facebook Skip to main content



Corporate learning

What is Employee Onboarding and How Can You Onboard New Staff Effectively?


You’ve found the right person to fill the job gap in your business and now it’s time to begin onboarding them for a fast start. Bringing in new talent to your workforce sounds like a simple enough task, but it can actually be quite complicated.

There are a lot of tasks, small and large, that need to be completed before, during and after your new employee’s start. If you want to bring in new people efficiently, you’ll want to know the best strategic process for onboarding new talent to your organisation in a positive and effective way.


What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of introducing new employees into your business. It’s the practice of welcoming new recruits and providing them with guidance, training and support in their transition between new candidate to full-fledged employee. The whole process from beginning to end can last anywhere between 3-12 months.

Why is onboarding important?

Some organisations make the onboarding process all about administration: Signing paperwork and employee documents, getting set up with new emails and accounts, and granting access to required software. The problem with this kind of onboarding practice is that it’s such an impersonal process, and that can leave your new hire with a bad taste in their mouth.

This is why here at Acorn, we’ve pioneered the first performance learning management system (PLMS) to guide learners step-by-step to master the role-specific capabilities that will accelerate organisational performance (and new hires’ time to proficiency).

If you want to avoid going through the hiring process every few months, or don’t want to foster a disorganised or resentful workplace, you’ll want to ensure your onboarding program is as smooth and painless as possible. That means you need to take the time to refine your onboarding strategy. Some benefits of a refined and positive onboarding experience are:

So what are these benefits of a positive onboarding program? Let’s get in more depth about each of these below.

Infographic showing four key points of importance of onboarding in your organisation

Staff retention

Staff retention is all about keeping your current workers employed by you rather than jumping ship to another company. A negative onboarding experience means employees are less likely to feel welcomed and more likely to look elsewhere for work. Studies suggest that 90% of employees decide whether they want to stay or leave a workplace within the first six months of starting in a new work environment. So, if you want to retain employees, you’ll want to ensure you have a positive onboarding process.

Culture fit

Ensuring new candidates are a culture fit for your workplace is incredibly important, but it can also be difficult to guarantee. It’s not realistic to expect new employees to fit in seamlessly from the moment they arrive, so effort needs to be put in during the onboarding process to train them in company culture. If your onboarding is successful and your employees feel like they belong in your workplace, they’re more likely to want to stay. Plus, studies show that productivity is increased in business with a healthy workplace culture.

Increased productivity

Increased productivity might not be something you think about when you mention employee onboarding, but a good onboarding experience has actually been found to bring on productivity in new recruits faster than it otherwise would have. If you make it clear in your onboarding process what the new employee’s role entails and clearly outline what is expected of them, your new employees will find it that much easier to perform their role.

Reduced employee stress

When done badly, new employee onboarding can be stressful for both new and current employees. But if done well, employee onboarding can be a smooth and painless experience. A good and effective onboarding process will ensure that not only are existing team members aware of the situation, but that they will not feel burdened by the new hire’s transition period to fully-fledged employee.

Remote onboarding

But what if you need to make use of remote onboarding? In the wake of the global pandemic, more and more people are transitioning to work-from-home. Like a lot of things in these times, the onboarding process has had to shift towards the virtual.

Think about your first day at a new job. It’s more than likely you were feeling nervous, unsure, or doubtful. If you were onboarding in person, some of your fears may be dispelled by meeting with your boss or mentor on the day. But in remote onboarding, there won’t be a mentor to meet you at the door, offer you guidance in person, or provide relationship-building opportunities with the rest of the team. This is why it’s important to make sure your remote onboarding process is just as positive and effective as your traditional onboarding process.

Your new employees should get the same benefits out of onboarding remotely as they would have had they undergone onboarding in person. You’ll need to make some adjustments to the onboarding process and timeline to make it work in a remote setting, but it can be done.

Infographic comparison of traditional vs remote onboarding

How to create an effective onboarding process

So how do you create an onboarding process, and how do you make it an effective one? It’s impossible to find the perfect one-size-fits all employee onboarding program, so the best one for you will be tailored specifically to your organisation. However, there are some general rules about what should be included and when in any good and effective employee onboarding.

What an onboarding process should cover

If you want your onboarding procedures to have any measure of success, there are certain activities you’re going to want to include in the process. These activities are:

It’s been suggested that onboarding programs can include at least 50 activities, from various forms of paperwork to administrative tasks, setup, training and meetings. This can vary in number and complexity depending on the size of your organisation.

