Why is the onboarding process (and a positive onboarding experience) important?

In today’s competitive job market, attracting and keeping top talent is crucial for any organisation’s success. As companies aim to stand out as preferred employers, they focus on providing a great experience for job seekers. One often overlooked part of this experience is the onboarding process for new employees, which is a chance to make a positive impression right from the beginning.

Employee onboarding isn’t just about paperwork and orientation; it’s the first step in building a strong bond between the employee and the organisation. Onboarding begins not after appointment, but the very first time a company engages with a prospective employee. An effective onboarding process can greatly impact how a new hire feels about their experience, leading to higher engagement, satisfaction, and ultimately, retention.


What does a good employee onboarding process look like?

One common mistake companies and HR professionals make is seeing onboarding as a single event rather than an ongoing cycle that shapes their reputation as an employer. From posting a job ad to saying goodbye to an employee, onboarding is a continuous process and an important part of the talent life-cycle. It starts when a job is posted because every candidate could be a valuable employee. So, every interaction during the hiring process could be the start of their journey with the company.

A good onboarding process is comprehensive, starting from the moment a new hire accepts the job offer. It includes clear communication about company policies, culture, and expectations. It provides necessary training and support to help new employees acclimate to their roles and the company environment. A successful onboarding process also includes opportunities for feedback and adjustment, ensuring that new hires feel valued and supported from day one. Ultimately, a good onboarding process sets the stage for long-term success and satisfaction for both the employee and the organisation.


How long should onboarding take?

How long onboarding takes can vary depending on several factors, including the complexity of the role, the organisation’s onboarding process, and the individual needs of the new employee. The onboarding period typically involves a combination of activities, including orientation, training, and familiarisation with job duties.

A key factor in determining the duration of onboarding is the training schedule and job duties. If the new employee requires extensive training or has complex job duties, the onboarding period may be longer to ensure they have sufficient time to learn and master necessary skills. Conversely, if the role is more straightforward or the new employee has prior experience, the onboarding period may be shorter.

Ultimately, the goal of onboarding is to ensure that the new employee feels prepared and confident in their role, so the duration should be tailored to meet their needs and set them up for success in their new position.


During the hiring process


Establish expectations early on

Well crafted job descriptions positively impact the candidate experience by providing clear and transparent information about the role, aligning candidate expectations with the job duties, and engaging candidates with the organisation’s mission and culture. We can’t emphasise enough the importance of a well-crafted and clearly defined job description.

Often, companies think they provide one, but in reality, the duties and skill requirements are not specific enough, resulting in recruiting challenges. When candidates understand the role and feel a connection to the company, they are more likely to have a positive perception of the organisation and the hiring process. This can help attract high-quality candidates who are genuinely interested in contributing to success, thereby enhancing the organisation’s reputation as an employer of choice and promoting employee retention.


Maintain Timely and Transparent Correspondence

It’s important to maintain constant communication and engagement with candidates throughout every stage of the hiring process. Providing updates on their application status, responding promptly to inquiries, and being transparent about the next steps in the process are critical. Unfortunately, many companies encounter delays for various reasons, yet they often fail to keep candidates in the loop. This lack of communication can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction among prospective employees. To ensure a seamless onboarding process and foster a positive candidate experience, it’s essential to prioritise timely and transparent correspondence at every stage of recruitment. Utilising employee onboarding software can also facilitate efficient communication and enhance the overall candidate experience.


Streamline the Process for Efficiency

Streamlining the hiring process involves optimising it to minimise delays and inefficiencies by identifying and eliminating bottlenecks, simplifying administrative tasks, and ensuring a smooth transition between hiring stages. Companies can achieve this by standardising procedures, automating repetitive tasks, leveraging technology for scheduling interviews and assessments, conducting regular reviews to identify areas for improvement, and implementing a formal onboarding program to facilitate seamless integration of new hires into the organisation.


Create Personalised Engagement

Personalised engagement means customising communication and interactions with candidates to fit their preferences and needs, treating them as individuals rather than just applicants. Achieving personalised engagement involves gathering information about candidates’ interests, experiences, and preferences, and then using this information to tailor communication and experiences throughout the hiring process.


