New Employee Onboarding Guide: 15 Steps to Maximize Success For New Hires

New employee onboarding is a must-have process for running a great business, but it’s tough to perfect. Employers spend tons of time, money, and resources recruiting talent, but new hires are often “still shopping,” so just hiring them isn’t enough. You have to convince them to stay.
The Ultimate 15-Step Employee Onboarding Checklist EddyHR

According to the Harvard Business Review, up to 20% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment. Why? Poor onboarding processes. These companies lost those employees because they didn’t win them over in those first few weeks on the job. 

Without the proper onboarding experience, employees don’t accept the company mission, they don’t grasp their own importance, they feel like an outsider in the community, and they won’t stay for long.

Create an Onboarding Plan

New hire onboarding deserves careful planning. Get together with key stakeholders in your company to create a plan of action that gives new hires the tools they need to thrive. 

Keep reading for some tips and tricks to get your discussion started. We’ve broken down the onboarding process into three sections: Things to do before the first day, things to do on the first day, and things to do after the first day.

Before the First Day:

1. Communicate about job responsibilities and expectations.

When starting a new job, often the biggest concerns of a new employee are about what the company expects from them. You’ve got to clearly communicate these expectations to ease that stress once the employee is hired.

There are a lot of ways to do this but sending the new hire an email with some day-one information is a good place to start. The email should outline the company’s mission and vision, explain the new hire’s role and how it fits within the company’s organization, and explain some duties, responsibilities, and expectations.

Also, be sure to give the new hire clear instructions on what time they’re expected to show up on their first day, where they can park, who they’ll meet, and what they should (or should not) wear. You want your new hire to come feeling as comfortable as possible. Knowing these things will go a long way for them.

2. Send essential paperwork for the new hire to sign.

When a new hire arrives at the office on their first day, they shouldn’t have stacks of paperwork sitting on their desk. Get this done BEFORE day one! 

We all know there are lots of documents to get signed. First off, you have the basics like the W-4, I-9, direct deposit forms, NDAs, non-competes, and background checks. You might also ask for known allergies, t-shirt size, or food preferences. 

If you wait to get all of this done on the new hire’s first day, they’ll be completely overwhelmed, and they won’t have time to actually get comfortable. Meeting coworkers and getting oriented on a project is a much better use of day one.

EddyHR can help you get this important but not fun stuff done beforehand. Just send the documents you need to be taken care of to the new hire a couple of weeks before the start date, and make it clear that you need the documents signed before they start. Getting this taken care of early will make the first day on the job more fun and more productive.

3. Set up the new hire’s workspace.

Showing up for a new job and not having a workplace is like walking into a restaurant and being told to eat standing up. New hires should come to work feeling taken care of. Taking time to prepare the new hire’s work area makes them feel valued. If employees feel valued, they’ll give that value back in hard work.

Go the extra mile and decorate their workspace with balloons, gifts, or company swag to make them feel truly welcome. Even something as small as a favorite candy bar or a gift card to their favorite restaurant goes a long way in helping someone feel welcome on their first day.

4. Create a first day (or even first week) agenda.

Your new hires don’t know what to expect unless you tell them. The unknown is scary, so do them a favor and let them know what’s going to happen. Who will they meet? Will they go through training or orientation? Will their team take them out to lunch? All of these questions and more should be answered and planned for by creating a first-day agenda.

Without an agenda, the new hire might feel lost or awkward. They could even feel like the company is poorly run which is something you don’t want. Take the time to plan ahead and create a schedule so that everyone knows exactly how the new hire’s first few days will go.

This may include company orientation with HR administrators or company executives, training with a manager, lunch with the team, a meet and greet with other departments, and a tour around the office. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a plan!

5. Prep the team.

It’s always exciting to bring on a new team member, but it’s important for everyone on the team to understand what the role of the new hire will be. According to SHRM, existing team members sometimes feel threatened or think their work is being infringed upon by a new employee with overlapping responsibilities. 

Have the team lead or manager explain why you made a new hire and how they will fit in with the existing group. If the team actively tries to be friends and mentors, then your new hire will feel more safe and welcome. A warm intro and a lunch invite goes a long way.

On the First Day:

1. Be on time and show up excited.

New employees are often pretty nervous on their first day, and why not? They made a leap into the unknown for you. If the only person they know isn’t around when they show up, that anxiety only rises. Make sure that someone who knows the agenda and can be friendly is there to welcome them to the office.

Showing up on time and being excited to greet the new hire will calm some of their nerves and assure them that they have a friend in the company. This feeling of friendship and belonging is huge when it comes to making a good first impression.

"Showing up on time and being excited to greet the new hire will calm some of their nerves and assure them that they have a friend in the company."

2. Make an announcement and introductions where appropriate.

If your company uses a communication platform like Slack, announce to everyone in the company the arrival of your new hire. Share a photo of your new hire and some fun info about them so your employees can match a face with the name and have something to talk about over lunch.

Also be sure that the new hire gets an in-person introduction to the team they’ll be working on, as well as to any managers, administrators, or executives that they’ll be working with.  These introductions will help your hire feel happy, welcome, connected, and even committed to the organization.

