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What Is Onboarding? Understanding Employee Onboarding

All You Need To Know About Onboarding New Employees

Going through an entire hiring process only to lose someone after a few weeks to a competitor is a huge waste of resources. To avoid this, companies are actively trying to optimize their onboarding process to make sure new hires quickly become valuable and engaged members of their organization. In this article, we talk about everything you need to know on the topic, from the onboarding definition to benefits and tips to create the most suitable onboarding experience for your organization. Let’s dive right in.

What Is Onboarding?

What does onboarding mean? Contrary to popular belief, onboarding is much more than signing paperwork on the first day in the office. In reality, this term refers to a lengthy process that introduces and integrates new hires into their work environment. During this time, employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and resources they need to be productive in their position. In addition to that, the onboarding process is the time during which employees learn about the company’s values, objectives, and corporate culture, and how their role can contribute to the achievement of the overall vision.

The duration of the employee onboarding process can differ from company to company, as can the individual steps the HR team takes. In some organizations it lasts only a couple of days, while in others it can take up to a year or longer. In any case, a general rule of thumb is that onboarding starts from the moment you make an offer until the employee is able to function independently and be truly productive in their role. Catching the attention of a candidate by expressing your company values before they step foot in the office can make a great difference in their subsequent engagement.

Onboarding Vs. Orientation

Often, businesses use these two terms interchangeably. However, such an approach could have a negative impact on the process of welcoming a new hire into the business. As we mentioned earlier, onboarding refers to a long series of events that helps employees gain the necessary knowledge, resources, skills, and insights into their role so that they quickly achieve independence and productivity. On the other hand, orientation typically lasts for a day or two and refers to the initial welcome employees receive. It usually includes meeting new coworkers, getting an introduction to the company’s core values and mission, and signing necessary paperwork.

Therefore, it’s easy to see that orientation is not the same as onboarding but rather part of it. Considering that both processes are essential for a smooth transition into a new role, having a deep understanding of them will help you create an enjoyable work environment for your employees.

Why Is Onboarding Important?

We keep saying how necessary onboarding is for the success and efficiency of your organization. But what makes it so important? Now that we’ve explored the onboarding meaning let’s look at some of the benefits an effective employee onboarding program can bring to your business.

1. Enhanced Employee Experience

The high demand for talent means that employees have no shortage of opportunities. Therefore, if the employee experience you have created for them is subpar, they will be quick to leave. A robust onboarding process that delves into company culture, career growth opportunities, and mutual communication shows your employees that you are invested in their development and will continue to support them beyond their first months.

2. Reduced Turnover Rates

Employee turnover is a costly challenge for businesses, especially when employees don’t stick around for long and you’re stuck in a perpetual hiring process. Thankfully, training is one of the most useful tools in combating it. Specifically, when employees feel that their professional development is supported by their work environment, they are more likely to stay committed to their company. Being able to do their job efficiently and grow their knowledge and skillset keeps them satisfied and productive.

3. Easier Talent Attraction

We all know that word gets around when a company creates a negative work environment. Well, the same happens for the opposite. If you make an effort to create an engaging onboarding strategy that caters to your employee’s needs, you will not only achieve better retention but also build your brand image. Modern employees are very interested in corporate culture and training opportunities and will jump at a chance to work with you. Not to mention that this technique of sourcing talent is faster and less expensive than a traditional hiring process.

4. Increased Productivity

It usually takes some time for new hires to start adding real value to their company. Besides, for the first few months, they’re trying to find their footing and discover the best ways to perform their daily tasks. A well-thought-out employee onboarding process can significantly decrease the “settling-in” period and help employees hit the ground running. To achieve that, communicate frequently with your employees, set goals, define your expectations, and create a plan to maximize performance. This way, you will support them in tapping into their maximum capabilities sooner rather than later.

5. Robust Company Culture

It’s obviously important for your candidates to have the right skillset for the position you’re offering. However, it’s even more important that their personality fits your corporate culture. Incorporating your core values in the recruitment and onboarding process ensures that you attract and hire the right people. As onboarding progresses, these new hires will be able to quickly become part of the team as well as proud representatives of your company values.

5 Steps For A Successful Employee Onboarding Process

Now you know the onboarding definition and why your company needs an onboarding system. But how can you get all the benefits we described? Here are 5 steps you can follow to develop an effective employee onboarding program.

1. Demonstrate Your Company Policies And Benefits

No two companies are alike, which is why new hires need to know what’s special about your organization from the get-go. Make sure to describe the benefits, bonuses, and perks one gets working with your company early in the recruitment process. This way, you get ahead of the competition and attract more talent. It’s also important for the onboarding material to cover company policies regarding health and safety, compliance, best practices, etc., in order to avoid mistakes caused by ignorance.

