6 Employee Onboarding Best Practices (Ultimate 2023 Guide)

One of the most important aspects of the recruiting process is employee onboarding.  When your efforts are successful, onboarding plans […]

Mark Jackson

President at SwagDrop

One of the most important aspects of the recruiting process is employee onboarding

When your efforts are successful, onboarding plans prepare employees for great achievements by ensuring they are involved and supported from their very first day. 

Giving new hires a positive first impression of your company, and providing them with all of the required tools and information they need for success, will help you minimize turnover, improve productivity, and integrate new staff much more quickly.

That’s why we’ve put this article together, which also includes:

  • 4 benefits of successful onboarding experiences
  • 6 best practices of employee onboarding

Let’s jump right in. 

Table of Contents

What’s Employee Onboarding?

4 Benefits of a Successful Employee Onboarding Plan

Best Practice #1: Optimize the Hiring Process

Best Practice #2: Assign a Mentor or Buddy

Best Practice #3: Have Check-ins on a Regular Basis

Best Practice #4: Conduct a Performance Review After One Year

Best Practice #5: Involve the Team

Best Practice #6: Provide Employees with Work Swag

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of familiarizing new employees with the company’s surroundings, workflow, and culture. 

However, the time it takes to do this differs from one business to the next.

Some companies regard onboarding to be a one-day event, while others view it to be an 18-month process. 

For most companies, employee onboarding begins almost immediately after a potential employee receives an offer letter.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of a successful onboarding process. 

4 Benefits of a Successful Employee Onboarding Plan

When it comes to hiring new staff, many businesses severely underestimate the value of onboarding. 

According to a study conducted by HBR, 22% of businesses have no formal onboarding process at all, while 49% have a partially practical approach. 

What does a flawed onboarding process look like? 

New workers are less productive, more anxious, can feel isolated from the rest of the team, and are more inclined to seek employment elsewhere.

Companies waste a lot of money on staff turnover and productivity loss because of poor onboarding practices. 

Successful onboarding increases employee engagement and allows them to catch up with seasoned personnel much faster. 

When done right, the process benefits both new and returning employees, as well as organizational executives.

Benefit #1: Higher employee commitment and engagement 

According to BambooHR, employees that receive excellent onboarding have higher levels of engagement. 

It’s much easier to be involved in your job if you are invested in the company and feel capable of performing effectively. 

Image Source: BambooHR

Engagement should be the goal of every onboarding program, not only to develop culture and rapport but also to promote company success. 

In addition, firm fundamental values and culture vary depending on the organization. 

Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report study shows that regardless of such variances, the metric that mattered most was employee engagement, especially shortly after entering the office. 

If you put every new recruit through an enjoyable, thoughtful, and instructional program, you will move towards cultivating a strong connection between your employee and the company, and keep them feeling involved in the future.

The advantages of having highly engaged staff can be felt across your organization. They are as follows:

  • Increased productivity
  • Enhanced product quality
  • Increased sales
  • Increased profitability
  • Enhanced customer loyalty
  • Better staff loyalty
  • Decreased turnover
  • Reduced absenteeism

With perks like these, it’s no surprise that 85% of corporate executives rank engagement as a top priority, according to a Deloitte study

Image Source: HBR

Plus, according to HBR, “Just 24 percent of respondents said that they considered most of their employees highly engaged’’. 

Employees must be motivated in order to be engaged. 

For some employees, this drive comes easily and emanates from their desire to perform well at all times.

If your employees seem disengaged, devise and execute a new incentive engagement program that pays them for reaching particular goals. 

By doing so, you can boost their drive and, most likely, their involvement.

Let’s keep on reading.

Benefit #2: Increased retention rates

According to recent studies by Strayboots and HBR, 22% of new recruits will begin searching for a new job offer within the first six weeks, and around 1/3 of new hires will start looking for their subsequent employment within the first six months after starting a new job.

Recruiting can be a costly endeavor that, if done well, can cost between 16% and 20% of an employee’s yearly compensation

The days of having a “career for life” are over, and young workers of today prefer instant satisfaction in the workplace, knowing that they can seek new positions quickly and simply online.

