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Onboarding new employees

A strategic approach for HR managers

 
 

Just imagine: After an extensive recruitment process, you’ve finally found the ideal candidate for a key position at your company. The relief and anticipation are great—but now the real challenge begins. Onboarding is a crucial process that is often underestimated. The aim is not only to give the new employee a warm welcome, but also to provide them with a seamless induction period that motivates them and makes them productive right from the outset. Good onboarding makes a huge difference! It not only influences how quickly new employees find their feet, but also how long they stay at the company. But how do you make sure that the first few days and weeks are not just okay, but great?

Learn how to develop an effective and successful onboarding program that both successfully integrates new employees and retains them at your company long-term. Your onboarding program will not only inspire the new employees, but also be of lasting benefit to your company.

 

Onboarding

Definition

Onboarding refers to the process of inducting and integrating new employees into a company. Onboarding goes far beyond mere orientation. it covers everything from initial contact before the first day of work, to the person’s complete integration into the corporate culture and work processes. Good onboarding logically has an impact on employee satisfaction and loyalty, productivity and performance, as people who feel well looked after from the outset will contribute and feel valued.

 

Advantages of a good onboarding process

  • Faster induction: New employees become productive more quickly as they gain efficient support from targeted induction measures.
  • Greater employee loyalty: A positive onboarding experience strengthens loyalty to the company and reduces staff turnover.
  • Improved morale: Good onboarding shows new employees that they are valued, which in turn increases morale and commitment.
  • Reduction of uncertainties: A clearly structured onboarding process helps to minimize anxiety and uncertainty among new employees.
  • Strengthening the corporate culture: Onboarding conveys important aspects of the corporate culture and promotes a deep understanding of and integration into this culture.
  • Clear communication of expectations: Onboarding clearly communicates the expectations of the new role, which reduces misunderstandings and errors.
  • Improvement in team dynamics: Effective onboarding promotes familiarization and integration into existing teams, which improves collaboration and team dynamics.
  • Long-term increase in performance: Well-inducted employees perform better in the long term because they are effectively supported from the outset.
  • Reduction of induction costs: Efficient onboarding reduces the costs that can arise from slow ramp-ups in productivity and possible errors during the first few weeks.
  • Fostering innovation and creativity: New employees who feel supported and integrated are more likely to bring new ideas and perspectives into the company.
 

Guide to effective onboarding

Step-by-step

 
Effective onboarding in 7 steps
 

Assessing needs and defining goals

Step 1 in onboarding

The first step in an effective onboarding process is to carefully identify needs and clearly define objectives. Several objectives are usually pursued here, all aimed at effectively integrating new employees into the company and retaining them over the long term. However, before you start with the objectives, it’s important to understand the specific requirements and expectations of the new employee in their role. Talk to their future team leaders and line managers about this. This will give you a precise requirements profile so you know what skills or knowledge the new employee may still need to acquire to fulfill their role effectively. You will also know which technical content needs to be covered in the onboarding process. 

Now you can set clear goals for the onboarding process. Define clear, measurable goals for the onboarding program. These could relate to the time taken for the new employee to reach full productivity, employee satisfaction, or retention rate in the first few months. Ensure that the objectives of the onboarding process align with the company’s overall goals and strategy. This ensures that the onboarding process will contribute to achieving the company’s goals.

 

General goals for onboarding

Fast integration into the team and the company

The aim is for new employees to quickly feel that they belong and understand how they can work effectively with their teams and within the company structures.

Understanding the corporate culture and values

New employees should get to know the company’s culture, values, and expectations, and understand how these influence their daily work and decision-making.

Increase in productivity

The onboarding process should aim to make new employees productive as quickly as possible by providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge.

Develop employee loyalty

A positive onboarding experience should help new employees build a stronger bond with the company, leading to lower staff turnover and higher employee satisfaction.

Clear communication of roles and expectations

It is critical that new employees understand exactly what their specific roles and responsibilities are and what the company expects of them in order to minimize uncertainty and optimize their performance.

Minimization of induction costs

Effective onboarding not only reduces the time it takes to get new employees fully productive, but also cuts the costs associated with lengthy induction training.

 

Specific goals for onboarding using the example of a new sales rep

Rapid achievement of full productivity

The aim is to get the new sales rep up to full productivity as quickly as possible. By the end of the first 90 days, they should be able to conduct sales meetings and close deals independently.

