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hat does a poorly designed and unstructured onboarding experience feel like? Like trying to drink from a firehose! 

A new culture to get acquainted with, tons of new information to process, and plenty of new faces to meet. Yes, onboarding can be a challenge for new hires. And unfortunately, not many companies do acknowledge it. 

Read on to learn more about onboarding best practices and why bringing order and engagement to the onboarding process is important to improve retention and add to the culture.

Why Care About Onboarding Best Practices?

Let’s start with some fundamentals. What is an onboarding? 

Onboarding contemplates the integration of the new employee into the organization with subsequent acquaintance with its culture, goals, values, and practices and acquiring the necessary knowledge and behavior to perform a specific role.

Yet, why it is so important? Why implement best practices for onboarding new employees? 

onborading stats

Importantly, a poor onboarding process can leave new employees uncomfortable, dispirited, and confused. And, in the long term, it will affet their engagement, motivation, and understanding of their role within the organization. 

In contrast, a good onboarding experience improves the retention of workers and contributes to the corporate culture. By setting the right expectations and behavior, you can make the workforce more engaged, productive, and mission-oriented. 

So, the benefits of boarding are obvious. The well-developed program will affect retention, improve culture, and have positive effects on the workforce.

benefits of onboarding

Overall, onboarding is not only about integrating a new worker but also making people stick with your company and the corporate culture. 

💡Pro tip: To make a decent onboarding program, keep in mind that one of your main goals is the retention of employees in the long run. 

New Employee Onboarding Best Practices

Now, let’s talk about ways to contribute to the experience of new hires. The key to fruitful onboarding is to focus on the employees, putting them in the center, rather than your business. That’s why the best tips relate to preparation, setting communication, and offering enough engagement. 

At the same time, you, as a HR or L&D professional, should consider the tools to use, align the program to the employee role and company needs, and leave room for feedback. It all requires building a system that can be changed, scaled, and revisited for later improvement. 

With this in mind, we have collected 9 best practices for onboarding and supported them with tips.

#1. Plan Your Onboarding and Schedule Beforehand

The best onboarding experience starts with deliberate planning. It involves building a program, preparing materials, consulting with team and stakeholders, and designing a schedule. 

For instance, on-site onboarding requires the physical presence of someone from the HR or L&D department, while remote onboarding will require a decent amount of guides, video explainers, or meetings. In this regard, you should think about the tools you will use, who will be involved in the onboarding, and which learning materials you will need. 

The importance of this plan lies in the:  

  • Operational impact. With a plan, you are likely to bring more organization, structure, and compliance to the management of onboarding.
  • Training impact. After you devised a plan, you can transform it into the map or checklist for a new hire, offering clarity on what will come in the next weeks. 

In the end, create a deliberate plan, where you schedule important events and meetings, indicate milestones, specify goals, and set deadlines. Also, mention people whom you want to assign as buddies and prepare a meeting with the main team. 

💡Pro tip: Remote onboarding usually needs more touchpoints and communication; thus, pay special attention to new hire needs and answer them via Q&A sessions, meetings, and check-ins.

#2. Work on Your Preboarding 

When it comes to employee onboarding best practices, the preboarding stage is pretty important. Even though it covers the period from the acceptance of the offer till the first day at work, this stage offers room for engagement with the new hires and setting the ground for a deeper connection. 

At this stage, you should prepare for the onboarding, organize the learning for the new colleagues, and welcome them. What are the important things you can do?

  • Collaborate with the IT team to place a working space. Depending on the organization, ask your IT team to provide the necessary equipment and conditions for the onboarding.
  • Create a learning portal. Think of setting up a digital space for learning materials, sharing knowledge, and improving expertise. Depending on the niche and expertise, you may want to create a community or learning program, set of video guides, or develop a knowledge base.
  • Set up logins and accesses. A new hire will need the access to the professional tools. Also, create a working email and logins for the subsequent communication.
  • Greet a new hire with a welcome pack (email, chat, and kit). It can vary significantly, but you should at least send a personalized email and organize a brief chat. Also, many specialists would say that the onboarding best practice is welcoming people and showing they are valued. A chat or welcome kit is just a way to make them comfortable and at ease on the first day.
💡Pro tip: to organize and develop learning, you can use data management tools, like Notion, Confluence, or Nuclino, or resort to learning platforms if you have a group to onboard.

Further reading: Best L&D Tools for Training

#3. Devote Time to Administrative Tasks and Paperwork

Before showing a company culture to the new hire, you should deal with tedious and mundane paperwork and administrative tasks. Why do you do it in the beginning? 

Well, there are several reasons: 

  • You mitigate the stress and delays for the newcomers, as the legal and financial proceedings often take time.
  • You show commitment and allow new hires to concentrate on learning the new role and integration into the company. 

Thus, provide them with all the forms they need to fill out, such as tax forms, contracts, and company policies, and offer guidance. Yet, it is important to manage, discuss, and introduce all the paperwork promptly, and preferably in the first days. 

💡Pro tip: the best onboarding practices include using automation and checklists to avoid errors at this stage, allowing you to deal with paperwork efficiently.

#4. Introduce the New Hire to the Culture of the Company

It is hard to underestimate the importance of culture in the company. Forbes underlines that around 88% of job applicants consider a healthy work culture crucial for success and development. Thus, the proper introduction into the culture of your company will only benefit you and the new hire. 

The right intro will help create a sense of belonging, better understand goals and roles, and highlight opportunities to show their talents. What are the ways to do it with a proper intro? 

