- Approach the onboarding process as a comprehensive journey, ensuring new employees are thoroughly prepared and comfortable from day one.
- Develop an employee onboarding checklist to guide new hires through every step, ensuring nothing is missed and they feel supported.
- Start engaging with new hires before their first day to reduce anxiety and build a connection with your company culture and team.
- Tailor the onboarding experience to fit the specific needs and backgrounds of employees, considering their role and experience level.
- Ensure the onboarding process extends beyond the initial days, with ongoing support and development opportunities to fully integrate employees into the company.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard Flight HR 007!
On behalf of the captain and the entire crew, we are pleased to have you with us today.
Your safety is our foremost concern, and we will now brief you on the safety features of this aircraft.
To fasten your seat belt, insert the metal tip into the buckle. To unfasten your seatbelt, lift the flap and pull the ends apart.
If there is a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will deploy from the panel above you. Remain seated and pull the mask down sharply to start the oxygen flow.
There are 8 emergency exits on this aircraft.
Fluorescent strips fitted on the floor will guide you to the nearest exit in case of an emergency.
For more details, please refer to the safety instruction card kept in the seat pocket in front of you.
How often have you heard this or a similar announcement when you board a flight? Isn't the answer, every single time?
Airlines repeat this announcement script every single time because some people are nervous fliers, and some are travelling for the first time! In either case, these people need instructions and directions since flying can be intimidating!
An elaborate process set up beforehand makes passengers aware of what's expected from them, what flight rules they should follow, and what they should do in case an unpredictable situation erupts.
The onboarding process in a company is no different than a journey on a flight. Onboarding is supposed to improve the experience of an employee joining the company, make them aware of the company rules, and ease their nervousness, just like safety announcements and rule booklets do for flight passengers.
Putting together and following an onboarding checklist can reflect your organisation's people-centric values. Your new joiners will not only be able to adapt well to the policies at your company, but they will also be more productive at work, learn about their job role quickly, and contribute new ideas without feeling fearful.
Easier said than done, though!
Dive in and learn everything about the kinds of challenges that new employees face in a company, how the onboarding process can help them feel settled at work, why following the onboarding checklist is essential, how to make a checklist for your company, and more!
What is Employee Onboarding — Why Is It Important?
The employee onboarding process is also known as Organisational Socialisation. It is a roadmap that helps new joiners adjust to your company and accept it as their own.
Naturally, they will face numerous challenges, including the following few:
- They don’t know anyone yet and have no one to rely on
- They might have relocated to the city, making things even more challenging
- They might not have a place to stay in the city yet, and they do not know who should be their POC to help them sort out the logistics
- They do not know what they should expect from their managers and what the intra and inter-department communication processes are
- They are unaware of the schematics at your company – what are your policies and vision, what's expected from them, and the kinds of tools and software you use
These issues might sound trivial to you, but they're the torchbearers of anxiety among new joiners!
They will use how compassionately they're treated when having adjustment issues in a new company as a benchmark to judge them for the rest of their time in the company.
The onboarding process comprises many steps (to be discussed later on in this guide). It's important to follow all these steps because employees will carry a positive image of your company from day 1 only if they receive the help they need to familiarise themselves with their peers and better understand their jobs!
If you care about them when they're new, they will care about you forever. And happy employees go above and beyond what's expected of them!
In case their onboarding experience is poor, many employees start looking for better opportunities. It means whatever time and resources you invest in hiring and training them will get wasted. That's why paying attention to your company's onboarding process is important.
How to Design an Employee Onboarding Checklist for Your Company?
Onboarding isn't a sprint. It's a long process that begins before the employee's first day at work and continues for months (even a year) until they become proficient in their jobs!
An effective onboarding checklist covers the entire lifecycle of an employee till they're fully adjusted to their new roles. The key factors that you must consider when designing an onboarding checklist are as follows:
- Learning and developmentHelp them understand their role in the company and provide all the necessary means to develop their skills
- Aligning Key Performance Indicators Conduct milestone meetings to bring them up to speed with the targets set for them. The frequency could be 60-90 days. Pinpoint the areas you believe they can improve on
- FeedbackMonitor (not micromanage) their performance. Set up guidance meetings between them and their managers to ensure your new talent is headed in the right direction
- Role progressionAs they learn more about their job and the company culture, they might become more suitable for a different role within the company. Help them up-skill so they become ideal candidates for a promotion
- Financial journeyGive them a walkthrough of the pay scale, added benefits, how to cash out unused paid leaves, and ESOPs breakdown and how to exercise them.