Thorough knowledge of the product and service range

The new rep should gain comprehensive knowledge of all the company’s products and services. This includes understanding their key features, benefits, and potential applications in order to effectively respond to customer queries and offer customized solutions.

Effective use of the CRM system

The rep should be able to use the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system effectively. This includes entering new leads, updating customer information, tracking sales opportunities, and generating reports.

Building strong internal and external networks

Another goal is to build and maintain strong relationships both within the team and throughout the wider company, as well as with external partners and customers. Networking skills are essential to develop and foster long-term customer relationships.

Understanding and adhering to sales strategies and guidelines

The new sales rep must understand and follow the company’s sales strategies and all of the relevant policies and procedures. This also includes understanding the ethical guidelines and compliance requirements that must be adhered to throughout the sales process.

Achieving initial sales targets and milestones

The aim of the onboarding program is for the new sales rep to achieve the following targets within their first three months: Acquire at least ten new customers and reach EUR 75,000 in sales. 

 

When setting goals, be sure to involve stakeholders from different areas of your company, as they will have different perspectives and experiences. This will help you develop a more comprehensive and effective onboarding process. In addition, involving stakeholders enables expectations of the onboarding process to be clearly communicated and coordinated across all levels of the company. And by the way: Stakeholders who are involved in the development process generally feel more responsible for the success of onboarding program. Their active involvement can thus help to increase engagement and support for onboarding across different areas of the business.

 

Structuring the onboarding process

Step 2 in onboarding

An effective onboarding process for new employees should be divided into different phases. This ensures that new employees are systematically and effectively integrated into your company. Typically, it could look like this:

 

Preboarding

First day

First week

First 90 days

 

Preboarding

The pre-onboarding phase is a critical part of the onboarding process that aims to help new employees get off to a positive start before they even officially begin work. Here are five important tasks that should be completed during this phase:

Send a welcome letter and information pack
Send the new employee a welcome letter confirming their employment and offering a warm welcome. Supplement this letter with an information pack that includes details of their first day at work, an agenda for the induction period, company policies, and perhaps a company culture guide.

Provide work materials and access
Ensure that all necessary work materials such as a laptop, cellphone, and other technical equipment are prepared and ready for use. Set up all necessary access to internal systems, email accounts, and software licenses.

Announce introduction to the team
Inform the team about the new hire, provide basic information about the new employee’s role and their planned start date. This helps to prepare the team for the arrival of the new colleague and promotes a welcoming atmosphere.

Assign a contact person
Assign the new employee a contact person or buddy who will support them during the first few weeks. This contact person can answer questions, offer support, and serve as their first social contact in the company.

Prepare the workstation
Organize the new employee’s workstation, including desk, chair, and other necessary office equipment. A well-prepared working environment conveys appreciation and helps employees feel comfortable from day one.

These pre-onboarding steps help to minimize uncertainty, facilitate integration, and ensure a positive experience that lays the foundation for a successful long-term relationship between the employee and the company.

 

First day

A new employee’s first day at work is crucial for their first impression of the company and can contribute significantly to their further motivation and loyalty. Here are five essential tasks that should be completed on the first day:

Personal welcome
Make sure that the new employee is welcomed personally by their line manager or a member of the HR team. A warm welcome creates a positive atmosphere and shows that the company values the new employee.

Orientation session
Hold an orientation session to give the new employee an overview of the company. Present important information such as the company’s history, mission, vision, corporate values, and important company policies and procedures.

Company tour
Organize a guided tour of the offices and facilities. Show the new employee important places such as the canteen, toilets, printer rooms, and emergency exits, and introduce them to colleagues and key people in the company.

Check the workstation
Ensure that the workstation is fully equipped and that all devices are in working order. Check that the new employee has access to all the necessary systems and resources and whether they know how to get in touch with the IT department if they have any questions or problems.

First meeting with the immediate team
Arrange a first meeting with the team in which the new employee will be working. This provides a formal introduction and helps the new employee get to know their colleagues and establish important initial relationships.

These activities on the first day of work are designed to give the new employee a sense of belonging and appreciation, and to lay the foundations for a successful induction and long-term employment with the company.

 

The first week

The first week of a new person’s employment is a crucial time for their induction and integration into the team. Here are five key tasks that should be covered in the first week to ensure an effective onboarding process:

Intensive training and introduction to work processes
Plan targeted training sessions to familiarize the new employee with the tasks, tools, and systems specific to their role. This includes both basic processes and more specialized, role-related skills and knowledge.

