7 steps to a better employee onboarding process

While it’s important to leave a good impression on candidates in the recruitment process, the real work begins once the candidates are hired and the onboarding process begins.

According to research, companies that implemented a formal onboarding program saw 50% greater employee retention among new recruits and 62% greater productivity within the same group.

To make a lasting impression on your new employee, you should provide them with all the necessary information on your company and help them easily integrate into your work culture. 

It can take as long as 12 months to fully onboard a new employee. Furthermore, you need to cover all 3 aspects of onboarding

  • Organizational, 
  • Technical, and 
  • Social. 

Luckily, you can facilitate this comprehensive process by dividing it into smaller steps.

Modeled on the practices of well-known companies, in this blog post we’ll cover 7 simple steps that will immediately upgrade your employee onboarding process and improve the overall employee experience

Plus, we provide you with an employee onboarding checklist you can follow throughout the process.

7 steps to a better employee onboarding process

What are the 5 C’s of onboarding?

An employee onboarding process should cover 5 areas known as the 5 C’s of onboarding. They include:

  • Compliance – getting employees acquainted with basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations;
  • Clarification – ensuring that employees understand their new jobs and responsibilities;
  • Confidence – building up new employees’ confidence in this challenging period;
  • Connection – refers to the vital interpersonal relationships new employees should establish;
  • Culture – introducing new hires to the company’s culture, mission, and values.

The steps we’ll outline below will ensure you don’t miss any of the 5 C’s and provide new hires with an impeccable onboarding experience. 

Step #1: Provide pre-boarding documents and orientation

As the first day of onboarding approaches, it’s good to keep one thing in mind — preparation is half the battle. 

Investing in pre-boarding is great for both the company and the new employees:  

  • On the one hand, helping new hires prepare for their first day helps them overcome new job anxiety.
  • On the other — companies offering a pre-boarding experience are likely to keep their recruits for longer periods of time as they will be more satisfied with the initial company experience.

As you can see, it’s a win-win situation for both sides. So, here’s a list of things you can do before the first day: 

  • Send a welcome email, 
  • Invite the new employee for an office visit,
  • Finish all the paperwork, i.e. signing the contract and submitting forms and policies,
  • Prepare a welcome gift for the new employee,
  • Provide all the necessary tools and equipment,
  • Introduce the new employee to the rest of the team, 
  • Introduce a work buddy system,
  • Give access to the software they’ll use, and
  • Give general guidelines for day 1.

🔻 Example: Twitter practices the so-called “Yes to Desk” pre-onboarding program, where 3 things await the new employee at their desk on day 1: 

  • An email address, 
  • A T-shirt, and 
  • A bottle of wine. 

It’s a nice gesture to give a warm welcome to the newcomer. Once they are welcomed, the new hires are given a tour of the premises and further introduced to the company.

Step #2: Establish digital communication channels

Whether working remotely or not, using online communication tools simply goes without saying. It’s virtually impossible to imagine a single workday passing by without using at least one digital communication platform.

Establishing clear online communication channels is useful since it improves team collaboration and overall work efficiency.

That’s why onboarding a new employee includes giving them access to different company platforms, such as:

  • Email,
  • Video conferencing apps,
  • Business team chat apps, and
  • Project management (PM) apps.

Inviting new employees to join the company’s various channels of communication is a vital onboarding step. You should also make it clear which channel they can use for what purpose, for example:

  • Use email for formal requests.
  • Use the team chat app for everyday communication with coworkers.
  • Use the PM software for seeing who’s working on what part of the project.

 This step will facilitate and encourage both business and personal communication among employees.

🔻 Example: After the first day of meetings comes to an end, new employees at LinkedIn are given backpacks and laptops that are already set up with the communication tools they’ll need for the job.

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Step #3: Schedule onboarding meetings

This step is especially important if your new employees work remotely. 

There are several reasons to include meetings in the onboarding process — they will help new employees:

  • Establish bonds with coworkers,
  • Understand the company culture, and
  • Prepare for the new job.

There are different types of meetings depending on their purpose. 

Here’s a list of onboarding meetings you might include in your new employee’s onboarding:

  • Orientation meeting — serves to provide guidelines for the first week. It provides new hires with all the general information on the job and the company.
  • Team introduction meeting — a casual meeting with the team. It serves to build connections.
  • Meeting with a work buddy — serves to reduce a new hire’s anxiety. It’s a casual chat with somebody who has already been in their shoes.
  • Department meeting — serves to give context about the company’s organization and its future plans and goals.
  • Product meeting — to get detailed insight about products/services offered by the company.
  • Training meeting — a role-specific training that prepares the new hire for their individual job.

🔻 Example: New hires at Buffer have regular meetings with a group of 3 work buddies for as long as 6 weeks: 

  • Leader Buddy (who manages other work buddies), 
  • Role Buddy (who helps the recruit get acquainted with their new role), and 
  • Culture Buddy (who helps the recruit integrate into the company culture).

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

To learn more about the importance of communication in managing projects, read this blog post:

Step #4: Assign the new employee with their first task

Once the introductions have been made, you should start encouraging your new employee’s independence. 

It’s time to assign your new employee their first projects and tasks. This way, they can start easing into their new role.

However, overly demanding tasks might overwhelm your new employee, so you should introduce more complex tasks gradually. Achievable assignments will ease the integration process and encourage the new hire to keep making an effort. 

Also, be sure that new employees always have a mentor/work buddy by their side to assist them when things get complicated. In remote work, ensure they can always reach out to somebody for help and assistance.

By the end of their first week, the new employee shouldn’t feel stressed, but rather excited that they work for your company.

🔻 Example: At Netflix, new employees get their first projects and tasks as soon as day one. Giving them autonomy and responsibility this early shows that the company puts trust in them.