Here’s how you can achieve personalised engagement:

  • Gather Information: Start by gathering information about candidates’ interests, experiences, and preferences. This can be done through surveys, interviews, or assessments.
  • Use Personalised Messaging: Once you have gathered information about candidates, use this to personalise your communication. Address candidates by their name, reference their specific skills or experiences, and highlight how their background aligns with the role.
  • Offer Unique Experiences: Provide candidates with unique experiences throughout the hiring process. This could include personalised welcome emails, virtual tours of the workplace, or customised assessments that showcase their skills.
  • Foster Meaningful Connections: From the beginning of the hiring process, focus on building meaningful connections with candidates. Take the time to understand their career goals and aspirations, and show genuine interest in their success.


Make your interviews interactive

Interactive interviews are integral to creating a positive candidate experience during the employee onboarding process. These interviews prioritise engaging conversations, allowing candidates to actively participate and share their insights. By offering opportunities for two-way dialogue, candidates feel valued and gain a deeper understanding of the company culture and job expectations. Moreover, interactive assessments enable candidates to showcase their skills and fit for the role, contributing to a seamless onboarding process. Through these interactive interviews, candidates not only feel welcomed but also develop a sense of connection with the team and organisation, enhancing their overall experience and increasing the likelihood of job satisfaction and retention.


Pre-boarding: Transitioning a new employee into their new role


Get organised

An essential component of successfully integrating a new employee into an organisation is having a well-defined employee process onboard checklist. This checklist serves as a roadmap, guiding HR professionals, managers, and other stakeholders through the necessary tasks and activities required during the onboarding process.


The onboarding checklist typically includes items such as:

  1. Pre-boarding tasks (e.g., preparing welcome materials, setting up workstations)
  2. Necessary paperwork and documentation (e.g., employment contracts, tax forms)
  3. Orientation and training sessions
  4. Introduction to company policies, culture, and values
  5. Assigning mentors or buddies for support
  6. Setting up access to necessary tools and systems
  7. Introducing the new employee to their team and key stakeholders
  8. Providing ongoing support and feedback during the initial days and weeks


Keep the momentum going

Once the new employee accepts the employment offer, the period between appointing a person and starting, while they may be working their notice period, is a time that could be used to maintain momentum and build excitement. Often, the recruiting HR team only uses this period to send relevant new hire paperwork or relevant new hire forms, when it could be used to showcase company culture, build relationships with other employees, and the new hire’s manager.

A human resource information system or onboarding software can automate tasks throughout the hiring and onboarding process. A good system will enable you to create an onboarding workflow—a systematic plan outlining the steps and actions required from the moment a candidate accepts the job offer until they are fully integrated into their new role. This workflow might include tasks such as sending welcome emails, scheduling orientation sessions, assigning training modules, and facilitating introductions to team members.



One of the key consequences of a good onboarding process is for the new hire feel welcomed and help the employee settle in. If done well, new hires will end up having a memorable onboarding experience that will not only contribute to employee satisfaction but also promote a sense of belonging and confidence in their new role. It is worth implementing an orientation schedule that could include the outline of the employee’s first day, their training schedule and their introduction to their new team members along with the employee handbook and any paperwork or documentation.

With the increasing prevalence of hybrid and remote work, it’s essential to prioritise the onboarding experience for remote employees. Neglecting this aspect could result in a poor onboarding experience solely because they don’t physically come into the office.

Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to setting up onboarding and creating and efficient onboarding experience. Some companies opt to provide new hires with paperwork on their first day, while others may handle this step during pre-boarding.

However, the crucial factor for every employee type and for crafting positive onboarding experiences and a strong employer brand is how effectively you integrate them into the team and company culture, how welcomed they feel, and how clearly their roles, responsibilities, and deliverables are defined.


1. Interactive Onboarding Sessions:

  • Conduct interactive onboarding sessions where new hires actively engage with team members and leaders to learn about the company’s culture, values, and expectations.
  • Encourage open discussions and Q&A sessions to address any concerns and clarify roles and responsibilities.

2. Buddy or Mentor Programs:

  • Implement buddy or mentor programs pairing new hires with experienced employees who can guide them through the onboarding process, introduce them to the company culture, and provide ongoing support.

3. Shadowing Opportunities:

  • Offer on the job training where new hires can observe and learn from seasoned employees in action, gaining insights into their roles and responsibilities first-hand.

