16 Onboarding Ideas for a Unique New Employee Experience

Successful companies know the value of effective employee onboarding. Let these 16 onboarding ideas inspire a more interesting, fun, and unique experience.

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For successful organizations intent on growth and longevity, retaining top talent is a top priority. Companies truly committing to retention must create a positive employee experience as soon as a candidate accepts the job offer.

The first few days of onboarding can be dull, filled with endless presentations and hours of dry information. Most companies don’t use creative onboarding ideas, even though they should.

There are big advantages to making the onboarding process interesting, fun, and a bit unique. A creative employee onboarding process makes it less painful for everyone involved and helps create an excellent first impression. It also helps sustain enthusiasm and thwarts turnover. The new employee will be more comfortable, open to learning, and more likely to enjoy the onboarding experience.

These 16 creative onboarding ideas can help breathe new life into your new hire process.

Onboarding ideas before the first day

Employers don’t need to wait until the first day to create a welcoming environment. These virtual onboarding ideas can help you extend a more warm, personal welcome in the pre-onboarding stage.

Welcome them with a video call

Take advantage of virtual onboarding via video conference to welcome new hires into the company. Remote employees, hybrids, or on-site team members benefit from breaking the ice and avoiding first-day nervousness.

Compile an onboarding kit

Pre-onboarding, send the new employee select materials to review. Include such items as the employee handbook, the company’s goals and mission, and company policies at their convenience.

Share team member photos and bios

Create a document with their team members’ photos, names, titles, and bios. Getting familiar with their coworkers beforehand helps employees discover commonalities, which can heighten their excitement about working together. It might also illuminate positive elements of office culture.

Send them company swag

People like pens, T-shirts, and coffee mugs with their company’s logo. Ship a care package with cool swag and a friendly note to the new hire. This sets the tone for a positive employee onboarding experience.

Use pre-onboarding or orientation for boring paperwork

Get the required paperwork out of the way, so your latest recruit can focus on meeting new team members and absorbing new information during onboarding. Orientation is also a good time to issue parking passes, key fobs, access to the company intranet, and role-related equipment.

Provide a detailed agenda

Walking into a work situation is better with a plan. Email the new hire an outline of the first few days of the onboarding agenda. This can be as simple as an onboarding checklist of topics, how long they’ll spend on each, and which team members will work with them.

Onboarding ideas for the first week

New hires need to keep their excitement and momentum going the first few days on the job.

Make their first day festive

An onboarding program should showcase the company culture from the first touch. HR, hiring managers, a direct manager, and some team members should welcome the new hire to their new job. A sign, balloons, and delicious refreshments are nice touches, too.

Provide an office tour

Giving employees a tour lets them start getting a layout of their new environment and helps them feel more comfortable.

Orchestrate a laid-back start

Learning new information all day, in addition to making a good first impression, can be exhausting. Consider starting your program on a Wednesday. This gives new workers the first part of the week to prepare and the weekend to process before starting their first full week.

Execute a buddy system

Many companies embrace the concept of buddy programs. Not to be confused with mentors, onboarding buddies establish more informal relationships. The goal is for the newcomer to feel comfortable asking questions and learning about what the organization is really like. This can be easier to achieve with someone on their level whom they don’t have to worry about impressing.

Plan a scavenger hunt

Get playful with some employee onboarding ideas, like hiding a few things around the office for the new hire to find. This exercise helps them familiarize themselves with the office and their new team. Consider expanding the game to surrounding external places of interest. Perhaps a few favorite lunch spots, entertainment venues, and neighboring business associates.

Create a company quiz

After the first few days, unofficially quiz new recruits about what they’ve learned. Include fun company information along with company policies. As applicable, take creative opportunities to inject new tidbits of related company trivia.

Invite them to happy hour

Get a few team members together and go out for appetizers after work. Being away from the workplace provides for them a casual atmosphere for getting to know one another. If the new hire is remote, set up a virtual happy hour.

Spring for a round-robin lunch

Ask the recruit’s new manager and select team members to take turns going to lunch with the new employee, on the company’s dime. This time helps them start building connections. They can arrange a virtual lunch with remote employees by placing a local-delivery order.

First few weeks

The onboarding process can take several weeks or even months. Here are more creative ideas as the new hire starts settling in.

Have them shadow current employees

Rather than arranging training sessions all day, every day, break up the monotony. Have your new hire spend some time accompanying or assisting other employees. Getting enmeshed in the day-to-day tasks lets them learn by doing.

Encourage informal check-ins

The new hire’s buddy and the person responsible for the onboarding program should check in with them multiple times weekly. Ask them how they’re doing and if they need support. Knowing they aren’t isolated will often enhance and strengthen the new employee experience.

Establish continuous learning

Employee training and development can add great value to your entire company. Employees tend to appreciate, and return, an employer’s investment in their continuous learning and growth.

Begin setting short- and longer-term milestones for the new employee and provide the tools and opportunities to achieve them. This keeps employees engaged and productive through onboarding into their new role.

Creative onboarding ideas can help new employees feel welcome, encourage communication, and elevate their employee experience.

For help creating or refining your company’s onboarding program, read our full guide to employee onboarding today.

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


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