What is Employee Onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the process of introducing new hires to your company and the team they’ll be working with. It’s typically done either before a new hire officially joins the company or during their first day/week.
The main goal of onboarding is to empower the new employee to become a productive member of your team as quickly as possible.
Employee onboarding involves collecting the required documentation and HR information, familiarizing the new hire with the company’s culture, processes, and policies, and providing them with accounts and access to the tools and apps they’ll need to start working as a part of your organization.
Depending on the role and the complexity of the job, onboarding may also involve training, the orientation process, one-on-ones with their direct superiors, and similar activities that help integrate the person with your existing team.
How Does Employee Onboarding Work?
Onboarding is unique to every organization and is typically designed by the company’s HR department according to the structure of the organization and its unique policies. It typically involves an HR representative and the hiring manager (team lead/department head).
The HR representative’s job is to introduce the new hire to company values, vision, and mission, and talk about HR-related aspects of the job, such as signing the contract, choosing the benefits package, PTO, team building exercises, and similar.
The hiring manager is in charge of explaining the technical aspects of the job to the new team members, introducing them to their colleagues, and provisioning accounts for the various tools and apps the person will be using.
All this is typically done on video conference calls, where the new hire has a chance to talk to the HR rep and their team lead face-to-face. Video calls also enable screen sharing, so they’re a much more effective way of conducting onboarding than emails or chats on communication platforms like Slack.
The Role of HR in Employee Onboarding
In addition to welcoming the new employees and introducing them to the key aspects of the company as a whole, HR’s job in the process is to collect all the required documentation. This includes the signed employment contract, the employee’s personal and contact information, their banking information for payroll, and other relevant data.
All of this information is typically entered into the company’s HRIS (Human Resources Information System) for quick and easy access in the future. In most cases, HR representatives will also introduce the new employee to the rest of the company, specifically the department heads and other executives the employee will be reporting to.
In the event that the new employee is an outside hire for an executive position, HR will also introduce them to the entire team and give them the opportunity to introduce themselves and directly address the team.
Employee Onboarding Phases
Onboarding typically consists of four distinct phases:
- Pre-onboarding: The pre-onboarding phase deals with paperwork and other key aspects that need to be completed before the new hire starts their first day. This includes everything from signing an employment contract and reviewing benefits information to explaining the organization’s compliance policy, blogging and social posting policies, and dress code information.
- Orientation: Orientation typically involves going over the organization chart, explaining the company structure, talking about company culture and core values, and discussing PTO (paid time off), insurance, and payroll. It may also involve introducing the new hire to the team, but this step can also be a part of the training phase.
- Role-specific training: In this phase, the new hire will work directly with their manager, department head, or team lead. The training involves clearly defining the role, key responsibilities, and expectations, as well as actual skill training, knowledge transfer, and workshops to ease the person into their new role.
- Integration: Integration typically happens a few weeks (or even months) later once the new person has settled into their role. It typically involves a performance review, more autonomy (less micromanagement), and the setting of smart goals and KPIs.
What’s the Purpose of Onboarding Employees?
The purpose of onboarding is to provide the new employee with all the information, tools, and apps they need to start working as a productive member of your team. If you skip onboarding, the new hire will feel lost — not knowing where to check their tasks, what tools to use, who to ping for questions, and who to report to.
Your main goal when onboarding new workers is to make them feel welcome and to ensure they have sufficient support from the rest of the team to be able to complete their tasks. By helping them familiarize themselves with the organization, their own role, and their peers, you’re ensuring that they integrate well into your organization and successfully complete their tasks on time.
Onboarding also saves you a lot of time in the long run. Without onboarding, the new employee will frequently encounter bottlenecks and will have to constantly bother their team members, superiors, and HR representatives with questions regarding every aspect of their work.
A streamlined onboarding process ensures that your HR department has all the relevant information, that the new hire has access to all the tools and resources they need, and that they understand all the key processes and policies of your organization, so they can immediately start contributing to the success of your business.
Employee Onboarding Examples
If employee onboarding still sounds like an abstract concept for you, here are a few real-world examples of specific tasks and processes it involves, so you can get a better idea of what onboarding might look like in your company:
- Collecting personal and payment information: Your employee database must contain all the key information that would enable you to contact the person (phone number, email), process their paycheck, reach their listed contacts in case of an emergency, etc.
- Provisioning accounts: This involves creating a business email account and accounts for all the different tools and apps they’ll need, such as Slack, Jira, and Asana.
- Scheduling one-on-ones and team meetings: Onboarding should always involve introducing the new hire to the team. Typically, the first step is hopping on a video call with their direct superior, followed by a team-wide meeting where they can introduce themselves to their peers.
- Providing access to key resources: You can’t expect a new hire to rummage through your vast knowledge bases to find all relevant documents. Instead, you should provide them with links to resources containing company policies, organization charts, core company values, benefits packages, etc.
- Defining key responsibilities: The department head or team lead should discuss the key responsibilities of the role and the expectations with the new hire. It helps if they can clearly define goals and time frames and set up a support framework that would allow the new hire to hit those goals and be a productive member of the team.
Every company is unique, so your onboarding process might include a myriad of different steps. That said, the core principle is the same regardless of your industry and company size — you need to make sure the new hire fits within your company and sets them up for success.
This saves you a lot of time, facilitates integration, and helps you determine whether the new hire is a great long-term addition to your team or not.
How to Automate Employee Onboarding
Doing everything we outlined above manually is still a ton of work, and it leaves plenty of room for human error. Thankfully, there are plenty of excellent HR software tools on the market that can help you automate the bulk of onboarding tasks.
These tools let you create an onboarding checklist, so your HR reps, department heads, and new hires can easily follow all the required steps and know what onboarding stage every new person is in.
The best employee onboarding software automatically sends the new hire requests for all the required documentation, sends everyone involved in the process alerts and real-time notifications, and reminds your team to provide the new hire with access to all the tools and resources they need to get their work done.
These tools also act as centralized data repositories for all employee information, help ensure compliance, and greatly facilitate tax filing, benefits administration, time and attendance tracking, and payroll runs.