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The benefits of employee onboarding are clear. The Human Capital Institute has found that companies investing in onboarding are more likely to see decreased turnover, increased engagement, and decreased time to productivity, among other benefits. At Sapling, we’ve estimated the ROI of an employee onboarding solution at a whopping $6,044 - $11,799 per new employee.

It’s no surprise that more and more companies are recognizing the criticality of onboarding as one of the most ROI-generative People Practices in the employee lifecycle. If your organization is one of them, read on for seven tips to build a smooth employee onboarding process.

1. Welcome your new hire

More than one in ten have changed their minds on an offer after signing. Build off the excitement of the offer and reinforce the candidate’s decision to join your company by creating a heartfelt welcome. Let them know how happy you are to have them on the team, provide a little information on what to expect next, and let them know to reach out with any questions. You should also announce your newest addition to the rest of the team, so they can welcome the new hire too. These simple gestures can go a long way in preventing cold feet, during the “Yes to Desk” phase.

2. Start onboarding early, and don’t stop too soon

Your employee onboarding process should begin with the welcome email on the day your new hire signs their offer letter, and extend out at least 90 days.

Employee preboarding can get the boring paperwork out of the way so your new hire’s first day can be filled with celebration, introductions, and early learning. You’ll also want your new hire to have a desk, email address, and software access on their first day—so start on those things early to ensure a seamless first-day experience.

Continue the onboarding experience long enough to ensure new hires are fully supported as they become acclimated to their company, culture, and role. Ninety days is a good starting point, although some companies extend their employee onboarding process out for a full year or two.

3. Brainstorm onboarding best practices with your team

A great employee onboarding program often varies from company to company. Get together with your team to gather your own best practices and brainstorm new ideas. For instance:

  • What is the best way to make employee introductions? Many will make introductions during a first-day office tour or all-hands meeting, but remote teams may use Slack or Zoom to make introductions. A team lunch on the employee’s first day is a common practice, and breakfast with the company’s leadership team is a fun option to consider.
  • Will you assign a buddy or mentor? Eighty seven percent of organizations that assign an ambassador or buddy during the onboarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency. If you plan to forward with a buddy program, consider how you will find buddies, what you expect from them, and if you want to set aside a budget for the program.
  • How will you share company-specific knowledge? You can help your new hire acclimate to your organization by sharing information about the company’s history, mission, vision, values, culture, and product. But you can go about this in many different ways. For example, you can provide this information during a live new hire orientation, via a wiki, or through a series of videos.

4. Use a new hire checklist

It’s important to build a streamlined, repeatable employee onboarding process so you can ensure the same red carpet experience for all of your new employees. A new hire checklist will ensure you never forget a step!

If you’re only hiring one or two people each month, a spreadsheet or your project management software may meet your needs. But if you’re scaling your team, or have more complex needs to accommodate different roles, office locations, or remote employees, you will need a more robust solution.

Employee onboarding software can automate many of the tasks and processes in your onboarding process, including account provisioning and task reminders. It can also accommodate dependencies and workflows, so everyone is assigned the right task, at the right time.

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5. Create a great first day

With all the administrative stuff out of the way, you can make your employee’s first day leave a positive, lasting impression on them. Offer them a late arrival time, followed up coffee (and maybe even a light breakfast) with their manager, buddy, or team. Give them the lay of the land in an office tour before heading to a team lunch, and round out the day with a new hire orientation and manager check in. There’s no need to pack too much into the first day, as it’s best spent on helping your new hire get their bearings.

6. Check in regularly

Thirty percent of job seekers have left a job within 90 days of starting, so it’s important to check in regularly during this time period to ensure everything is going well. Aim for manager check-ins on days 1, 7, 14, 30, 60, and 90. During these meetings, new hires and their managers should discuss their role’s expectations and goals, and share feedback so everyone is on the same page. This is also a great opportunity to set a development plan and career path, so employees can excel in their current roles while envisioning their future at your company.

7. Get employee feedback on the onboarding process

Designing a world class employee onboarding program is an ongoing commitment—not a one-time deal. Gather feedback from your new hires throughout the onboarding process, and make important changes to improve it. Find what new hires like and dislike about your program, and what you could have done better. Then, make sure you actually use the feedback to make improvements so your people know you value their opinions.

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