When they have clarity about every major and minor thing related to their work, they can easily slip into their job roles.
The Employee Onboarding Process Explained at Length
Isn't it disappointing to realise that the product you've received completely differs from what was shown online? Especially if you looked through hundreds of products before finalising the one you did!
Now apply this same scenario to the lives of employees joining your company!
Imagine the level of disappointment they will feel if they come to believe that your company – the one they chose over tens and hundreds of other options they had – isn't what was portrayed at the time of the interview.
You won't be able to keep their trust even after winning it, and the talent you fought so hard for will slip out of your hands!
To ensure this doesn't happen, you should follow an onboarding process!
Here's the elaborate onboarding process that, if followed properly, will make your company a second home to new employees in the true sense.
The Pre-joining Stage of Onboarding
They might have to relocate!
They might have been roped in for a remote role!
They know nothing about their would-be managers!
They've no idea about the company's work culture!
These reasons are enough to make anybody nervous, even if they've worked at many companies before ending up with you.
Here are a few things you must do to reassure them before their joining date.
- Send them a detailed offer letterOther than mentioning the usuals (congratulating them and mentioning their job role and designation); the offer letter should also give them a detailed walkthrough of the financial aspects of the job. Sort the nuances around payslips, tax calculation, ESOPs breakdown, and the health insurance coverage they will receive
- Give them a virtual feel of what it's like working in your companyHow about giving them access to an online platform where they can learn about their team members? Putting faces to names will ease their nervousness! Also, send them a deck introducing the work culture
- Get the paperwork out of the wayCollect all the paperwork you require from them in advance so that their first day can be spent introducing them to company culture and their teammates.
How to go the extra mile?
- Entertain what they like outside of wordAlmost every company preaches work-life balance, but not all those companies implement what they preach. But if you truly care to convey to a new joiner that you are what you preach, ask them about their hobbies beyond work. Use that information to give air to those hobbies. For instance, if the employee enjoys games, you can host an online escape room for them to solve with their new team members, etc.
- Show intent and introduce them to someone who might have something in common with themIf an employee is supposed to relocate to work at your firm, onboarding will come with many challenges. In such cases, introducing them to someone from their city or college would be a great comfort
- Plan for their arrival beforehandAnother thing that can put you in the category of a company that genuinely cares is ensuring that all the materials the employee will require during the first few weeks of joining are ready beforehand.
The Post-joining Stage of Onboarding
They have a million dreams and many fears when they're walking through your office doors on day 1.
Give them a warm welcome, and instead of overwhelming them with a stack of paperwork, give them time to absorb the process.
Here's how the first day at the office should look!
- Introduce them to the work culture without intimidating themFollow a gentle approach where you educate new joiners about the work culture, office policies, and organisation structure. Ensure that you introduce them to their teammates and colleagues
- App provisioning will ease their life at workSet up apps that are used company-wide, such as their outlook, attendance, reimbursement, and Google accounts, on the first day itself. This is one great way to reduce their nervousness, as they will have some sense of direction on the very day they join!
- Plan a one-on-one meetingSet them up for a one-on-one meeting with their managers and help them build a healthy work relationship from day 1.
Laptop and Office MerchIf the new joiner is a remote employee, make sure that:
- Their work laptop gets delivered to them before they begin their official first day
- All their accounts are set up before they log in for work
- They get comfortable with the official communication tools and channels
- They have access and authorization rights to all apps necessary for their job
If the new joiner is working from office, make sure that:
- Their laptop is set up on their work desk
- All apps and accounts are activated and logged in before they arrive
Make sure to let the new joiners know what they can expect out of their day. Ideally, have an itinerary prepared and set up all the meetings for the new joiner in advance so they know what their schedule will be like.
Pro Tip: Leave a note with each meeting introducing the employee that the new joiner will be meeting and their role within the organisation.
Week 1 and Beyond
By now you've given them time to get to know their colleagues and understand their job responsibilities. But that's not the end of the onboarding journey.
One of the primary purposes of onboarding is to help them settle into the company and their role. And the effort should begin from the first week itself.
- Emphasise Learning & Development Personal growth and upskilling are exceedingly essential in an employee's career. They wouldn't want to be stuck with the same amount of knowledge they had during the 1st week, even after 3 months.
