10 Steps to Build a Successful Employee Onboarding Process


Did you know that 25% of new employees quit their jobs within the first year, and 20% of them actually do it within the first 45 days on the job? The start of a new job is a make or break time for any new hire. Your staff onboarding process tells more than you might anticipate. This is why companies cannot overlook the importance of an effective onboarding process for shaping the best new hire experiences.

More than ever, companies cannot afford losing capable employees due to a careless onboarding process. Thus, we will start by briefly addressing what is onboarding. Additionally, we will provide 10 steps to a successful HR Onboarding process.

We also included a downloadable 30 60 90 day onboarding plan template.

When drafting our recommendations, we used the data and insights revealed by our Pre & Onboarding Survey 2021. With answers from 2044 employees, we view it as a competitive advantage to know what employees want and what they struggle with. If you would like to get all the insights from the survey, we highly recommend reading our eBook Your Pre & Onboarding Buddy.


What is a Strategic and Structured Employee Onboarding Process?


Onboarding starts on the first day on the job. Whether new hires walk into the workplace, onboarding starts with their first lived experience as a new employee.

An employee onboarding process refers to all the activities and steps that target a key objective. These can be to guide the growth of new hires from mere promising candidates to fully integrated. When they start a new job, there is always a period of learning and a steep learning curve.

Onboarding has multiple facets: social, administrative, training etc. We will not go into further detail here on what does onboarding mean for a job. We recommend you consult the linked article.


10 Steps to a Successful HR Onboarding Process


We have formulated a list of 10 steps that are guaranteed to form the blueprints for a rewarding and successful onboarding process for new employees. This is a general overview. You can always improve the employee onboarding program by developing in every step.


Step 1: Set the Goals of Your Employee Onboarding Process


Before getting into drafting an onboarding plan, it is essential to establish clear onboarding goals. The generic goal of an employee onboarding process is employee integration and performance. But, how do you define employee integration? What steps do they have to go through until achieving integration? Additionally, what does performance mean? Completing a specific task or completing a project from beginning to end? Any onboarding planning has to build on clear goals.

When defining employee onboarding goals, it is important to consider the 4 C’s of Onboarding: compliance, clarification, culture, and connection.


Step 2: Define the Measures for Success


This step is intimately linked to the previous one. It is crucial to have a mechanism to review and measure their accomplishment. There are multiple onboarding metrics that can provide valued insight into the evolution of the process. As onboarding is a journey, so you can expect progressive objectives. As new employees gain confidence and they progress towards full productivity, your success metrics will reflect this experience.


Step 3: Build Your Onboarding Team


Onboarding is a cross-functional process with multiple sub-processes. There might be multiple actors involved in efforts targeting the employee integration. This will depend on the size of your new employer.

Who will be supporting new hires in achieving their onboarding goals? Who will oversee and support this journey? When there are multiple actors involved, who is responsible for what? You can expect some participants to have a more comprehensive input, while other to be present only at the very beginning. For example, an IT admin will help new employees set up at the very beginning of the employment. On the other hand, an onboarding buddy assist them until they full integration.

A multi-department onboarding team can provide a richer experience to new hires.


Step 4: Draft an Structured and Comprehensive Planning


Once all the other steps are completed, drafting an onboarding plan is the next required action. A clean plan will contain goals, success metrics and stakeholders. Additionally, you will understand the key milestones of this journey. For example, a way of structuring the employee onboarding process is the 30-60-90 day onboarding plan.

It is essential that your plan contains checkpoints for review and a mechanism for improvement. After all, not employees are identical in their needs and preferences. Maybe some of them need more feedback from their supervisor or maybe others are OK just with some sporadic 1-on-1-sessions. The key is to find the balance between their needs and the expectations for improvement.

Needless to say, a clear role description should be at the core of onboarding planning. Additionally, a comprehensive onboarding will also have an important social dimension. If you would like to know more this, we covered the social benefits of a good onboarding programme in a separate article.


Step 5: Define a Content Plan for the Preboarding Process


We are firm believers in the power of Preboarding for your new job start. You will find multiple article on the subject on our blog HR. For an introduction into the subject, we recommend reading our Pre-Onboarding article.

A preboarding process is the ideal method for preparing prior to the arrival of a new employee in a company. But, if resources are scarce, or time is limited, there are still some small gestures that can make a positive first impression. One of them is sending out communication to announce the arrival of a new employee, as well as a welcome email.

Dorte van der Linden, Talent Acquisition Manager at Milestone System and introdus client, highlighted: “Get the right balance in the amount of content, and then diversify. Don’t be afraid of being so ambitious in the Preboarding phase“.


