Effective onboarding strategies for management
Guide to onboarding an employee
How to run effective onboarding and induction processes
An organisation’s employee onboarding process can be the difference between having an effective employee from the onset, to months’ worth of less than effective outputs and even losing a new hire in a short amount of time.
An onboarding program that’s implemented well, could mean that instead of a new employee walking into the office and feeling completely lost, they can walk into the office on their first day, recognise a few faces, adapt to company’s culture, and quickly become a productive part of the team.
Onboarding and induction processes are important to help organisations be able to retain new hires, build trust and empower staff to reach full productivity in a new role.
Onboarding and induction: when do they begin and what’s the difference?
Onboarding does not start on day one of a new job. Effective onboarding begins as soon as the initial hiring process starts. A good onboarding system allows you to start integrating an employee into team processes during the time between making a job offer and their first day. It gives them the knowledge needed to begin their first day informed and with confidence.
Induction programs are designed to help new arrivals learn the ropes once they start a new role. An induction program is practical, hands-on and supports an employee so they can successfully navigate the initial stages of their new role.
Tips for an effective employee onboarding procedure
Start with a good onboarding process. A best practice employee onboarding process checklist typically includes:
- Regular contact: Develop and maintain regular communications with your new team members. During the pre-start notice period, consider calling to check in on how their notice period is progressing, how they’re feeling about starting the new role and connecting them with their key team members through platforms such as LinkedIn.
- Share relevant information: An induction pack filled with new hire paperwork including information relevant to their new role will help your new hire get to know the organisation, include an employee handbook detailing your culture, values, goals, company policies, and operations. You could also include detailed project information, top-line performance figures, an organisational chart and a glossary of common acronyms used within the business, so they don’t feel lost in any meetings or conversations. The aim here is to provide your new employee with the big picture, from which you can then communicate how their specific role will impact the organisation’s overall success.
- Set expectations: Before your new employee walks through the door, they should understand what’s expected of them in their first few days or weeks. While you can wait for the induction period to have a more detailed discussion about expected output and break down longer-term objectives, during the onboarding process your new employee should understand what initial success in their role will look like.
- Plan the first week: Identify the tools and knowledge required to be successful in the role and the people who can deliver this knowledge. Set appointments and then share the schedule with your new starter. This allows your new employee to arrive for their first day knowing who they will meet with to ensure a successful employee orientation period.
- Get the basics right: There’s almost nothing more annoying for both you and your new employee than when you start a new job with tech issues – ensure your new hire’s laptop and password logins are prepared in advance. In addition, rather than handing them a pile of paperwork to read and sign on their first day, email this in advance with the welcome package so they can review and return it before their start date. Have required security passes ready to go as well.
When does induction take over?
An induction program begins at the start of the new role and aims to build confidence and competence, powering long-term employee satisfaction. Any induction process is two-way; your new employees will also be deciding whether this role and culture is the right fit for them. A new starter will gain some sense of this during the onboarding process, but it’s during their induction that they are shown the practical application of your organisation’s culture and values, and the unique way that their new team works together.
While you, as their direct manager, may lead the onboarding process, anyone can be part of the induction process – from an administrator demonstrating a type of software that is unique to your organisation, to a senior manager discussing why a certain approach is used with a key client. Such personal attention creates a positive environment and imparts not just skills but understanding.
Tips for an effective induction process
Best practice induction typically includes the following:
- Assign an internal 'buddy': During their first few weeks, provide your new starter with a buddy who can help them successfully navigate their new workplace. This buddy won’t be a direct report, or a line manager, but someone within the team that can share some of the norms and key aspects of the organisation’s culture, implicit knowledge such as go-to people and team etiquette and help answer those small by important questions such as where certain files are saved or how to operate the coffee machine.
- Work through the schedule: In the onboarding process you identified the tools and knowledge required for success and set up meetings with the people who can deliver this knowledge. These meetings should also allow your new employee to get to know colleagues, clients and key stakeholders. For example, perhaps they could attend a client meeting with one of the organisation’s top performers or sit in on an inter-department meeting.
- Create an opportunity for early wins: When assigning any initial tasks, it helps to allocate objectives that will result in short-term wins for your new employee to help raise their confidence.
- Communicate longer-term expectations: You should also clearly set out your expectations for your new staff member’s performance in the medium and long terms. Make sure they understand exactly what output is expected of them over time and consistently check in to see how they are progressing.
- Discuss learning and development: Linked to this is a discussion around the professional development opportunities that are available in your organisation, whether internal or external.
- Communicate your management style: Every leader has their own management style. Ensure you take a few minutes to share yours with your new employee. Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and how you can both set up the relationship for success.
- Tick all the boxes: Finally, ensure your induction program covers all relevant human resources, occupational health and safety, payroll and legislative issues.
Onboarding and induction are crucial for senior hires, too
Often entry-level positions involve better onboarding and induction plans than those provided to managerial-level staff. The more senior the hire, the less hands-on the onboarding and induction generally is.
Senior staff need to lead and promote the company ethos and therefore still require the same level of onboarding and induction as entry-level staff to be a productive contributor. Being left to work things out through trial and error, instead of having consistent guidance can really sour a new employee’s experience with the company.
Onboarding and inducting new staff remotely
If you are in the position of onboarding new members of staff remotely, your virtual onboarding and induction process still needs to cover the above elements, while also offering even more support. It can be difficult to integrate remote employees into the company’s culture. Download our remote onboarding guide below, designed specifically to help you navigate this process and successfully bring your new employee into your remote team.
Commonly asked questions about the new employee onboarding process
What are the 4 phases of onboarding?
1. Pre-Onboarding: preparing for the arrival of the new employee.
2. Onboarding Kick-Off: getting the new employee started on their first day.
3. Transition Phase: helping the new employee become familiar with the company and their role.
4. Orientation Phase: ensuring that the new employee is set up for success in their role.
What are the 5 C's of onboarding?
1. Communication – make sure the employee understands your expectations and company culture, and is also up to date on all policies and procedures.
2. Compliance – ensure that the employee is trained on all compliance related topics, such as HR policies, anti-harassment training, etc.
3. Customs and Culture – acquaint the employee with how things are done in your company, what is considered acceptable behaviour, and who to go to for help when they have questions.
4. Connections – help the employee feel connected to their co-workers and the company by introducing them to people in different departments, arranging social activities, etc.
5. Career Development – give the employee a clear idea of how they can grow within the company and what opportunities are available to them.
What is an onboarding checklist?
Onboarding checklists can be customised to fit the needs of each business, but generally, they include the essential elements that every new hire must complete. Having a formal onboarding process in place is important for several reasons: it ensures that all new employees receive the same information and training, it helps them hit the ground running, and it makes them feel welcomed and valued from day one.