Onboarding is a critical first step in laying the foundation for engaging and retaining employees. The better the onboarding experience, the more prepared, engaged and connected your new hire will be. 

A good onboarding process starts before the first day, encompasses more than just filling out paperwork (like introducing your company culture), and is ongoing. Get your new employees off to the best possible start by implementing these onboarding best practices. 

What is Onboarding? 

Many employers confuse onboarding with having employees fill out paperwork, like a W4, and setting up their workspaces. It’s no wonder that only about one in 10 employees strongly agree that their organization does a good job of onboarding.  

Best-practice onboarding is more than a simple orientation or the completion of the first 30 days of employment; it is a six-, nine- or even 12-month process that includes basic introductions to the job but also a full integration into the company. Because the process is much more complex than simply reading the employee handbook and logging into the company system, employees need ramp-up time to learn their role and be able to perform all critical functions at a high level, according to Gallup

Get new employees off to the best possible start by implementing these onboarding best practices. 

Start Before the First Day 

Don’t waste the first day filling out paperwork. Use an onboarding system that allows new employees to start this part of the process from home, before their first day on the job. A cloud-based system gives employers the ability to collect several documents from employees for legal and regulatory compliance.  

This paperwork includes: 

  • W-4 for employees or W-9 for contractors 
  • I-9 Employee Eligibility Verification form 
  • State Tax Withholding form 
  • Direct Deposit form 
  • E-Verify system that verifies employee’s work eligibility in the United States 

When new employees complete this step from home, their first day becomes less about paperwork and more about productivity. Use that first day to help employees start to create working relationships with their new team members and really begin to understand the responsibilities of the job and the culture of the organization. 

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate 

Communication is the cornerstone of an effective onboarding process. Fluid, back-and-forth communication between manager, team and new hires is essential for welcoming new employees.  

  • Introduce communication technology. Quickly get new employees up to speed about how to use the technology that keeps your team in the loop and on task. It’s never fun to begin a job feeling like you’re on the outside looking in. Whether you are using software for project management, collaboration tools, filing share systems, or other forms of collaboration, make sure your new employees get the training they need to get started and feel comfortable using your systems. 
  • Keep new employees on courseEffective onboarding provides a lot of information your new employee needs to know, and it may feel daunting. Break down the information you need to communicate into smaller sections and touch base with the new hire after each segment is complete. Software specific to onboarding enables you to track the employee’s progress, ensuring they get all the information they need for success and to ensure compliance. 

Get the Entire Team Involved 

The saying “It takes a village” can easily apply to the process of onboarding new employees. The more people that are involved in the process, the better your new hires will understand every aspect of their roles. 

  • Ask team members to take part in first day steps. Coming into an office (physically or virtually) or being on a job site for the first time can be stressful or overwhelming. New hires may not know anyone beyond their new manager, or they are likely not keyed into little things current employees take for granted—such as where to park, where to put their lunch and so on. Assign team members to share this institutional knowledge. It will help build a bond and make new hires comfortable. 
  • Assign a “buddy” to your new employee. A buddy or mentor helps new workers get questions answered and learn more about their role in the company. A work buddy can show new employees the ropes while being a resource on company policies and procedures. For companies that aren’t virtual it’s ideal for the work buddy to be in the same location so they can provide real-time guidance.  

Make Training—including Safety—Part of Onboarding 

Training new hires should begin on day one. Many companies require new employees to complete sexual harassment and internet security training before they start interacting with staff or logging into the system. Incorporating safety training is also essential in many industries, including construction, manufacturing and healthcare. 

  • Host a toolbox talk. OSHA’s Safety Training and Education standard requires employers to instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe working conditions to control or eliminate hazards. One way to do this is by hosting a toolbox talk, which is an informal safety meeting that focuses on specific issues. Holding one for new employees is an effective way to introduce new employees to safety standards and even refresh the topic for current workers. These can be done online using video conferencing tools or recorded informational sessions. 
  • Offer appropriate ongoing training. To keep people’s skills and knowledge up-to-date, provide regular development and learning opportunities, during the first year and beyond. New employee training can not only enhance the productivity and effectiveness of workers, but it also serves as a retention tool. A cloud-based learning management system allows employees to complete training online 24/7, wherever they are. Employees who work on job sites can log in from their phones, a kiosk or even from home.  

After Onboarding, Keep Connectivity Consistent and Persistent 

To solidify all the good processes, procedures and habits onboarding teaches, use techniques that engage employees, develop their skills and manage their expectations as on ongoing way of doing business. 

  • Keep effective communication lines open. Employees appreciate communication, so informal techniques like simply saying hello in the morning or asking someone how their weekend was can go a long way. More formally, a weekly 1:1 check-in or quick team meeting keeps everyone on the same page and ensures expectations are clear.  
  • Making learning a priority. Lack of opportunity or growth is a primary reason employees look for a new job. Employees want to continue to grow and learn beyond the time they are fully integrated into the organization and competent in their job. Offering development opportunities helps with retention and it also ensures you have a full pipeline of internal talent ready to advance and grow with your company.  
  • Help employees improve and growPerformance management software provides the framework for your employees to be their very best by providing them with regular, actionable feedback whether they are on-site or remote. Regular performance reviews also allow for peer-to-peer, outside-organization and project-based feedback to put your workforce in a position to improve in the short term and the long run. 

Onboarding doesn’t have to be a so-so or bad experience for new hires. Following these best practices will ensure you cover everything your newest employees need to successfully do their job while making them feel like a valued part of the team.  

Want more insights on creating and delivering the best onboarding experience? Download our onboarding checklist to make sure you cover all the steps needed to get your new employees off to the best start. 

A cloud-based onboarding system, like Arcoro’s onboarding software, can be accessed from anywhere including a laptop, desktop, mobile device or kiosk. When a system is 100% paperless, it can streamline the entire process and eliminate any data input errors. It’s also less cumbersome for the employee and HR staff, allowing you to focus on the aspects of onboarding that help engage your newest member. 

 Contact one of our team members to ask how our onboarding system can help transform the experience for your new hires.