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Creating a Successful Employee Onboarding Experience

Thursday October 27, 2022

What is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding starts from the moment a candidate is hired, through the first weeks or even months of their employment. It is the period of time when you as the employer have the ability to shape the future of the employee’s experience in your organization. Its key components include carefully developed training, clear expectation setting for the role, and creating meaningful touchpoints with key resources in the organization. It is arguably the most critical step in creating engaged, productive, and committed employees.

What Does an Employee Onboarding Experience Entail?

According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), “‘Onboarding’ refers to the processes in which new hires are integrated into the organization. It includes activities that allow new employees to complete an initial new-hire orientation process, as well as learn about the organization and its structure, culture, vision, mission and values.” 

The purpose of onboarding has evolved over the years. It is no longer simply a time to share information about benefits and complete paperwork; it is now an immersive experience that allows employees not only to receive information about payroll and benefits but to understand how they will contribute to the organization, and its culture and embody its values. 

How Long Does Onboarding Take?

The one-day employee onboarding experience is an outdated notion. Successful onboarding experiences in today’s work environment last anywhere from a few days to several months. An employee’s onboarding experience does not have to conclude prior to an employee beginning productive work; in fact, onboarding can occur simultaneously and support employees as they start to contribute while reinforcing continuous learning and engagement. 

What are the Benefits of Employee Onboarding?

According to SHRM, a recent Gallup study showed that “only 29 percent of new hires felt they were prepared and supported to excel in their new role.” A well-developed onboarding program will ensure an employee understands the expectations of their job, how to do it, key stakeholders in their success, and the resources to support them. This information does not always have to be shared during live training – an organization might instead choose to create onboarding guides for different areas of the organization, compiling important information into one document that can be accessed on an ongoing basis. This document might share information on annual processes (think: open enrollment or performance reviews) and systems and tools which the employee will use, along with how to access these tools (think: user registration, account set-up, etc.). A guide could also contain an organizational chart, identifying who in the organization leads which team and their contact information. These guides best function as living documents hosted on a shared site, so they can be updated regularly as information changes.

Organizations that thoughtfully onboard employees will develop comprehensive sessions led by leaders and colleagues from across the organization. These sessions should serve to inspire and connect employees to both other colleagues as well as the organization’s mission. Ensuring these sessions are interactive will allow learning on all sides. Bree Groff of minutes.co suggests that “a momentous, memorable, motivating onboarding should be a two-way experience where the company is learning about you as much as you are learning about the company.”

How Can a Company Set Up a Successful Onboarding Experience?

Setting up a successful employee onboarding experience requires effort, but once developed, is a repeatable process that will easily integrate into the fabric of an organization. Below are some suggested tips for the creation and ongoing management of a successful onboarding program:

  • Standardize start dates each month. Onboarding can become chaotic when employees are joining at any given point. Offering standardized start dates, for example, the 1st and 3rd Monday of each month will create consistency in your process as well as for those internally involved in its execution. Standardizing start dates may also allow for employees to start in groups, promoting friendship and camaraderie among those who join on a specific date and experience onboarding as a “cohort.”
  • Develop a clear “pre-boarding” process. Once an employee accepts an offer, set processes in motion to ensure proper technology, access, benefits, and compensation ahead of the start date. There is no faster way to disengage employees than by being unprepared for their arrival on day one. 
  • Consider a “buddy program.” Introducing a new employee to a fellow colleague is a great way to facilitate connection during a time that can feel intimidating for a new hire. The buddy could be someone on or outside of the employee’s immediate team and can serve as a friendly face, a resource for questions, and perhaps a lunch partner during their first week. This is especially important in virtual environments. According to minutes.co, “this sort of deliberate connection is going to become more and more crucial in a hybrid, virtual working environment where you can’t bump into someone in the hallway and strike up a conversation.”
  • Engage Colleagues in Job-Specific Onboarding. A great way to engage new hires and existing employees is to involve a wide breadth of people in the onboarding experience. Inviting existing employees to identify important content for onboarding in their area and allowing them to participate in the creation of that content will not only ensure that the content is relevant but also connect existing employees to a broader organizational purpose.

Get Creative!

Incorporating activities into the onboarding experience is a great way to foster fun and connection. These could include group events like scavenger hunts, trivia, or a paint night (in-person or virtual!). Consider Teamraderie for a variety of unique onboarding activities that will fulfill all requirements of onboarding while building teamwork and friendships! 

Investing in the employee onboarding experience will pay dividends when done successfully. Demonstrating to your employees that your organization is excited about their arrival and invested in their success creates the foundation for engaged, productive, and dedicated employees who will serve as champions for your organization. Allow Teamraderie to support you on this journey!

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