BlogHuman Resources

Developing an Effective Employee Onboarding Process

Continu Team
One Platform for All Learning
Human Resources
March 28, 2024

Master the art of employee onboarding. Delve into strategies, best practices, and the impact of a well-structured onboarding process on retention and productivity.

Onboarding Checklist

HR professionals know that finding top talent and hiring them is only the start of building an effective team. The employee onboarding process can have a major impact on how the new hire performs out of the gate.

In fact, an efficient and streamlined onboarding process can unlock the following benefits for an organization:

  • Quickly get new hires up to speed
  • Integrate new employees into the company
  • Introduce them to the rest of the team
  • Retain top talent while reducing turnover rate
  • Automate repetitive HR tasks

Clearly, the process of onboarding is important. Despite this, only 12% of employees feel as though their organization has a strong onboarding process.

What is onboarding process?

The process of onboarding is defined as the steps an employer and new hire need to complete in order to integrate them into the organization. The term employee onboarding process describes a very wide range of activities designed to help new workers succeed. Ideally, this helps them become productive sooner, develop a sense of enthusiasm about their role, and fit into the company culture.

This is something that can look very different from one organization to the next. Departments within the same company might even take a different approach to onboarding.

For example, one employee might go through a brief introduction to their coworkers, watch a video, then be expected to get started right away. Another might go through a week of orientation and shadow a more experienced worker for a period of time before they are considered to be fully onboarded.

What are the 5 C's of onboarding?

The 5 C's of effective onboarding are clarity, connection, culture, compliance, and contribution. Effective onboarding ensures faster productivity, increased engagement, retention of top talent, cultural assimilation, and enhanced job satisfaction, resulting in successful employee integration, performance, and long-term commitment to the organization.

How to create an onboarding process for your organization

In order to streamline your new hire onboarding process, you'll need to set up a proven, modifiable, and repeatable series of steps.

Here's our eight-step process to developing an effective onboarding process:

1. Start with the job offer

The onboarding process begins when you send the candidate a job offer. This should contain a detailed job description, salary offer, and other details they need to accept or counter.

2. Create a pre-onboarding process

Pre-onboarding is the series of steps workers can take prior to their first day of work. This may include filling out tax forms, reviewing and signing employee handbooks, completing insurance forms, and writing out their employee profiles. 

Managers can then use this information to ensure new hires have everything set up for payroll, getting their security badges, and accessing the network. This also takes some pressure off of the employee’s first day of work. 

3. Use onboarding technology

Organizations can use technology to automate, personalize, and streamline onboarding. Employees can be given access to these tools prior to their first day to get a head start on the paperwork. This includes adopting the following:

  • Performance management tools for setting and tracking goals
  • Digital signature apps
  • Learning and assessment platforms
  • Project management tools to set onboarding deadlines
  • Communications apps for asking questions and sharing information

In fact, you can even use Continu's learning management system to automate your entire onboarding process.

4. Create a day one schedule

It’s important that both the new hire and manager understand what to expect on day one. Create a schedule and checklist for the new employee, and give it to them. They will be able to see clearly how their day will unfold. Also, they can use the document to check off any self-directed onboarding activities that they complete.

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5. Keep new hires engaged

There’s usually a period of two to four weeks from the time a worker accepts an offer and their first day. Keep the onboarding process active during this time. Send periodic engagement emails, invite new hires to a social event to connect with their new coworkers, and keep them up to date with company news.

The purpose of keeping in contact is to ensure the employee stays interested and excited in their new position. There’s a growing trend of workers ghosting new employers. This often happens when they are distracted by other job offers or a counteroffer from their old workplace.

6. Develop a training plan and schedule

Now that there have been goals established, it’s the perfect time to create a training plan to ensure the employee achieves their objectives. By creating a schedule to go along with the plan, the employee (and their manager) feels a sense of urgency to make progress.

In addition to creating a plan, it’s imperative that new workers have access to the resources and information they need. This includes:

  • How to access and navigate the learning management system
  • Information on existing knowledge base information
  • Guidance on using and completing self-directed training programs
  • Instructions on signing up for both remote and in-office training

There should also be coordination with team leaders and other stakeholders. This will ensure that new hires are given adequate time to pursue their training goals.

7. 30 / 60 / 90 day check-in

Is the employee making sufficient progress through their training to make a positive contribution to the organization? Have they hit any roadblocks or identified any issues that require some adjustments? 

Onboarding isn’t something that ends after the first few days of employment. Follow-up is absolutely a key part of this process. Set up checkpoints throughout each new worker's first 90 days of employment.

This will help to ensure the employee is on track, progressing, and still engaged. It’s much easier to make adjustments early on than it is to deal with the ramifications of a new worker who hasn’t received adequate training.

