The Ultimate Guide to Employee Onboarding Strategy [5+ tips]

Retaining top talent is a very high priority for any company, big or small. According to the Center for American progress, hiring and retraining new employees can be extremely expensive, costing the company up to 20% of the employee’s annual salary.  The retention problem, however, has a very simple solution – creating a robust employee onboarding strategy.

According to a study by the Society for Human Resource Management, employees that go through a structured onboarding process are 58% more likely to stay in the organization within the next 3 years. 58%, as you could’ve guessed, is no small number.

Let’s say, for example, 3 employees making 50,000$ per year quit the company. 20% of $150,000 is $30,000. By cutting that number in half, your organization can save up to $15,000 dollars annually. If you consider the fact that the missing employee’s job isn’t being done during that time period, or that a high turnover hurts company culture, this number can be even higher.

Most companies, however, don’t have any kind of employee onboarding strategy. They never really structure the process -for them, onboarding is this thing you have to figure out when the new employee shows up. This, of course, can leave the employee completely disoriented, isolated and confused.

To get the employee onboarding strategy right, you’ll have to take care of 2 main factors:

  1. Plan the Onboarding Step By Step – to ensure social and professional integration, as well as ensure all the legalities are out of the way, you need to plan your onboarding step by step
  2. Streamline the Onboarding Through Software or Checklists – Once you know the exact steps you’d take for an onboarding, you should solidify it through software or checklists

Steps to a Successful Employee Onboarding Strategy

There are 3 main periods to consider for your employee onboarding strategy: prior to employee showing up, on day one, and up to a month after.

Steps Before Day One

It’s important that you start off your employee onboarding strategy before your new employee actually shows up. In fact, a big chunk of the onboarding process happens within the company, without even involving the new employee at all.

  1. Have all the paperwork ready. That includes documents such as the W-4s, non-disclosures, etc. Best case scenario, you can have this out of the way long before the employee actually shows up through online forms. Otherwise, you’d want to have all the papers on standby for day one, so that the employee can just sign them and get all the administrative work out of the way.
  2. Set up the tech stack. Things like employee workstation, communication tools, email, etc. You don’t want your new employees first day at work to be just sitting around idly waiting for when the IT guy shows up.
  3. Bring the right supervisor up to speed. It’s important that they set aside their time to show the ropes to the new employee; showing up at a new job and being met with blank stares and “who’s this guy again”s is not fun.
  4. Introduce the new employee. Send out an email to the company or department letting everyone know of the new hire.

On Day One

The day one at work has to be special for your new employee. Whenever you meet someone for the first time, your first impression is something that sticks for a while. The same applies to work in a new company.

Your new hire will form their opinion of your company on day one – If you mess up there, changing it will be hard. If the first thought the employee has in the new company is, “what did I get myself into,” they’re pretty much a lost cause.

So, on day 1, you’d want them to learn as much about the company and other employees as possible.

  1. Office tour & introductions to the rest of the team. While everyone might be busy with their day-to-day tasks, it’s important that the new employee gets to meet most of the company or team (depending on how big your company is). This gives off the feeling that the company puts people first, and employees aren’t office drones programmed for efficiency.
  2. Assign an orientation buddy. It’s important that the newbie gets to feel welcome with the company and makes fast friends (or acquaintances, at least). If you leave the new hire to their own devices, however, this is unlikely to happen. Most of your employees are probably already divided into cliques or groups, making it hard for an outsider to fit in. Assigning them a “buddy” will ensure that the newbie has someone to help with integration and that they get to meet everyone on a more or less personal level.
  3. Company introduction, culture, mission, etc. Culture is what differentiates extraordinary companies and puts them ahead of their competitors. It’s important to teach the new employee about the history of your organization, mission, values, etc. This can be something informal (a small face-to-face de-brief), a presentation, or even a custom-made educational software.
  4. Professional or department orientation. Even if the new hire is the very best at what they do, they have no idea how your company does this. For marketing, for example, this could mean which channels have worked for the company in the past, and which haven’t. As with culture, this could be informal, with the supervisor going through their history in brief, or through a document created for this specific purpose (PDF, ppt, etc.).
  5. Define expectations and goals. Before the employee is fully integrated within the company & on top of their work, you need to give them some sort of a direction. i.e, assign different projects and work, define KPIs and a way to measure performance, etc.

Through the First Month

For your average company, employee orientation is done on day one. That is, however, usually not the case. The fact that the employee started working doesn’t mean that they’re really integrated within the company. After the first day, it’s important to follow-up with the employee for up to 90 days post-hire, ensuring that the onboarding is working as intended. Your company can greatly benefit from a good employee orientation.

The follow-up is best done as a one-on-one meeting with either the HR or their supervisor and should be done on, at a minimum, every 30 days. The purpose of the meeting is to…

  • See whether the company is up to the hire’s expectations. Are they happy with the team? The way things are done? The culture? Etc.
  • Are they hitting their KPIs & performing well? If not, why? Is there a way to improve this?
  • Was the onboarding efficient? Did it hit its goals of social, professional, and cultural integration? If not, is there any way to improve it?

Streamlining the Onboarding Process

Now that you know the exact steps you’d want to take during an onboarding, it’s important to streamline the whole process. Onboarding, after all, is never a one-time thing. Once you’ve nailed down the right process with a single new employee, you’ll have to re-use it for any other new hires. Plus, chances are, it won’t be the same person doing the onboarding for each run, so it’s important to pass the knowledge of how to do it properly along.

To streamline your employee onboarding strategy, there are 2 simple ways…

  1. Employee Onboarding Checklist – You can take all the steps we’ve described above and create a checklist. This is usually done in a PDF and is handed out to whoever’s in charge of the onboarding process, ensuring that no critical step is missed.
  2. Employee Onboarding Software – While handing out a physical checklist is a working solution, it’s significantly easier to just use the right software. Tallyfy offers an employee onboarding template that keeps track of the process from start to finish, as well as automating several of the steps in-between.

Once you have your onboarding process streamlined using a checklist of software, you’re pretty much done! Now all you have to do is re-do the onboarding for each new employee, and improve the entire process through feedback.

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About the author - Amit Kothari

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