Best Practices for New Employee Onboarding

Rich Peterson says, "Most new hires fail within 18 months on the job."

Smart Onboarding is critical in making career transitions much smoother.

Why Onboarding Matters?

It s proven that new hires without an effective onboarding program will fail over the course of their short lived career with your organization.

One of the important ways that HR can impact the workforce and effectiveness of the organizations is through the critical use of onboarding.

What is Onboarding?

New employee onboarding is the process of getting new hires adjusted to the social and performance aspects of their new jobs quickly and smoothly. It is the process through which new hires learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization. The bottom line is that to the degree that organizations can make new hires feel welcomed into the organization and prepared for their new jobs, the faster they will be able to successfully contribute to the organization’s mission

While all employees experience some type of onboarding, the formality and comprehensiveness of onboarding program varies widely across organizations. For example, benchmarking studies show that organizations considered “best in class” for onboarding have formal onboarding programs.

Some organizations prefer a more structured and systematic approach to new employee onboarding, while others follow a “sink or swim” approach in which new employees struggle to figure out what is expected of them and the existing norms of their new organization. Onboarding can vary on many dimensions including in its formality, sequencing, size of new hires onboarded at once, and how supportive the process is of new hires.

Onboarding Tools and Best Practices

Rich Peterson strongly believes, "In onboarding everything matters." Formal orientation programs and a written onboarding plans are essential best practices. However, other more subtle factors matter as well. Is the new employee greeted warmly on his or her first day? Does the new employee have a functioning workstation right away? Does someone take them to lunch the first day? The most important day on the job for a new employee is the first day.  VP's, Senior Directors and Managers recognize this and take every employee to lunch or have a 1on1 private meeting  when they arrive at the new company within their first month.  This is part of their company culture and employees proudly share this practice. 

Since research shows that the path of a new hire's success is set as early as the first two weeks, it is important to make the first day a special one for new employees. For hourly workers, many do not come back otherwise. Orchestrating their first day can pay large dividends in the long run. It may be just another day for you as an established employee but not for the new employee. Below is a list of organizational best practices for onboarding.

Organizational Best Practices for Onboarding:

  • Implement basics prior to the first day on the job
  • Make the first day on the job special
  • Design and implement formal orientation programs
  • Create and use written onboarding plans
  • Be participatory in nature
  • Consistently implement onboarding
  • Monitor progress over time
  • Utilize technology to facilitate the process
  • Recognize onboarding takes place over time- use milestones- 30 – 60 – 90 – 120 days on the job up to 1 year post-organizational entry
  • Engage key stakeholders in planning
  • Include key stakeholder meetings
  • Be clear in terms of the who, what, when, where of onboarding

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