8. Collect feedback on the onboarding process

Are workers satisfied with the onboarding they received? Do they feel as though it gave them extra help in fitting into the company culture and becoming a productive worker? What about their managers and coworkers?

It’s important to collect feedback so onboarding can be improved and refined over time.

Onboarding process template

Onboarding is all about helping the worker adapt quickly and ensuring they get off to a great start. However, it’s also important to make the process work well for hiring teams, department managers, and training staff. One way to do this is to create a set of helpful onboarding process templates. 

The benefits of using onboarding process templates include:

  • Consistency in look and messaging
  • Ability to get communications out quickly
  • Ensures steps aren’t missed
  • Reduces errors
  • Increases time and resources to focus on important onboarding steps

Once you have a set of onboarding templates, you will be able to create a pre-onboarding welcoming packet for new employees.

Types of onboarding processes

There are five primary types of onboarding. Many organizations touch on one or more of these when they hire new employees.

  1. Social - creating social connections and making the new worker feel welcome. It may involve partnering a new hire with another worker to show them the ropes. Social onboarding can also begin before the employee’s first day. For example, they can be invited to a team happy hour.
  2. Talent - helping the company make the best use of a new hire’s talents. Imagine having new staff members’ most important skills articulated so that everybody understands what they bring to the table.
  3. Knowledge - new employees must be given specific, job-related knowledge. Knowledge onboarding involves identifying what the new worker has to know and connecting them with resources to help them learn.
  4. Operational - consists of the details required to get the employee off to a good start. This includes ensuring they are issued a laptop, having their workspace ready, setting up their system credentials, etc.
  5. Performance - there are two components for performance-related onboarding: (a) setting new hire goals and objectives and (b) providing new hires with an initial assignment or project. Both of these components can help new staff members understand how they can help the organization grow.

Which onboarding process is best?

Is it better to onboard quickly so workers can start doing what they were hired to do?

Should onboarding be a longer, more thorough process?

There’s no single answer to this. That’s why onboarding should be personalized to each position. 

For one employee, an in-depth onboarding process would be pointless and a bit miserable. A worker in another position might need the support and acclimation upfront to truly perform at their best.

What Causes an Onboarding Process to Fail?

An effective onboarding process can improve worker retention by 82%. Unfortunately, many organizations fall short in this area. Some onboarding processes fail because of:

Delayed onboarding - is often a problem in busy, hectic workplaces. There may be an onboarding process in place, and management has every intention to use it. However, staffing may be inadequate, and new workers aren’t given time to take part in onboarding. Instead, they are simply expected to get to work and learn as they go.

Too little structure or preparation - taking too laid back of an approach to employee onboarding can be problematic. Workers feel lost and adrift, even frustrated. Meanwhile, management often assumes they can just “ask somebody” or simply figure things out.

This doesn’t mean that all companies need to adopt a lengthy, formal onboarding process. Simply implementing an onboarding checklist can ensure that all of the important tasks are completed.

Information overload - it can be a bit overwhelming to be subjected to all of this new information. It’s difficult to retain information, even when it is important. This can be avoided simply by offering new employees access to information sources about benefits and policies rather than expecting them to memorize things.

Failure to address individual employee needs and concerns - many organizations deploy a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding. Unfortunately, workers don’t get the information and insights they need. Imagine starting a new job as a manager in your fifties. You probably care about retirement planning, health benefits, and 401K rollover options. Now, imagine having to sit through an hour of onboarding addressing this information as a part-time employee in your late teens. You may not even qualify for those benefits.

Non-existent remote onboarding process - plenty of organizations have gone completely remote or adopted a hybrid schedule for employees. This changes how employees complete tasks, communicate with one another, and engage in online training. In spite of this major shift, many have failed to create an approach to remote onboarding.

Lack of technology - Onboarding is often clunky, fragmented, and inefficient. This doesn’t have to be the case.

How long does employee onboarding take?

The length of the employee onboarding process can vary greatly depending on the organization and the role, but it typically ranges from one week to three months. However, some companies extend their onboarding process up to a year to ensure new hires are fully integrated and comfortable in their roles. It's important to remember that effective onboarding is not just about speed, but also about the quality of the experience.

Tools like Continu's Workflows feature can help automate and streamline the onboarding process, ensuring a smooth transition for new hires.

Using a modern LMS for the onboarding process

Now that you know how to develop an effective onboarding process, it's time to put it in place. Using the steps provided, create a solid onboarding experience for new hires or modify your existing onboarding process.

An easy way to do that is with a modern learning management system like Continu. It comes with everything an enterprise organization needs to streamline the onboarding process, such as:

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Continu Team
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