Micarli Salomon
By Micarli Salomon on September 14, 2022

How to conduct a successful employee onboarding process

The main objective of onboarding is to successfully and easily integrate the new employee into the company. There are many activities involved in the onboarding process, from job posting to team building. 

The term "onboarding" literally means "boarding" in English. When we talk about this term in organizations, we usually refer to the process through which members of the company start a new journey in an organisation.

This means that not only do employees in a company adapt to or learn the internal processes of the company, but they are integrated into the company's culture within a common framework.

Table of content

  1. What is onboarding
  2. Onboarding Goals
  3. Advantages of an Onboarding process
  4. Differences between onboarding, induction and training
  5.  How to perform a successful onboarding?
  6. The 4 phases of an onboarding process
  7. The 5 Cs of successful Onboarding
  8. Digital onboarding: trends in new onboarding processes
  9. The best option: Onboarding software


1. What is onboarding

Onboarding is the welcoming process of integrating new employees into the company and into their new role. For a good onboarding we must emphasise the concepts of "process", "welcome" and "integration". These highlighted words are the key to successful employee onboarding.

The main objective of onboarding is to successfully and easily integrate the new employee into the company. There are many activities involved in the onboarding process; from job posting to team building. 

Onboarding can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year, but the most effective onboarding usually takes at least 6 months, depending on the new employee's experience and skills, and the characteristics of the position. Ideally, once onboarding is complete, employees will feel confident and competent to perform their job.

1.2. Onboarding Goals

Research shows that the quality of onboarding experienced by new employees drastically affects engagement, performance and longevity, among other factors. The objective of an onboarding process is for the new employee to know: 

  • Who their bosses and peers are.
  • Establish relationships with other employees. 
  • Where they will perform their duties.
  • The responsibilities of their job.
  • The means of work to be used.
  • Build trust and confidence.
  • Knowing the habits of the company.
  • Establish expectations.
  • Create a clear definition of roles and limits.

2.Advantages of an Onboarding process

The main advantages, both in the long and short term, of creating a successful onboarding plan could be the following: 

It allows talent to be attracted and retained. A good onboarding process will be remembered for a long time. Turnover and absenteeism rates in the organisation will be reduced. 

The employee absorbs the corporate values that make up the company's culture.

Possibility of having the best talent in each area, and for them to be productive as soon as possible. A happy employee is more productive and will deliver better results.

Employee's doubts and headaches will disappear.

You will increase the Employer Branding of your organisation. Onboarding reflects the idea that the company cares about its employees, which in the long term will have an impact on a positive corporate image.

The employee will adapt faster to the corporate processes and will improve the coordination with the rest of the colleagues in a very fast way.

3.Differences between onboarding, induction and training

There are considerable differences between these three terms that sometimes get mixed up in our imagination. 

To begin with, training and onboarding, although mutually related, are two completely different things. 

Training refers to the responsibilities or tasks associated with a job. Unlike onboarding, training covers all aspects of completing these necessary tasks, along with the use of technology and related tools for successful performance. 

With onboarding, new employees are immersed in the ideals and culture of an organisation. Unlike one-off, sporadic training, employee onboarding lasts much longer, up to and including the first 90 days.

While there are many similarities, there are also some key differences between onboarding and induction. Inductions usually last one day and rarely last more than a week. It is more of a bureaucratic and technical integration of the employee into the company that will serve both the employee and the company on a practical level. The employee becomes familiar with the technical, social, physical and bureaucratic apparatus of the company. 

In comparison, on-boarding can start before an employee's first day and last for weeks or months.

4. How to perform a successful onboarding?

According to Gallup, only 12% of employees are really convinced that their organisation does a great job when it comes to onboarding (how much room for improvement do organizations still have?). 

In this sense, there are some key things that organizations can do to succeed in the onboarding process. Let's look at some of them. 

