Your Complete Employee Onboarding Guide

By Sara Pollock

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While finding top talent is vital to an organization’s growth, HR managers must provide an effective onboarding process for new hires. Without a quality onboarding process, companies can expect lower employee retention rates, lower employee engagement, weak company culture, lower company performance, increased costs, a decrease in revenue, and more employee-related problems for HR. Developing a high-quality, awesome onboarding experience will set the tone for new hires and help determine how effective they are when they start.

Keeping track of multiple new hires, starting at different times can be tedious to manage. Paperwork may differ for employees, depending on the employee’s position and work status. By separating duties on a timeline, you will be able to visually review all tasks and due dates.

Before Day 1

The number of forms that need to be collected prior to and on a new employee’s first day can be overwhelming. To ease this process, make sure to have a list of the documents needed according to the employee’s work status (work visa, contract workers, temporary/seasonal workers) and your state. If you can send them the boring paperwork prior to their first day, it’s a good idea to do so. This way, they don’t have any missing documents they need, and their first day is much more engaging.

Common Onboarding Documents

  • W4
  • I-9
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
  • Direct Deposit forms
  • Insurance forms

Depending on how quickly you’d like to get your new hires up to speed, you’ll want to prepare their workspace with everything they’ll need, including hardware, software, and welcome materials. Common examples include:

  • Laptop, hardware, other accessories
  • Software installed on any equipment used (LastPass, PS, MAMP, Outlook, etc.)
  • Email address, company profile
  • First-day documents (policies, procedures, etc.)
  • Company swag and welcome materials

Inform managers and supervisors that will be training the employee about their previous experience and background. Check that they have a training process in place. Finally, be sure to provide the details for their first day, including dress code, parking instructions, arrival time, what to bring, etc. You’ll want to prepare a streamlined onboarding process before their first day and ensure their team has a mentor(s) selected.

Day 1

Whether you are hiring one or multiple employees, make sure you have a welcome procedure in place to cover everything the employee might need to know. Here’s a typical list for welcoming new hires:

  • Tour of the building/space
  • Location of desk/workspace
  • Hardware/account set up for laptops and company profile
  • Software setup for accounts and access
  • Manager and team introductions/lunch
  • One-on-one meeting to set expectations (planning, goals, etc.)

Once the employee is settled, collect any photocopies of documents you need or paperwork not yet collected (IDs, direct deposit forms, etc.).

On day one, it’s important to engage employees throughout their onboarding process. Hiring affects retention, so it’s important to make the employee experience a vital part of the process. Be sure to focus on the individual, not just the process and paperwork.

See how onboarding is crucial to employee engagement.

Week 1

During the first week, new hires should begin to integrate with their teams. This will give you time to make sure you’ve collected all the required documents. Form I-9s, state new hire reports, direct deposit forms, etc. can take more than a day to complete, so be sure to double-check that you have everything you need by the end of the first week.

The end of week one is also an ideal time for managers to check in with employees in a one-on-one setting. Encourage managers to ask open-ended questions about the employee’s first week and overall impressions. This is also the perfect opportunity to answer lingering questions and address any concerns. Check-in with managers at the end of week one to see if they’ve met with the new hire or need any assistance. This is also the time to set employee goals for their first 90 days. They’ve had a week to get accustomed to the new position, so setting goals will give them something to work towards. As they begin to provide more input, they’re oriented towards fulfilling their goals, which should support the team’s strategy and get the new hire to their next level of performance. The first 90 days can be broken up into learning, analysis & strategy, and execution.

Month 1 — Learning

Throughout the month, check-in with the person training the new hire. Ensure they have the resources and time available to coach the new employee. This is also an ideal time to ask about the new hire’s progress and determine if any changes need to be made. Company training is often inconsistent or (even worse) inefficient. Ensure trainers use an effective and consistent form of training — such as performance-based training — to facilitate higher employee engagement. Make sure the new employee’s manager or supervisor schedules a check-in at the end of the first month. Similar to the week one check-in, this conversation is ideal for discussing current goals, opportunities, obstacles, and questions.

While they had the first week to get accustomed to their position, there is still a lot to learn about the company, the business model, the industry position and performance, etc. New hires bring a different viewpoint on where your team inefficiencies stand, where any gaps are in your strategy, and where any new ideas can be used. Make sure you provide them what they need to learn about the company.

Month 2 — Analysis & Strategy

The second month can be used for analyzing what they have seen during their time at the company. They can formulate a strategy or any tactics that will help propel the team forward. Offering their insight will help the team learn what they can do differently in order to reach their goals. Other team members can begin to re-identify their workflows, consider these new ideas, and begin to implement them into their plan.

It’s also useful to separate long-term ideas from quick-wins that the employee offers. Most likely, quick-wins won’t need deep consideration and can be executed easily. While it may take more time, long-term solutions that the new hire identifies in your strategy will need to be thought out more thoroughly.

Month 3 — Performance & Execution

By the third month, the employee should be focused on performing and executing their strategy. They’ve had time to learn about the company, how the team works, and how everyone is performing. Now it’s the time for them to focus on completing work and fulfilling the duties of their position if they aren’t already.

At the end of their third month, it will be time to check in on their entire three month period, evaluate their performance towards their goals, check what is left, and plan for their future.

After the First 90 Days

You’ve hired superior talent and have onboarded them successfully. They’ve integrated with their team and are surpassing all their goals. Now, how do you retain them?

There’s no shortage of research showing the ineffectiveness of traditional annual performance reviews. If you want to retain your talent, encourage managers to have regularly-scheduled check-ins or one-on-one conversations with their employees. This is the perfect opportunity to provide recognition and feedback — both of which have been shown to increase engagement and decrease turnover.

Software Makes It Easier

Managing new-hire documents and deadlines for multiple departments can be a nightmare — even for the most-organized HR pros. Digitizing your onboarding process and documents not only provides a better experience for your new hires, but it also allows HR to spend time on more meaningful tasks like performance management and employee engagement.

Onboarding Software Features

The most effective onboarding toolkit is one you know how to use. For that reason, it’s critical to find an intuitive, user-friendly tool that actually improves the employee onboarding experience.

It’s important to have an onboarding program that makes life easier and sets the tone for the new hire’s experience. Whether you’re looking to add or update your existing onboarding system, make sure you’re prepared when you begin your search.

Below is a list of features to consider when choosing a paperless onboarding solution:

  • Project Management
  • Time Tracking
  • Communication
  • Reviews
  • Appointment Software
  • Record Keeping
  • Engagement & Performance Tracking

It’s easier to house all of your tools in one place, which is why finding a single, unified system is powerful. You won’t have to worry about integrations and transferring data. Ideally, the best onboarding software is the one that solves your specific company needs.

Quality Onboarding Solutions

Onboarding sets the tone for new employees. Identifying a clear plan for new hires will help with retention and improve performance. Find a solution that streamlines your processes, organizes your documents, improves retention, and makes life easier for all involved.

This article was originally published on the ClearCompany Blog.

About Sara Pollock:    
As the head of the Marketing department, Sara makes sure that ClearCompany’s message, products, and best practices reach and assist as many HR practitioners as possible. ClearCompany offer ClearText which will help recruiters get their message across easily and connect with your candidates conveniently, capturing text conversations on the candidate’s profile for a comprehensive view to help your recruiters find the best-qualified candidates. 

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