14 Essential Tips for Successful Employee Onboarding

A smiling manager talking to employees in a conference room
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First impressions count, and organisations shouldn’t assume that the hiring process is over once a new candidate is recruited. They’ve managed to impress you (otherwise, you wouldn’t have hired them!), and now it’s your turn to impress them and prove that they made the correct decision in accepting the job offer.

Investing in employees’ skills and their development is critical to a company’s success, and it begins way before they even step foot in the company premises, which is why it’s so essential to have a successful employee onboarding process in place. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), ‘69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding’.

So, now that you know how important the onboarding process is, it’s time to learn how to make it successful. And lucky for you, we’ve got the answers.

Here are 14 useful tips to follow for implementing a successful employee onboarding process to help you make sure you don’t miss a single step!

Before the Employee’s First Day

1. Get all the Paperwork Sorted

Before the employee’s first day, it’s essential to complete the relevant tax forms, obtain proof of identity and bank details, and sort out any other necessary paperwork. You might also decide to perform a background check, but you’ll first need to inform the employee in writing that you’re running a check on them and they must provide their written consent. That said, there are restrictions to running background checks that you must be aware of, such as making a hiring decision based on the information obtained or checking someone’s family medical history.

Although many businesses wait for an employee’s first day to sign contracts and complete these checks, it’s much more beneficial to get all the paperwork out of the way before they start and, therefore, ensure that their first day is a productive one.

2. Prepare Their Desk

There’s nothing worse than a new employee turning up on their first day to a messy desk full of the previous desk owner’s belongings! It makes them feel like the company is not prepared for their arrival, and it makes them wonder whether the company even plans to keep them for the long run.

To make new hires feel welcome, ensure their desk is clean and that they’re equipped with pens, notebooks and all the stationery they’ll likely need. You could even consider adding a branded gift or going the extra mile and giving them a personalised mug!

3. Provide Onboarding Materials

The employee’s workstation should also have all relevant orientation materials ready for them, including company rules and policies, extra benefits (if there are any), department guidelines, training manuals, objectives, training schedules, phone lists, seating plans and any other materials that will be useful to them.

4. Set Up Necessary Software

Sitting around at your desk and staring at a blank screen is awkward for a new hire. Avoid the embarrassment by setting up any special software or tools they will need to do their job and ensuring everything is running smoothly before their arrival. Be sure to note their login details somewhere safe so they can refer to them on their first day.

On Their First Day

5. Arrange an Induction Meeting

New hires should be greeted properly on their first day; everyone should anticipate their arrival and offer a warm welcome (remember: first days can be nerve-wracking!). It’s advisable to arrange an induction meeting which will ease the new employee into the company and allow them to meet other new hires that might be arriving on the same day.

During this time, you can discuss the company’s background, give an overview of the different departments and run through general office rules such as lunch breaks, kitchen facilities and who to report to if you’re sick.

6. Set Up Personal Introductions

Give your new hire an official tour by showing them around the workplace and the facilities. While you’re in the kitchen, offer them a drink, before introducing them to their new colleagues.

That said, during the introduction, don’t be lame and say something like: ‘Team, this is Jane!’. Instead, introduce people individually (especially if they will be working closely together) and encourage your team to be friendly throughout the day.

You can also have Jane write a small introduction about herself and post it in the general office chat. That way, people will be more inclined to spark up a conversation with her when they bump into her in communal areas.

7. Arrange a Team Lunch

Lunch plans are usually awkward on Day One - new hires won’t know the area, they won’t want to bring a packed lunch in, and they will generally want to join in on the office lunch order.

To make them feel comfortable, set up a team lunch or arrange a buffet in an office area where all staff members can mingle. Alternatively, you can arrange a lunch with a member of the HR team and the new hire’s mentor or trainer.

8. Explain Their Duties

If you want your employees to perform well, it’s best to make your expectations clear to them from Day One. You should also clearly explain what the job involves so that the new hire doesn’t go home at the end of the day wondering what they will be doing.

That doesn’t mean that you need to overload them with all the minor details; a simple overview is fine. For example, if you hired a translator, you can explain that they are expected to translate three pieces of copy every day during their first three months.

9. Discuss the Company Culture

While work duties are essential, what’s even more valuable to a new hire is whether they will fit into the company culture. If they can understand the overall goal of the organisation, they can assess how they will fit into the bigger picture.

Let’s look at eCommerce brand Zappos: they created a list of their core values that employees should possess, making it easier for new hires to understand the working environment and ensure that they are a good fit.

10. Assign a Mentor

Assigning a mentor or having a trainer to guide new hires is the most valuable part of a strategic employee onboarding process. These workers are essentially industry experts that can teach and guide new employees until they are comfortable and confident enough to work independently.

A new hire needs to know that they aren’t chucked straight into the deep end and that they have a safety net to fall back on when they need assistance or they have a question. It may initially take away from a star employee’s time, but it will ensure that new hires are moulded into high-performing employees.

After Their First Day

11. Assign Tasks

Once you’ve got the first day out of the way and basic training on the go, it’s time to assign them their first big task. This will ensure that they are hands-on with learning and that feel like they are contributing to the overall success of the team, instead of completing menial tasks here and there that are neither engaging nor resourceful.

12. Set Up Monthly Reviews

Now that your new employee understands what is expected of them in their first three months, and the materials to meet those expectations, it’s time to set up monthly reviews. These should be informal and can either be with their trainer and a member of the HR department or carried out separately.

During these meetings, it’s important to ask the new hire if they are experiencing any issues or if they need further training in a specific area and to assess their performance over a set period.

13. Establish an Open Line of Communication

After a month, a new hire should feel fairly settled in their role and should feel comfortable enough to ask questions or raise any concerns. However, if they seem reserved, it’s vital to establish an open line of communication.

Encourage them to speak to you about their observations and their development so that you can identify how their experience is going. Based on this feedback, you can then improve the onboarding process for future hires.

14. Move from Onboarding to Retention and Development

Following six months to a year, an employee would have successfully completed your onboarding programme, by which time they’ll have determined whether they’re in it for the long run. Help them establish a career plan that fits in with their personal goals, and show them how they can advance within the company – after all, you wouldn’t want to lose good talent to a lack of progression after you’ve spent so much time investing in their skills and expertise!


Businesses with a strategic onboarding structure experience greater retention on new employees, proving just how necessary a detailed plan is. And by following the above tips, you can start seeing similar results within your company.

Is there anything you do differently during your employee onboarding? If so, let us know your tips and tricks in the comments section below.