Step #5: Check in with new employees regularly

In the first few weeks of onboarding, check-ins should be conducted once or twice a week as new employees are most likely to face challenges during this initial adjustment period.

Understanding their goals and managing deadlines are examples of the most common new employee challenges — check-in meetings are the perfect time to talk about them. 

Although check-ins are likely to include only work-related discussions, they don’t necessarily have to be only about work — taking care of your new employee’s well-being highly improves the onboarding process, as it makes them feel appreciated and valued. 

So, you can use check-ins as an opportunity to get to know your new employee better or simply chat about how things are going. 

As time passes by and things start to go more smoothly, your new hires won’t need check-ins that often anymore. They will transition into another type of meeting — review meetings, which we’ll discuss in the next chapter.

🔻 Example: Managers at Google set up regular onboarding check-ins for new employees — once a month for the first 6 months.

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

To learn more about how to set realistic goals, read this blog post:

Step #6: Give your new employees constructive feedback regularly

Every company that strives to design an exceptional onboarding process for their new employees needs to think about the performance review stage

Performance review is known by many names, such as: 

  • Performance evaluation, 
  • Performance appraisal, or 
  • Feedback meeting.

At this point, you might be wondering about the ideal time for the first performance review. 

There isn’t a single right answer to this question — some companies conduct their first review as soon as 3 months after the start date, while others do it after 6, 9, or 12 months.

Though numbers may vary, the goal of reviews stays the same — providing your new employee with valuable feedback.

The purpose of performance reviews

When it comes to specific purposes of performance reviews — there are several:

  • To see whether the new employee has integrated into the company by the time of the review and if they’ve adjusted to the company culture and other team members.
  • To give positive feedback on your new employee’s performance — focusing on their work achievements and overall progress to further encourage them and boost their motivation.
  • To identify possible areas of improvement — to offer help if they’re struggling with certain work-related issues, such as time management and deadlines.
  • To set long-term goals and clearly express that you need your new employee in the long run. This practice improves employee retention.
  • To get onboarding feedback — this way, you’ll gain valuable insights and make onboarding even better in the future.

Tip: Keep in mind that it’s important to choose the right words and always end the review on a positive note — the ultimate goal of a performance review is not to criticize but to encourage the new employee.

🔻 Example: Bank of America provides 360-Degree feedback 6 months after hiring, which helps new employees understand how others view them by collecting feedback from employees’ subordinates, colleagues, and supervisors.

Step #7: Use PM software to track employee onboarding progress

Among other things, an employee onboarding process is one of the most important HR responsibilities. So, carrying it out properly is vital for maintaining a positive company image.

Although onboarding is a flexible process, it does include many systematic tasks, such as:

  • Keeping track of training dates,
  • Scheduling meetings, or
  • Managing multiple employees’ onboarding processes.

So, HR professionals should use technology to organize all the information and facilitate the process. 

This is where a project management (PM) app might come in handy. 

Using a simple and intuitive PM tool such as Plaky, you can easily track the progress of not only one, but several onboarding processes at the same time. 

What’s more, Plaky offers a pre-made onboarding template that helps you easily organize the new employee onboarding process. 

An example of an Employee Onboarding template in a PM tool – Plaky
An example of an Employee Onboarding template in a PM tool – Plaky

How to use Plaky to streamline your onboarding process

Plaky will save you valuable time and energy with features such as: 

  • Item groups,
  • Status field,
  • Date field
  • Assignee field
  • Text field, and
  • Files tab.

You can manage onboarding for specific employees by categorizing them into different Groups, for example:

  • Pre-onboarding, or
  • Role-specific training.

With the Assignee field, you’ll keep track of who’s responsible for which onboarding task by assigning them to team members.

With the Status field, you can keep track of what stage new hires are currently at, e.g. pre-arrival, training, or any other.

With the Date field, you won’t have to worry about due dates, or any other time-related issues, such as:

  • Whether you’ve sent the welcoming email to your new employee on time,
  • Whether the onboarding session has been scheduled, or
  • What time the next check-in is scheduled.

In the Text fields, you can write down any information relevant to the candidate, such as their position or contact info. You can also add links to any relevant documents.

Furthermore, each item has a Files tab, where you can attach any relevant documents and files. 

All in all, a project management app should be the first thing you’ve crossed off your checklist when planning to start your new employee onboarding process.

Use an employee onboarding checklist to streamline the process

If you’re still not sure where to start — check out our employee onboarding checklist template. It can help you easily manage the process.

employee onboarding checklist

Download New Employee Onboarding Checklist Template

Using a checklist is an excellent starting point for your new and improved employee onboarding process. But, our advice is to keep the checklist flexible and tailor it to specifically fit your company’s needs.

💡 Plaky Pro Tip

Are you just starting a business or perhaps looking to expand your one-man operations by hiring some people? You might be interested in learning more about the legal aspect of hiring employees in our by-state guides:

Conclusion: Onboard your employees in these 7 simple steps

Investing time and resources into designing a strong employee onboarding process is useful for the company in the long run.

Not only will the new employees feel appreciated and welcome after proper onboarding — the satisfied new hires will help promote a positive brand image.

Although managing the new employee onboarding process can be quite challenging, following these steps using a simple checklist can make things easier:

  • Provide pre-boarding and documentation,
  • Establish digital communication channels,
  • Schedule onboarding meetings,
  • Assign the new employee with their first task,
  • Check in with new employees regularly,
  • Give your new employees constructive feedback regularly, and
  • Use PM software to track employee onboarding progress.

✉️ Can you think of any other important steps to a new employee onboarding process? If yes, feel free to contact us at blogfeedback@plaky.com, and we may include your ideas in this or any other future blog posts.