Employee Onboarding Best Practices to Implement

Employee onboarding is one of the most important functions of a people team.

As you welcome new employees to your organization, it’s essential to provide them with a positive and structured experience that sets the groundwork for their success. Establishing employee onboarding best practices can ensure both better adaptation into the workplace and increased job satisfaction, retention, and productivity from day one. 

Studies show that 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience great onboarding. Furthermore, organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50% greater new hire productivity.

Looking for helpful tips on how to roll out an effective onboarding process? Read on as we explore some of the key elements you should consider when developing employee onboarding processes for your company!

The importance of onboarding

Onboarding is an essential part of the employee onboarding process that can make a great deal of difference to a new hire’s experience and, ultimately, their performance. This is especially true for remote hires who aren’t immersed in or able to experience the workplace norms in person.

Onboarding is the opportunity to set expectations, provide training, and embed a positive organizational culture that can often influence how effectively the individual will work within their new role. An effective onboarding process will not only nurture the skills and knowledge required for a role but also help to motivate and create a sense of purpose for the employee. 

Onboarding best practices

A good first impression can go a long way in establishing trust between employee and employer. Because of this, HR professionals should ensure that onboarding offers specialized support to drive longer-term success and engages new hires in corporate values.

1. Have your paperwork and tracking system set up before the new hire starts.

If you don’t already have a paperwork system in place, now is the time to set it up. Before your new hire’s first day, make sure you have all the necessary new hire forms ready for them. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • I-9 forms
  • W-4 forms
  • Direct deposit details
  • Personnel policies
  • Confidential information agreements

It’s also important that you have a system in place to track what has been submitted and a safe, secure place to store both physical and/or digital copies of the documents. If you don’t already have a system in place, explore software offerings that can keep you organized and compliant!

2. Engage the new employee before their first day.

Help your new hire start on the right foot by engaging them before they even set foot in the office. 

There are numerous ways to do this, but at a minimum, HR should:

  • Ensure a manager has reached out to welcome them to the team and answer any questions they may have
  • Send equipment, such as a work laptop, before their first day or explain the tech policy if new hires are expected to provide their own equipment

For an even better experience, consider the following: 

  • Have team members and senior leadership aside from their manager reach out to welcome them
  • Send branded swag to get them excited about joining the company
  • Send a $15-$25 gift card for lunch on their first day if they are remote

Connecting with an employee and getting them excited about your company before their first day is key to onboarding success. Engaging a new hire ahead of time gives them an opportunity to get to know their team, senior leadership, and mentors. This helps the employee become familiar with the company culture and values, as well as develops relationships that will continue after they start working.

3. Get them connected to the right people.

Coming into a new place not knowing who is who or who does what can be intimidating. Help your new hire by connecting them to the right people on day one. 

Set up meetings with key colleagues that they’ll be working closely with and ensure they have a one-on-one meeting with their manager on the books. You can also pair them up with a buddy or mentor who can help show them the ropes of the company outside of their day-to-day tasks. 

If the employee will be using internal programs or software, don’t assume that they will instantly be familiar with the tools your company uses. Instead, make sure they have a meeting with someone who can demo the programs and answer any questions they may have. 

4. Establish clear policies and procedures on the first day.

It’s crucial for any workplace to establish clear policies and procedures from the start. Things to go over include:

  • Expectations for when and how (remote vs. in-person) employees are in the office
  • Code of conduct
  • Technology and bring-your-own-device policies
  • Paid time off policy and procedures for taking time off work
  • How to access the Employee Policy Handbook for future reference

Employers need to make sure that their staff is aware of any set rules and that performance expectations are articulated correctly. Establishing all of this on the first day can aid everyone in understanding how to be successful within their roles and answer some important questions the new employee may have.

5. Set goals with the new employee.

It may seem too soon to start setting goals, but having something for the new hire to work towards is essential for success. In fact, a BiWorldwide survey revealed that employees with goals are 3.6 times more likely to be committed to their organization. Create clear standards of performance from the start and set achievable targets that are open to reevaluation as time progresses.

Not sure where to start with goal setting? Start by setting benchmarks the new employee can achieve 30, 60, and 90 days from their first day. Make sure these goals are realistic. In other words, don’t start them off with the same goals your senior team members are working towards. 

Here are some examples:

30 days:

  1. Complete orientation and training: The new hire should be fully oriented to the company’s policies and procedures, complete any required training, and understand their job responsibilities.
  2. Build relationships: The new hire should have met with key stakeholders and team members to build relationships and understand their role in the company.
  3. Identify key objectives: The new hire should have identified key objectives for their role and understand how they fit into the company’s overall goals.

60 days:

  1. Begin making contributions: The new hire should be actively making contributions to their team and department, demonstrating their ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  2. Seek feedback: The new hire should be seeking regular feedback from their manager and colleagues to help them to improve their performance and identify opportunities for growth.
  3. Develop a personal development plan: The new hire should have developed a personal development plan to help them to achieve their career goals.

90 days:

  1. Meet or exceed performance expectations: The new hire should be meeting or exceeding their performance expectations and demonstrating their value to the team and the company.
  2. Take ownership of key projects: The new hire should be taking ownership of key projects and demonstrating their ability to work independently and contribute to the team’s success.
  3. Contribute to team goals: The new hire should be contributing to team goals and showing a willingness to go above and beyond to help the team achieve its objectives.

Overall, the goals set for new hires in their first 30, 60, and 90 days in the office should be realistic, measurable, and aligned with the company’s goals and objectives. Creating space for success early on can build momentum that carries on into the employee’s career. 

And be sure to write them down! Individuals are 42% more likely to achieve goals when they are physically recorded.


Welcoming new employees to a company is an exciting experience! 

For HR professionals and organization leaders, laying out a path of success for the new employee is important in ensuring smooth transitions into their role.

Onboarding new employees requires well-thought-out strategy and processes. HR professionals have the unique opportunity to set their organization apart by providing an effective onboarding experience — one that lets the new hire know they are valued in a positive, inclusive way from the start. 

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