4. Team-building Activities:

  • Organise team-building activities and social events that promote camaraderie and collaboration among team members, fostering a sense of belonging and community.

5. Personalised Onboarding Plans:

  • Develop personalised onboarding plans tailored to each new hire’s role, experience level, and learning style, ensuring clarity on their specific responsibilities and expectations.

6. Storytelling Sessions:

  • Host storytelling sessions where employees share their experiences and successes within the company, providing new hires with real-life examples of how they can contribute to the organisation.

7. Role Clarity Workshops:

  • Conduct role clarity workshops where new hires collaborate with their managers to define their roles, responsibilities, and key deliverables, setting clear expectations from the outset.

8. Feedback Loops:

  • Establish feedback loops where new hires can regularly check in with their managers to discuss their progress, address any challenges, and receive constructive feedback on their performance.

9. Virtual Reality (VR) Tours:

  • Offer virtual reality (VR) tours of the company’s facilities and workspaces, allowing remote hires to explore the office environment and feel more connected to the team.

10. Gamification Techniques:

  • Incorporate gamification techniques into the onboarding process, such as quizzes, scavenger hunts, or interactive simulations, to make learning about company culture and processes more engaging and memorable.


Tools that take your onboarding to the next level: Onboarding Software

As we’ve discussed, effective onboarding is about more than just paperwork and orientation—it’s about creating a seamless experience that sets the stage for long-term success. But how do you ensure that all the earlier outlined activities, such as streamlining processes and maintaining momentum, come together seamlessly? That’s where an onboarding platform comes in.

Onboarding software has become a vital tool for organisations looking to streamline their new employee onboarding processes and enhance the employee’s experience from day one. By automating many tasks traditionally handled manually by HR managers and hr personnel, such software revolutionises the way companies integrate new hires and new employees into their teams.

From sending out welcome emails and collecting necessary paperwork to providing access to training resources, the right HR software ensures that the entire process flows smoothly and efficiently. This automation not only saves time for HR teams but also ensures consistency and compliance across all new hires.

By delivering a personalised onboarding experience tailored to each new hire, the software helps instil a sense of belonging and engagement from the very beginning. Features such as interactive orientation modules and introductions to key team members contribute to a smoother transition for the new team member.

Another significant advantage of onboarding software is its ability to improve retention. By creating a positive first impression, facilitating smoother integration into the company culture, and reducing administrative burdens, all of which contribute to new employees feeling supported and invested in their roles.


Beyond onboarding: Next Steps

After the successful onboarding process, it’s crucial to focus on the next steps to ensure the long-term growth and success of employees.

  1. Career Development and Growth Opportunities: Offer avenues for employees to advance their careers within the organisation. This could include opportunities for promotions, lateral moves, or specialised training programs.
  2. Identifying and Supporting Career Goals: Engage with employees to understand their career aspirations and provide support and guidance to help them achieve their goals.
  3. Providing Opportunities for Skill Development and Advancement: Implement training programs and initiatives that allow employees to acquire new skills and competencies relevant to their roles and career progression.
  4. Investing in the Long-Term Success of Employees: Allocate resources towards initiatives that promote the long-term success and well-being of employees, such as mentorship programs, professional development stipends, or wellness initiatives.
  5. Continued Support and Engagement: Maintain regular communication and check-ins with employees to provide ongoing support, feedback, and recognition for their contributions.
  6. Maintaining Ongoing Support Beyond Onboarding: Extend support beyond the initial onboarding period to ensure that employees feel valued and supported throughout their tenure with the organisation.
  7. Nurturing Employee Engagement and Satisfaction: Foster a positive work environment that promotes employee engagement and satisfaction through initiatives such as team-building activities, recognition programs, and open communication channels.
  8. Building a Foundation for Long-Term Success and Retention: Establish a strong foundation for long-term success and retention by prioritising employee development, well-being, and career progression within the organisation.


The Bottom Line

In summary, prioritising a well-structured and engaging new employee onboarding experience not only fosters job satisfaction but also integrates new hires seamlessly into team culture and organizational culture. By leveraging efficient team processes and utilising new hire paperwork effectively, organisations can enhance the new employee’s experience and set the stage for long-term success. Investing in robust new employee onboarding practices can ultimately lead to higher job satisfaction, improved retention rates, and a more cohesive team environment.

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