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The Employee Onboarding Bible: Tips & Free Template

Employee onboarding can make or break a business. 

There’s nothing more frustrating than a new hire who decides to quit on you soon after their first day.

Yes, maybe that person wasn’t competent enough, or maybe you simply weren’t a good fit for each other.

But what if it keeps happening? If you’re experiencing high employee turnover, it may be time to reevaluate your onboarding strategy. 

But why should you, and how will you benefit? Well, we’ll show you.

We’ve created this guide to give you an insight into effective employee onboarding.

Process Street has a very low employee churn rate, and we put it down to our onboarding methods. So yes, we know a thing or two about the subject!

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the time at the beginning of a new hire’s journey when they are learning the ropes and getting to know their team and your organization.

The onboarding process usually takes around 3 months. During this time, every new employee should have a structured path to follow. After the 90 days are over, the new hire should, in theory, have become a well-acclimated team member.

We say “in theory,” because there’s more to onboarding than meets the eye. And according to researchers, as much as 20% of new hires will leave their new jobs within the first 45 days.

So the first few months of an employee’s start date are crucial if you’re looking for long-term employee retention. 

You’ll want to do what you can to increase employee satisfaction and engagement. It’s not an easy process, but if done correctly can increase both employee retention and productivity.

Why is employee onboarding important?

Many businesses experience high employee churn rates. So it’s vital to establish why employee onboarding is important and what role it plays in reducing that churn.

Churn rate is a measure used to establish how many employees leave a company over a period of time. It’s predicted that high staff turnover can cost companies 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. 

So if you hire someone on $90k a year, but then the person quits their job, it could cost you up to $60k to replace them!

And that’s when effective onboarding strategies can help.

They make people comfortable in their new job environments, prepare them for their new responsibilities, and increase their productivity.

If you provide a well-structured and easy-to-follow plan for your new hire’s first 3 months, you’ll be rewarded with a trustworthy and loyal workforce.

Employee onboarding stages

So how should you structure the onboarding?

There are many ways to go about it. We’ve broken down the process into 4 employee onboarding stages that are both effective and efficient. 

Stage 1: Orientation

Orientation should begin as soon as the new hire accepts the job offer.

It’s the perfect time to congratulate them and start collecting paperwork. If you can, give them a couple of days to fill everything out. If they do it unrushed and in their own time, they’ll be less likely to make mistakes. 

Provide them with key contact details and give them an idea of what their first day will look like. That way, they can begin the onboarding process without feeling overwhelmed.

Stage 2: Welcome

And so the onboarding begins.

If your employees are office based, ensure all their IDs, badges, computer, software, and login details are ready for the new person’s arrival. 

If your company is remote, send them a 1:1 meeting invitation where you’ll welcome them to the company and explain what to expect in the upcoming days.

Whether office or remote based, your new employee should receive a timetable for their first week along with an employee handbook. 

The handbook should include:

  • A breakdown of the company’s history, mission, and vision
  • Key stakeholder information and an org chart displaying all the departments and who’s doing what
  • The company holiday and time-off policies
  • Code of conduct (including anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies)
  • Company benefits and perks
  • A breakdown of the tools that they’ll be using (you could include all their login details here)
  • How the company communicates (e.g. is there a meeting policy everyone should adhere to?)

During the first onboarding stage, the new hire should also meet their team. Don’t worry about getting them acquainted with everyone, though. Meeting the immediate team members will suffice for now.

Above all else, try not to overcomplicate things on the first day. Keep it straightforward, and don’t keep the new hire longer than necessary. The first day is likely to be stressful, so let them come in for a few hours only.

Stage 3: Training 

This stage should continue throughout the first week but can be extended depending on the industry you’re working in.

Provide a variety of learning opportunities, such as:

  • Video tutorials
  • Digital resources
  • Self-learning
  • Group activities (if more than 1 person was hired)
  • Assign a mentor 

By choosing a few of these or combining them, the new employee will begin to grasp the basics quickly and will also feel more comfortable asking questions.

During the first few weeks, the new employee can start meeting colleagues from different departments. 

This can be done via Zoom, but it’s best if there are only 2 people present at a time. Not many people like to talk to large groups, so keep this in mind when arranging the calls. 

Stage 4: Continuous Onboarding

As we already mentioned, onboarding should take around 90 days

So just because the new hire has met everyone on the team and finished all their paperwork and training sessions, it does not make their employee onboarding process complete.

