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Episode 11:
Employee Onboarding | 6 min read

Best practices for the employee onboarding process

Building the best possible team is essential if you want your business to be productive. However, it’s more than just choosing the right team members. You have to properly introduce them to your company and their new roles. And how do you do that? With proper onboarding.

Onboarding is arguably the most important part of the hiring process. It’s what assimilates new hires into your team and prepares them for their new roles. It takes new hires between eight and twelve months to be as efficient as an experienced coworker. If you want to cut that time down as much as possible, it’s all about efficient onboarding. Here are some employee onboarding process best practices to help you create an efficient team.


What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process in which you integrate new hires into your organization. The process can cover many activities and take anywhere from a few weeks to many months, depending on your organization and the role.

It’s not uncommon for people to confuse orientation with onboarding, although they’re both very different. Orientation is a part of the onboarding process. It typically consists of paperwork and routine new-hire tasks, typically lasting just a couple of hours. If your onboarding process is a one-day orientation, you’ve done something wrong!

A proper employee onboarding process should last much longer and consist of many different activities, including:

  • Touring the facilities
  • Meeting department heads and coworkers
  • Covering basic tasks and responsibilities
  • Completing paperwork
  • Regular follow-ups over a period of time

With a proper onboarding procedure, new hires will be ready to be productive members of your team in no time!

Why is onboarding so important?

Onboarding is more than important; it’s essential if you want your team to thrive! First and foremost, onboarding prepares new hires for their roles and responsibilities in the workplace. It also acclimates them to the work environment and their coworkers.

When a new hire isn’t onboarded properly, not only do they feel unprepared for the work, but they also don’t enjoy the work, meaning they’re more likely to leave. It costs approximately $1,500 to hire and onboard a new employee. That means if you don’t properly onboard new hires, you might have to spend that $1,500 pretty often!

According to research, businesses with strong onboarding processes increase their employee retention rates by 82% and increase productivity by 70%. All of those amazing numbers are because the new hires are adequately prepared and feel comfortable in their new roles. That’s the power of proper onboarding!

Employee onboarding process best practices

With all the talk of the power of onboarding, what goes into a “proper” employee onboarding process flow? Well, a flow is exactly what it is! You need to take employees from hire to working smoothly and gradually, so they feel prepared for their new role.

Did you know that only 12% of employees feel like their company did a good job with onboarding? If you want more success (and you do!), here are the steps of a successful onboarding employee process to help you increase employee retention and boost overall productivity:


That’s right; the onboarding process begins before the onboarding! Proper onboarding can bring serious benefits to your business, that’s why it’s important to take it seriously!

Pre-boarding is the process that begins after the offer is accepted but before the new hire’s official first day. These first few days are great for getting the ball rolling and ensuring an efficient and effective onboarding process.

Typically, pre-boarding consists of activities that prepare the new hire for working at your company:

  • Facility tours (including the family is a big bonus, especially if relocation is involved)
  • Emailing essential information, including benefits packages, background about the company and its culture, organizational charts, etc.
  • Matching the new hire with a buddy, so they can talk to each other before the official first day of work and answer basic questions.
  • Sending a care package with logoed gear, treats, or anything else you want to welcome the new employee to your team.

Preboarding is a great way to show new hires that they’re welcome and that you’re excited for them to be a part of your team. It makes them feel welcome and starts the entire relationship off on the right foot.


Orientation is the step of the employee onboarding process that many companies confuse with the entire process. However, it’s just that: a single step!

Orientation is typically the new hire’s very first day and may take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. It involves all the mandatory HR processes, paperwork, and meet-and-greet activities to prepare the new employee for real work:

  • Introduce new hire to organization’s structure, mission, vision, and values
  • Distribute (if you didn’t during pre-boarding) and review the employee handbook
  • Highlight essential policies for working at your company
  • Review administrative procedures
  • Sign essential paperwork
  • Provide any mandatory training

Because orientation is such an information-heavy part of employee onboarding, it’s a good idea to spread it out over a few days to prevent overload. You don’t want to scare your new hires away on their first day!

