Tips for New Employee Onboarding

Tips for New Employee Onboarding

So you’ve made a great hire and you are looking forward to onboarding your newest employee.  Expectations are high and optimism abounds.  But before you rely too heavily on those positive feelings, here are some sobering statistics to consider: 

  • Up to 20 percent of turnover happens within the first 45 days of work.
  • Nearly 33 percent of new hires look for a new job within their first six months on the job.
  • 23 percent of new hires leave before their first anniversary.
  • 60 percent of companies fail to set milestones for new hires.
  • It typically takes eight months for a newly hired employee to reach full productivity.
  • Organizations with strong onboarding processes experience 50 percent greater retention of their new hires.

These statistics should be especially unsettling to you if you do not have a formal, structured onboarding process.  Onboarding – the process by which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and behaviors to become effective organizational members and insiders – does not have to be complicated, burdensome or expensive.  It just needs to be planned and executed well.

Here are five tips for setting up an effective program in your company.

  1. Start Onboarding Before the First Day. After the job offer has been accepted and before your new employee has started, stay in touch and communicate often.  Check in frequently before the start date.  Ask if there are any questions. Make sure your new employee has all the information needed to be prepared for day one.  Not only will this help make the new hire feel valued and appreciated, but it will help to deflect any competing interest from other employers.
  2. Make the First Day Special. The good news is that, chances are, your new hire is excited about his or her new job.  Make that first day special – be as excited about your new hire as he or she is about the new job!  Have a special welcome ready, have your new hire’s workspace ready, and if possible, have business cards ready.  Make your new hire feel like he or she is expected and welcome in the new job.  The goal is to show your new hires that you are as excited about them joining your company as they are!

Of course there are the formal things one does to orient a new employee on the first day(s) on the job.  Be sure to:

      • Provide the employee handbook and obtain acknowledgment that the handbook has been read and understood.
      • Collect all payroll and benefit information.
      • Process all necessary I9 paperwork.
      • Highlight specific policies and procedures that are important on the job.
      • Discuss appropriate workplace safety and health topics.
      • Provide training on equipment and processes and procedures.
      • Cover any position-related topics such as supervisory responsibility, duties and responsibilities and expectations of the new hire.

And don’t stop there – the informal things are just as critical. Take the time to talk about the unique aspects of your company’s culture.  For example, how important is the matter of being on time?  Are there unwritten rules about meeting attendance, dress, voicing opinions?  And don’t forget to cover smart-phone usage and social media access while at work.  Talk about it!

3. Plan Your New Employee’s First Few Weeks. When it comes to onboarding your new hire it is likely that there are many people responsible for the learning that will ensure that the employee is properly trained and ready for work. Before his or her first day, map out what the learning objectives are for the first four to six weeks and who is responsible for ensuring that the learning takes place.

A clearly structured roadmap for your new hire will help the employee know what is expected and know who she or he can go to for help and support in the early days.  A structured plan also puts the person responsible for training the new employee on notice that it is his or her responsibility to make sure the new hire has all of the time and tools and support necessary to accomplish those learning objectives.  Here is what the first week’s learning plan template might look like:

Employee Name: John Doe

Hire Date: 2/15/17

Managing Supervisor:  Kelly B.

Position: Regional Sales Rep

Learning Objectives


Week 1

Day 1

Orientation (see Orientation Plan)


Objective 1

Get training on CRM – Be able to access client data

Tracy & Steve

Objective 2

Learn about key product manufacturing specs.


Objective 3

Sit with customer service to get familiar with back office


Objective 4

Learn the Q1 and Q2 goals and budgets with CEO/CFO


Objective 5

Go on sales calls to call on local customers


Week 1 Performance Feedback:


Obj. 1: John is familiar with CRM – Expand training to Leads.

Obj. 2: Need some more training. Take through manuf.

Obj. 3: Great job establishing relationships. Sit again next week.

Obj. 4: Establish personal sales goals in context of co’s goals

Obj. 5: Had 3 great calls.  ID ways to be more effective for calls next week.



4. Foster Feedback Early On. According to the Gallup Organization’s 12 Elements of Great Managing, key to employee engagement is the knowledge of what is expected of the employee at work, having the equipment to do the work right, and getting the feedback and encouragement necessary for professional development and personal growth.  All of these elements require ongoing, formal and informal feedback. 

Especially in the early days, providing employees with an equal balance of positive and corrective feedback enables them to truly understand what is expected and how they can make changes to satisfy your expectations.  This type of informal feedback is critical to ensuring employee engagement.  Be specific about what the employee is doing well and why it is critical to the organization.  And be just as specific about the areas where the employee needs to focus his or her energy during the onboarding period.

5. Make Onboarding a Year-Long Effort. Make sure you schedule periodic check-ins in the weeks and months that follow.  Remember, the learning curve for most positions is almost always longer than anyone ever expects.  If your new hire feels supported in the first six to 12 months, you will improve the likelihood that he or she will stay engaged and committed. Consider a formal 45 or 60 day performance evaluation plan during the first year of hire.  You can never give new employees too much feedback or attention.

By following the tips above and seeing the new employee as a business investment, you will recognize that your dedication of time and attention to these matters is a business investment that will pay measurable returns, particularly by enabling new employees to more quickly get up to speed and deliver value to the company. 

If you are interested in receiving a free employee development template to help managers structure and communicate the new employee’s learning objectives, and to provide a structure for ongoing feedback during the first few weeks and months, please send us an e-mail at to receive a free copy.


By Claudia St. John, President – Affinity HR Group, Inc.

Claudia St. John is president of Affinity HR Group, Inc., NBMDA’s affiliated human resources partner.  Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as NBMDA and their member companies.  To learn more, visit

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