As outlined in the below image, according to Brandon Hall Group research, businesses with an effective onboarding process enhance new recruit retention by 82 percent and productivity by more than 70 percent.

Image Source: SaplingHR

When an organization identifies a qualified candidate, it should attempt to retain them for at least a few years, if not longer. 

Employees who feel engaged and appreciated inside an organization are far less likely to leave, and having an organized and defined onboarding program can assist with this. 

An effective onboarding program helps new workers interact with the company’s values from the start, making them feel like a member of the team and becoming a contributor. 

They will also be less inclined to start exploring larger and better opportunities.

Let’s review the third benefit. 

Benefit #3: Enhanced productivity

As new workers go through the onboarding process, they rapidly catch up with employees who have been with the organization for a longer time. 

This allows them to achieve greater productivity levels much more quickly than if they had to sort everything out on their own.

Without onboarding, it takes new staff 8 to 12 months to attain their peak production levels. 

According to LinkedIn, this may result in losses ranging from 1% to 2.5% of a company’s overall revenue. 

In reality, the United States and the United Kingdom spend $37 billion every year on ineffective personnel. 

This is unsurprising given how many businesses lack an efficient onboarding procedure.

Companies who use onboarding see a 54 percent increase in productivity from their new recruits. 

It has been reported by Humanpanel and Gallup’s State of the American Workplace Report that a well put-together onboarding experience improves new employee’s productivity by 70%. 

Image Source: Humanpanel

The most effective onboarding programs are the ones that last the longest. 

Most organizations spend a little more than two months on the onboarding process and a small percentage of them do not involve any form of training for new workers.

The most effective onboarding programs span anywhere from 6 months to a year. 

This is because 90% of workers decide whether or not to remain with a firm during the first six months of their employment. 

Employees will feel more at ease and at home in the organization if they are given ongoing training and involvement throughout this period of time.

Following the critical 6-month period, new workers must demonstrate that they made the correct choice. 

This is the point at which onboarding transitions from a training strategy to one that encourages continual growth.

Csginc and ElearningIndustry mention that the desired proficiency level curve increases from the third to the fourth month. 

Competence is defined as a set of connected abilities, commitments, knowledge, and skills that allow a person to perform well in a profession or environment.

Accelerating the time to proficiency requires a strategy, dedication, effort, and energy. Focusing on the proper issue is critical to reduce the amount of time it takes for an employee to become fully competent in terms of productivity levels.

Image Source: Cgsinc

An effective employee onboarding process can improve performance and productivity in the following five ways:

  • They create clear standards and expectations for the new recruit, reducing uncertainty and providing some direction.
  • They assist new workers in connecting with their team and the corporate culture, resulting in more cohesive and pleasurable collaboration.
  • They create a learning culture in which employees are trained throughout their careers, not simply during the first 90 days.
  • They allow you to monitor employee development and check in on a regular basis in order to work through any issues that workers may encounter.
  • They get new recruits up and running quickly by offering the appropriate timely information in the right manner.

Benefit #4: Recruiting talent becomes easier

After the new hire onboarding experience, 20% of new employees are unwilling to refer an employer to a friend or family member. 

This is troublesome because dissatisfied workers may air their criticism publicly, tarnishing your company brand on review sites like Glassdoor.

A compelling onboarding program that delivers a wonderful employee experience will help you not only retain personnel, but also recruit new applicants. 

According to Gallup, just 12% of workers strongly feel that their company does a good job of onboarding new employees. 

In addition, 1 in 5 new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to friends or family members due to a poor onboarding process, according to SaplingHR and Digitate

Image Source: SaplingHR

Based on this data, a positive experience typically implies that new employees are more inclined to brag about your firm to their friends and family, making it simpler to recruit future talent.

When designing your employee onboarding program, keep in mind that a whopping 75% of recruits are likely to suggest an employer to a friend or family member following a positive onboarding experience.

Word-of-mouth and staff recommendations may assist in boosting your talent acquisition strategy. 

These means of acquiring talent are substantially less expensive and, in most cases, have a greater success rate than more conventional techniques such as recruitment firms and job postings.

Keep reading to find out what the best onboarding practices are. 

