What’s New in Onboarding Practices

Nearly every company has an onboarding process for hiring new employees, but few employees would call it great. According to Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees.

The main way to create a better onboarding experience is to treat it as a journey as opposed to a single-day event. If your onboarding process begins and ends on the employee’s first day, you are missing the opportunity to adequately prepare a new employee for their role. A survey from UrbanBound found that 54% of organizations with a consistent onboarding plan gained over 50% greater productivity from new hires and experienced 50% greater new hire retention. Below are tips to expand and standardize your process.

What’s New in Onboarding Practices

Start with Pre-Onboarding

Employers are starting onboarding earlier by focusing on pre-onboarding—the part of the hiring process that takes place in the period after the new employee has accepted the job offer but prior to their first day on the job. The goal is to prepare a new employee for their first day of work and keep them interested and engaged in their new employer prior to even setting foot in the door.

How to Pre-Onboard

  • Prepare a new employee for their first day with an email including: when to arrive, where to park, whom to check in with, appropriate attire, first day agenda, etc.
  • Provide a summary about each of your benefits, including the employee’s cost per payroll. This is an opportunity to highlight the work/life balance or unique benefits your organization offers.
  • Explain pertinent details about your organization, its culture and management structure.
  • Make the new employee feel like a valued team member by sending them a welcome kit including company-branded items, a motivational book that is meaningful in the organization or within their department, and short biographies of their co-workers.

Make Onboarding More Effective with a Consistent Plan

An effective onboarding strategy leads to a new hire becoming a productive team member as quickly as possible and develops employee retention and overall job satisfaction. 

  • Onboarding is a process that starts upon job acceptance and could take a year or more (depending on the position).
  • Determine strategies that will foster relationship building to improve retention and loyalty and accelerate the new employee’s performance.
  • Define objectives—what does an employee need to know about their role within the organization?
  • Encourage managers to spend time on the social and cultural elements of onboarding in addition to their on-the-job training.
  • Identify key players or mentors to help new employees make connections and understand the company.
  • Suggest resources to continue their career development throughout time.
  • Use technology—develop a “welcome to the company” video or a video series aimed at the first months or year of employment and post on your intranet or YouTube for easy access.
  • Automate onboarding tasks such as the completion of benefits enrollment forms and other new employee forms.
  • Make changes as necessary—gather feedback or use an onboarding survey to learn what was beneficial or what details to address to make a better first impression.

To make a strong onboarding and pre-onboarding process, develop a consistent plan, be creative and appropriate for your culture, and create engagement for new employees that enables them to hit the ground running, even before they’ve officially started working for you.

Additional Resources

Anne Newhouse, CEBS
Information/Research Specialist at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans


The latest from Word on Benefits: