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Guide to New Hire Onboarding

Enhance your new hire onboarding process and set new employees up for success with this guide. Doing so can improve retention and productivity.

You may need to hire a new employee to replace one who retired or left the company for another reason. It can also be an opportunity to expand your business or bring new ideas to the table. Not just any employees will do, though, so you probably put a lot of effort into researching candidates.

Once you choose a new staff member, the process isn't over. You have new hire onboarding tasks to complete. There's a great deal entailed in the process. You're prepping this person for a role with your company and want to prepare them the best you can.

When it comes to small business hiring, you want to engage employees, educate them about your values, and define what's expected of them. Ultimately, this will include having a strong communication strategy and a packet or other informational means to convey all these details. Let's further discuss new employee onboarding practices to help you set your new hires up for success.

What is new hire onboarding?

When you're talking about onboarding new employees, you're referring to the entire process of welcoming and getting them ready to be integrated into your company, which usually is a multi-step process consisting of 4 stages:

  • Pre-onboarding
  • Orientation and introduction
  • Role-specific training
  • Full transition with ongoing support


During this phase of onboarding a new employee, you want to engage the employee and keep them interested in the job. The onboarding process is expensive, as you're probably already aware, so you save your business money when those you hire start with the company and remain there for as long as possible.

One idea to keep soon-to-be onboarding new hires engaged is by giving them your company newsletter. Make them feel like they're already part of the team. Invite them to come down for a meet-and-greet with all the staff members.

While it'll take them some time to learn about all the personality types in the workplace and how to navigate them, allowing them to meet everyone, especially when the team is warm and welcoming to the new hire, can make starting easier and far less stressful.

Consider using the buddy system to make your new hire feel welcome. Give them one person to go to with all their questions. To make it easier for everyone, you could introduce this person via a virtual meeting and provide the new hire with all their contact information.

Orientation and introduction

Onboarding new employees happens next once they actually have their first day with the company. This is when you emphasize your company values, let them take a formal tour of the business, receive proper introductions, and have them start sitting down with the people they'll work with the most.

During this phase, you want the employee to feel welcomed and give them adequate support so they feel as though their integration into the company will go smoothly.

Role-specific training

The next step in the process is role-specific training, which is when your employee will learn everything necessary for their position. This may include getting login information for different programs, having a veteran within the company take them under their wing, and getting to know the team they'll be working with most often.

Full transition with ongoing support

This is the portion of the new employee onboarding training when the person is now on their own. They're starting to tackle projects or duties without anyone holding their hand. But this isn't a time to let your new hire lose without direction or support. It's a time when you and the rest of the staff are available to provide guidance, answer questions, and make it a positive experience for the employee.

Onboarding vs. new hire orientation

Although new hire onboarding and new hire orientation are often used interchangeably, these terms aren't the same.

Orientation is the initial process of welcoming a new hire into the company. During the orientation, you educate the employee about your mission, goals, and procedures. It's also a time to introduce the employee to your company culture and staff.

The onboarding process touches on these items but is more extensive and is a multi-step process.

Reasons to have a successful employee onboarding process

When onboarding a new employee, your process makes all the difference.

For one, you increase employee retention with a strong new hire onboarding plan. The employee will feel like all their needs are met and they're comfortable with the company. Ultimately, this leads to a higher retention rate, which saves the staff stress and hassle and your company money in the long run.

Let's say an employee begins and needs help understanding the rules. They may not know that all of their duties must be completed at certain times, and the company has a no-phone policy during work hours unless there's an emergency. Then, when the person isn't meeting your expectations, you're quick with the repercussions.

However, you can alleviate an employee claiming not to know what's expected of them by having a strong onboarding process.

When you have a standardized onboarding process for all employees, you have no gray areas. You don't have some employees living up to and going beyond expectations and some not based on their training.

You want your new employees to feel welcomed and comfortable by others and yourself. They'll then be comfortable coming to someone when there's a problem and happily resolve issues with the rest of the staff. They'll also feel like part of the team early on, which can affect employee satisfaction and their overall performance with the company.

New hire onboarding checklist

You may now know how important new hire onboarding is, but you might not know what to include. We have some steps to follow:

1. Connect with HR

First and foremost, each new hire should connect with your HR department since these individuals handle payments and other vital aspects of their time with your company.

2. Confirm first-day information with new hires

You want to ensure the new hire is aware of their start date and what they must bring or wear, if any special instructions are necessary.

3. Ensure they have the necessary equipment

You'll then want to make sure the new hire has everything necessary for their day early on. This may include having a laptop or desktop, having their business email, and receiving any logins. You also want to provide them with an employee handbook.

4. Set up their workstation

You want to set up their workstation with everything necessary for them to perform all responsibilities. It prepares them while also showing you care.

5. Introduce them to the team

Your next step should be introducing them to the team. These are the people they'll be working or interacting with, and it helps them get to know everyone.

6. Give them a tour of the office

A new place can be overwhelming for new hires, especially when they don't even know where they need to go to perform their job or get a cup of coffee. Make it a point to give them a tour of the building and highlight any important areas.

7. Provide an onboarding program

When your new hire begins, provide them with an onboarding plan. Let them know exactly what they can expect. This will reduce some repetitive questions people often have because they'll know what will be covered during the onboarding process.

8. Schedule important meetings

As part of the hiring process, schedule important meetings, such as orientations, training, check-ins, and so forth. Hand your new hire a schedule, so they know exactly what they'll be going through, where they need to be, and when.

Tips for onboarding new hires

Employees will find value in anything that can make their job easier and tasks less complicated while helping them transition into the company more seamlessly.

Though focusing on molding an employee who meets your demands during new employee onboarding matters, make sure you consider the employee as well. Ask how they're doing throughout the process and what you can do to help them adjust. Make a note of these factors for future onboarding training.

As briefly noted above, be sure you give your new hire a focal point or buddy with whom they can communicate. It'll take the pressure off of them feeling as though they're asking too many questions and can make the experience more personal.

Be certain to customize the experience for the employee. This will make them feel comfortable throughout the process and more likely to stay with the company.

And above all, make sure you don't rush the process. Give the employee time to go at their own pace to acclimate.

Onboard new employees effectively

Onboarding new hires can be a stressful process for all parties involved, but it doesn't have to be when you have a plan and know a few tips to make it easier for you and the new hire. Plus, Mailchimp offers a range of tools and services to help. This includes email automation tools to send onboarding messages automatically and software to create professional company newsletters.

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