Dos And Don'ts For Successful Employee Onboarding

New Hire Onboarding Best (And Worst) Practices

You’d probably agree that just about every company, big and small, has a new hire onboarding process. But are new hires actually getting everything they need? Well, we asked them, and 65% said “No”.

Here’s why this should worry you. An unsuccessful staff onboarding process means new employees take more time to become productive at work. Plus, their satisfaction in the first 6 months could be the 'make or break' between choosing to stay with your company or not. And choosing the latter could cost you thousands to replace them.

But here’s the real lightbulb. If you thought more beanbags and smoothie bars would make your employees stick around a little longer, you thought wrong. Because SHRM reported that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience successful onboarding [1].

So, let’s find out how to give your new hires the effective onboarding that’ll keep them with you for years to come.

What You Should Do For Successful Employee Onboarding

Let’s kick this off on a positive note. Here are the top employee onboarding best practices that, if you aren’t already doing, you should start today.

Make Onboarding A Team Effort

A 2018 study by Braidio found that 81% of employees believe peer collaboration improves their productivity. So, making onboarding a collaborative process is a good first step in the right direction [2].

Make sure to introduce new hires to their manager and team members as soon as possible, and also to any other staff they’ll need to interact with on a regular basis. For example, the Payroll Administrator or marketing team. Then, to make them feel supported, assign each new employee a mentor or buddy to guide them and answer questions during the onboarding process.

Check In Often With New Hires

Starting a new job can be daunting. Where will you eat lunch, and with whom? Are you doing tasks correctly and meeting expectations? And how does this time-tracking software work?

Make new employees feel comfortable and supported in their first few months on the job by checking in with them regularly. Schedule a weekly 30-minute coffee meeting to ask them how they’re feeling, and what they might need help with.

Set Onboarding Goals

If you’ve done the hiring part right, your new staff will want to start adding value to the company as quickly as possible. So, give them direction, and something to measure their performance by. In other words, set onboarding goals, and make sure that they understand expectations around meeting those goals.

Create And Share A Schedule

One of the easiest ways to make employees feel calm and confident on their first day of work is to give them a schedule. This should include the line-up of onboarding activities for each week, including venues and times. But the schedule should also include job tasks and standard team meetings.

Enter the schedule into their calendars, or send them a PDF. Either way, knowing where to be and when to be there is sure to be helpful.

Train New Hires On Soft Skills And Culture

What are the most common training topics covered in onboarding? Well, it differs from company to company, but mandatory compliance training, business processes, and procedures, and technical training are right up there for most. (Do you feel a yawn coming on?)

These topics are often dry and, let’s be honest, boring. There are other topics that are just as important but overlooked, just like company culture and soft skills training. Be sure to include training on these topics in your onboarding plan, or you’ll have technically skilled, procedural machines who don’t know how to handle conflict, or how important continuous learning is to company culture.

Use Appropriate Onboarding Software

Ah, yes, the paper-based manual. A relic in training, yet still so heavily relied upon during new hire onboarding. Of course, paper-based training manuals have their place in classroom training workshops. But why stick to traditional training methods alone when there are more exciting, engaging and efficient options, like eLearning?

Find an employee onboarding software solution that meets your blended training needs. LMS features like gamification, and automated assessments can make your onboarding process fun and convenient for everyone, especially when your company experiences high volumes of new employees. Easy reporting means that you can keep track of each new employee’s progress, too.

What To Avoid To Achieve Employee Onboarding Success

If any of the practices below ring familiar, it’s time to put an end to them. The result is bound to be a more successful onboarding process for new hires.

Don’t Rush Onboarding

Onboarding is not orientation. Orientation is a crash course on where to find the toilets, how to work the printer, and who to speak to when you’ve got a complaint. Onboarding, on the other hand, is a longer, deeper process to help employees learn how to do their job, how to be a team player, and how to contribute toward the achievement of the company vision.

So, don’t rush it! And don’t treat onboarding as a one-day event. New hires will need time to understand the company culture, and to find value in their mentoring relationship. Give new hires at least 3 months to find everything, meet everyone, and learn how to make a positive impact in the workplace.

Don’t Overwhelm Employees

Onboarding is notorious for the number of documents that need reading and signing. From contracts to employee handbooks, the sheer amount of new information can be overwhelming.

So, try to get some of the paperwork out of the way before employees start Day 1 by sending them the documents to read over at home, in their own time. Then, during onboarding, spread out administrative tasks, and sprinkle some fun activities in between, so that employees don’t suffer from information overload.

Don’t Make The Process Exclusive To HR

New hire onboarding is often thrown into the HR-only box. It’s kind of related to recruitment, it is related to training, and it definitely involves staff administration. So why wouldn’t it be? But making a new employee feel like part of the team actually takes the effort of the whole team!

Avoid onboarding procedures that involve little more than meetings with HR and document checklists. Instead, organize a team lunch, or allocate each team member a different task in the onboarding process. For example, the new hire’s manager could teach them about the company vision and mission, and another team member could take them on an office tour.

Don’t Offer One-Way Feedback

Onboarding new employees should never be a one-sided approach. Because, while employees might need feedback from their managers to help them learn the ropes, the company also benefits from employee feedback about how their onboarding process can be improved.

New hires bring fresh perspectives, so don’t let it go to waste. Ask them how their onboarding experience has fared compared to other companies they’ve worked at. Is there anything you can stop or start doing to improve their experience?

Don’t Assume Onboarding Happens Naturally

Don’t worry, they say. It’ll happen organically, they say. Well, don’t listen to them! Because a natural onboarding process is a one-way train toward disaster. Leaving employees to figure things out on their own could mean that they learn the wrong habits, develop misinformed expectations or become the team’s outcasts.

Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep

If you didn’t know it yet, remuneration isn’t enough as a stand-alone reward for high employee performance. Today, employees want a complete working experience that adds growth and meaning to their lives. For this reason, most companies have an Employee Value Proposition (EVP), which includes all the tangible and intangible values that the company promises to deliver to its employees.

While having a clear EVP is something you should do, failing to deliver on those promises is something you definitely shouldn’t do. So, during the employee onboarding process, avoid making promises that you aren’t 100% sure you can keep (even if you’re feeling really optimistic about company growth and future career prospects for the employee). Otherwise, you’ll just create disappointment.


If these dos and don’ts of new hire onboarding have got you thinking, “our process needs improvement”, then remember that the secret to getting ahead is getting started. Whether it’s finding an LMS like TalentLMS with the perfect blended learning features or implementing a buddy system, start implementing some of these dos today, and your onboarding can be a success.


[1] Don't Underestimate the Importance of Good Onboarding

[2] New Research from Braidio Provides a Glimpse Into the Future of Work

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