Hiring a candidate can feel like reaching the finish line of a journey. After weeks or months of recruiting efforts, you finally found the right fit. But it’s not – it’s actually the beginning of a crucial stage of your hiring process: onboarding.

“It is an incredibly vital stage of the hiring process because employees are acclimated to their position, the company’s philosophies, and what the organization has to offer during onboarding,” says Jamie Olson, Head of People & Culture at Continu, a learning amplification platform for teams.

“It also increases motivation, resulting in employees who are dedicated to the company’s success, and promotes the retention of new recruits by making them feel like a part of the team.”

Your onboarding process is the first impression. It can make or break the long-term chances of success of your new team member – it’s when expectations are set and important information is passed along. Olson broke down everything you need to know about how to effectively welcome a new employee to the team. Learn more in the checklist and onboarding tips below.

The ultimate onboarding checklist

First of all, it’s important not to “wing it.” Onboarding doesn’t consist of greeting your new report and making a few introductions before leaving them on their own. You’ll need to create a streamlined process that is consistent every time you hire someone new. Here is a checklist.

  1. Submit a job requisition document to department heads. In many ways, successfully onboarding someone starts with clearly breaking down their role and responsibilities in your job description to avoid negative surprises. “This is a formal request to hire for a certain position within a department that details out the job duties, description, and budget,” says Olson.
  2. Next, she recommends gathering new hire paperwork such as tax documents, contracts or agreements, payroll and other company-specific forms: “Being prepared with all the forms a new hire needs to fill out to quickly jump in and get started shows your HR department is organized, technical, and professional.”
  3. Set your new hire up with devices and equipment. Yes, even if they work remotely. “Ensure they have the necessary tools to get started right away. Not only does this make a great impression about the company on the employee, but it also shows your organization is investing in their success,” adds Olson.
  4. On that note, set up accounts and logins for company emails, business tools, corporate software and relevant systems in advance. “A new hire should be able to access everything they’ll need to do their job and communicate with the rest of the organization efficiently.”
  5. You can then send a new hire welcome email to formally welcome them to the organization and team. It’s helpful to mention the start date, schedule, dress code, and any other relevant company-specific details they’ll need to know about before their first day.
  6. “Schedule a new hire orientation for their first day to walk new hires through paperwork, learn the company culture, review the organizational structure and answer any important questions they might have,” recommends Olson. According to her, this is even more important in a hybrid team, as you’ll want the person to be greeted by and connect with team members even if they are not physically working from the office.
  7. Post a new employee announcement on messaging platforms and email. “Adding some ice breaker questions or a ‘getting to know you’ section with the employee’s answers is a great way to introduce them to the team,” she says.
  8. Finally, create a 30 / 60 / 90-day check-in plan to ensure the entire onboarding process has gone smoothly. “Checking in frequently shows the new hires that the company cares about them and is looking to improve the onboarding process.” It also allows them to share concerns or feedback.

Tips for a successful onboarding process

Beyond following the tactical steps above, here are additional tips to welcome a new employee to the team and create a positive experience for them – and for your team.

1. Do a pre-boarding

“Be prepared before the employee starts and don’t wait until their first day to start the onboarding process,” says Olson.

2. Manager outreach

The new recruit’s manager should also reach out before their first day to welcome them and answer any questions directly related to their role and department.

3. Assign a mentor/buddy

A mentor or onboarding buddy helps your new hire form relationships with coworkers and fosters teamwork. That person can offer help, answer questions, and point them to the right resources.

4. Schedule a “get to know the team” meeting

“Whether it’s in-person or through Zoom, an interactive, fun, and welcoming meeting where team members can introduce themselves to the new hire and provide some fun facts or answer icebreaker questions allows the new hire to feel more comfortable right away,” according to Olson.

5. Set clear goals or expectations

“In order to retain top talent and set the new hire up for success, it’s important to establish clear goals, expectations, and objectives,” she adds. “Too often, new hires leave their job within six months because they were unclear of expectations or unable to reach the proposed goals.”

This crucial effort should be led by the new hire’s manager. It should look like a conversation where goals are defined and include follow-ups and check-in meetings for feedback and support.

6. Personalize your process

“Companies that use a standard onboarding process of simply signing papers, emailing over login accounts, and providing a company handbook to read tend to have a higher turnover rate,” says Olson.

This cold approach can lead your new teammate to feel isolated. Your onboarding process must include checkpoints that feel personal.

7. Allow time for adequate training

Also, avoid throwing your new hire “into the fire” immediately. “Depending on the job they’ve been hired for, a new employee might require some additional training to perform well,” adds Olson. “By not providing them adequate time to ramp up and develop their skills (especially in a role with company-specific terminology and process), you can expect them to fail. This will demotivate the employee and push them closer towards leaving the company.”

Make sure your onboarding process entails a slow ramp-up and proper training to set your new employee up for success.

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