8 Onboarding Best Practices for New Employees

Adopt these employee onboarding best practices to help new hires become more comfortable, capable, prepared, and productive for mutual long-term success.

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First impressions are important. During onboarding and orientation of new employees, the speed, tone, and culture you set will have an impact. With an effective onboarding process, your new employees will feel more comfortable, capable, and productive within a shorter period of time.

Most onboarding and orientation processes focus on copious amounts of information and new hire paperwork. Granted, this information is necessary. But demanding too much attention of new hires to those details can result in unnecessary burnout and disengagement. At worst, it might even be enough for a new hire to leave the company. Effective and engaging onboarding can be the key to retaining your top-tiered new hires.

And implementing employee onboarding best practices can do more than boost morale. It may also decrease employee turnover, ultimately improving productivity and profitability. Statistics published by Zippia indicate those with strong onboarding practices increase new hire retention by 82% and productivity by 70%. (1)These statistics suggest onboarding is a worthwhile investment. How can you take yours to the next level? Follow these tips and best practices.

1. Prepare an effective onboarding process

It might seem like just another item to add to your mountain of a to-do list. But what you’ll invest in revising your employee onboarding to match your goals for company culture will likely pay off. Recruiting and hiring come at a cost, too. So consider onboarding an upfront investment that can deliver a nice ROI over the long term. Here’s what else to consider when updating your new employee experience.

Create an onboarding process for remote interviewing

As more companies declare that they plan to work remotely, this means there will be an increase in remote interviews. This process is still gaining steam, and many hiring managers and candidates are either new or inexperienced with this approach. With this in mind, it’s important to:

  • Set process expectations upfront.
  • Address issues before they happen.
  • Let both candidates and interviewers know the processes will be remote.
  • Provide everyone with ample time to prepare.

Remember, not everyone has excellent internet at home. Find ways to address central concerns around elements like response time limitations, privacy issues, and potential fraud. Consider what software solutions can help.

Plan for potential remote employee onboarding

When it comes to remote onboarding, there are opportunities for new hires to fall through the cracks of joining a remote team. Consider formalizing your processes.

  • Sending out team or company-wide emails to introduce and welcome new remote team members.
  • Make sure new hires are adequately set up to participate in remote onboarding. Or dedicate their first day to making sure they are good to go.
  • Have all the technology, login credentials, and other important access set up by the first week.

Also, why not leverage technology to replicate that human touch for remote user onboarding? Consider turning previously in-person onboarding processes into digital assets that you can simply reuse again for all future new team members.

Make sure your handbook matches your onboarding

If you have an employee handbook (and you should!), make sure to update it consistently. Traditionally, employees receive their handbook during new hire orientation. Many businesses require them to sign it as a way to confirm they have read and understood the company’s policies.

To simplify things for both new remote and in-house employees, ditch the hard copies and digitize your handbook. Electronic versions are easier to update and distribute.

Don’t overdo virtual meetings

These days, it can be tempting to simply host a day-long video call with new hires. Video conferencing is how many professional interactions take place now. But it can also be exhausting for new hires and hiring managers alike.

Is there anything you can send in a document? Any videos a new team member can watch at their leisure or related reading you can point them to read on their own? These complementary virtual onboarding strategies can help cut down on the stress and fatigue that comes with virtual-meeting overload.

2. Start your onboarding program early

Get your new hires excited before they walk through the door. A week or so before orientation, send them a welcome letter, a welcome packet, and an employee handbook. Include information on your company culture, company’s vision, and mission statement, and why they’ll love being onboard. Provide a detailed agenda. No detail is too small. For example:

  • Tell them where to park, how to check in, and what they’ll need to bring.
  • Outline details of what their first day and week will look like.
  • Share contact details for their manager, onboarding buddy, or others who will be helping them get acclimated.
  • Send out company swag, such as a coffee mug, to make them feel immediately a part of the team.

Essentially, ensure your new team members feel comfortable early by communicating with them well before their first day. Open communication is reassuring. The sooner and stronger you begin building this foundational element, the more comfortable, prepared, and supported your people will feel.

3. Make introductions

Make employees feel welcome. Arrange an informal reception to help familiarize new hires and their coworkers. This can be as simple as a meet and greet in the break room or as elaborate as taking the whole staff to lunch. You may need to be more strategic with introductions involving remote employees. What matters most is ensuring your new hires know their relationships and connections are important to all involved.

4. Show, don’t tell employees about their new job

You may be excited about sharing lots of great, relevant information with new employees. But don’t drown them in hours’ worth of facts, figures, and presentation slides. Instead, lead your new hires through fun, stimulating onboarding practices and activities related to what they’ll be doing day to day..

5. Explain to new employees the value of their work

This step is commonly overlooked. But instilling in a new employee a sense of value and purpose within the company can go a long way. Demonstrate that senior leaders see them as more than just an employee. Explain to the new hire how their role makes a difference to your customers and your organization. That perspective may help further motivate and drive their performance, even inspiring them to go above and beyond.

6. Provide advance new hire paperwork

Get a head start on administrative details by having new hires complete necessary paperwork digitally before starting work. Have a checklist of what onboarding documents need to be provided and signed and how to complete it. Include where to submit it, when, and what happens if either the new hire or HR doesn’t receive certain documents.

Remember, employees will need time to review documents that outline their benefits and compensation before signing and returning them. Make sure you schedule this well in advance of their proposed start date.

7. Spread out remaining paperwork (or go completely digital!)

If you have stacks of additional paperwork to address, try to spread it out appropriately to prevent burnout. A good HR onboarding software solution can help new hires start onboarding themselves in this area. They can get through documents and benefits enrollment within minutes, no paperwork required.

Employee information will be stored, documented, and integrated with other facets of employer responsibilities, including payroll, taxes, compliance, and beyond. Employees can access their benefits, answer their own HR questions, and log into their portals 24/7.

When you reduce the amount of onboarding busywork, you open up more time for engaging content while simultaneously ensuring your company’s legal compliance.

8. Get feedback from new and current employees

How can you tell whether or not you’ve adopted the best onboarding practices? Ask your newest employees to provide feedback once they’ve completed onboarding and orientation. Arrange a meeting to find out what worked, what didn’t, and what could have worked better if done differently. Solicit feedback on the user experience surrounding your onboarding software or any other onboarding tool used. Ask direct supervisors, and perhaps select coworkers, if they think effective onboarding has been achieved.

If you can’t talk in-person, or want to facilitate privacy, anonymity, or documentation, create and distribute an onboarding survey.

Adopt onboarding best practices and benefit from a rise in employee satisfaction

Investing in every appropriate best practice for a new employee onboarding process delivers the rewards of heightened employee satisfaction. Employees who recognize their employers’ investments in them often reciprocate by investing themselves in the organization. They strive to grow their skills, contribute knowledge, maximize productivity, and help drive a positive experience and profitability for all.

Looking to build or refine your own comprehensive onboarding program? Read our complete guide to employee onboarding now.

For more HR and business management tips, tools, and resources, visit Workest by Zenefits daily.


  1. “17 Incredible Onboarding Statistics,” by Zippia.com
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