2. Provide Role Clarity

Often, the job descriptions candidates view during the hiring process give a very broad image of what they should expect in regard to the responsibilities of their new role. Therefore, it’s up to you to provide role clarity for your new hires so that they feel confident and ready to take on their tasks. You can achieve that by discussing general tasks, objectives, and responsibilities during the first days and weeks, as well as how these contribute to the company’s overarching goals. Don’t forget to give them access to all the resources they need to best perform their tasks.

3. Facilitate Training

As employees get accustomed to their new work environment, having adequate guidance and support is what determines their future productivity and devotion to the company. Therefore, training must be your number one priority during onboarding. Make sure to create a personalized schedule that new hires can check to know what to expect. Offer a variety of training methods to accommodate your employees’ learning needs. Finally, check in regularly with them to track their training progress and show them you’re always available to discuss plans or issues.

4. Induct Into Organizational Culture

It is often that businesses do not include organizational culture in their onboarding training material, as they believe that this is something employees will learn as time passes. Although that’s true, it’s still wise to give them a push in the right direction. During onboarding meetings, make sure to explain your company’s system of beliefs and values, the policies you follow, and the ways you interact. This way, it will be easier for them to assimilate into their work environment and form stronger relationships with colleagues and customers alike.

5. Promote Social Connections With Colleagues

Being the new guy (or gal) at a company where people have worked together for a long time can become lonely. To avoid social isolation, especially at a time when remote work is rising in popularity, make social interactions part of your onboarding process. Pair your latest team member with an onboarding buddy who will work them through processes, answer questions, and introduce them to the rest of the colleagues and your inner corporate culture. The buddy system can last a couple of months, but it will possibly create long-lasting relationships for the new hire.

Best Practices For Effective Employee Onboarding

The onboarding steps we describe above are a general guide you can use to start your employee’s professional journey in a positive way. But before you get started, take a look at these 7 best practices that will create a better onboarding experience for your employee and better results for your business.

Match The Job Description To The Job

It is an HR recruiter’s responsibility to make job descriptions sound appealing to candidates in order to attract more talent. However, you must make sure to stay as close to reality as possible. If a new hire realizes that their actual position has nothing to do with what was advertised to them, it’s possible that they will make a quick exit.

Automate And Personalize The Onboarding Process

If you’re considering optimizing your employee onboarding process, a Learning Management System is the best investment you can make. An LMS will help you automate many onboarding steps, set specific standards, and easily keep track of progress. In addition, it facilitates personalization, as you can use its various tools to create versatile onboarding courses depending on your employee’s interests.

Action An End-To-End Onboarding Schedule And Stick To It

When it comes to onboarding, it’s always better to have a concrete plan. Employees need to know what to expect during the first few months of their employment so that they can self-assess their progress. Having a schedule is also beneficial for your business, as it allows you to monitor the process and take any necessary steps. Finally, a plan ensures that all new employees receive the same training.

Prioritize The Flow Of Information

Starting at a new company is a stressful situation. There’s so much to learn and so many people to meet. Having said that, keep in mind that you need to control the flow of information your new hire receives. Although the company’s full goal plan for the next year is important to know, maybe start with what time they need to show up for work or how to request days off.

Conduct A Meet-And-Greet

During hiring, a meet-and-greet introduces candidates to their potential colleagues, thus helping you gauge if they would be a good match for the rest of their team members and if they could fit the corporate culture in general. Later on, during the first weeks of employment, meet-and-greets are used to establish relationships between the new hire and the people they will collaborate with in the future. Encourage employees to accept meet-and-greet requests to strengthen teamwork and collaboration within the organization.

Avoid An Isolating Onboarding Experience

As we mentioned earlier, starting a new job can be a rather stressful situation for many. And although using tools to automate the process is necessary, make sure not to leave your employee alone during that time. Plan frequent check-in meetings to discuss their progress and give them room to ask questions and talk about their future in the company. This way, they will quickly overcome their initial stress and move on to assimilating and becoming productive.

Measure Onboarding Metrics

The best way to ensure that your onboarding process is effective is to set metrics that you frequently analyze and compare. There’s a lot you can measure during onboarding training, such as clock-in and out time, goal progress, the time it takes to complete tasks, assessment scores, and much more. Use your LMS to automate metrics reports and keep a close eye on the development of your latest addition.


A well-planned onboarding process can give new employees the motivation they need to become not only long-term members of your organization but also valuable additions that contribute to organizational success. If you want to stop the vicious cycle of high turnover and wrong hires, follow the advice we shared in this article and develop an onboarding program that will attract and maintain the right people.

Visit our employee onboarding software directory to find the system that’s just right for your organization. You can filter results by features, deployment type, and pricing model to simplify your search!


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