The A-to-Z of onboarding new hires including (free) templates.

Kylie Sinclair
March 22, 2023
min read
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It's becoming increasingly clear that the process of onboarding new hires is critical to retaining top talent. A successful onboarding program not only helps new employees adjust to their roles and responsibilities more quickly, but it also contributes to higher engagement, increased productivity, and lower turnover rates.

In this article, we'll explore the benefits of a robust onboarding process and provide practical tips for designing and implementing a successful program in your organisation. Whether you're a small business or a large enterprise, effective onboarding can make all the difference in building a strong, engaged, and high-performing workforce.

What onboarding means.

Employee onboarding is the process of integrating your new employees into your organisation and preparing them for their new role. It typically includes a series of activities and orientations aimed at familiarising your new hires with the company culture, policies, values, goals, and operations, as well as introducing them to their job responsibilities, colleagues, and work environment.  

The ultimate goal of employee onboarding is to help your new employees become productive, engaged, and motivated as quickly as possible, reducing the likelihood of turnover and enhancing their overall job satisfaction.  The process may vary depending on your organisation's size, industry, and specific needs, but it typically involves a mix of formal and informal training, mentoring, coaching, and feedback mechanisms.

What happens when you don’t have a clear onboarding process?

Not having a clear onboarding process can result in early staff turnover, which can be costly and disruptive for an organisation. Without proper onboarding, new employees may feel overwhelmed or unsupported, leading them to leave the organisation within the first few months of employment. This can result in increased recruitment costs, lost productivity, and a negative impact on team morale.

A clear onboarding process can help to reduce early staff turnover by providing new employees with the support and guidance they need to feel comfortable and confident in their role. It can also help to identify any issues or concerns early on, allowing the organisation to address them proactively and retain valuable talent.

What are the key things you should include in your onboarding process?

When designing an onboarding process, the HR team should take into account the following key things:

  • The basics: Where is everything? If it is in the office make sure new starters know where the bathrooms are, where to get a coffee or tea. Most people like a good lunch spot recommendation. Be sure to consider any cultural support like access to prayer rooms. If the process is being conducted online it’s important to allocate time to showing people your systems, how and when you communicate and where to go for help.  
  • Clarity and structure: The onboarding process should be clearly defined and structured to ensure that new employees understand what is expected of them and what they can expect from the organisation.  This includes everything from the basics like the hours expected to a discussion with the manager on how they like to work.  
  • Employee engagement: The onboarding process should be designed to engage new employees and create a positive first impression of the organisation. It should also be easy for managers to implement as they are the face of the organisation during the process.
  • Compliance: The onboarding process should comply with all relevant legal and regulatory requirements, such as health and safety, equal opportunities, and data protection. Of course, we know you have that in hand!
  • Company culture: The onboarding process should reflect the company culture, values, and goals to help new employees understand the organisation's mission and vision. Examples can include videos or meetings with key executives and buddying people with organisational advocates.
  • Job-specific training: The onboarding process should provide job-specific training and development to ensure that new employees have the skills and knowledge they need to perform their job effectively.
  • Feedback and support: The onboarding process should provide opportunities for feedback and support to help new employees feel valued, supported, and motivated. This can through pulse surveys or one-on-one meetings.
  • Measurement and evaluation: The onboarding process should be regularly evaluated and measured to ensure that it is effective and meeting the needs of new employees and the organisation.
  • Technology: The onboarding process should utilise technology where possible to enhance efficiency and effectiveness, such as online training modules, electronic forms, and digital feedback mechanisms. Digital performance management systems like Crewmojo are extremely helpful (just saying!)

Mistakes to avoid when designing or reviewing your onboarding process.

When designing or reviewing an onboarding process, there are some common mistakes you can avoid to ensure that the process is effective and meets the needs of new starters. Here are some examples:

  • Lack of structure: One of the most common mistakes is a lack of structure or clarity in the onboarding process. Without a clear plan and defined objectives, new employees may feel overwhelmed or unsupported, leading to a negative first impression.
  • One-size-fits-all approach: Another mistake is a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding. Every new employee has unique needs and experiences, and an onboarding process that doesn't take these differences into account may not be effective in supporting all new hires. Consider location differences, role differences and team or departmental differences.  
  • Information overload: Providing too much information in a short period of time can be overwhelming and counterproductive. The onboarding process should be designed to provide new employees with the information they need in manageable doses, allowing them to absorb and apply it effectively.
  • Lack of engagement: An onboarding process that is too formal, impersonal, or lacking in engagement probably won’t create a positive first impression It's important to design an onboarding process that engages new employees and helps them feel valued and supported.
  • Ignoring feedback: Failure to seek feedback from new employees about their onboarding experience can result in missed opportunities for improvement. Regularly seeking feedback and adjusting based on that feedback can help to improve the onboarding process over time.
  • Not involving key stakeholders: Designing an onboarding process in a vacuum, without input from key stakeholders such as managers, HR professionals, and current employees, can lead to an onboarding process that is disconnected your teams.