In fact, it’s just the beginning!

The next 3 months should build up on the foundation you’ve laid out in the first week.

There should be a lot of team bonding and more training if necessary. 

Importantly, consider taking it slow with assigning work. Though many people are keen to get stuck into their new jobs quickly, it’s best to have them gradually introduced to the company.

That way, they’ll have plenty of time to clarify anything they’re unsure of and get the hang of their new responsibilities.

Benefits of employee onboarding

Those who design a well-structured program will be rewarded with many employee onboarding benefits.

Some of the benefits are:

Reduced employee turnover

If you onboard a new employee well, they’re less likely to search for a new job soon after their first day.

Long-term employee commitment and loyalty

Committed employees are a vital requirement in any company. They perform well and are confident in their abilities. They are also more likely to share ideas, thus enhancing the company’s capabilities and overall outlook.

Improved productivity

Properly onboarded employees often work harder. This may be because they are better acclimated, or because they believe in their company and can relate to its values. Either way, proper onboarding contributes to improved productivity, often as much as 70%.

Increased employee engagement and happiness

Happy employees are more engaged in their job. They will also come to work in a better mood, which can influence those around them, too. So if you’re workplace feels like a happy and safe environment, then you’re already a winner.

Strong company culture

Everyone wants to work in a company with a strong culture. If your onboarding plan is successful, you will end up with a strong workforce that is equipped to do their jobs well.

Challenges of employee onboarding

With all the benefits of employee onboarding, there also come some challenges. 

It’s important to keep them in mind, but don’t get discouraged if you encounter any of them because many challenges can easily be overcome.

Misleading the new employee

Try to avoid overmarketing your job offers. 

As tempting as it may be to exaggerate things to get more people on board, doing so will surely backfire. People will leave if you’ve promised them flexible working hours but really want them in the office 9-5. 

Information bombardment

Though you want the onboarding to go as efficiently as possible, try not to overwhelm the new hire with too much information. 

Instead, keep it simple and structured so that they can get the most out of their onboarding. 

Not paying attention to feedback

At the end of their onboarding, a new employee will likely have a lot to say about the process.

Don’t make the mistake of neglecting feedback. Instead, encourage them to speak up about their experiences. This will let you improve your onboarding process so that it evolves and gets better every time.

Remember, effective onboarding is a process that takes time to master!

Employee onboarding best practices

There are some employee onboarding best practices that you should follow to make your onboarding a positive experience.

To make it clearer, we’ve broken them down according to the stage in your onboarding process:

Stage 1: Orientation

  • Transparency is key so make their job requirements and responsibilities known before their first day
  • Get them set up in your systems and all the necessary items needed for their job
  • Introduce company policies 

Stage 2: Welcome

  • Send them a welcome message over email or Slack. Let them know how excited everyone is to welcome them to the team
  • Send out gift packs for each new employee. Include some company swag and useful supplies to help them get acclimated faster
  • Provide them with a thorough breakdown of what to expect during the onboarding process
  • Give them a tour of the office and ensure they know where the emergency exits are. Let them look around and explore.
  • Introduce them to all the people in their team or department. You could do this during lunchtime, so as not to disturb their work.

Stage 3: Training

  • Schedule meet-and-greets with the wider team
  • Assign a mentor who will act as their work buddy. Someone whose been with the company for a while and knows all the ins and outs
  • Offer digital learning, fun quizzes, and video tutorials they can complete in their own time
  • Establish introductory tasks that you’d like them to work on. This could be as simple as getting to know your employee platform or choosing from a list of company benefits

Stage 4: Continuous Onboarding 

  • Organize team events to help them get to know everyone better
  • Check up on them every week or month and answer all the questions they have
  • Send them a survey to complete. Ask general onboarding questions, such as how good they thought it was or what could be improved

Employee onboarding software tools

We’ve tested 50 onboarding software in preparation for this article and chose the 3 that we believe can transform your onboarding process the most.

Here are our 3 best employee onboarding tools:

Process Street

If you’re after a comprehensive yet easy-to-navigate no-code platform look no further than Process Street.

Design beautiful workflows that are sure to create a lasting impression on your new hire.

Connect tools and teams to construct a seamless orientation experience for your entire company – not just the new hire.

Choose from pre-made workflows, integrate with hundreds of popular apps, and approve tasks in seconds thanks to our efficient platform.

