Effective onboarding requires a well-planned strategy. Employers cannot give an employee a mug and a laptop on their first day, throw them in a cubicle and hope for the best. If they want results from new employees, they need to inspire, inform and engage.

According to Gartner, successful onboarding can increase an employee’s discretionary effort by more than 20% and drive employee performance by up to 15%. Furthermore, committed employees work 57% harder and are nine times less likely to leave.

The stakes are high for onboarding, and companies that commit time and resources have a better chance to come out ahead. Employers should engage in onboarding strategies to create positive work cultures and develop workers who eagerly come into work (or log in) every day. Let’s take a look at some best practices for successful onboarding.

Use Efficient Preboarding

Employers should begin onboarding prior to an employee’s first day. This can include email communications that describe the company culture or highlight key accomplishments. Learning leaders and the employee’s manager can also send new hires corporate “swag” to get them excited.

Prior to the first day, new hires can complete paperwork such as banking/deposit forms, employee handbook forms, nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) and other documents. By eliminating a few hours of paperwork, managers and colleagues can have more time to spend with the new hire (e.g., in one-on-one meetings, team lunches, etc.). You can also assign a buddy for a new hire’s first month or two to help familiarize them with the company and its culture and to address any questions or concerns.

Explain Company Benefits

Onboarding is also an important time to train new hires on pay and benefits. This can include understanding the pay schedule, their pay amount and any bonus or stock options. Talk to them about the company’s 401k provider and any other important details. Introduce the new hire to the HR team and let them know whom to contact for any benefits or payroll questions.

Giving your new hires a complete picture of their employment details and an avenue to ask questions can help them feel more comfortable in their new role. It can also help remove the ambiguity and uncertainty that comes with starting a new job, and encourage them to contribute and engage with others in the organization.

Also ensure to communicate training expectations with new hires so they can prepare ahead of time. Set training sessions on their calendar and schedule check ins after training to follow up with their progress.

Outline Job Responsibilities

An important part of onboarding is familiarizing the new employee with their role. The new hire should understand their specific role, including short- and long-term goals. Give them context into their job responsibilities within the business and how their success can lead to promotions, bonuses or other perks.

They also need to understand the organizational chart. Introduce new hires to leadership teams and seasoned employees in their department. Meeting senior management can help new hires feel valued, especially if it’s a meaningful interaction that includes an offer of assistance or mentorship. If employees understand why they’re performing certain duties, they can be equipped to perform better and eventually, propose their own improvements.

Better performance can also help new hires develop a sense of purpose. A McKinsey report describes the need for employers to correlate the business’s goals with individual purpose. In the report, 70% of employees surveyed said that their sense of purpose is largely defined by their work. However, only 18% of respondents believed that they get as much purpose as they need in their roles. By explaining their role and setting clear expectations, you can help instill a sense of purpose from day one.

Explain the Culture

Prior to day one, send new hires resources and materials to read on the company’s history and mission statement. Provide some color commentary by pairing new hires with subject matter experts (SMEs) in the company who understand and represent the organization’s culture. Employees who feel connected to the company culture have a better chance at developing a sense of purpose and staying long term.

The Bottom Line

Managers should proceed slowly with new hires and invest the time and resources needed to catch them up to speed. Your new hires are an investment that can make a huge impact to the business and its people. That’s why it’s imperative to have effective onboarding that sets expectations, provides context into their new roles and develops rapport with their new team.