Best Practice #1: Optimize the Hiring Process 

Many recruiters and human resources professionals think their work practices are inefficient and outdated.

Two reasons naturally contribute to this issue. 

For starters, recruiters devote a significant amount of time to manual duties. 

When it comes to competent applicants, these responsibilities often require a significant amount of work… with little reward. 

Second, there is the recognition that the recruiting sector is rapidly evolving

While recruiters may realize the expense of manual operations and the danger of failing to adapt to a changing employment market, few believe they have the authority to streamline their recruitment processes.

It is critical to uncover inefficient and outmoded procedures to stay competitive in a tough and candidate-driven employment market.

The first step in streamlining your recruiting operations and removing obsolete techniques is to examine your standard process from start to finish. 

The most prevalent mistake that businesses have is approaching every function and position the same way when it comes to recruiting. 

They have a consistent recruiting procedure that they follow for all positions. This should, in principle, save time and money. 

However, the fact is that this method ignores the differences between diverse points of view. With a little bit of examination into your highest-volume or commonly-recruited new roles, you can easily improve this area.

A standardized recruiting process might include:

  • Preventing specialized or experienced professionals from applying to your positions.
  • Providing a bad applicant experience, and failing to engage and empower your recruiting staff.

To attract various types of people, different tactics must be used. 

When it comes to the recruiting process, candidates with varied backgrounds and abilities will have varying expectations. 

To account for this, be sure to review the entire recruiting process from a holistic angle. 

Using the same recruiting approach for every post does not result in a memorable applicant experience. 

Make sure your recruiting is optimized to allow for a customized experience.

Image Source: LinkedIn

Employer branding is a subject that everyone seems to be talking about, but no one fully understands what it means. 

The most popular definition of employer brand seems to be ‘a jobs website’ or a ‘social media presence’. 

Unfortunately, this is a narrow interpretation that might cost you candidates.

It is possible that poor or inconsistent employer branding is to blame.

Failure to recruit quality people, poor engagement rates in your hiring team and staff, and poor retention rates among new hires can all be the result of inconsistent employer branding. 

Your employer brand is the corporate identity that you convey via many channels to recruit talent. 

This encompasses a lot more than just your job website and social media.

An effective employer branding plan requires close coordination with many departments, as well as a high level of consistency across channels. 

Overall, employer branding is a wonderful place to start if you want to improve your hiring process.

Best Practice #2: Assign a Mentor or Buddy

Providing a workplace buddy means that your new hire has someone to chat with during their first weeks of employment.

According to a Microsoft pilot onboarding program reported in HBR, 56% of new hires who were assigned a buddy as part of the onboarding process reported being more productive and motivated.

That percentage increased to 97% when the number of connections with the buddy exceeded eight times within the first 90 days. 

Microsoft also discovered that new recruits who were allocated a friend were more satisfied with the whole onboarding process than new hires who were not assigned a buddy. In a nutshell, pals work.

Assigning a buddy provides a safe area for your new team member to ask questions while understanding your organization’s process and workplace culture. 

A buddy may also convey information about objectives and progress, which can assist with onboarding efforts on an individual scale (particularly from a management system viewpoint).

Best Practice #3: Have Check-ins on a Regular Basis

As your new recruit settles in, make sure they have plenty of opportunities to mingle, learn, grow, and incorporate themselves into the firm. 

This may be something big, like company-wide onboarding activities (table tennis tournaments or a BBQ), or something smaller such as coffee, a tour of the office with coworkers, or one-on-one meetings with supervisors and senior leaders.

Check in with them regularly, follow that up with their team and supervisor, and ensure that they have access to all of the tools they need. 

This is particularly true around the one-month point. 

A survey is an excellent tool to utilize during a 30-day check-in. 

Consider the following questions and think about any additional questions you might ask a new recruit that is more suited to your company.