Pricing:

  • Basic Free
  • Pro $25
  • Enterprise – custom quote (highly personalized option)

Kissflow

Kissflow lets you onboard new employees fast while also helping to resolve issues promptly.

It’s an online platform that will make onboarding a breeze thanks to its many features, such as analytics, process design, and reporting.

Kissflow is also easy to use and fully customizable to your company’s needs.

Pricing:

  • Small Business $10
  • Corporate $20
  • Enterprise – custom quote

Enboarder

Enborder is a web platform that focuses on supporting your whole team when a new hire joins the company.

It lets you build basic workflows and assign tasks.

Enboarder can also be linked to your email account to send emails without leaving the platform. 

By using forms, you can ensure that all the paperwork needed from the new hire makes it in on time.

Pricing

  • Enterprise – custom quote

Employee onboarding examples

Let’s look at the following two employee onboarding examples to let us illustrate what good and bad onboarding may look like:

Example 1

It’s Jade’s first day at her new office job. She’s excited to start because she’s read a lot about her new company, and she believes they’re a good match. 

She turns up in the foyer of the building and signs in at the reception. The receptionist then gives her a file of paperwork, a map of the office, and a schedule for the day.

No one approaches Jade, helps her out, or introduces themselves. 

Her whole day is filled with various meetings, taking care of the paperwork, and some training sessions with other new hires.

Then she’s informed of how fast the company’s moving, so she must be prepared to get on with her role immediately the next morning.

Jade’s feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Unprepared for all the new tasks, with so much to do from day 1, she quickly gets frustrated and leaves the job.

Example 2

Like Jade, Ethan is super excited to start his new job. He’d been looking for a company like this for months.

He, too, turns up in the foyer. This time, the receptionist asks him to wait for his manager who’s going to give him a tour of the office.

The manager is very friendly and supportive, as he notices Ethan’s nervousness. 

They then head to a small meeting room where the manager provides Ethan with an employee handbook and explains clearly what the next 90 days are going to look like.

During the first few days of his new job, Ethan is introduced to all his new coworkers and given a thorough run-through of work responsibilities. 

His first month is structured around training sessions and getting to know everyone in the office. He gets a week to finish off his paperwork and has daily 1:1 sessions with his new colleagues.

Ethan is also assigned a mentor who helps him to settle in and answers all the questions.

The manager slowly introduces him to the new role and is always happy to help if needed.

At the end of the 3 months, Ethan feels confident in his new role and quickly excels at meeting all the KPIs. 

He remains with the company for 5 years.

So from the employer’s perspective, Example 1 would mean having to find, hire, and onboard another employee all over again. The employer will likely lose money and it’ll also cost them a lot of time.

By providing a good onboarding experience, like in Example 2, the employer has gained a loyal employee who is now productive and happy. Therefore, the employer had to put in some work, but it paid off nicely.

Employee onboarding templates

Here at Process Street, we love to educate and provide resources to help businesses grow.

That’s why we’d like to share with you a free employee onboarding template so that you can start onboarding efficiently and successfully. 

Show workflow  
New Hire Onboarding Process Template
Click here to add this workflow to your free Process Street account.

We use this template to onboard our own employees all the time with outstanding results. 

The template provides you with everything you need – from gathering initial documents to receiving feedback at the end of the onboarding process.

Employee onboarding automation and optimization

Automations and optimizations can make a lot of difference when it comes to employee onboarding.

There’s much to do when designing an effective onboarding strategy, so you don’t want to make it more difficult for yourself.

What’s great about automations is that they allow you to give your new employees a structured, step-by-step experience. This will make a great first impression and ensure a positive experience for the new hire. 

In the old days, people used to do everything manually, making every process lengthy and often inaccurate. People are prone to errors so any manual tasks can often end up needing redoing.

This confuses and makes the onboarding process (or any process) more time-consuming than it needs to be.

So how can adding automations benefit your business?

  • It speeds up the process
  • Data is entered automatically
  • No manual data entry
  • Allows employees to focus on other tasks

To learn more about automations and optimizations, click here.

Future of employee onboarding

Employee onboarding used to be a complicated, manual process that took a while to complete.

Thankfully, thanks to onboarding workflow tools, you can not only create a highly personalized experience but also make it an error-free endeavor.

Time-consuming manual data entry is a thing of the past.

Workflow management systems are the future of effective onboarding. 

Why? Because they don’t require manual handling: Let the software do it for you!

Take control of your workflows today

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