Employee Onboarding

According to the Society for Human Resources Development (SHRM), employee onboarding (also known as organizational socialization) is the “process of helping new hires adjust to social and performance aspects of their new jobs quickly and smoothly, and learn the attitudes, knowledge, skills, and behaviors required to function effectively within an organization.” In short, employee onboarding involves the processes that help you ensure that your new hires get started on the right foot. These processes can be broken down into two categories:

  • Formal onboarding encompasses the organized tasks and procedures that help a new employee adjust to his or her new position. Under formal onboarding, new hires are often segregated from existing employees to experience coordinated activities for orientation, in-classroom training, and socialization.
  • Informal onboarding refers to the ad hoc and semi-organized activities by which a new employee learns about his or her new job. Informal onboarding can include job shadowing and impromptu one-on-one coaching or meetings with management and new colleagues, as well as the minutiae of getting started at a company, such as receiving badges and equipment.[1]

Employee Onboarding Process[2]

When a prospective employee accepts an offer letter, they officially become a part of the organization. The following steps are what make up the onboarding process.

  • Provide information on company policies and benefits: Provide comprehensive information about policies and employee benefits on the employees first day in the organization. The training session or materials should include everything from compliance to insurance to tax liabilities to company policies on leaves and diversity and inclusion. In this step, also have the employee sign all the compliance forms that formally validate them as members of the organization. Depending on the country you are in, if digital signatures are accepted on state/federal compliance forms, you can use employee onboarding software to share the necessary documentation with new employees before their first day in the company. This means they can complete all compliance formalities beforehand and become contributing members of the team right from day one. Using digital signatures is also helpful when you have to onboard remote employees into the company.

Employee Onboarding Process
source: Toolbox

  • Provide role clarity What exactly is an employee expected to do as part of their job? A breakdown of all their daily tasks is important to help them gain clarity about their role. Who communicates this information? This is the best time for the manager to step into the onboarding process, as they are best positioned to offer a clear picture of what an employees role will involve. This information should be provided over the first 30 days on the job, as the new employee learns and slowly takes ownership of their role. In this process, it is also important to inform the employee of whom they must collaborate with to get their job done members of their own teams as well as members of other teams along with the reporting matrix for such collaborations. With an automated solution such as Bamboo HR, new employees can be introduced to members of their team and supporting teams much before they join the organization. These employee onboarding software solutions allow each team member to create an online profile, which a new employee can go through to learn more about their team members. Similarly, employees can create their own profile and introduce themselves to their team members much before they join the organization. Even in the case of cross boarding, you can share the employees profile beforehand. The benefit? There is already a certain amount of familiarity and friendliness between the employee and their colleagues right from day one.
  • Facilitate training: Training is part of the long-term onboarding process and is best facilitated by the immediate manager. Even the most experienced employee needs to be provided with a training period to understand how processes function in their new organization or new team. Companies can start delivering this training even before employees first day at the organization. Basic training materials can be sent across, and employees can be given a breakdown of the tasks they are expected to accomplish through employee onboarding software. Hibobs employee onboarding software allows HR to set up customized workflows for new employees, giving them a sense of what's in store for them when they enter the company. Boardon is also a pre-onboarding software that allows you to use the time before the onboarding efficiently. Freshteam is an all-in-one hiring, onboarding, and employee data management solution that can help you streamline the entire onboarding process. Learn More: How to Strengthen the Relationship Between Recruiting and Onboarding
  • Induct into organizational culture Assimilation into organizational culture is an ongoing process. However, HR managers and team managers must give an employee a broad overview of the culture when they join the company. How can they do this? One way is to make sure that culture is reflected in the company vision and mission statement. Is your organization output-oriented or outcome-oriented? How easy is it for your employees to come up to you and discuss a problem they're experiencing at work? How open are managers to entertaining non-work conversations? Define what the company culture stands for, and then ensure this culture is communicated to the new employee. You can also do this through your onboarding software, which gives new hires direct insights into the team members, the profile of the company, and as a result, an insight into the culture of your organization.
  • Help form social connections with colleagues: While this is not entirely the responsibility of the manager/HR, it is their job to facilitate communication between employees, even if some employees are not very open to integrating. This involves creating an environment where friendships between colleagues are encouraged. A lot of organizations employ the system of new-hire buddies, where they dedicate one employee to help the new employee navigate the workplace from job-related tasks to administrative queries and everything in between. However, a Hibob survey found that 49% of the employees surveyed would rather make friends with their coworkers instead of limiting their interactions to their new-hire buddy. This information, however, should not discount the value of a new-hire buddy. Not everyone is comfortable going up to their new coworkers and forging relationships with them. If new employees or team members have simple queries like how to work the printer or whom to speak to for an ergonomic laptop stand, a new-hire buddy can help easily. And in the age of AI, chatbots can serve as great new-hire buddies.