Question examples from surveys:

  • Do you believe you are an essential component of the company?
  • Is the company living up to your expectations?
  • Are you experiencing any issues with our technology or work-related tools?
  • Do you feel that you have the necessary tools and resources?
  • Have you discussed your objectives with your boss?
  • Do you think you’re making progress toward your stated objectives?
  • Are you familiar with the company’s long-term strategic goals?
  • Do you have any suggestions for improving our onboarding process?
Image Source: Ddiworld

As seen in the above screenshot, after two weeks or more, the employee’s efforts of learning and implementing knowledge starts to pay off. Hence, setting first month objectives is quite important for consistency. 

First-month objectives: 

  • Assure your new employee’s success inside the organization by providing ongoing assistance, growth opportunities, and check-ins with appropriate team members.
  • Through team-building and one-on-one activities, cultivate a community culture and healthy work environment inside your firm.
  • Examine how the organization’s onboarding process might be enhanced.

The best applications:

  • Supervisors should arrange a regular check-in routine with the new recruit. These discussions should include previous and future set goals,  planned initiatives, and issues.
  • Use technology – such as Slack’s Donut interface – to help connect random teammates for virtual encounters. 
  • Schedule one-on-one meetings with your boss or head of the department after each week. This acts as a check-in to ensure that everything is running properly and that any issues or concerns are handled as soon as possible.
  • If your organization offers a probation period, schedule a one-on-one appointment with a manager after it has ended. 
  • A survey should also be included so that the HR department can learn more about the overall findings and employee satisfaction.
  • Plan a range of activities so that every employee may find something they like, such as yoga, fitness, art, cooking, or sports. 
  • Create a range of tasks and encourage new workers to participate in them.
  • Do not discontinue onboarding after one month. Continue to track your new hire’s progress at your organization, improve their skills, and invest in them. Consider conducting three-month, six-month, and one-year check-ins.

Best Practice #4: Conduct a Performance Review After One Year

To conduct a successful yearly performance review, you must first define what you want to gain from it. 

The following are the five most significant aims of a performance review:

  1. Inform workers of their performance.

It is critical to cast light on your individual workers’ strengths and flaws in the evaluation and help them understand how their work contributes to the success of your firm. 

This understanding enables individuals to capitalize on their talents while overcoming their flaws. 

Understanding this knowledge tends to increase their commitment to and accountability  of their performance. 

Utilize 360-degree input from peers to help eliminate unconscious prejudice. Understanding their performance from several angles can assist your workers advance in their professions and within your firm.

  1. Improve staff abilities.

After the performance evaluation process is completed, you will have a greater understanding of your organization’s training requirements. 

During performance review sessions, be careful to collect training input from your workers and team leaders. 

They’ll have a greater understanding of the talents necessary to do their duties. 

Any employee feels happier and more appreciated if your business takes measures to develop their abilities, rather than pushing them to complete new duties without training. 

This enables people to perform to their best ability at work. 

This will also assist your firm in conducting more relevant and helpful training programs. Otherwise, you can find yourself wasting money on ineffective courses.

  1. Maintain organizational objectives.

One of the primary purposes of a performance review is to make your workers aware of your long-term and short-term goals, as well as to assess their performance against those goals. 

Every review session is an excellent opportunity to revise current objectives or create new ones for the next term. 

Individual evaluations should also clearly define the method for achieving these objectives. 

Employees should be given particular objectives to work toward in order to contribute to the bigger company goals. 

This increases employee motivation since they will realize how their day-to-day work contributes to the company’s success.

Let’s see what’s next.

Best Practice #5: Involve the Team

Other individuals, teams, and departments should be included in the onboarding process in addition to HR.

These groups have a significant influence on the involvement of new hires.

For example, although the direct supervisors are likely to be an employee’s primary point of contact, they will also be able to defer corporate policy, employee handbook and payroll-related questions to HR, as well as to IT for access to the appropriate tools and equipment that the employee will need to succeed in their role.

As a result, all internal stakeholders must have sufficient access and visibility into the onboarding process and a clear definition of their responsibilities. 

It’s a tall order for already overburdened HR personnel, so consider automation of task requests.

Before the first day, engagement from the team leader is critical. 

New workers need to begin connecting with their management as soon as the contract is signed.

The question of how to keep team leaders interested is a widespread issue in human resources. 

Their involvement is critical in creating an efficient employee experience, yet they are often irritated by red tape and bureaucracy. 

