On Onboarding: The Employer’s Guide

I’ve written many blogs about how to succeed and achieve productivity at work. Whether you’re focused on setting boundaries or discovering inspiration, I’m assuming you already know the basics of your job. But what about new employees? Before you can think deeper, you need a proper introduction to a new job. In this blog, I’ll help employers and workplace leaders identify the most successful approach to onboarding. It’s a crucial part of the process of welcoming a new team member. And you shouldn’t skimp on your investment in onboarding.

The Critical Role of Onboarding

As this overview from SHRM explains, the onboarding process is crucial to your and your new hires’ success. When done right, this introduction to the workplace unlocks benefits for both sides. For the employer, this is your chance to secure a productive, loyal employee. Orienting them to their new workplace is critical for them to succeed. In addition, as this HBR article notes, a good onboarding process increases retention. That means you’ll reduce costs associated with turnover. This recent research shows that those costs can be very significant. Yikes! That’s why it’s a worthwhile investment to be sure your new hire will stick around.

That HBR article also points out that employees will have more confidence in their new roles when onboarding is done right. They’ll also have more confidence that they are in the right place. That can be especially true for younger workers, as this article describes. Especially in the context of the ongoing Great Resignation, the next generation is looking for more than good pay. Onboarding is your opportunity to showcase the culture, mission, and values they can expect at this job. That’s very important for this group of employees to know. If you’ve made significant efforts towards Corporate Social Responsibility and sustainability, younger employees will be excited to hear it.

Get the Ball Rolling

So how do you convey the culture, mission, and values of your organization and also take care of practicalities? Follow the steps outlined in this SHRM article. First, consider what “preboarding” will look like. That’s the part that happens before your new hire’s first day. Will they get an email with important information? Consider providing log-in information for collaboration tools like Pyrus in advance. Maybe you’ll send a branded mug or sweatshirt? This might help the person start feeling like a part of the team already.

completing paperwork for onboardingThen comes the first day itself. This is orientation day. During this time, take care of practical items. Review the employee handbook with employees, especially if you haven’t sent it in advance. Then collect the required employee paperwork for their file. Discuss important topics like compensation, break time policies, and more. Finally, you may begin to offer some foundational training at this time. Be careful, though. You don’t want to overwhelm a new employee with technical information. Be sure you also communicate the organization’s values and how their role fits into that.

Of course, your onboarding process should have room for variation. For instance, a new executive will need to meet key stakeholders right off the bat. Managers will need to get familiar not only with their own job but also those of their direct reports. Employees with disabilities may have questions specific to accessibility accommodations. Try to provide all new employees with resources they can turn to for future questions as well.

One more note: onboarding can last a while. Ideally, it extends throughout the first year. This Forbes article has tips for managing that time effectively. For instance, weekly one-on-one meetings and a mentor program can do a lot to provide continued support.

Riding the Remote Wave

Now traditionally, this would all happen in person. However, remote work has become more common since the start of the pandemic. So how do you make onboarding a success when it’s happening through the screen only?

This Forbes article on remote onboarding offers some great ideas. For instance, the importance of a welcome email and package increase in this context. Your new employee won’t be coming to headquarters or meeting their team in person, so welcome them warmly remotely. One way to do this is to include little blurbs about their new team members in the welcome email. This can help them start building their network. When it comes to the first day, it may be tempting to just provide prerecorded videos. However, it’s really valuable to get the whole team together on a video call to welcome your new coworker. If they can meet a dedicated mentor virtually too, that’s great. And of course, the direct supervisor should start regular one-on-one meetings to keep in touch with this employee. With the added challenges of working apart from the rest of the team, you’ll need to try extra hard to keep the newbie connected.

In addition, as the pandemic wanes, it may be possible to actually meet in person, even for remote workers. This FastCompany video suggests that it can make a big difference. See if new remote workers can travel to meet their team in person just once. If not, at least try to connect them with coworkers in their time zone for more synchronous communication. It’s hard to talk to someone you’ve never worked with before via text or email alone. 

Back to the Office, Back to Onboarding

On the flip side, lots of workers are returning to the office after an extended period of remote work. As this HBR article points out, they may feel disoriented upon their return. Teams will look different after significant turnover. Policies on hybrid work may feel unclear. This makes it a good time for something called “reboarding.”

SHRM explains that this process is essential for all employees returning from time away. Update employees on new projects and new job expectations when relevant. Be sure they meet any new coworkers on the team. This doesn’t necessarily need to be as formal as orientation. For example, you could throw a welcome back party for an employee returning from parental leave to acquaint them with new hires since they left.

When it comes to specifically reboarding employees after the new normal of the pandemic, this article provides some good ideas. For instance, focus on the unique contributions of each team member so they know they’re still valued. This research highlights the importance of recognizing each employee’s talents. Help team members get to know one another by sharing about different coworkers’ expertise. This also gives employees practical guidance about who can help with certain questions. To further show that you care about each employee, assign tasks based on their individual strengths. Finally, give your employees opportunities to recognize one another. This can involve nominations for workplace awards or informal shout-outs. Either way, it’s all part of letting every employee know that, even amidst change, your appreciation for them remains constant.

Streamline Your Onboarding Process

There’s a lot to do when you’re onboarding or reboarding employees, and it may feel hard to track it all. Plus, you’ll want to gather some metrics, as suggested by SHRM. This will help you engage in data-driven assessment of your onboarding process. All of this can be made simple when you utilize Pyrus software for workflow management. Workflow automation will streamline your onboarding process and analyze key data for you. With the dashboards, you’ll be able to see where onboarding is at for various employees and view overall statistics. Check out how Pyrus can help you move onboarding forward faster.