employee onboarding process

Pre-onboarding includes all the steps taken in advance of the actual day of orientation. In fact, it is the preparation of the orientation. Here, you focus on boring administrative things such as tax forms, signing in the recruits, setting up their profiles, issuance of security badges, etc.

3. Automate the process

Why waste time on repetitive tasks? Automate where necessary such as online registration, welcome emails, and administrative paperwork. Not only will it make your job easier and faster, but it also leaves a professional mark. You can develop or make use of apps and exchange project management tools with the employees. Most importantly, share communication channels such as Slack for seamless team integration.

4. Prepare a checklist

Checklists are there to help you keep track of all the steps so you do not forget anything given your hectic schedules. They also help direct focus on any self-directed activities the recruits can take care of themselves, and what to expect on the first day.

5. Keep them engaged

The duration between hiring and the actual day of work should not be wasted. Make the most of this time by keeping the employees informed about company news, new policies, meet-ups, etc. Utilize it to build a bond with your employees else they might lose interest.

6. Make a training plan

Training plans help you prepare for teaching the new recruits their task, usage of software, and accessing the company's knowledge base. Think of the L&D prep programs to include, any gamification exercises for improved engagement, and training strategies for in-office or remote training.

See also: 15 Best HR Training Tools in 2022.

7. Follow-ups and feedback

The employee onboarding process is not a one-off thing. It is named a process for a reason which happens in phases. After the initial onboarding, make sure to keep checking up on the recruits periodically. Ideally, the format is divided along with the 30/60/90 day model. You can adjust it for better optimization as well. Follow-ups are to see if the employees are fitting in well and to solve any problems they may be facing.

Besides the follow-ups, also seek routine feedback on how you can improve the process, especially for future reference.

Handy tips to improve the employee onboarding process

Having covered the necessary steps for developing the process, these are some beneficial suggestions on how you can further improve the experience.

  • Automate what you can. You can include video training for explaining less complex bits and saving time. Essentially, cut down the unnecessary workload and save everyone the hassle. No one wants to attend a meeting that could've simply been an email.
  • Ease first-day anxieties by shaking things up a little bit. Maybe take the new recruits for an office tour and introduce them. You can even hold an informal meet and greet after hours or take them for a little lunch for ice-breaking.
  • Share the team’s goals and KPI (key performance indicators) with the new employees to help them understand what is expected of them. Perhaps even do a little bit of in-work career counseling and guide them on how they can work towards promotions later on.

Small gestures such as these go a long way and show your employees that they are valued.

What to include in an onboarding checklist?

employee onboarding checklist

Checklists are there to keep track of the process and reduce any errors. When creating a checklist for the onboarding, it is advisable to divide it into sections. Below is a brief list of points to include in one:

  • Necessary automation: Video training, E-forms, onboarding emails, etc.
  • Admin tasks: Access to tools and softwares, sharing log-in information, setting-up workstation, authorization of security tags, setting up of company accounts, etc.
  • Welcoming process: Introductions, office tours, meet-ups.
  • Reviewing information: Going over training plans, company rules, payroll plans, and company policies (anti-harassment, dress code, resignation procedures, etc).

Why do some onboarding processes fail?

According to a Gallup study, it was found that only 12% of the employees agree that their organizations put in sufficient effort in onboarding new employees. This number shows that companies do not focus on this as much as they should. And so, whatever little efforts that some do make are often half-hearted and ineffective.

Here are some mistakes that you should also avoid:

  • Delayed onboarding and negligence due to busy work schedules.
  • To expect the new recruits to cover the basics on their own without giving any guidance.
  • Lack of preparation and structure in the orientation process.
  • Overwhelming the employees with information overload and expecting them to memorize lengthy company policies.
  • Using a singular rigid approach to different employees and failure to address individual needs. Remember what works for one may not work for another.
  • Lack of remote and hybrid onboarding efforts.
  • Lack of technology to support the process.


They say the first impression is the last. The employee onboarding process isn't just about integrating new recruits into the organization but they are equally substantive in creating a company impression upon the new employees. How you treat the employees in the early days of hiring in a way shows them how they will be treated in the long run. If they feel they are not valued enough and there is not sufficient support for them, then talent loss and employee turnover are bound to happen. That is why make sure to make the most of this step and ensure employee loyalty.

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