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A newly hired employee working on her computer
The onboarding experience is often an employee's first extended interaction with their new employer. By taking the time to roll out the welcome mat, employers can help set the stage for a new hire's long and fruitful career. Although basic tasks must be completed during the onboarding process, it can easily be adapted to fit a company's culture.

What is Employee Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of integrating employees into your organization and preparing them for a success in their new positions. The goal of onboarding new employees is to help them acclimate to the work environment and get started off on the right foot. The more you can make new hires feel prepared for their new jobs, the faster they will be able to become productive team members.

The importance of onboarding also extends to employees who are transferred from other locations or promoted to new roles within the company. Their previous roles, even within the same organization, may have involved a different skill set and level of expectation. With thorough onboarding, existing employees can be set up to succeed in their new locations and new roles.

Why is Onboarding Important?

As an employer, it's important to take the opportunity to focus on how new hires are welcomed. From the time an offer is extended until the day the employee becomes fully productive, the onboarding experience can be used to create a foundation for long-term success.

Employee Onboarding Process

Start onboarding before your new employee arrives

The process of onboarding starts long before an offer is even made! Your company's brand and reputation can be extended by the employee onboarding process. During the job application and interview stage, your new (potential) employee is taking note of the way things are handled. One negative experience may make the difference between an accepted offer from a top candidate or an offer that is passed up for another opportunity. Additionally, with social media and job search tools, good (or bad) news travels fast.

Be prepared

Be ready for your new employees on their first day. To ensure a smooth transition, set up essential tools like email addresses, computers and/or company ID cards ahead of time. Communicate in advance about what employees should expect on their first day, and let them know where they should report on their first day of work. You may also want to elaborate past the first day and discuss training or other orientation programs they must attend in the first few weeks. This will help to ease first-day jitters and ensure as smoother transition.

Roll out the welcome mat for new hires

Help reduce turnover by taking steps to make new employees feel like a welcome addition. Schedule a new employee lunch or give new employees company swag to let them know you're excited that they've chosen to join your team. This will help lead to more engaged employees and offer opportunities for them to bond with their new co-workers.

Onboarding doesn't have to be boring or complicated

Design a new employee orientation program that's interesting, fun, and interactive. Instead of offering a straightforward training session, consider breaking up new hires into teams and ask them to participate in a game show format. This can help them to learn the rules in a fun and memorable way. Onboarding is your opportunity to get new hires excited about the company's mission and unique culture. They should leave the experience with a feeling that they made the right decision by joining your organization.

Also, the process should involve more than filling out paperwork. Consider digital forms as a potential way to capture the information you need in a more environmentally-friendly way. Gamification has been proven to capture attention and result in better retention. Onboarding technology tools that make a game out of orientation and training material are measurable, offer opportunities for feedback and deliver information so that it can be more easily retained. Many of these tools are easy to implement and use, as well as being affordable. These technical solutions can potentially take some of the time consuming work from your HR team, and more importantly, help new employees get up to speed more quickly and effectively.

Make the onboarding experience personal

The onboarding process is another opportunity to get to know your new employees beyond their resumes. Consider giving each person a mentor who they can turn to with questions about their new environment and company culture. It may be more comfortable to ask a peer for advice on where to park or grab lunch rather than a manager or supervisor.

Training for your leaders

The relationship between managers and employees is an important factor in determining an employee's experience at your company. To ease the transition for both supervisor and employee, consider offering training for managers who are responsible for the integration of new team members into their departments. Provide guidance on what tools and information should be provided to new employees and suggest ways to make new employees feel like part of the team.

Check in along the way

Connect regularly with new employees to make sure they are progressing and adapting to their new environment. Choose intervals that work best for you, whether it's weekly check-ins or once a month. This informal one-on-one time can ensure that any concerns are addressed prior to a formal review.

How to Improve the Onboarding Experience

Onboarding processes may be poorly planned or nonexistent, leaving organizations exposed to risks. Companies may mistakenly view onboarding new hires as simply completing required paperwork, then leaving them to integrate into their new work environment with the help of co-workers who may or may not be motivated to get the newly hired employees up to speed properly. This informal onboarding process can lead to negative consequences for employee, such as:

  • Poor retention rates
  • Higher recruiting costs
  • Poorly trained employees

These informal onboarding techniques can also negatively impact your company's productivity, customer relations and culture.

What are Other Benefits of Investing Extra Time and Effort into the Onboarding Process?

Not only can an effective onboarding process reduce the learning curve, but it can also increase engagement with your organization and lead to long-term employee retention. With the high cost of turnover, taking the time to give your employee a great start will help validate their decision to choose your organization.

Good onboarding processes help ensure that employees understand their roles and the vision of your company from the start. It is essentially laying the foundation for success—for them and for you.

An effective onboarding process can be the first step in a lasting relationship with your employee. A Human Resources Professional like Oasis can act as an extension of your business and can assist with all your HR tasks, including recruiting talent, onboarding new employees, professional development and training, payroll administration, and benefits administration.

Learn how Oasis can help your business with onboarding software and many other aspects of Human Resource administration.

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