Ask a communicator: Top 12 onboarding tips for new employees

Onboarding is important. Improve your onboarding approach with out top tips for facilitating the best employee onboarding experiences.

blog ask a communicator  top 12 onboarding tips for new employees

Dear Firstup:

I want to improve employee retention through a better onboarding process at my company. What are your best tips?

Onboarding is important—really important. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. Furthermore, 54% of companies with onboarding programs reported higher employee engagement. If you feel like it’s time to improve your onboarding approach, read our top tips for facilitating the best employee onboarding experiences.

12 tips to improve your employee onboarding program

Tip 1: Plan and organize with an employee onboarding checklist.

Planning and organization are almost always a good place to start for most things, and employee onboarding is no exception to that.

Onboarding is a process, so it needs to be carefully structured. A great way to keep the onboarding organized is to create a checklist. The onboarding process is usually full of details, so a checklist will help you streamline the flow. It will also help you to avoid mistakes or problems during the employee onboarding process.

Tip 2: Use a workforce communications platform

Implement a workforce communications platform so you have a single place to integrate with your Human Resource Information System (HRIS), publish content, target to employee segments, and track your metrics. It is critical to push out all your onboarding communications from a single publisher. That way, you’ll know if your new employees are actually getting your HR communications on the channels they prefer. This will set them up for success, and you’ll create a centralized place for employees to access all the information they need to thrive.

Tip 3: Create a special onboarding channel.

Our customers have optimized their onboarding by forming special onboarding channels on their workforce communications platform. They create a single source of truth for new employees, who can easily search and find the documents they need, such as benefits, company and departmental information, and more.

Find out how Ciox Health increased benefits enrollment in half the time with a workforce communications platform.

Tip 4:  Form additional Human Resources channels.

You can create additional HR channels for routine activities, such as yearly benefits enrollment and the latest training and development programs. These channels will support employees and help them access all the content they need to succeed in their job.

Tip 5: Set expectations and goals early.

What’s the second most important aspect of onboarding? According to a LinkedIn report, setting expectations and goals early is crucial to a new employee’s success for both the employee and employer. Setting expectations establishes realistic benchmarks early and helps employees avoid uncertainty about job expectations. It’s also important that these goals be accompanied by deadlines; as 60% of companies set long-term goals or expectations that may be completed at the three-, six-, and nine-month marks.

Tip 6: Automate the process.

Automation is one of the top tips when it comes to employee onboarding for a few very important reasons. First, automation saves time. Second, automated onboarding tools simplify what can otherwise be a  complex onboarding process. Both benefits provide a better experience for both the employee and employer.

One way to automate the process is with a workforce communications platform. Your team can standardize, streamline, track, and coordinate every step of their employee onboarding processes. A good example is using “automated campaigns” to walk new employees through the critical actions they need to take their first week. Once the employee takes the desired action, the campaign is complete, HR is automatically notified and the employee stops getting that communication

Tip 7: Arrange for new employees to spend one-on-one time with direct managers.

According to a new LinkedIn survey, a whopping 96% of 14,000 global professionals surveyed cited that spending one-to-one time with their direct manager was the most important aspect of their onboarding experience. Time spent with managers can be an easy way to help employees break the ice with their superiors and can help establish a solid foundation for a good rapport between managers and employees.

Tip 8: Be creative, unique, and personal.

As the saying goes, first impressions are lasting impressions. That’s exactly why employee onboarding shouldn’t be dull. Companies that get creative, unique, and personal with their employee onboarding provide a great welcoming experience to their new colleagues, which in turn can actually benefit the company by creating a strong company culture.

Some simple, yet effective ways companies can welcome new hires on the first day include decorating their desks, giving them welcome gifts such as flowers, lunch certificates, or even a simple coffee mug. A few other ideas for welcoming new employees and making a good impression include giving them small gifts such as a branded notebook, pens, T-shirt, or water bottle. Sure, personalized onboarding requires a little extra effort, but it’s totally worth it because it forms a connection with the employees right from the beginning.

Tip 9: Implement a “preboarding” process.

Ideally, onboarding should start after employees have been hired but before they formally begin working at your company. This concept has earned the nickname “preboarding.” The sooner that onboarding starts after hiring, the better, as it can have a big, positive impact on an employee’s readiness for the job and the work productivity to follow.

Preboarding can include sending employees key forms to fill out, a personalized welcome message from executives, a lunch with their new team or manager, or an office tour.

As an added benefit, preboarding can help keep new hires interested in sticking with your company, even if they receive other attractive job offers. 

Tip 10: Make the process cross-departmental with collaborative onboarding.

Cross-departmental onboarding” is a fancy way of saying that collaboration is the name of the game when it comes to onboarding. Regardless of the preferred term, onboarding that is collaborative is essential because it builds rapport among employees outside of just their respective departments.

The ultimate goal of collaborative onboarding is to foster interactivity and involvement across the organization which creates a strong sense of community within the company.  Collaborative onboarding also helps to reduce/eliminate feelings of isolation that new employees might have in their new role, which can provide greater levels of comfortability and confidence.

Tip 11: Double down on company culture, values, and principles.

Here’s an alarming statistic: 81% of new hires fail due to a lack of cultural fit. Here’s an easy way to lower the odds of that happening: Share the company’s value proposition, mission statement, and/or principles with employees as part of the onboarding process. This is important in both the short-term and long-term because a poor cultural fit will impact employee engagement and performance.

Companies such as Love’s Travel Stops use the onboarding process and their internal communications to promote company culture, values, and principles. (And listen to our Culture, Comms, & Cocktails podcast to find out how they were able to reach their hardest-to-reach employees, their truck drivers, by using a workforce communications platform.)

Tip 12: Implement a buddy system for new hires

Who would be best to introduce new employees to the company? Existing employees!

Help your new hires hit the ground running with a buddy, who will become the ambassador of your company, culture, and values. It ensures your new employee has someone to talk to on day one and during the first few weeks on the job. And a more formal buddy system could be the ideal way to transfer all the knowledge they need to succeed. Here are four simple steps:

  1. Choose the best buddy from the same department who is willing and has the time to help the new hire.
  2. Plan the onboarding together with the new buddy to make sure they understand what is expected of them.
  3. Introduce and position the new employees near the buddy for the best support.
  4. Involve the new hire, along with the buddy, in informal or social activities, such as lunch or coffee.

Conclusion: A recap of the 12 tips for onboarding employees

A great onboarding experience boosts employee engagement and ultimately retains talent. Here’s a recap of our 12 tips.

  • Plan with an employee onboarding checklist.
  • Use a workforce communications platform to easily track and implement your onboarding program.
  • Set goals and objectives early in the process.
  • Ensure the process is collaborative and cross-departmental.
  • Double down on company culture, values, and principles.

Related resources

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Firstup is the world’s first intelligent communication platform. More than 40 percent of Fortune 100 companies use our platform to connect with their people, design and deliver personalized communications, and gain engagement insights throughout the employee journey. With Firstup, employers can view engagement data in real time, by organization, department, or employee. That helps leaders better understand their workforce, make informed decisions, and provide better experiences from hire to retire. Companies like Amazon, Tesco, Ford, and Hilton use Firstup every day to improve outcomes for their employees.

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