You can do two main things to keep every boss “in the picture” and involved with the new hires’ journey.

By giving essential responsibilities and deadlines, you may ‘nudge’ a team leader by providing essential duties and deadlines.

Why not have team leaders leave a “welcome note” for the new employee?

A lot of onboarding companies provide managers with insight into the progress of new workers. 

By including management in the process (instead of depending just on HR), you can guarantee that best practices for onboarding are adhered to. 

Managers will be more than willing to play their bit if they grasp what employee onboarding is all about, the benefits of engagement, and it’s good influence on staff retention.

A component of this approach should allow for two-way feedback

To refine the new hiring process, managers must exchange information regarding recruits’ performance, experience, and engagement with HR professionals.

Let’s go over the last practice in our list.

Best Practice #6: Provide Employees with Work Swag

Swag can be simply incorporated into any phase of your effective onboarding process and enhance it.

1. On day one, give out gifts.

We believe that offering a warm welcome is one of the most important things you can do on any employee’s first day.

Using swag in this situation helps you to easily express things like what they may anticipate from the organization and coworkers. 

Swag can also be used for a new hire’s first day to provide necessities such as personalized coffee mugs, custom backpacks (like the one shown below), t-shirts, branded notebooks and whatever else they’ll need to execute their job properly. 

With swag, you can be confident that your new recruit will have a memorable first day. 

2. Use swag to reward accomplishments and foster a high-performance company culture.

Reward your new hires whenever they accomplish something considerable with high-quality reward swag

They’ve just recently joined the organization, and utilizing swag may assist them in understanding that their efforts will be recognized and appreciated

Furthermore, the swag itself might serve as a fantastic incentive to improve their performance.

3. On their 1-year anniversary, give them goodies.

Remind them that your company cherishes loyalty by rewarding them with incredible gifts after being with you for a year. 

A year in, conventional onboarding frequently transfers to retaining employees and satisfaction. 

At the absolute least, giving away gear every year will help them stay optimistic and pleased with their choice to continue working with you.

Swag is an excellent onboarding tool; however, you can still get it wrong or use it ineffectively. 

Here are a few ideas to help you get the most out of your onboarding swag investment:

  • Select useful and high-quality items.

As a general guideline, the swag you pick should be products that the recipient will be glad to utilize for the duration of their employment with you. 

A basic rule of thumb is to not provide something you would not use yourself. 

  • When recruiting for higher-level roles, reconsider swag.

If you’re looking for someone to fill a company’s leadership position, find swag that’s distinct from what you generally give away to new employees. 

You probably don’t employ these roles very frequently, and since they’re so important to your company’s future, you’d be better off devising a fresh swag approach for them. 

Extra credit if you can create a new one per new recruit.

Let’s wrap up!

Now Over to You

You can guarantee that you’re covering all of the relevant information swiftly and efficiently by always attempting to enhance and update your onboarding efforts. 

By adhering to these onboarding best practices, you can ensure that each new recruit is ready to succeed.

Feel free to contact us if you need any further advice on onboarding and gift-related guidelines as well as tips on finding the best onboarding gifts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. What’s an onboarding checklist?

An onboarding checklist is a method for recruiting managers to arrange the tasks required in assisting new recruits through their first days and months at a corporation. 

The checklist guarantees that each crucial step of the new recruit onboarding process is completed. 

It serves as a starting point for processes relevant to a particular position.

Q2. What’s a typical onboarding timeline?

The onboarding process should take three months on a minimal basis.

HR specialists and hiring managers typically believe that three months is the bare minimum for onboarding new employees.

Q3. What’s the purpose of an onboarding guide?

The purpose of an onboarding guide is to teach newly recruited or transferred staff the required skills, knowledge, and behaviors to enable them to contribute effectively to a business.

Q4. What’s the difference between a one-time onboarding session and a recurring one?

A one-time onboarding session is considered a new hire orientation. 

Orientation is a one-time event for new personnel that welcomes them to the organization. 

It generally has a broader scope. 

Employee onboarding, on the other hand, is a set of activities and training sessions (including orientation) that assist new recruits with becoming effective workers.

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