  • Determine what the new employee needs to know in order to perform his or her duties It is essential during the onboarding process to determine what primary and fundamental information should be passed on to the employee.
  • Provide certain information about the position: a description of the functions to be performed, previous performance and potential evaluations achieved by the predecessors, .... so that the employee can have a reference.
  • Define the internal and external references for each position. The manager can define who the internal and external references are for the new employee (customers, suppliers, colleagues, etc.) who may work for or with the company.
  • Hold regular meetings between the employee and the coach. The coach or mentor assigned to the employee plays a key role in inspiring new employees. 
  • Strengthen the relationship between the coach/mentor and the new employee. Assigning a mentor to each employee allows the onboarding process to flow smoothly.
  • Follow up constantly. As managers we need to be able to constantly follow up to check that the expectations of the company and the employee are being met.
  • Have an action plan. Building a structured plan with deadlines for the first few weeks helps to avoid stress for the manager, the company and the employee, and will prevent saturation in the first few days.
  • Covering the first day. During the first day we will have to cover certain points necessary to make the incorporation as smooth as possible.
  • Be accessible to the new employee. Show that the team is attentive and ready to answer questions. This way you can solve their problems, and show that you are interested in their progress. 
  • Make use of technology. To establish a plan, and monitor it, it can be very positive to have onboarding software to help you manage the whole process.
  • Provide the tools. Technology is playing a central role in the Employee Experience. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the employee receives the necessary training in these first steps in the company about all the tools he or she will use.  
  • Having the employee's perspective. The onboarding process succeeds when the employee's perspective is taken into account.

It extends the Employee Experience improvement process to the rest of the Employee Journey. However, onboarding, while fundamental, is only the beginning of what the employee will feel and experience throughout their career with the company.

5.The 4 phases of an onboarding process

If your organisation is new to onboarding or if you are looking to improve onboarding, understanding the different phases of onboarding will help you design a clear and effective strategy to engage candidates and improve retention and retention of new employees. 

# Pre-onboarding phase

A good onboarding process starts when the search for a candidate begins. People who share the company's values will adapt much more quickly to the organisation. Use your job offer, interviews and website to motivate candidates who are close to your philosophy to apply. Talk about the corporate values, what the company structure consists of, the work they will be doing, and the characteristics of each department and the different work processes. 

This phase also covers the period up to the first day of employment. During this preliminary phase, you can help employees complete all the necessary paperwork (like signing the contract, right?), and prepare them for a great first day.

# Welcome phase. First day on the job. 

The second onboarding phase focuses on welcoming new employees into the organisation, as well as providing the necessary help for new members to adjust. It is very likely that they will not yet know anyone in your organisation and will not know how teams work on a day-to-day basis. That is why it is necessary to introduce them to their new colleagues, accompany them to their workstation (in the case that the work is face-to-face) and teach them the basics so that they can get to grips with their first day. 

With OpenHR, for example, you can offer your employees a place where they can manage their main information. In addition, you can easily present the organisation chart of your company so that they can get to know their colleagues, or they can see the latest company news so that they can familiarize themselves with the company.

#Adjustment phase. The first week

During the first week, the employee will have to adapt to the company and their colleagues, so it is not advisable to ask too much during those first days. In fact, MailChimp does not allow employees to work those first days. It prefers that they adapt, get to know their colleagues, and go through the departments they need to know before getting straight to work. 

Also make sure that the mentor, if one is assigned, interacts frequently with the employee and guides him or her through those early days. Training is a key part of this phase. 

# Transition phase to the new role. Constant onboarding

A good onboarding process lasts up to a year. After having completed the onboarding phase, it is time to plan the other actions, especially with a view to retaining talent and completing the onboarding successfully.  

Make sure to hold regular meetings with the new employee to ensure that the onboarding process is successful, and that they meet the objectives agreed during the first week.

6.The 5 Cs of successful Onboarding

In this point we will analyse the 5 Cs of Onboarding that every organisation should consider as part of new hires. 

#Compliance. Also sometimes referred to as the "boring" part of onboarding, this covers everything from the employee's basic understanding of the organisation's policies and procedures; from safety rules, to prevention of harassment risks, to confidentiality requirements, to departmental procedures. This is usually addressed during the first day stage. 