So, provide them with training materials, introduce them to Subject Matter Experts within your company, and arrange webinars and masterclasses based on their departments, for instance, you can enrol a new joiner in finance for Excel classes and a new joiner in marketing for storytelling and marketing webinars.
Such efforts broaden the horizon of their knowledge. All this falls within the scope of learning, and learning should be a constant process for as long as an employee stays in your company.
- Implement employee career pathingEmployees work hard to improve their skills to get promoted within a company. Hence, career pathing is something that HR must take very seriously. Chalking out an employee's career with a 1-year-vision or a 2-year-vision instils trust that the company sees its future in the employee.
Provide them with self-assessment tools, offer them mentorship and coaching for the roles you identify for them, and give them recognition and incentives to keep them motivated. Introducing awards and shoutouts that can be given every month to recognize exceptional performances not only helps motivate employees but also gain clarity of their professional progression within the company.
- Hold periodic feedback sessionsSet up meetings where you offer them feedback on how they're doing and help them figure out how and what they can improve. These feedback cycles should be conducted every month or once every two months.
Also, feedback should be a two-way street. So, do ask employees for their feedback on what else the company can do to help them reach the goal they have in mind. It will reassure them that they're important
How to go the extra mile?
Talk to them about their career plans and interests. Help them discover the higher roles and promotions that they can work towards. This will broaden the horizon of their dreams and motivate them towards their professional growth.
Onboarding process based on job seniority
For entry-level employees
They do not have a lot of corporate experience. Therefore, the ideal onboarding process for entry-level employees should focus on teaching them about the company culture and work expectations.
- Imbibe the feeling of belongingMake sure all introductions are warm and employees get a feeling that they belong with you.
- Assign mentors and POCsAssigning them mentors and department POCs in addition to managers will help new employees with multiple perspectives and guidance opportunities.
For senior managers
The ideal onboarding for senior managers should focus on helping them with team building and development training.
- Emphasise on introducing and imbibing the work cultureEncourage them to learn more about the culture of the organisation so that they can imbibe the same within their reports. Materials like company annual reports, vision and mission statements can be extremely useful.
- Sort the hullabaloo surrounding KPIsMake them aware of their KPIs as well as the KPIs of the team they lead. A clarity over these and how these are interdependent can setup managers for success, right from Day 1.
For team leaders
They have ample technical skills. So, their onboarding post joining should focus more on helping them discover and develop their people-management skills.
- Schedule feedback sessionConnect them with senior managers so they get feedback on their leadership skills, it is important they imbibe the right values and pass on to their reports.
- Offer them coachingEnrol them in a mentorship program where they can learn tricks of the trade to be better leaders. Corporate training, industry mentorship sessions are often the best way to go!
For senior leaders
The leadership team includes executives, CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, and other senior-level employees with a lot of industry experience.
Their onboarding process looks different from that of entry and mid level employees because they have strategic goals.
Here's what the ideal onboarding for the leadership team looks like!
- Help them understand the work culture so people under them stay motivatedMake them fully familiar with the company culture and incorporate their feedback to improve the employee onboarding experience. As they join in as influencers for a majority of the workforce, a culture fit is utmost important.
- Convey and communicatePre-boarding should be about assessment. Convey your expectations, have healthy communication around their leadership skills, and offer them tools and learning material so they get familiar with the organisation and it's goals
- Introduce them to everybody they will closely work withConnect them with all the senior stakeholders within the company and give them an understanding of the teams they will be handling.
Designing an effective onboarding experience for your organisation requires your PeopleOps team to focus on people, and not the ops!
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Onboarding is not a one-sided communication where you speak, and they listen. For an employee’s onboarding to be successful it is important to build trust with them and to give them a safe space to ask all their questions and voice their concerns. Well onboarded employees have a much easier time adjusting to their new roles and are more likely to be productive faster.
Personalising the onboarding experience helps to build the necessary trust with the employees. Personalising the experience includes taking into account the employee’s role and seniority as well as the culture of the organisation. A personalised onboarding experience leaves an employee feeling inspired and excited about working with you. It will help you retain the talent you hire and make the workplace welcoming for your new joiners.
Checking in with the employee frequently during their initial days gives them some comfort and creates a sense of belonging with the team. Employees are always nervous when joining a company, whether it's their first job or 5th or 10th. A smooth onboarding process involves giving them time, training, and all the right tools that they will need at every step along the way!