June 16, 2022
8 min read

How to onboard new employees? (+step by step guide)

Written by
Angel Lim

The first day at a new job can be scary. Here's how you should welcome a new hire's first day with an effective onboarding process.

Have you ever started a new job feeling completely clueless?  

You were left alone at an unoccupied desk, you weren’t even sure if that would be your fixed workstation.  

No one bothered to show you around, or even introduce you to a soul. You had no idea where the restroom is.  

Someone dropped you a file for you to work on without explaining what to do with it.

To all HR managers, take these scenarios to heart. Show your new employees around, and give them clear directions. At least a warm welcome!  

Did you know, a terrible onboarding experience = a turnover problem?

Up to 20% of new hires leave an employer within the first 45 days because of:  

  • They show up on day one without anything to do because their manager is still on leave and forgot to tell the team
  • They walk into the office all spiffy, but struggle to find the place because no one told them the secret entrance behind the laneway
  • They are being left to their own devices for 6.5 hours because the team spent the day for back-to-back meetings

The thing is, if you want super-engaged hyper-productive happy employees, you need to focus on creating an effective onboarding process, even before their first day.  

So, how can you onboard your new employees in a more impressive, effective, and fun way?

Phase #1: Pre-boarding  

This usually takes place before your new employees come in for their first day on the new job.

The goal is to keep your employee engaged until their first day at the office.  

Be sure to use this time to prepare your existing employees and office for the arrival of the new employee.  

You will want to order necessary equipment, access badges, and other materials the new hire may need to do their job.  

Keep your new employees engaged until their first day at the office.

Step 1: Sending a welcome email to your new employee  

Your new hire will be looking forward to their first day and maybe a little nervous at the same time. You want to make them feel as welcome and prepared as possible to tee them up for success.

A welcome email should include:

  • Start date and time
  • First-day schedule
  • Documents to bring (for example: social security, bank account details, ID, etc.)  
  • Instructions for checking in (parking, best route, etc.)
  • Dress code  
  • Contact information  

Providing this information can help them arrive on time, prepared, and aware of what to expect when they show up on their first day.

You can also attach document links to standard HR paperwork, employee handbook, and quick info sheet about the company, its products and services, employees, and company culture.

Step 2: Inform your existing employees  

Before the new hire arrives, email your existing employees and let them know a new person is joining the team.  

Keep this email short with basic information:

  • Job title/department  
  • Key responsibilities
  • Academic and professional background
  • Two or three fun facts (such as special talents, favourite sports team, unique hobby, or another tidbit of information that can inspire conversation)
  • How to get in touch with the new employee, including where their workstation will be

Not only does this help the new hire feel welcome, but it can also help other employees understand how they’ll be working with their new coworker and gives them an easy opportunity to reach out and say hello.

Step 3: Prepare new employees’ office supplies and equipment 

Before your new employee’s first day, there are many things you need to prepare to help them settle in as soon as they come to the office.  

Here’s what you should prepare:

  • Set up their workstation (such as desk, chair, cabinets, etc.)
  • Order a new employee’s IT equipment (such as laptop, monitor, mouse, keyboard, phone, headset, etc.)
  • Create a new employee’s email account and all other necessary accounts
  • Prepare relevant HR documents and forms
  • Ensure the office key or ID card
  • Prepare a welcome package

Phase #2: Day one

You will want to leave your new employee with the best possible first impression of working in the company.  

This is the time for you to set expectations for the employee and give them a clear idea of what their job will be like on a daily basis.

If you are onboarding new remote employees, this day will look considerably different than those who report to a physical office on their first day. However, the plan is quite similar.  

Here is the detailed step-by-step guide to getting your new employees ready on their first day.

Step 1: Welcome your new employee

  • Arrange for someone to meet and greet your new employee upon their arrival
  • Organise a small office gathering to welcome your new employee
  • Give your new employee a welcome package

Step 2: Take them for an office tour

  • Show your new employee around the office
  • Point out the pantry, bathroom, conference rooms, lounge area, balcony, etc.
  • Introduce your new employee to your existing employees  

Step 3: Set up their workstation  

Take your new employee to their desk and help them settle in:  

  • Provide your new employee with office supplies  
  • Hand them an office tag, access card to the parking or elevator  
  • Provide access to company apps, software, employee portals, email, etc. 
  • Help set up their IT equipment  
  • Give instructions for using IT and other office equipment (such as printer, projector, etc.)  
Take your new employee to their desk and help them settle in.

Step 4: Arrange a time to meet up with the HR team

  • Go over relevant payroll procedures, company benefits, working hours, time-off requests, and other applicable HR items  
  • Safety and security policies  
  • Code of conduct  
  • Finalise all new hire paperwork  

Step 5: Lunch

Take your new employee out for lunch with the other team members. This is an important step to leave a great impression on the new employee and a chance to get to know them in a more relaxed setting.  

Step 6: Meeting with new employee’s manager  

Have your new employee meet up with their manager, who will:

  • Explain your company's organisational chart  
  • Schedule meetings with other departmental team leaders (if possible)
  • Go over your new employee’s job description and responsibilities
  • Set clear, measurable goals for your new employee’s first year on the job
  • Explain the expectations you have from your new employee in the first month
  • Ask about their expectations, hopes, and fears
  • Assign them a work buddy

Step 7: Check-in at the end of day one

The first day can be overwhelming for a new employee, but touching base with them will continuously make them feel supported and acclimated.  

Make sure you are enthusiastic about your new employee. You want them to know you are looking forward to working with them.  

Dedicate the last half an hour of the day by checking in with them. Ask them how their day went, what they think of the company, and how they think the onboarding process could be improved.  

Phase #3: Week one

The first week is critical to ensure your new employee feels comfortable in their new role, so they will need your support to learn all the basics of their new role and the company culture.  

  • Check in with your new employee every day (ideally over coffee or lunch)
  • Schedule regular meetings (group, all-hands, or 1:1)
  • Set up introduction meetings with different teams or departments  
  • Organise and schedule all necessary training  
  • Organise team gatherings (team lunches, coffee breaks, drinks, etc.)  

At the same time, you want to make sure you don’t overwhelm them with information so they are able to absorb it in a manageable flow. Check in with them and reflect on their first week at work. Appreciate their accomplishments and clear any doubts they may have.  

Phase #4: First month

Within the first month in the new job, the employee begins to familiarise themselves with their surroundings and company culture.  

They should know the company’s values, business processes, and the way things operate.  

Here is how you can help your new employees develop, learn about the company, and build relationships:  

  • Check-in to see if they have any concerns about their role and work environment
  • Ask for feedback regarding your onboarding process  
  • Check the employee’s first paycheck to see if they are being paid accurately
  • Make sure their benefits have been activated properly
Help your new employees to learn about the company.

Phase #5: Third month

During the third month on the job, your new employees should now begin to work independently and become acclimated to their roles.  

They can start running projects from start to finish. They should be able to diagnose issues and offer solutions. Assign them to projects autonomously.  

Discuss with the employee’s manager about their experiences with the team and performance from the past three months. Hold regular 1:1 to check in with them to see whether their job descriptions match their expectations.  

“You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” - Will Rogers, American actor

Plan your ideal employee onboarding process

You don’t define a successful onboarding process by its duration. It doesn’t matter if it takes three months or even six months.  

Most importantly, it should be effective and impactful.  

The impressions during the first few days and the good onboarding period will have an enormous impact on the new employee’s experience of the organisation.  

Therefore, it is worth your time and attention to figure out what works for your employees and the company. Make sure the experience is positive, affirming, and exciting.

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