Five Features of Successful Onboarding

Starting with a new company is exciting, but can cause some nervousness and uncertainty too. Onboarding processes do more than just ease nervous feelings for new employees; they are important tools for employers to run their businesses smoothly.

Comprehensive onboarding strategies are important because without them, employees are left with questions about their roles, leading them to unintentionally make mistakes and waste time. According to Career Builder, that uncertainty costs businesses an estimated $37 billion each year. Further, SHRM reports that half of all hourly employees leave their jobs within the first four months, creating additional costs due to high turnover.

Given these facts, it is clear that a solid onboarding process is crucial to employers. Here are some best practices for successful onboarding:

1. Implementing a formal onboarding program

It is important to have a set routine in place for new employees’ first days and weeks. By establishing a formal program, employers can be sure they do not miss any important steps or information when it comes to integrating new employees into their workspace. This process should include more than just fulling out necessary paperwork, though. Employees should feel like they are becoming a part of the team and welcomed by the organization.

2. Having necessary materials prepared before the new hire’s first day

To ensure a seamless transition, employers should be sure that any necessary supplies, paperwork, or informational documents are ready before the new hire walks through the door on their first day. Lorraine Medici, Director of Training and Development with Express Employment Professionals, explains that “getting the desk and/or office area set up” helps new hires feel welcome. This practice allows the new employee to get started right away and lets them know that their job is important to the organization.

3. Making sure employees have a clear understanding of their jobs

To avoid any unintentional mistakes early on, employers should make sure their new employees understand their new objectives, roles, and responsibilities completely. For Express Employment Professionals, this includes informational meetings even before candidates are hired. “The job description is spelled out clearly noting the various responsibilities and the percentage of time spent on each,” says Medici.

It is also helpful to clearly communicate any workplace rules or norms, such as dress codes, and to introduce them to the appropriate staff early on. At Express Employment Professionals, this includes a two-week training program through “Express University” that explains “all the different aspects of the organization—how the individual franchise offices work, the different internal departments and roles within the office, and serving clients and associates,” and spending several hours with the owner and head of the department for new employees.

4. Doing something to make the first day or week special

Many employers choose to take their new employees out to lunch during their first week, offer branded gifts, or introduce and highlight new hires at staff meetings or through email. “Several staff members will take a new person to lunch,” says Medici, and Express Employment Professionals also takes time to make a special introduction of the new hire at their weekly team meeting. This makes new employees feel appreciated and like they are part of the team.

5. Checking in on new employees early

Employers shouldn’t wait to check on new employees’ progress and work. Some companies make the mistake of waiting a few months to review employees. Checking in early helps to ensure that new employees don’t have any confusions and aren’t making costly mistakes. New employees can also benefit from a mentor. An experienced employee with the same or similar position can answer any questions they may have as they transition into their role. Medici says that during the new employee’s first week, they spend several hours “sitting with someone and learning about their role in the organization,” to make sure they have a complete understanding.


Every position and workplace is different, and requirements for onboarding processes vary slightly according to these needs. However, for new employees to transition successfully into any role, the process needs to include more than just filling out necessary paperwork. For more information about onboarding, you can watch this video from Express Employment Professionals. 

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