23 June 2021

Key Elements to a Successful Employee Onboarding Strategy


Dr. Lisa J. Lindsay Wicker, CEO and president of Linwick & Associates, breaks down the most important elements of an onboarding process in your firm

A new hire will form an opinion of your company as soon as the first interaction takes place. This can be when they are with the HR representative signing the employment agreement or the moment they step into their workstation. If you don’t have your onboarding process in place and on point, it can leave a bad impression at the start.

Day one at work is very special for new employees. I liken it to the first day of school. You’re hardly able to sleep and once you arrive to the new company, there are so many uncertainties. Yet, you’re truly excited. The excitement of that new day can be erased very quickly. Especially, if the new employer is not prepared for your arrival.

You’ve heard the cliché “first impressions are lasting impressions.” This applies to a new company as well as to people.

So, on day one, you’d want the new employee to receive a positive welcome and to learn as much about the company, the culture and the employees as possible.

Here are key elements to a successful onboarding strategy:

Pre-Planning Before Day One

1. Customize the employee onboarding experience to includes: a) pre onboarding, b) day one, and c) 30-day follow-up and beyond. Sourcing and hiring new employees is an investment for your company. You want to make sure that you have customized an onboarding program that includes a positive experience for the new hire. This means you have taken the time to think about your company, why it is a great place to work and how it can benefit both the employee and the company, when new employees are onboarded properly. Ensure that your program is designed to include information that the new hire should know before arriving on day one, plans for day one and plans beyond the first day. Including these elements is very important to ensuring a sound onboarding strategy.

2. Develop an onboarding check-list to make sure your program is on-track.

3. Make sure paperwork such as the W-4, I-9, or other administrative documents are ready. If these can be signed online, prior to the new hire’s arrival, great!

4. Designate the appropriate workspace if the employee is working on-site, or ensure that if the work is remote, the employee has all the necessary tools, email logins, cell phones, laptop, VIN, etc.

5. Encourage the hiring manager to engage with the new employee, share role information, and the itinerary for the first week.

6. Send out an email to the company letting everyone know of the new hire.

On Day One

When a company carefully plans the onboarding steps, employees are in a much better position to be successful on the job. Proper onboarding accelerates the employees’ ability to do outstanding work on day one, eliminating the need for an early departure while transmitting security and confidence to the new employee on his or her first day. The goal of day one is to provide an experience for the new employee that is personal and memorable.

This includes:

1. Giving the new hire a welcome box filled with company branded gifts such as office supplies, company branded apparel and logos. If the employee works remotely, ensure this box is mailed and arrives in time for day one.

2. Provide links to company information such as leadership organizational charts, department charts, company videos on mission, values – even a message from the CEO.

3. Review the pre-planned/customized day one agenda which should include 15-30 minutes meetings with various members of the team (on-site or virtually based upon need). These meetings should be consecutive to allow for on-going interactions throughout the day with a debrief meeting at the end of the day.

4. Schedule meetings with members of the team virtually or on-site depending on the work environment.

5. Assign a peer mentor for the new hire as part of the onboarding process.

30 Days and Beyond

The primary goal of your onboarding process should be to deliver the best new hire experience ever which will translate to an inspired employee who delivers outstanding performance. From the welcome the new hire receives on their first day, through to their development plan for the first few months, onboarding is the foundation of employee experience. On-boarding does not just happen. From the leadership to employees, proper onboarding must be intentional.

Understanding the experience at the early stage is especially important given studies have shown that low levels of engagement early on have been shown to significantly increase the risk of attrition. According to recruiting firm Jobvite, 33% of new hires have exited a job within the first 90 days. You can avoid this trend.

1. Now that a few weeks have past, it is important to complete a 30,60, 90-day pulse check to determine how the new employee feels and to ensure they have the support needed for success. Most new employees are often looking for ways to have a positive impact.

2. Develop and send a new hire experience survey to all new employees so that you will know what could be improved, and what is going well with your onboarding program.

3. Be sure that the objectives in your 30, 60, 90-day plan are measurable. Consider using SMART goals as your gauge. This further demonstrates the business case ROI to senior leadership, keeps them engaged even from day one, provides the new hire with a sense of achievment, and gives your onboarding program metrics for continuous improvement.

Since the onset of the pandemic, employee onboarding practices are evolving. Employee onboarding software and resources are available that can help with some of the virtual logistical burdens, allowing you to focus on continuous improvement and the best employee onboarding experience imagined.

Copyright © The Impact Lawyers. All rights reserved. This information or any part of it may not be copied or disseminated in any way or by any means or downloaded or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of The Impact Lawyers. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of The Impact Lawyers.

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