Understanding Employee Onboarding

Onboarding is a very common word that we hear during our work. Most of us believe that it is an activity conducted by the human resources department to onboard a new employee. However, onboarding is not an activity, it is a process. 

Onboarding is seen as a one time process by many companies. But is it actually a one time process? No, of course not! It is an ongoing process until the employee is empowered to be fully productive at work. Later on, as the employee starts performing, onboarding turns into the process of engaging the employee, what we refer to as “Employee Engagement”. 

Often Orientation is mistaken for Onboarding. It is important to understand that orientation and joining formalities are a part of the onboarding process and are not the same as onboarding itself. Orientation, usually, is conducted at a corporate level where the HR/Business Leaders talk about the company, its values, mission, policies etc. But mind you, it is not where it all starts.

So when does onboarding really begin?

Onboarding begins right from the time the prospective employee accepts the employment offer and expresses the willingness to join your company. Therefore, engage with the prospective employee. For this, you can ask them to complete pre joining formalities, submit documents, read about the company, share a booklet that represents your company culture and send a welcome kit or merchandise. If the joining is much later, have frequent touchpoints.

Here is a quick scenario for you to think about –

You are incharge of onboarding new hires. One such new employee is uncomfortable and wants to quit within 15 days due to adjustment issues. What can you do to help him/her? You will find the answer once you finish reading this blog.

“Pay attention to your culture and your hires from the very beginning.”

-Reid Hoffman

Co-founder and Executive Chairman of LinkedIn

Is only HR responsible for onboarding a new employee?

Well No!

A new employee is not just the responsibility of the HR team. There are other stakeholders such as the Manager, the Peers, the IT & Admin department etc. involved in the onboarding process.

The HR team stays connected with the employee throughout the process to facilitate the employee with the company policies, necessary information, access to in house tools, etc. and conducts a session where they are introduced to the Manager and the team.

Manager plays an important role in creating a healthy work environment for the new employee. It is the responsibility of the Manager to discuss the roles and responsibilities with the employee, set clear expectations, assign tasks and projects that will help the employee be productive in the initial phase, enable the new employee to learn by putting them in the right training and have a regular formal and informal feedback session.

Similarly, Peers should help in making the new employee feel comfortable and welcomed. Have informal chats and support the new employee in coping up with the assigned project. You may organize a team lunch to improve the bond. 

Why Onboarding?

A good onboarding is equal to a good possibility of retaining new employees and increasing productivity. Most employees quit during the onboarding phase because they do not see themselves as a part of the new company, they do not feel confident in their job and they do not feel comfortable with the environment. 

A research by Brandon Hall Group shows that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.*

Society for Human Resource Management  (SHRM) found that employees who attend a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to remain at the company for at least three years.*

What if onboarding goes wrong?

A wrong onboarding process could damage a company in many ways. New employees may not meet performance expectations, may quit early, may hamper the branding of the company by bad mouthing on various social platforms, hiring cost and time doubles up when you rehire and training costs incurred go in vain. Also, your existing employees lose motivation due to an unhealthy working environment.

Now let us go through some tips that can help in improving the onboarding process-

  1. Connect with the prospective employee even before they join.
  2. Orient the employees about basic policies and tools used in the company.
  3. Personalized welcome note from the business leaders/ senior management, helps the new employee in building a healthy relationship with the company.
  4. Keep the work desk and IT infrastructure ready,  grant necessary information and access to the new employees. This makes them feel that the company is ready to onboard them.
  5. Set clear expectations, discuss job responsibilities in detail. Encourage employees to ask questions.
  6. Allow the new employee to get comfortable with the company culture and work processes. Do not put them into projects that could be overwhelming. 
  7. Have a feedback session with the new employee in a 7-30-60-90 days model. A two way communication approach is a must.
  8. Build buddy culture in your organization. Reward volunteers for helping out new team members.
  9. In case of remote onboarding, schedule regular team calls and 1:1 with the manager.
  10. Remember to customize your onboarding program if needed. Everyone is unique. 

Post two months from the day of joining, you can give out a survey to understand if the onboarding program was successful. Understand the feedback and concerns of the new employees and help them. This is also the time where manager feedback is necessary to assess whether or not the new employee fits in for the role they were hired for, do they fit in the company culture, will they be able to perform as expected and probation or training period is to be extended. 

Once the new employee completes the probation period, plan for the next 6 months. Talk about their progress. This makes them feel that they are being valued and their growth plan is being taken care of by the company. Evaluate and recognize their work in regular intervals.

Hoping this blog would open new horizons of your onboarding program! 

And here is the answer to the onboarding scenario-

  • Ask them what makes them uncomfortable, and understand the root cause.
  • Have a transparency about the company policies, culture, values and growth plan
  • Involve the new hire in team activities, project discussions
  • Check regularly for their well being
  • Assign trainings and on the job mentor if necessary

Also, you can write to us at shreya@mverve.com to share your onboarding ideas or your onboarding experience when you joined your company. 

Thank you for reading! 



Shreya Goyal


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