Paperwork and administration

This is probably what most people think of when they think of onboarding. Your first day in any new workplace always involves paperwork, administration and setup. Paperwork includes employee documents such as contracts, payment details, responsibilities, and benefits. On the administrative side, tasks include preparing accounts and passwords and allowing access to the necessary software.

Workplace tour

A guided tour of the workplace facilities should be carried out to ensure the employee knows where everything is. They should be made aware of where the exits and emergency exits are, where their workstation is, and where the kitchenette and bathrooms are located. If your new hire is going to be working remotely, a workplace tour won’t be necessary, but if they ever have a need to visit the office you should be sure to give them a tour when they arrive.

Policy and culture training

It’s helpful to hire candidates who fit into your workplace culture, but that can be difficult to achieve. Sometimes it’s easier to hire a recruit and train them in your workplace culture after the fact. This way they can integrate into their new environment quickly and easily.

Policy training will help your new hires understand the processes of your organisation and how to apply them. This policy and culture training can be an automated process, to free up time and effort for other activities in the onboarding process.

Job training

Workplace training will ensure that your employees possess all the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to perform their jobs. In the onboarding process it is necessary to ensure your new hires can start in their roles, but once the process switches to retention your learning system will be used to assist your employees in development and evolving with the job.

Team introduction

A team introduction is an important step towards breaking the ice and building rapport with new hires. It can be handy to provide a form of introduction in an onboarding handbook prior to the first day, including a rundown of names and what roles they fill. Even so, it’s best to follow up with a face-to-face introduction when the new employee starts, so that they can put names to faces and begin to get to know their colleagues.

What does an onboarding timeline look like?

So now you know what your employee onboarding process should cover. But at what point in the onboarding timeline should you apply them? More importantly, what exactly is the onboarding timeline? Below we’ll get into what the employee onboarding timeline is and when you should undertake certain activities in the process.

Infographic showing the onboarding timeline from before the first day to the first year

Before the first day

New hire onboarding actually begins its timeline when they accept your job offer, long before your new employee actually arrives for their first day of work. After going through recruitment procedures and choosing your desired candidate to fill the role, there are some things you’ll need to prepare to make the first day run as smoothly as possible.

One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to let your employees—both current and incoming—know what is happening. Inform your current staff when to expect the new recruit and what their role will be. You should also send your new recruit an email at least a week before their first day. The email should let them know you’re excited to be working with them as well as include important information.

First day

Now that you’ve completed a number of tasks beforehand, you’ll probably find that your new employee’s first day is a lot less stressful. What’s more, there will be more time to complete other onboarding tasks which otherwise would have been pushed back to later in the week.

The most important things to cover on the first day are introductions and expectations. You need to ensure that your new recruit feels comfortable and eager to stay in your organisation, and what better way to do that than to socialise with them and show that you care? There are a few activities you can do on the first day to make sure new hires feel welcome.

First week

After the first day, new hires will start to become more independent, but their assigned mentor won’t be too far away for when they want to ask for advice. They will continue training for the role, and they may even start to feel at home in their new working environment.

First three months

In the next few months, your new employee will start to settle in. This means that not only can their mentor take a step back, but they will start to carry out their tasks and responsibilities independently.

First year

Now that your new employee has been in your organisation for a year, you can switch your strategy from onboarding to retention. This means that your new recruit is now a fully-fledged employee in your company. You can now stop your job-training activities and instead provide them with the means to ensure their future development and progress through the company.

By this point you’ve kept records of how your onboarding program went. In future, you can put those records to good use in informing the onboarding process for future recruits. It will have to be tweaked again as your organisation grows, but you’ll have a basic framework to start from.

Key takeaways

The onboarding process is an extensive undertaking, but it pays well. When you find the right person to fill the right role in your organisation, it goes without saying that you want them to stay for the long haul. An effective and positive onboarding process, whether in-person or remote, is an easy and sure-fire way to make your employees, both old and new, feel welcome and valued in your workplace.

Share this post!

Related Reads on This Topic

talent supply chain

How Talent Supply Chain Management Can Boost Productivity and Growth

A talent supply chain is the key driver behind a workforce delivering on organisational goals. Let’s take a look at how you can build one…

new employee welcome

The Secret to Creating A Seamless Employee Onboarding Experience

Many companies understand the importance of employee onboarding, yet fail to deliver it. Learn how to create a seamless onboarding experience…


The Importance of Upskilling for Employee and Business Success

Upskilling is the process that will prepare your workforce for the future in the face of digital transformation…