What is the onboarding experience?

The onboarding experience is the process that new employees go through to acclimate to their new roles within a company. It encompasses everything from the initial contact with the company, to the first day of work, and continuing through the first few months on the job.

A well-designed employee onboarding process will help new employees feel welcomed, supported, and prepared for success in their new roles. It also ensures that new hires have opportunities to ask questions and get feedback along the way.

On the other hand, a poorly designed onboarding experience can have the opposite effect. New employees may feel lost, confused, and unsupported, leading to a high turnover rate and wasted resources on recruiting new candidates.

Why is the onboarding experience important for your employer brand?

The onboarding experience is the first opportunity you have to make a good impression on new hires and set the tone for their future with your company. It’s also a key part of your company brand – if candidates have a positive experience during onboarding, they’re more likely to recommend your company to others as a great place to work.

Without a formal onboarding process, new employees may eventually feel disconnected and disinterested, which can affect their productivity and overall feeling about the company.

Also important: approximately 20% of turnover occurs within the first 45 days of employment. And that turnover rate can be influenced by an unsatisfactory onboarding process. If new employees immediately start questioning their decision to accept a job offer, they might not stick around for too long.

On the other hand, a great experience can result in an immediate connection to the company and the beginning of a long-term working relationship between the new employee and employer.

How to craft an awesome onboarding experience

Creating your onboarding experience from scratch or improving the one you have will take some work. But it's definitely worth the effort! Here are some key steps to take to craft an awesome onboarding experience for your new hires:

Don't wait for the employee's first day

Onboarding should ideally begin before the employee's first day on the job. This can be done by sending new employees a thoughtful welcome email, a handwritten note, or even just connecting and saying "hello" on LinkedIn.

Share the company story

Make sure new employees understand the company's mission, vision, values, and goals. To make all of that memorable and engaging, tell new hires a story about the company that explains the “who,” “what,” and “why” of the company. The more they know about the origins of the company and where it's going, the more likely they are to be engaged and motivated in their work.

Discuss the purpose of the company

Many employees want to know how their work contributes to the company's success. Be clear about what the company does and explain how every team member's efforts help to achieve business goals. Also share information about current projects that demonstrate the company is striving to make the company’s mission a reality.

Emphasize human values and connection

Foster a sense of community and belonging by emphasizing the company's human values.

Make sure everyone also feels like they're part of the team by promoting collaboration and cross-departmental cooperation. You can achieve this by incorporating activities that reflect these values into your onboarding process.

Give an office tour and "insider" tips

One of the best ways to help new hires feel like they belong is to give them an insider's view of the company. Show them around the office, introduce them to their colleagues, and give them a few tips about how to navigate the company culture.

Go through mandatory paperwork and company policies

Make sure your new hires are up to speed on all the paperwork they need to complete before and on their first day. You should also go over important company policies they need to know as well as labor laws, safety regulations, compliance requirements, etc. This will help them feel prepared and organized from their first day on the job.

Explain the structure of the company and their team

Help your new hires understand the company's structure and their place within it. You can make your explanation visual by using organizational charts that show the company hierarchy. This will give them a better understanding of their role within the organization.

Encourage open communication

Make sure your new hires feel comfortable communicating with their managers and fellow employees. Encourage them to ask questions and voice any concerns they may have. This will help create a more positive and productive work environment. Also, make sure someone is regularly keeping new employees up-to-date on changes occurring within the company.

Identify available resources

Let new hires know what resources are available to them and how they can access them. This can include things like the company Wifi, employee handbooks, job aids, training materials, etc. You should also make sure they know who or what to turn to if they need help.

Connect with remote employees

For remote employees, you’ll want to make extra effort to ensure they feel part of the team. This can be done by assigning a virtual "buddy" whom they can connect with, receive regular updates, and ask questions. You can also use remote technologies, such as enterprise chat and video conferencing, to hold regular meetings, check-ins, and progress updates.

Create and update important onboarding checklists

There are several checklists you should create or update as part of the onboarding process. This can include things like safety procedures, emergency protocols, and IT security policies. By going over these with your new hires, you can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and knows what to do in case of an issue.

Build loyalty with company branded content

Company branded content, such as a welcome video, stationery, and office map with insider tips can help build loyalty and excitement among new employees. It can also help make new employees feel like they’re a part of the company culture before they even begin their first day.