Your complete guide to onboarding


Organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new retention by 82% (Glassdoor) and yet only 12% of employees think that their organisation does a great job of onboarding (Gallup). When you consider the business impact of new hires not making it past probation, it’s important to give some serious thought to your onboarding.

The central theme for our approach to onboarding is to exceed expectations and provide a personal touch at every opportunity whether that’s having time with Managers, inviting new joiners to events before they start or taking them out to lunch in their first week.

Below we have included some top tips for delivering a best-in-class onboarding experience for your new employees, focusing on four key milestones:

1. Pre-boarding

The period between candidates accepting a job and starting is a critical opportunity where a business can build excitement or stall and lose momentum risking low engagement, reneged  agreements, or counter offers.

To help ensure this doesn’t happen, it’s important to consider your pre-boarding process, making sure it’s keeping your new recruit as engaged as possible.

Top tips for pre-boarding:

1. Provide a bit of homework:

If you have background reading, webinars, or even onboarding admin that can be done in this period it can be a great time to send it over. Far from being a drag, this sort of work can often build excitement and keep new hires engaged.

2. Regular check-ins:

Take advantage of the excitement of an offer accepted and keep the momentum going with regular updates and check-ins. Use this time to convey the company culture - send links to social media and invite them to after work drinks or a team social.

3. Send a first day email to the new hire (around a week before):

Lay out everything as clearly as possible including first day logistics and even dress code so that they feel comfortable and know what to expect. Consider attaching any extra links/documents to further portray your culture.

4. Schedule a chat with a team member/manager:

This is a good opportunity for your new hire to introduce themselves outside of an interview setting, helping them to build relationships and connections ahead of the first day.

5. Make them feel like part of the team:

Send over branded stationary, clothing or materials. This isn't just cosmetic - this can speed up how quickly your new hire adopts your company into their identity and starts to refer to the business as 'we' rather than 'you'.

2. First day

It’s very likely your new starter will be feeling rather anxious on their first day, even if you have nailed your pre-boarding process! But you can turn this anxiety into excitement with a few key tips.

Top tips for day 1:

1. Send a welcome announcement:

Send a company / department / team update to make sure that everyone is excited to welcome their new colleague.

2. Make their work space inviting:

Along with the essentials, you can consider providing a welcome pack, employee handbook and an agenda for the first day.

3. Prepare an introduction:

Outline what to expect from their onboarding and remind them why they chose to join by reinforcing your values and culture.

4. Provide a staff directory:

Help them to get familiar with their co-workers and make them more comfortable introducing themselves to everyone.

5. Assign a mentor or buddy:

Employees who have a close friend or peer in the office are 7 times more likely to remain engaged at work (Gallup) so consider assisting this process and helping new joiners to acclimatise to your culture by assigning a buddy/mentor.

6. Training programme commences:

There’s nothing worse than a first day full of admin. Of course the paperwork must be done, but get them learning as quickly as you can.

7. Check in:

Touch base throughout the day and ensure you sit down at the end of the day to get their feedback. If there are any issues or concerns you want to find out about it now.

8. Show your enthusiasm!

Make sure to get across that you’re just as excited to have them there, as they are to be there.

3. First week

A new hire’s first week goes a long way toward setting the tone for the rest of their time at your company. It is increasingly important to do the right things to make onboarding successful so that your new employee can jump into the position and start contributing right away.

Top tips for week 1:

1. Build connections:

Invite them for after work drinks or organise time shadowing different team members. Encourage your employees to discuss what it’s like working at your business and any upcoming projects they’re excited about.

2. Get them started ASAP:

whether your new starter is experienced or not, you can get them started on aspects of the role so that they can start to add immediate value.

3. Make your expectations clear:

Make sure to set SMART goals and be clear on exactly what is expected of them when they’re starting out. Although they’ll hopefully never have to use the information, new employees should also understand how problems concerning performance, discipline and absence are handled.

4. Fill in the blanks:

And finally, be available for any questions or point them to the best person who can help.

4. First month

In the first month, the focus should be to help the new employee gain a reasonable grasp of the organisation and their role.

Top tips for month 1:

1. Specific Support:

Over the first month, it should become clearer where a new employee needs further training or coaching. Tailor training and coaching to their needs to get the most out of them.

2. Settle in:

By now, a new employee will have been introduced to quite a few (if not all) of their tasks and the focus should be on giving them practical experience of tackling them.

3. Manager meetings:

72% of employees say one-on-one time with their direct manager is the most important part of any pre or onboarding process (Enboarder, 2019). Ensure regular contact in the first few months to build a relationship and understand any concerns.

4. Regular feedback:

There’s no such thing as too much feedback especially when you’re new to a role - encourage managers to give positive and constructive feedback as much as possible and to quickly address any performance concerns.

We hope you’ve found these tips useful .If you’re interested in finding out more about other ways to reduce churn, you can find out more in our guide on how to Improve Retention.

If you’d like to discuss any points in more detail, or if you’d like some more guidance on how to design a great onboarding process, please get in touch.