Step 6: Train The New Hires to Gain Insights and Skills for Performing


Apply the best practices for training new employees to aid them in achieving roles and work tools mastery.

Regardless of the means of delivering the training (in person vs e-learning), new employee training is a crucial part of starting a new job. Training does not have to be limited to role and skill specific learning. Training also refers to compliance, organisational knowledge and various company policies.


Step 7: Introduce New Employees Across Departments


New hires need to understand the who’s and the hows of the organisation. They need to learn how collaboration would work outside their team. Our own Pre & Onboarding Survey 2021 reveals that most of the employees haven’t been properly introduced to other departments. Only 19% report being introduced at least briefly to other departments.

In addition, new employees should meet with the the main leader of the organisation at least once for small and medium companies. This is extremely meaningful for a new hire. That leader is definitely a busy person, yet, when they take the time to welcome you, even over a coffee break, it showcases a culture of respect and integration. After all, new hires will also become a contributor to the growth of the company. This deserves acknowledgement and encouragement.


Step 8: Find Ways to Target Engagement Prior to Day 1


Globally, only 20% of employees declare themselves as being engaged at work, as highlighted by Gallup.

In addition, a study published by the American Psychological Association, links employee engagement to finding meaning at work. The engaged employee is: attentive, connected, integrated, and absorbed at work. “Employees who find meaning in their work are more likely to be engaged in their jobs, thereby enhancing their effectiveness and job performance.”

Engagement can happen organically. However, there are methods that can foster engagement as early as signing the new employment contract. Actually, in this eBook we provide you with solutions for getting engaged as early as signing the employment contract.

Employee Onboarding Process eBook

Find solutions for getting engaged as early as signing the employment contract.

—introdus, ‘How to Get Engaged Before Day 1 on the Job’ eBook.

Find Solutions

Step 9: Implement an Automatic and Easy-to-Use Employee Onboarding Software


When dealing with a process as complex as the new hire onboarding, a manually drafted checklist will simply not cut it. Employee onboarding solutions came on the market to address the needs of both employees and employers.

An employee onboarding software, such as introdus, will represent your main point of reference during the onboarding process. You will consult your onboarding metrics, new hires progression, introductory videos and similar multimedia content, onboarding surveys and so on.


Step 10: Reassure a Professional Development within a New Company


A study from Gallup quotes professional development as a crucial component of a successful employee onboarding process. “Employees who strongly agree they have a clear plan for their professional development are 3.5 times more likely to agree that their onboarding process was exceptional.”

Not only is it engaging to discuss their development needs, but it is also reassuring that they can have a long career within that new organisation. This will lead to their employers retaining their talent for the longer term.

Employee Onboarding Process Spotlight

My job start was like working with a blindfold, blinded. So, it was hard to get used to it, because there was no real employee onboarding process in place for me.

—Anonymous Naval Architect.

Read Experience


The Three Main Challenges New Employees Deal with Their Onboarding Process


Challenge 1: Information overload

When too much information is thrown at them in a short time span, it can feel impossible to grasp it all at once. Onboarding is more than just signing papers and sitting through endless presentations.


Challenge 2: Self-Doubt

New employees might experience feelings of doubt about their capacities. This is called ‘Impostor Syndrome’.

They might avoid asking questions. New hires can feel fear of portraying a wrong image of limited competence and confidence. But this will end up doing more harm than good. They might make mistakes due to a lack of information.


Challenge 3: Feelings of Loneliness

If co-workers fail to connect with the new hire, the new hire may feel disconnected from the team. This can lower your self-confidence. And a lacking onboarding process can extend and intensify their stress.

Overcome the uncertainties and the “discomfort of change” present at the start of your new job. An employee onboarding process alleviates their stress and provides a positive employee experience.

The Three Keys for a New Hire Onboarding Process Nowadays


The Need for a strategic employee onboarding process is higher than ever. Employers spend a lot of money and time hiring employees. Additionally, they will not achieve peak performance from the very start of their employment. So, any new hire turnover bears extremely high costs for employers.

But, experiencing a bad employee onboarding process can make new employees question their employment relationship. After all, the way the employer prepares for and receives them can be forecasting how they will treat you in the long run.


Key 1: Define a Strategic Employee Onboarding Process and Avoid ‘The Great Resignation’


But why is the need for a strategic onboarding process higher than ever? Well, there are multiple reasons for that. First and foremost, there is a global shortage of talent. The USA alone is currently missing 4.3 million workers, according to the Wall Street Journal. This is coupled with shifting attitudes towards work. In fact, employee willingness to change jobs is higher than ever. Achievers stresses that twothirds of employees have one foot out the door. “41% say they will definitely job hunt in 2022, with a further 25% saying they’re undecided about whether to stay in their current role.”