Assignment of initial, manageable tasks:
Give the new employee small, manageable projects or tasks to give them a feel for the practical work. These first tasks should be designed to offer an early sense of achievement and boost their confidence.

Daily check-ins with the supervisor or mentor
Organize short daily meetings between the new starter and their supervisor or assigned mentor to discuss progress, answer questions, and provide feedback. This helps the new employee feel oriented and supported.

Introduction to team dynamics and participation in regular meetings:
Integrate the new employee into regular team meetings and other communication channels. This promotes an understanding of the team dynamics and helps the employee get to know current projects and discussions.

Feedback meeting at the end of the first week
Conduct a formal feedback meeting at the end of the week to discuss the employee’s experience and gather their first impressions. This also provides an opportunity to adapt the onboarding plan based on the feedback received.

These planned activities help to effectively introduce the new employee to their role and the team, and lay the foundation for successful and long-term cooperation within the company.

 

The first 90 days

The first 90 days are crucial for the long-term integration and productivity of a new employee. Here are five key tasks that should be considered part of the onboarding process during this period.

Ongoing training and professional development
Plan ongoing training and workshops tailored to the specific requirements of the new employee’s role. This may include attending external courses or certification programs to further enhance their skills and knowledge.

Active involvement in larger projects
Once the new employee has become familiar with basic tasks and processes in the first few weeks, you should gradually involve them in larger and more complex projects. This not only gives them an understanding of the broader business goals and strategies, but also a sense of making a valuable contribution to the team.

Regular one-to-one meetings with their supervisor
Organize weekly or bi-weekly one-to-one meetings between the employee and their supervisor to monitor progress, set goals, and provide continuous feedback. These meetings are important to ensure that the employee is on the right track and that any problems are addressed at an early stage.

Build an internal network
Actively support the new employee in building a network within the organization. This can take the form of participation in various interdepartmental meetings, company events, or informal meetings with colleagues from other departments.

Evaluation and adaptation of the onboarding process
At the end of the first 90 days, a formal evaluation of the onboarding process should take place. This should include a comprehensive assessment of the employee’s performance, a review of the targets set, and a detailed feedback session in which the employee shares their experiences and can request further support or resources.

This structured approach during the first 90 days not only supports the new employee’s induction, but also promotes their long-term loyalty to the company. A well-thought-out 90-day plan helps to successfully integrate the new employee and make them a committed and productive member of the team.

 
 

Planning content and activities

Step 3 in onboarding

The phases are planned! Now it’s time to ensure they cover the right content. Measures must now be developed to equip new employees with the necessary knowledge and skills, and to integrate them successfully into the company. The planning of content and activities should be flexible enough to cater to individual needs and different learning styles. The aim is to create a comprehensive and supportive experience that enables new employees to quickly become productive and an integral part of the team.

 

Contents for orientation

  • Corporate culture and values: Communicate the company’s history, core values, and the prevailing culture. This helps new employees understand the ethical guidelines and behaviors that are valued in the company.
  • Overview of the company: Provide a comprehensive introduction to the company structure, key people, and the various departments.

Specific training courses

  • Professional skills: Depending on the new employee’s role, plan targeted training courses to prepare them for their specific duties. This could include technical training, sales techniques, or specialized software training.
  • Soft skills: Organize training in areas such as communication, conflict management, and teamwork, which are important for both personal development and effective cooperation within the company.

Mentoring and networking

  • Mentoring programs: Assign each new employee a mentor, ideally from the same departmental area. The mentor serves as their first point of contact and support during the induction period.
  • Events: Plan informal meetings such as lunches or after-work events to give new employees the opportunity to network with colleagues from different departments.

Practical experience and feedback

  • Tasks and projects: Start assigning practical tasks at an early stage to enable the new employee to put what they have learned into practice. This should be done in a controlled environment in which mistakes are treated as learning opportunities.
  • Regular feedback rounds: Implement a system in which regular feedback is given, both formally in appraisal meetings and informally by the person’s mentor or direct supervisor.

Continuous development

  • Training plans: Develop plans for your employees’ continuous professional development. These could include access to online courses, attending conferences, or special training programs.
  • Performance targets: Set clear, measurable goals for the first few months and discuss these with the new employee to clarify expectations and foster motivation.
 

Choosing the right technology

Step 4 in onboarding

Using the right technology in onboarding both significantly simplifies the process of inducting new employees and optimizes existing procedures. These tools can not only make managing the onboarding process more efficient, but also improve the learning experience for new employees.