Elements of Employee Onboarding[3]

While it should come as no surprise that an effective onboarding process should include tactical items such as the completion of new hire paperwork and the provisioning of employee tools, it must address the cultural activities that help a new employee feel welcome, too. As you plan for change in your organization, examine opportunities to: enable; enlighten; and, impassion employees.

  • Enable: Enable your employees to be productive as soon as possible by preparing them for employment; gathering the necessary administrative documents with ease; and, providing them with the equipment, tools and resources necessary to carry out the responsibilities of their role in the most efficient way possible. Consider whether automating new hire paperwork would help you better deliver on your employment brand, as well as whether its potential impact on KPIs justifies its implementation cost. Don’t forget to better enable your process stakeholders to fulfill their assignments, as well. Get their feedback on what they are doing that could be done by a tool, instead…so that they have time to refocus on more strategic activities that will better support your employment brand. The decision to use a tool to automate many onboarding-related tasks such as equipment provisioning, benefits enrollment, payroll coordination, training curriculum milestones and mentoring relationship activities will certainly impact the extent to which your organization will be able to introduce other concurrent changes to your onboarding process.
  • Enlighten: Enlighten new hires about the opportunity that exists with your organization by reinforcing their reasons for choosing you, and educating them about the potential career options available. A simple way to start down this path includes scheduling time for new hires and supervisors to reiterate the responsibilities of the position, discuss performance expectations, detail timelines for accomplishing mastery of skills and discuss the next big goals for the organization. Think of this activity as an exercise in reducing buyer’s remorse. Just like receiving a phone call from the dealership after a new vehicle purchase helps to remind you of the heated seats you’re now enjoying, a conversation between a new hire and management helps the employee to feel assured that he was hired for a reason, and the job is indeed the same role for which he was initially excited enough to apply. Employees that are aware of long-term learning opportunities, such as advanced training and mentoring, are more likely to stay with your organization, as well.
  • Impassion: Can you see how employees that are passionate about your organization drive your business outcomes? Think in terms of customer satisfaction and retention, employee referrals and greater attention to operational efficiency as a start. Job passion will grow when employees are challenged in productive ways, recognized for their efforts and championed for their results. Communication is fundamental to the aforementioned activities, and it can be fostered effectively early on through frequent, intentional opportunities for new hires to engage with others in your organization. Many firms get this “social” part of the equation right, but maybe at the expense of also managing onboarding-related tasks successfully. Or, some organizations stop socializing after the obligatory new hire lunch on day one of employment. Don’t stop doing lunch…but start thinking beyond the first week for chances for new employees to collaborate with others.

Employee Onboarding Vs. Orientation[4]

When you compare the focus, duration, setup, content and outcome of orientation and onboarding, you can see how different and necessary both are to your new hires. During onboarding you might explain your department’s unspoken rules, such as how the phone gets answered by the third ring, or that the assistants are responsible for answering the phones. Whereas, during orientation, you would explain the company’s overall commitment to customer service.

Orientation Vs Onboarding

Orientation and onboarding are not interchangeable. You need an orientation to get new employees immediately familiar with the company’s mission and culture. You need an onboarding process to get them invested in their day-to-day roles and how it helps your business meet its goals. When used together, orientation and onboarding help establish role clarity, job satisfaction and organizational commitment, which can help lower employee stress and turnover.

Why Employee Onboarding Matters[5]

Employee onboarding is the first interaction an employee has with the organization right after the lengthy interview process. If the experience fails to live up to expectations, then your employee might regret their decision to accept the job offer. The negative impression left by a poor onboarding process might affect their perceptions, give them prejudiced notions about the organization, and ultimately cause them to quit early.

  • A solid employee onboarding process is necessary to help your new hires settle down in their jobs, get to know the organization, obtain clarity on their job objectives, and forge a good relationship with other employees.
  • A memorable onboarding experience not only makes employees feel welcome but also helps them gel with the existing organizational family faster.
  • HR managers are burdened with enough as it is. Just the thought of tackling the humongous amount of paperwork involved in the onboarding process is enough to induce nightmares.

So, streamlining employee the onboarding process not only impresses new employees but also reduces the workload of the HR team.

See Also


  1. What is Employee Onboarding? Panopto
  2. The Employee Onboarding Process: How to Onboard Employees Toolbox
  3. Key Elements of Employee Onboarding Exact Hire
  4. A comparison of orientation and onboarding Insperity
  5. Why efficient employee onboarding matters? Kissflow