Building a foundation

Every business is different. Even if your new hire has a hundred years of industry experience (lucky you!), it doesn’t mean they’ve encountered anything like your company in their past. To help guide them into your operation, you should first build a foundation.

Just like when constructing a house, building a foundation first is essential for any employee onboarding process. Over the first few days to weeks of employment, continuously discuss and showcase your company’s culture, mission, and value propositions.

Since the orientation process is so information-heavy, new hires likely won’t pick up all the minor details in just that time alone. It takes weeks to months of constant, yet gentle, reminders for these ideals to be absorbed.

According to Gallup, there are five questions your onboarding program should make clear during the building a foundation step:

  1. What do we believe in around here?
  2. What are my strengths?
  3. What is my role?
  4. Who are my partners?
  5. What does my future look like here?

Think of these as the bricks you use to build the onboarding foundation. And the more “concrete” you make these blocks, the more ready the new hire will be to take on their new role. It’s all about setting clear (and realistic) expectations.

Ensuring your new hires understand their role and your company’s core values will help them more easily assimilate into the workforce.

Buddy systems and mentoring

Who could be better to introduce new employees to their work environment than someone who already works there? Buddy systems and mentoring are tactics used by many companies as a part of the onboarding employee process.

With a buddy system, you pair your new hire with an existing employee — typically someone at a similar level. Try to pair your new employee with someone who isn’t in a position of direct authority, but rather someone who can show them the ropes and point them in the right direction if they have questions without intimidating.

The buddy or mentor is typically responsible for simple tasks, like showing the new hire around, telling them who to talk to when resolving problems, where to park, the best places for lunch, and the more subtle nuances of working for the company.

Buddies can be paired with new hires anywhere from a few weeks up to a year — or whatever timeline works for your organization’s onboarding process. Ideally, your new hire and their buddy can form a close work relationship, which they can both use in the future. It makes the new hire feel welcome and your existing employee feel valued. Win, win!

Because of the benefits, 56% of new hires say they prefer the buddy system as a part of the employee onboarding process to mentor them as they start their new job.

Track the right metrics

One major part of the onboarding process doesn’t even have anything to do with the new hire. It’s up to your HR team! The only way to tell if your employee onboarding process was a success is if you track the right metrics.

By tracking key onboarding metrics, you can identify areas of improvement to help future new hires become productive members of your team even better! Here are just a few onboarding metrics your HR team should be aware of:

  • Time-to-productivity – How long does it take for new hires to contribute to the organization? This may differ between positions, so determine average times for various departments, and compare new hire times against the benchmarks.
  • Turnover and retention rates – How long do employees stay at your company? If you have high turnover rates, it could indicate a problem with your onboarding processes.
  • Performance measures – Track average performance between groups. For example, compare how well a group performs after one week of onboarding versus a group with one month of onboarding.

 It’s also a good idea to get in the habit of asking new hires what they thought of your onboarding processes. They went through it, so they could have valuable insights your team might have overlooked. You can do this with formal surveys or informally by just asking them questions.

Effective employee onboarding procedures lead to effective employees

No matter what project you take on, it’s important to get a good start. And that’s exactly what your onboarding employee process is: a start. It’s up to you whether it’s a good one or not!

If you want new hires to become productive members of your team, proper onboarding is crucial. Take your time to develop your employee onboarding process flow and prepare new hires for working at your company. The more prepared they feel, the faster they’ll contribute to your organization and higher your retention rates.

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Employee Onboarding


Workstream is a hiring platform that helps employers get 4x the number of qualified applicants. The world's most trusted brands use Workstream to optimize job board postings, automate screening and interview scheduling, communicate via text message, and streamline the onboarding/training process. See what all the buzz is about by scheduling a demo or email us info@workstream.is!

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