  • Prepare a multimedia piece to start with. Think of a welcoming video piece or a virtual tour, showcasing the organization's principles, values, and day-to-day operations.
  • Share a case showing why the company is successful. A good way to connect and prove that culture works is to offer exciting cases and stories proving how culture led to growth and success. 
  • Provide a guide on culture and hierarchy. Another way to offer an intro is to share a comprehensive culture guide outlining norms, communication practices, compensation structures, and other essential aspects of the company's culture.

In any case, your goal is to offer a roadmap for the new employee, helping them navigate their role within the organization more effectively and know they can find support. 

Yet, it is crucial to make it interactive and informative, meaning you can use various tools, from presentations and guides to meetings and videos. You can create a Notion page, an extensive Loom video, or a separate lecture or space within a larger program. 

EducateMe onboarding examples

Here is an example of the EducateMe guide on communication set in Notion; we do believe that communication is a key to a fruitful operation.

💡Pro tip: don’t be afraid to experiment with formats and make boring guides more interesting. Accenture shows that you can even create VR spaces to do onboarding if it suits your culture.

#5. Provide Effective Orientation and Integrate Technologies

In most cases, new hires have questions about their new roles, responsibilities, working processes, and internal organization. Onboarding best practices involve anticipating issues and offering a solid orientation program. There, identify the progression opportunities and frequency of performance reviews clearly.

Moreover, navigating through processes and accessing information should be seamless for new hires. You can integrate technologies that facilitate knowledge sharing and offer easy access to relevant resources, such as employee handbooks, training materials, and communication channels. 

That’s why we underline the use of learning portals, content libraries, and even corporate software to streamline onboarding.

💡Pro tip: resort to the IT department or third parties to develop a chatbot for an intuitive and interactive onboarding and orientation experience.

#6 Encourage Engagement and Connection With a Team

Let’s not forget about the importance of the connection of a new hire with the team. One of the goals of onboarding is to prevent the feeling of isolation and ensure social integration. And best onboarding practices for new employees related to the organization of meetings can help you with that.

Great ways to set up informal gatherings for new hires are virtual coffee catchups, weekly meetups, and welcome team-building events. The crucial condition is to set a relaxed atmosphere. 

What are other ways to support integration into the company?

  • Assign a buddy. Assigning the new hire a person from a different team, acting as a mentor and guide, can enhance their sense of belonging and provide important insights into corporate culture. The bonus is better coherence within the company in the long run.
  • Implement job shadowing. Another technique is to allow new employees to observe experienced colleagues in action. It will allow the exchange of experience and expertise, affecting the learning curve and understanding of expectations.
  • Peer-to-peer review. Also, throughout the onboarding process, ask colleagues to leave feedback after the first tasks or projects, especially if it is teamwork.
💡Pro tip: use collaborative spaces and communities to ignite communication and engagement between new hires and the team.

#7. Involve Senior Managers and Leaders in the Onboarding Process

What about other ways to improve the employee onboarding experience? Involve senior managers and leaders to provide valuable insights and perspectives. Importantly, their participation demonstrates a commitment to the new hire's success and reinforces the importance of their role within the organization.

How to organize their participation? Well, you can personalized welcome messages or intros, or schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss goals and opportunities for growth. Also, sharing their experience and vision can help with the onboarding of middle and senior specialists. In the end, it is about inspiration and motivation to align with the company. 

💡Pro tip: you can create a training session on leadership and growth for the cohort of new employees in the middle or closer to the end of the onboarding.

#8. Provide Support and Encourage Feedback

At the same time, effective onboarding is impossible without solid support and proper reaction to the feedback. How to do it properly? Best employee onboarding practices underline that you should remain flexible and be able to answer the different needs of the new hires. 

It means that each new hire will not behave the same, proceed at the same speed, or be as active as the previous. Yet, you should be adaptable and provide enough support to help them integrate and show their talents. 

That’s why you should ask and offer solid feedback opportunities, like Q&A sessions, polls, meetings, and even forums. There, the good ways to handle support and establish feedback culture are:

  • Ensure effective communication.
  • Do regular check-ins.
  • Create a channel or community to provide help.
💡Pro tip: one of the best onboarding practices is breaking the process into several milestones or checkpoints, at which you will evaluate the hire’s progress, integration, and progression. Use a 30-60-90s method, dividing onboarding into periods, to track progress and identify needs that can be discussed and answered.

#9. Review Your Onboarding Process Upon Comments 

Lastly, as the onboarding process adds to the company’s long-term development, it is crucial to review and improve it. The best source for changes is concerned with comments and feedback from new hires and stakeholders (buddies or leaders involved) after a completed onboarding. 

By refining your onboarding program based on insights and observations, you will ensure that it remains relevant and impactful for future hires. 

💡Pro tip: use polls to evaluate the experience of new hires and leave a space for their suggestions for improvement.

Conclusion: What to Keep in Mind About Employee Onbarding Best Practices?

All in all, onboarding isn't just about integrating new hires into the company — it's about ensuring they're equipped for success and are in the right place. That’s why a good onboarding experience fosters retention and enhances corporate culture.

How to ensure it is successful? By focusing on new hires. It means solid planning, effective communication, and meaningful engagement. The best onboarding experience involves seamless preboarding, a streamlined system, and a great intro to the company culture.

And, let’s not forget about the role of the team and people. Thus, fostering connections with colleagues and involving senior leaders are as crucial. 

Looking for a space to build such a system? Think of EducateMe, offering great program creation, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing options. Try it now or book a demo.
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