You must have heard it yourself. ‘The Great Resignation’ and ‘the Great Reshuffle’ are key trends characterising workforce mobility nowadays. 

This means that a lot of employees will need an employee onboarding process. Nothing problematic so far. But then, a key factor needs consideration: 90% of new hires decide to stay with their new employer within the first six months on the job. So, there seems to be a clear window in which employers need to convince employees to keep the job and build a career inside the company. 


Key 2: Change Power Dynamics between Employers and Employees


We have conducted interviews with employees who were let down by their employers from day one. They are those employees who leave after poor onboarding experiences. Those employees felt like walking in the dark at the start of a new job. Would you want to continue working for an employer that is not supporting you?

There seems to be a new sense of urgency about jobs and companies that provide purpose, belonging, clear support and development. Employees are less willing to put up with companies that are not willing to invest in their well-being and progress. Additionally, employees are seeking out companies whose ethos aligns with their personal values. Gone are the days of the 30 years tenures in the same company. Mobility, flexibility, life-work balance, hybrid work are just a few themes for attitudes and desires towards work post-COVID 19.

A strategic onboarding process lays the foundation for a successful employee lifecycle in the new company. It connects them with the values of their employer. A strategic employee onboarding process will make your employer’s mission their own. It will equip them with the tools for performing in the present, but also provide an outlook into the future.


Key 3: Focus Your Onboarding to Improve Employee Performance and Retention


Gallup reports that only 12% of employees feel that their company does a good job onboarding new team members. This suggests that the remainder 88% of workers faced lackluster onboarding experiences. This is not very surprising. After all, more than one-third of employers don’t have a thorough, structured employee onboarding process for new hires, reports Business News Daily.

It is not surprising for us that organisations with a strong Pre & Onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. Why is that? How does onboarding improve employee retention? We have identified some considerations to develop a strategic employee onboarding process that improves performance and retention:


Achieve a full efficiency in the role and prepare for the success of the new hire

Let’s go back to the ultimate goal of an onboarding process for new hires. It is to ensure that the time is optimized until the new hires have full efficiency in the role. A strategic and structured employee onboarding process will set them up for success in their new role.


Provide them with the right information, learning and training

Starting a new role in a new company implies learning about the company and its position and objectives on the market. It also implies understanding the role and expectations for performance and success.


Start to build trust and strong bonds even prior to the day 1 on the job

Starting a new role requires the new employees to start building the trust and connection within the team. Your employee onboarding process has to enable you to achieve all of these goals. They will get engaged and confident for a career within this new company. This is how a good onboarding process leads to retaining your talent.


Make sure that new employees don’t feel isolated and blindfolded

In contrast, feeling isolated, not supported, blindfolded will lead to a negative first impression. Their initial impressions can lead to prejudiced notions about the organisation. This can cause them to quit as soon as a new opportunity presents itself. There are even some employees that don’t even wait around for a new opportunity to arise and quit right away. Remember: a significant share of new employees quit within 45 days on a new job.

Data collected through the Pre & Onboarding Survey 2021 by introdus.

An Employee Onboarding Program: Concluding Remarks


With a structured process that enables, enlightens, and impassions, new hires can reach their potential as soon as possible. This is why the employee onboarding process is essential for achieving the best possible performance in their new role.

Every employee desires to work in an organisation where they can hit the ground running and contribute in due time to its growth. However, one of the first hurdle they have to scale through is the employee onboarding process in their new job.

Good employee onboarding solutions should assist and enable all new hires in an exciting new work journey. They can get a dose of motivation to explore the organisational context of their new workplace without a hint of hesitation.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many organizations leveraged virtual onboarding in their bid to comply with the new rules and regulations in the management of the virus. If you want to gain more insights into what is a virtual employee onboarding process, we invite you to read the dedicated article on our blog.

Furthermore, if we convinced you of the power of good onboarding, we have some complimentary resources, which we think will help. You can read about what makes the best onboarding programme, with some concrete examples, one of them being Google. Additionally, you can read more about the key differences between preboarding vs onboarding.

If you are interested in a more specific implementation of an employee onboarding process, we have tackled the software developer onboarding process on our blog HR. Additionally you can discover the specific elements of a remote onboarding process.

Employee Onboarding & Employee Engagement

Companies with high levels of engagement show turnover rates 40% lower than companies with low levels of engagement.

Korn Ferry.

Prepare a rewarding employee onboarding process supported by your onboarding platform.


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