#Clarification. Clarify and communicate the role and expectations about the new employee's performance. What are their individual goals? What does their organisation do and how does it work? How does their role fit into the organisation's and team's objectives? Covering all these questions that new associates have when they join a new company can help new employees get up to speed much faster than having them figure it out on their own.

#Culture. New employees begin to be exposed to company culture with their first visit to the website or when they have to go into the office for an interview. That's why it's critical to convey the organisation's culture throughout the onboarding programme. Make sure they are very familiar with the mission, vision and values of your organisation and how employees communicate with each other.

#Connection. Managers should ensure that interpersonal relationships are fostered within the organisation, and that new employees get to know and connect with existing sub-groups within the company. Mentoring can be very useful here. 

#Check Back. Collect as much feedback as possible and conduct feedback campaigns to continually improve your organisation's onboarding programme. It is the manager's responsibility to meet with new employees during the first 30, 60 and 90 days to check that everything is on track. Some of the concepts to be reinforced may be covered by the human resources department, some by the hiring manager and some by a colleague.

7.Digital onboarding: trends in new onboarding processes

When carrying out an onboarding process, there are several trends that we find in companies with more agile workflows, which we resume below:

 It has gone from being an isolated event to a process. 

One of the major trends we are experiencing in the field of onboarding is that the onboarding process is no longer an isolated event that lasts 2 or 3 days at most. Organizations are now starting to carry out onboarding even before new employees are hired, lasting three to six months after hiring, or even up to 12 months. 

Of course, it is advisable to focus on the first day and on providing a full onboarding experience to make the employer feel welcome (meetings, introductions, relevant information,...), but don't forget that it is only one part of a larger process. 

A successful onboarding process starts when the employee signs the employment contract. 

It covers three main areas. 

An onboarding process has a great influence on the impression the manager will leave on the employee. To be successful, it should cover three areas: 

Business context: objectives, positioning, competencies, of the organisation. 

Situational context: Here, especially everything related to the job and what is expected of us will be addressed.

Cultural context: Mission, vision and values of the company.

Guided accompaniment 

The figure of a colleague or mentor is essential to establish a two-way feedback that allows the candidate's opinion to be known at all times. 

Due to the emergence of the new hybrid onboarding, the mentor can balance the number of face-to-face and remote meetings, which will be essential for an optimal and effective adaptation to the culture of the organisation. 

Such mentors are playing a key role in providing new employees with information about what the company does and how it does it. In addition, they can inspire them and help them understand the purpose of the company and what their role will entail in this growth.

Digital onboarding 

Digital transformation is also playing a central role in the development and implementation of onboarding processes. On the one hand, it makes it possible to track all open onboarding processes, abandonment rates in the first days of onboarding, or any other data that allows us to improve processes. Onboarding software such as OpenHR allows you to carry out assisted or unassisted onboarding in order to manage your onboarding processes. 

On the other hand, it helps us to identify training needs and implement specific e-learning modules, as well as helping employees to connect and analyze their performance, which is often a reflection of a successful onboarding plan

8.The best option: Onboarding software

As we have been explaining so far, technology is allowing an improvement in the onboarding process thanks to the emergence of onboarding software. 

Such a tool can help you keep track of the process of all the tasks associated with onboarding. OpenHR's onboarding software also allows for unassisted or assisted onboarding (mentoring) through approval workflows that will make it easier and faster for the employee to integrate effectively into the organisation. 

In addition, this tool can be complemented with other tools that OpenHR makes available to you so that the process is completely successful. OpenHR's document manager will allow you to send all the necessary information so that it can be signed by the employee himself. In addition, the corporate organisation chart will allow the employee to know at first hand who their employees are and what position they occupy within the hierarchy. 

Finally, a performance evaluation software will allow employers to know if the new employee is getting into the job well and is meeting the first proposed objectives, or if, on the contrary, there is some obstacle that is preventing him/her from doing so and he/she needs some extra training. To do this, a training management software will allow to know the degree of progress of the different courses that the employee is doing, and what skills he/she is acquiring.

Employee Onboarding Process