How does the onboarding process differ for in-office employees, hybrid workers and remote employees?

The onboarding process can differ depending on whether the new employees are in-office, hybrid, or remote. Here are some ways in which the process might differ:

In-office employees: For in-office employees, the onboarding process may involve face-to-face meetings with colleagues and managers, tours of the office, and in-person training sessions. There may also be opportunities for socializing and team-building activities.

Hybrid workers: For hybrid workers who split their time between the office and remote work, the onboarding process may involve a mix of in-person and virtual activities. There may be virtual training sessions, online team-building activities, and opportunities to meet in person with colleagues and managers.

Remote employees: For remote employees who work entirely from home or another location, the onboarding process may be entirely virtual. This may involve video conferences with colleagues and managers, online training sessions, and virtual team-building activities.

Your onboarding process template pack.

Crewmojo has set up and designed an onboarding process based on Atlassian’s approach.

Week One Onboarding Check-list:

  • Introduction to the company, including culture, policies, and values
  • Meet with the HR representative to complete any remaining paperwork and review employee benefits
  • Introduction to the team and department
  • Overview of the new employee's role, including expectations and responsibilities
  • Introduction to key company systems and tools
  • Meeting with the manager to discuss goals and expectations for the first few weeks
  • Opportunities for the new employee to ask questions and provide feedback

Add to this experience by downloading a check-in template for a meeting towards the end of the week.

Free Download: Week One Onboarding template  

30-Day Onboarding Check-in:

  • Meeting with the manager to discuss progress and performance
  • Discussion of any questions or concerns the new employee may have
  • Feedback on the onboarding process so far
  • Review of goals set in the first week, and any adjustments needed
  • Plan for ongoing training and development opportunities
  • Opportunity to discuss and provide feedback on the team and department

Free Download: 30 Day Onboarding Template

90-Day Onboarding Check-in:

  • Meeting with the manager to review progress and provide feedback
  • Discussion of any changes or updates to job responsibilities
  • Review of goals set in the first week, and any adjustments needed
  • Opportunities for additional training and development
  • Discussion of longer-term career goals
  • Opportunity to provide feedback on the team and department

Free Download: 90 Day Onboarding Template

6-Month Onboarding Check-in:

  • Meeting with the manager to review progress and provide feedback
  • Discussion of any changes or updates to job responsibilities
  • Review of goals set in the first week, and any adjustments needed
  • Discussion of long-term career goals and potential growth opportunities
  • Feedback on the onboarding process and any suggestions for improvement
  • Opportunities for additional training and development

Free Download: 6-Month Onboarding Template

These check-ins are designed to provide new employees with regular opportunities to receive feedback, ask questions, and provide input. They also provide managers with the opportunity to ensure that the onboarding process is proceeding as planned and to make any necessary adjustments to help the new employee succeed.

What is the impact of giving the team a welcome gift pack, can it be quantified?

Giving the team a welcome gift pack can have a positive impact on employee morale and engagement, but the impact may be difficult to quantify.

On the one hand, a welcome gift pack can help new employees feel valued and appreciated, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and motivation. It can also help to create a positive first impression of the organisation, which may contribute to a stronger sense of loyalty and commitment among employees.

On the other hand, the impact of a welcome gift pack on employee performance and productivity may be more difficult to measure. While it may contribute to increased employee engagement and morale, it may not necessarily lead to direct improvements in job performance or productivity.

Overall, the impact of giving a welcome gift pack may depend on a variety of factors, such as the contents of the gift pack, the timing and frequency of distribution, and the overall culture and values of the organisation. While the impact may be difficult to quantify, a welcome gift pack can be a meaningful gesture that helps new employees feel welcomed and supported as they integrate into the organisation.

