20 Best Practices for New-Hire Onboarding

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by viperk's , last updated on


Newly-hired employees approach their first day at work with many of the same emotions schoolchildren experience each fall: Anticipation for what's to come, yet anxiety over the newness and unknown of their situation. They're impressionable, anxious and eager to learn.

Unlike most elementary school youths, though, employees have choices when it comes to their developmental path. Consequently, recruitment and retention of top talent present hefty challenges for many employers.

Research conducted by software company BambooHR indicates that nearly one-third (31 percent) of rookie employees have quit a job within their first sixth months of employment. And the expense of employee turnover can prove staggering. Human resources leader ERE Media estimates it costs up to half an entry-level staff member's annual salary to replace that employee --- with even greater costs associated with replacing mid-level staff members and management.

It's no surprise, then, that companies today recognize the value of proper new-hire onboarding more than ever, making this process an increasingly-important budgetary priority. Business Week estimates leading U.S. companies can spend upwards of $5,000 on average to properly integrate each new employee.

This money is not spent in vain. Effective employee onboarding has proven to bolster both productivity and retention. According to software company UrbanBound, organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54-percent greater new hire productivity and 50-percent greater new hire retention. Furthermore, Salesforce found that firms that onboard successfully have 14-percent better sales and profit objective achievement.

And first impressions are formed quickly among new hires. The Wynhurst Group concluded that most employees decide whether they feel "at home" during their first three weeks at a new job. But enough with statistics, let's get to the heart of the matter facing HR professionals: How can you onboard in a manner that engages new employees effectively, gets them up-to-speed quickly and ultimately reduces your company's new-hire turnover rate?

To answer that question, we assembled four awarding-winning companies and one renowned thought leader, to whom we posed a question of our own: What's the first-day experience like for new employees at companies with strong culture?

The following five sources represent varied sizes (ranging from a single individual to a 50-employee
high-growth company to an 1,800-employee juggernaut) and diverse industries (automotive, waste
management, accounting, technology and thought leadership):

  • Bernie Moreno Companies
  • Budget Dumpster
  • Cohen & Company
  • Hyland Software
  • Kevin Kruse

Yet all five share this powerful common denominator: Each boasts strong company culture and places tremendous stock in executing a successful new hire onboarding process, having been recognized and awarded for their efforts.

As Kevin Kruse, employee engagement thought leader, asks: When your new hires go home following their first day at work, what do you want them to tell their spouse, friend or family?

20 Onboarding Best Practices

Our interview sources helped us to compile the following 20 best practices for new-hire onboarding that are contained within this eBook:

  1. Preparation for new-hire onboarding should begin as soon as that employee signs an offer letter, if not sooner.
  2. Having a suitable training space is crucial to creating a welcoming learning environment.
  3. Always onboard new employees on Mondays.
  4. Lead off with an ice-breaking exercise to calm your new employees' nerves and make them feel more comfortable.
  5. First impressions are everything.
  6. Tackle the nitty-gritty HR logistical details first.
  7. Align start dates so that groups of new hires experience their first day together.
  8. Incorporate other employees into the onboarding experience.
  9. Take measures to prevent your new hires from feeling completely overwhelmed.
  10. Develop your own onboarding materials rather than outsourcing this task.
  11. Devote ample time to lunch.
  12. Include your senior leadership (and CEO, if possible) in your culture presentation.
  13. Use storytelling to introduce your company culture.
  14. Have a tangible way to demonstrate your culture.
  15. Make the end of the first day fun for your new hires.
  16. Consider assigning your new hires two helpers --- a buddy and a mentor.
  17. Ensure the first day was not a blur by offloading all onboarding materials to your company intranet for future reference.
  18. Encourage fellow first-day employees to bond with one another.
  19. Obtain feedback from your new employees regarding how their first day went.
  20. Don't be a stranger to new employees following the conclusion of the onboarding process.

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At viperks, maximizing employee happiness is at the heart of everything we do. Our employee discount and appreciation program optimizes employee engagement, putting smiles on your staff members' faces and boosting your company's bottom line.

Want to learn more about how you can help your employees be happier and more productive? We're here to talk.

Topics: onboarding

blog author

Eric Golubitsky

Eric brings 18+ years of entrepreneurial experience. Eric founded S.M.I.L.E. Inc. in 1998, which was a Consumer Electronic Pro Top 100 home automation provider and was recognized as the #1 fastest growing company in NE Ohio by CWRU Weatherhead School of Management in 2003. As an Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" finalist in 2005, Eric's accomplishments have been recognized multiple times including the Consumer Electronics Association's national "Mark of Excellence Award." Eric is also a 5 year member of EO (Entrepreneurs Organization).