3. Take the employee on a tour.

If you didn’t do an office tour during the interview process, do it next time. If you did do an office tour, feel free to do another one. If the new hire doesn’t know where the “semi-secret” fancy chocolate drawer is by the end of day one, you’re doing it wrong.

An office tour will help to make the employee feel at home in their new place of work. Make sure you don’t skip anything important like the restrooms or breakroom. 

Your new hire should also know where each department is in the company, and how best to get in touch with them. This just gives them the confidence to talk to someone if they need help. While you’re at it, double-check that they have access to the building.

The office tour doesn’t have to be totally limited to the office. Feel free to tell them about tips for public transportation in the area, and don’t forget to let them know about the best places to eat nearby.

4. Follow your first-day agenda.

As we discussed in the “Before the first day” section, it’s important to have a clear schedule for the new hire to follow. If you’ve taken the time to make an agenda, now’s the time to make it happen.

Your agenda should include things like introducing company culture, organization, and leadership; a review of company values; an orientation to the product or service they will be working on; and any training or setup they need to start contributing.

"Mentors play an important role in answering questions not covered by HR, as well as showing new hires the ropes as they get through their first few weeks."

5. Assign a mentor.

Transitioning to a new job can be crazy. There’s obviously a lot to learn when it comes to responsibilities, but there are also a lot of things like workflow submissions, lingo, acronyms, and PTO requests that you can’t learn in one sitting with an HR admin. It’s best to have a mentor. 

A mentor isn’t just someone who can answer questions. They should also be a friend. Mentors are a proven way to help new employees get up-to-speed quickly and feel connected at work. Mentors play an important role in answering questions not covered by HR, as well as showing new hires the ropes as they get through their first few weeks.

After the First Day:

1. Ensure proper training.

Every job has a set of responsibilities, and every company executes those responsibilities in their own way. Whether you’re a receptionist answering a phone, a factory worker assembling a device, or a nurse charting medical info, it takes training and practice to get it right. A great way to frustrate your new hire is to just expect them to know all of this stuff right off the bat.

Whatever the job may be, we encourage you to ensure your new hire is receiving the proper training they’ll need to succeed. Without this training, expectations will be off, the employee will feel like they were set up to fail, and the work won’t get done well.

2. Conduct a formal check-in at the end of their first week.

Starting a new job is always going to feel a bit like being thrown into the deep end, but new hires should at least not be left alone in water over their heads. Have a formal check-in at the end of an employee’s first week so they can let you know how they’re doing, where they’re succeeding, and where they may need help.

This check-in is obviously is a great time for your new employee to ask any unanswered questions, but it also shows the new employee that you actually care about them. You want your new employee to succeed in their new job, and you need to express that.

3. Integrate them into the company culture.

Every company has a culture that makes it unique. Some companies hold Xbox tournaments on the weekends, while others go out and get tacos together after work on Tuesdays. Whatever it is that makes your culture special, make sure your new hire is encouraged to be a part of it.

Don’t assume your new hires know that they’re invited to these events. Many new employees want to participate, but don’t feel comfortable without a formal invite from a friend or mentor. Without these direct invitations, the new hire will feel disconnected and friendless. When in doubt, offer a personal invitation.

4. Establish performance goals.

Performance goals are important for both you and your employee. You need a way to track your new hire’s progress, and they need clear expectations about how to succeed. Sitting down and setting these standards too early can be a bit overwhelming, so give employees at least a week or so to get comfortable before nailing down standards and metrics.

Sit down with your new employee and talk about what you expect the new hire to accomplish. Talk about current job-specific expectations, but also venture into a discussion about career path, how to get promoted, and how to earn bonuses. 

Whatever your employee is making, they want more, and you want them to perform at a level where they deserve more. Help them do that. They’ll be more motivated, and you’ll get more out of your employees.

"Sit down with your new employee and talk about what you expect the new hire to accomplish.""

5. Follow Up

Don’t wait for the “end-of-year performance review” to check in on your new hire’s progress. Without consistent follow-up and regular one-on-ones, neither you nor your employee will have a clear picture of how things are going.

Schedule employee check-ins at least once every 30 days for the employee’s first three months of employment. These check-ins are often referred to as 30-60-90 reviews and can be used to establish a channel of regular communication with the new hire. 

Use these conversations to go over performance as well as any concerns that the employee might have. These may be fit with the team, company impact, or overall work experience. Regular discussions like this establish trust between the company and employee and show a real desire to help the employee succeed and enjoy work.

Get To Work Creating a Great Onboarding Experience!

Harvard Business Review estimates that organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 62% greater new-hire productivity and up to 50% greater new hire retention. Despite these overwhelming benefits, over 40% of HR professionals admit that their onboarding process could use a significant update.

So what can you do? One place to start is adopting software to help you run a smooth, paper-free onboarding experience for every new hire that comes through the door.

EddyHR not only helps you find job candidates with their job site integrations, but it also allows new hires to do the paperwork side of onboarding electronically before the first day of work. EddyHR helps you build first-day messages and digitally store all of your employee information and documents.

If you’re looking to drastically boost your new-hire productivity and keep your hard-won talent, check out EddyHR’s onboarding tools. Your onboarding process will be consistent, fast, and organized. All this adds up to excellent new-employee experiences and a productive team.

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