What tools should the HR team provide managers for a strong onboarding process

Managers will need several tools to design a good employee onboarding process. Here are some examples:

  • Onboarding checklist: This tool helps managers ensure that new employees complete all necessary tasks and activities during the onboarding process. The checklist should include items such as paperwork, training sessions, introductions to team members, and system access.
  • Training materials: Managers should prepare materials such as videos, manuals, and presentations to help new employees learn about the company's policies, culture, and products or services.
  • Employee guide or intranet: The intranet will house your company's policies and procedures and is an important resource for new employees. HR should ensure that the intranet is up-to-date and provides clear guidance on company expectations.
  • Communication plan: A communication plan ensures that new employees receive timely and relevant information throughout the onboarding process. The plan may include regular emails or meetings with the new employee to provide updates and answer questions.  When you download your Crewmojo onboarding pack we will also email you a communication plan. (You’re welcome!)
  • Evaluation tools: Finally, managers should establish evaluation tools to assess the success of the onboarding process. This may include metrics such as employee retention rates, time-to-productivity, and employee satisfaction surveys. By evaluating the effectiveness of the onboarding process, managers can identify areas for improvement and adjust the process as needed. Check out the survey template created by our client, Mantel Group. (Thanks for sharing your work team! We all appreciate it.)
  • One on one meeting templates: Providing a simple series of meeting templates for manager one on ones will help to create a consistent onboarding experience. Crewmojo has built these for you to download free.  

Download your free onboarding templates in one pack

Examples of expectations for managers in the onboarding process

Managers play a critical role in the onboarding process as they are responsible for guiding and supporting new employees as they integrate into the organisation. It is important that managers know what HR will do and what they need to do, to make sure that nothing falls between the cracks.  

Here are some examples of responsibilities of managers in the onboarding process:

  • Setting expectations: Managers should clarify job expectations, performance standards, and goals with new employees, so they understand what is expected of them from the outset.
  • Providing feedback: Managers should provide regular feedback to new employees on their performance, so they can make adjustments and improve as needed.
  • Offering support: Managers should be available to answer questions, provide guidance and support, and help new employees navigate the organisation.
  • Facilitating training: Managers should ensure that new employees receive the training they need to perform their jobs effectively and safely.
  • Introducing new employees to the team: Managers should introduce new employees to their colleagues and ensure they have the opportunity to build relationships with their new team members.
  • Monitoring progress: Managers should monitor new employees' progress during the onboarding process and make adjustments as needed to ensure that they are integrating into the organisation effectively.
  • Ensuring compliance: Managers should ensure that new employees are aware of and comply with the organisation's policies and procedures, including safety regulations and ethical standards.  

Example expectations to set for your new starters

While the onboarding process is primarily the responsibility of the organisations' managers and the HR department, new starters also have a role to play in making the process a success. Here are some things that new starters can do to contribute to a successful onboarding experience:

  • Be proactive: New starters should be proactive in seeking information and asking questions about their role, the organisation, and the onboarding process.
  • Take ownership: New starters should take ownership of their own onboarding experience by setting goals, tracking progress, and seeking feedback.
  • Build relationships: New starters should take the opportunity to build relationships with their colleagues, managers, and other stakeholders in the organisation.
  • Embrace the culture: New starters should make an effort to understand and embrace the culture of the organisation, including its values, norms, and expectations.
  • Learn continuously: New starters should be open to learning and continuously seeking opportunities to improve their skills, knowledge, and performance.
  • Stay engaged: New starters should stay engaged and motivated during the onboarding process by setting goals, seeking feedback, and participating actively in training and orientation activities.
  • Ask for help: New starters should not hesitate to ask questions or seek assistance when they need help or clarification. This can help them to avoid mistakes and build stronger relationships with their colleagues and managers.

By taking these steps, new starters can contribute to a successful onboarding experience and set themselves up for success in their new role.

Example Onboarding Checklist

Here is an example of an onboarding checklist that can be customised to fit the needs of your organisation:

  • Introductions: New employees may be introduced to their colleagues, managers, and other stakeholders in the organisation.
  • Paperwork: New employees may be required to complete various forms and paperwork related to their employment, such as tax forms, benefit enrollment, and company policies. It helps to have a checklist for these too.  
  • Orientation: This may include a general introduction to the company and its culture, as well as specific information about the employee's role and responsibilities.
  • Training: This may involve formal training sessions on specific skills or tasks, as well as on-the-job training with a supervisor or mentor.
  • Setting goals: New employees may be asked to set goals for their performance and career development.
  • Feedback: Managers may provide regular feedback and check-ins with new employees to ensure they are adjusting well to their new role and provide opportunities for improvement.
  • Team-building activities: Organisations may include team-building activities to help new employees feel more comfortable and integrated into the team.
  • Follow-up: The onboarding process should include follow-up activities to ensure that the new employee is adjusting well and any issues are addressed.

We hope we've helped you design your onboarding experience. You can explore a little more about how Crewmojo's 100% tweakable templates work in our live performance management system here.

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