Onboarding is a critical component of every company’s success. It is vital for companies to invest in their employees by providing appropriate training and orientation as they join the workforce. According to research from the Brandon Hall Group, great employee onboarding helps to improve the retention rate by 82%.

This is not only beneficial for new hires, but for employers who can be confident that each employee has been equipped with all the skills necessary to succeed on the job from day one.

However, the best onboarding practices for new employees does more than just introduce them to the company’s culture and values. It ensures that new hires are able to hit the ground running, taking advantage of all opportunities as they arise. Let’s explore some top onboarding practices that will help navigate success with new hires.

The Importance of Employee Onboarding

Joining a new company can be daunting. New employees want to put their best foot forward and settle into their new job, and an engaging onboarding program can help. An engaging onboarding experience can facilitate belonging and inclusion, helping new team members to feel welcome. It also gives employers an opportunity to show the inclusive nature of the company culture. The easier it is for new team members to settle in, the less likely they will decide to move on to a new workplace.

Setting clear expectations and showing new employees they have support is an excellent way to boost productivity and allows them to jump straight into their role. This can also attract prospective employees when they are making a decision on where to work. New hires want a seamless transition into their new jobs, and the onboarding process is a big part of this.

Onboarding is a process, and as with all other business processes, there are many ways to optimize it. Here are eight ways to get started:

1. Start Before the Employee’s First Day

Employers shouldn’t wait for the moment a new hire walks through the door on their first day to start the onboarding process. From the beginning of the relationship, employers can start onboarding and building engagement with the new team member.

To begin building engagement with new hires, employers can:

  • Send a welcome email.
  • Create content that demonstrates your company values.
  • Encourage questions.
  • Send a new-hire welcome package.

Though small, these steps can help ease a new hire’s mind so they feel more confident when they walk through the door — in person or virtually — on their first day.

2. Implement Employee Preboarding

Why waste the first day of employment signing documents and making tentative introductions when all of this can be done beforehand?

Technology allows new hires to become familiar with their new team and company right away, rather than waiting until the first day. Have the onboarding documents signed electronically and introduce them to the team through a video call. Initial introductions tend to be a little awkward, but if employers can get them out of the way with a video chat, it can clear the way for a more productive first day.

Team leaders can also send important information like an employee handbook during the preboarding process so that new employees are aware of company expectations from the start.

3. Prepare for Day One

Onboarding involves many administrative tasks that can be completed before the new hire starts on day one. Things like making sure they have a desk, setting up their company email and adding them to collaboration platforms can all be sorted prior to the first day so the new hire feels more acclimated.

The first day is the perfect opportunity for a quick review of the company’s core values and policies. Employers can schedule meetings with key managers or team members ahead of time, so they can get to know their new colleagues. Though the first day can be a dull affair, switching up new team members schedule with meetings and activities can help boost engagement.

4. Announce Your New Hire

While most people don’t want a huge song and dance to be made on their first day, it’s nice for others to know who they are and what they’re there to do. Of course, with time, new hires will naturally make connections, but it’s much easier if an announcement is made, especially to their new team.

This doesn’t need to be anything big. A simple email letting existing employees know about the new hire is enough to involve everyone in making the new employee feel welcome.

5. Promote the Buddy System

Settling in is much easier when there’s someone to show you the ropes. A buddy system pairs new hires with more experienced employees who can answer any questions they might have. This saves the new hire from constantly having to go to their manager whenever they have a question and makes it easier to assimilate as part of the team.

6. Set Expectations

It’s very difficult to fit into a role if company expectations aren’t clearly defined.

An important part of the onboarding process is setting clear expectations and highlighting how the business will help new hires achieve these expectations. Employers should provide new hires with a detailed job description — even if it might seem obvious — to help set realistic goals.

It’s not enough to just give someone a computer and put them to work. Though the new team member may have substantial experience, they need to understand the expectations for their role before they can fully put their skills into action.

7. Check in Regularly

Just as employee onboarding doesn’t start on a new hire’s first day, it doesn’t finish after their first day either. Employee satisfaction and performance requires continuous communication, so it’s important to check in regularly.

Regular check-ins can help both sides set and manage expectations and can be a great way to continue evolving an organization’s onboarding process. New hires can be a great source of feedback, so employers, don’t be afraid to ask questions!

Aim for check-ins on day one, seven, 14, 30, 60 and 90 — at a minimum.

8. Leverage Onboarding Software

When a company is constantly bringing on new employees, it can be difficult to keep track of every step. An effective onboarding process consists of many different tasks and activities, and often, technology is needed to optimize each part.

Utilizing employee scheduling software can be helpful during the onboarding process. This allows the new employee to see their schedule and the shifts they are working well in advance. In addition, instructions and expectations could be noted within the platform so new employees can be prepared and aware of expectations.

Employee onboarding software and workforce solutions can also help ensure your new hires are ready to go when they walk through the door on the first day. First impressions count, and an employee’s first day is exactly that — a first impression. Taking a practical approach to building engagement during onboarding enables employers to provide an optimal experience for new team members.

As these best practices show, the most important thing is preparation; so don’t leave things to chance. Act early, be prepared and continue to check in throughout your employees’ employment.