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Employee Onboarding Best Practices [Tips]

Posted by Leslie Ruhland on Jun 22, 2017 2:58:02 PM
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As businesses grow so, too, does the need for new employees. And with new hires comes an onboarding process. But do you really have an effective process?


[This an updated version of a post was published in December 2014.]
Your onboarding process for new hires presents both great opportunities and potential disasters. Being aware of best practices and what to avoid is essential for an optimal onboarding process. 

In this post we present seven of the most common mistakes made by management when bringing new employees into the fold. For too many companies the entire process is often left to one or maybe two of their staff members and is quite unstructured. 

But this approach is fraught with danger that not only greatly diminishes the experience for the new employee, but sets the stage for potential issues down the road. But because this is a process that is too often seen as nothing more than a series of forms to filled out for the HR department, it is a process that is either grossly disregarded or badly managed, at best.

Some Long-Term Outcomes of Effective Onboarding

According to the SHRM Foundation,

Beyond the short-term issues related to employees’ initial adjustments, many long-term outcomes of onboarding affect a firm’s bottom line. When surveyed, organizations perceive effective onboarding as improving retention rates, time to productivity and overall customer satisfaction.

For employees, long-term outcomes of good onboarding include job satisfaction and organizational commitment.

New employee onboarding, when done correctly, it can lead to greater job satisfaction lower turnover, higher performance levels, and lowered stress.

Employee Onboarding Tips

The ideal employee onboarding process should really begin before a new employee is even hired. In other words, one of the fundamental elements of a successful onboarding process is having the right employee coming on board!  My HR Support Center - Tour

According to a post from SRHM,


Finding the best candidates for positions in your organization is only part of building an effective team. The process of onboarding new employees can be one of the most critical factors in ensuring recently hired talent will be productive, contented workers. 

However, in some organizations, onboarding is often confused with orientation. While orientation might be necessary—paperwork and other routine tasks must be completed—onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.

New employee onboarding best practices can vastly improve and optimize the overall process. While the specifics can, and often will, differ for every business. However, here are some tips for common onboarding tips employers can benefit from:

1. Have a Structured and Documented Recruiting and Hiring Process.

This might seem elementary and even obvious. Yet, the fact is that many businesses are lacking in this operational area. The unfortunate result is that far too many new hires are already a poor fit for the position they were hired for, or a poor fit for the culture and values of the company that has hired them.

Common hiring mistakes include hiring friends or family, hiring on initial impressions, and hiring strictly based on alleged skill sets. A comprehensive recruiting, interviewing and screening, and hiring process will minimize the prospects of poor hires and maximize the potential for finding and keeping superb employees.

2. Fully Vet Your Candidates Through Background Checks and/or Testing.

This falls under the previous category of a recruiting and hiring process. Conducting extensive background checks and making use of established skill tests and personality tests should be considered a mandatory step in your hiring process.

For example, one of the most popular personality evaluations, the Meyers-Briggs test, determines whether the candidates has tendencies toward extroversion or introversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. This test, as well as others like it, can make an essential difference between a good hire and potential HR disaster.

3. Have a Structured and Documented Onboarding Process.

Similar to having an established recruiting and hiring process, having a structured and documented process for onboarding new hires is an absolute necessity for employers. Without a strategic plan for successfully assimilating and integrating your new staff member, the process essentially arbitrary, haphazard and incomplete.

However, with a documented procedure, every manager and employee involved in this critical process will be able to conduct the process the same way each time, every time, with the same results. And, in addition, having a consistent and documented approach will allow an organization to monitor and improve the process over time.

4. Introduce and Include the New Employee's Co-Workers.

While this might seem to be an obvious function, many new hires find themselves having to navigate their own way among their new colleagues. Unfortunately, failing to include fellow co-workers in the onboarding process can reinforce an unintended atmosphere of isolation. 

Effective onboarding focuses on the concerns and comfort of the new hire. This is a critical period where a business can take measures to show themselves as thoughtful and human. New hires are people, and as such they need to feel welcome and included.

5. Be Sure to Provide Sufficient or Complete Information.

Communication is often a challenge for most businesses, and it is often most evident in the onboarding process. New hires need a great deal of information, but too many managers provide only what they feel is necessary for the moment leaving the new employee ill equipped to move forward confidently.

New employees should be thoroughly familiarized with not only their job functions, but with the layout of the workplace, relevant company wide functions, and even where and when people eat, or socialize as co-workers. Better to err on the side of too much information than to unintentionally deprive a new staff member of critical knowledge.

6. Be sure to Intentionally Assimilate the New Hire into Your Company Culture.

While this may be assumed to be the responsibility of new hires and their new co-workers. However, the challenge of navigating an unknown environment combined with the normal stress of working a new job can be overwhelming.

In addition, depending on the tenor of your company's culture, much of the initial assimilation provided by fellow employees may consist largely of gossip and uninformed opinion. Preparing for intentionally assimilating a new employee into your company's culture requires knowing what that culture is. Focusing on your company's shared values and ideals is a great place to start.

7. Provide Follow-Up After Completing the Initial Onboarding Process.

It is essential to understand that the onboarding process does not end after "week two", or "week three", or even after the first month. Studies have shown that a large proportion of staff turnover happen within the first 45 days.

According to one survey, businesses reported that their onboarding programs lasted anywhere from less than a week, to six months or longer. While over 50 percent felt their onboarding was done in less than a month, 46 percent took two to six months for their program.

This means that a structured process for eliciting feedback from new hires is critical. Communicating with your new employee about their onboarding experience doesn't end once they're "up to speed". Feedback is essential for assessing your own onboarding efforts and communicating is essential for the successful transition of the employee.

How Much Time Should Onboarding New Hires Take?

According to many staffing and HR experts say, onboarding new hires in a business should be conducted and planned as a strategic process that lasts at least 12 months. This is suggested since the way employers manage the first few days and months of a new employee's experience is crucial to ensuring high retention.

While this may seem a bit excessive for some business owners, the general approach is that the longer the better. The reality is that too many businesses invest far too little time with onboarding in general, or not at all. 

Your Employee Onboarding Process is a Vital Investment in Your Business

It's not too late to begin making adjustments or improvements to your current process. In fact, the new year could be a perfect time to review your recruiting and hiring processes with the goal of upgrading and optimizing them before looking for your new hires for 2015!

In addition to a growing and demanding role in recruiting, hiring, and continually training employees, the HR staff is responsible for other functions they are typically tasked with such as payroll management, tax filings, employee records compliance, and so forth.

Considering alternatives such as outsourcing is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and strategic option. Accuchex can help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands. Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.

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Topics: HR best practices, new hire, onboarding best practices, employee onboarding process, employee onboarding

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