Here are some important aspects to consider when integrating technology into the onboarding process. Make sure that the tool

  • can automate workflows
  • monitors the progress of the onboarding process
  • provides access to eLearning modules and other digital training resources
  • offers opportunities to customize onboarding content based on the new employee’s role, interests, and background
  • facilitates communication between new employees, their colleagues, and superiors
  • offers opportunities to provide feedback on the onboarding experience
  • can generate analyses and reports
  • is mobile-compatible
  • includes security and data protection
 

Smart onboarding with a learning management system

A learning management system (LMS) is the ideal tool for an effective onboarding process. All training materials and resources are made available on a central platform. New employees can easily access documents, videos, eLearning modules, and other relevant content they need for their induction. This gives them easy access to necessary information and ensures that all employees receive the same resources and learning opportunities.

 

Scalable and consistent training

With an LMS, companies can ensure that every employee receives consistent training regardless of their location or time of hire. The system enables them to scale training for a large number of employees simultaneously, which is particularly advantageous for companies with several branches or a large number of employees.

Progress tracking and reporting

An LMS enables HR teams and line managers to monitor the new employees’ progress with their training. Managers can see which courses have been completed and how employees have performed in the various tests and modules. This data helps to objectively assess training progress and provide additional support or resources if necessary.

Flexibility in the learning process

An LMS allows employees to learn at their own pace. They can access the learning content at any time and from anywhere, which is particularly important for remote employees or those in different time zones. This flexibility improves the learning experience and increases the likelihood of the content being effectively retained and implemented.

Personalized learning experiences

Modern LMS platforms give you the option to personalize learning paths and tailor them to employees’ specific roles and career goals. Personalized learning paths can increase employee motivation and engagement by providing them with relevant and targeted content.

Integration with other HR systems

Many LMSs can be integrated with other HR management systems, which simplifies your employee data and process administration. Integration enables information to be transferred seamlessly between systems, saving time and improving data consistency.

Support for continuous development

In addition to supporting the onboarding process, an LMS also assists with your employees’ continuous professional development. Being able to constantly acquire new skills and knowledge contributes to employee satisfaction and loyalty, and ultimately boosts the company’s performance.

 

A learning management system not only facilitates efficient and effective onboarding, but also promotes a corporate culture that encourages learning, which is crucial to both the long-term success of the company and employee satisfaction.

 

Learning management systems for different requirements

Knowledgeworker Share Logo
LMS
lean
fast
focused on learning
quickly implemented

Knowledgeworker Share

LMS specialist

  • suitable for nationally and internationally operating small & medium-sized companies as well as for focused, selective training and learning processes
  • intuitive solution based on social media concepts
  • very easy setup and very fast implementation
  • very low administration and system support
efront logo
LMS
optional modules
add-ons
e-commerce

eFront

LMS Allrounder

  • Suitable for nationally & internationally operating medium-sized & large companies with a variety of different learning activities across the group 
  • fully equipped LMS with focus on efficient learning processes
  • interfaces to many 3rd parties
  • fast implementation with capped costs
  • low administration and system support
Cornerstone Logo
LMS
full HR suite
many optional modules
e-commerce

Cornerstone SBX/CSX

LMS for HR professionals

  • suitable for nationally & internationally operating medium-sized & large companies with a variety of different learning activities across the group 
  • fully comprehensive learning management system with focus on complete employee development
  • Additional modules such as Performance Management, Talent Management, Recruiting & Onboarding, Skill Management, Competence Development, Central HR Platform
edcast logo
LXP
skills
competence management
connects many systems

EdCast by Cornerstone

Superlative LXP

  • suitable for nationally & internationally operating medium-sized & large companies with a wide range of different learning activities across the group 
  • integrated learning world that seamlessly combines personalization and consistency
  • central platform with all required learning resources for formal learning, micro-learning, social learning or informal learning 
  • easy integration of other systems and platforms
 
 

Case study

Case study: Digital onboarding
Banner checklist learning management system elearning

Our pet project: delivering outstanding onboarding

How Fressnapf supports new employees through the first half of the year and takes the pressure off store management.

 

Fostering personal integration

Step 5 in onboarding

In addition to the new employee’s professional integration during onboarding, their personal integration naturally plays a major role, too. Personal integration means strengthening social and professional relationships within the company. This step therefore goes beyond formal induction and focuses on creating a deeper connection between the new employee, their colleagues, and the corporate culture. The following activities can help:

 

Mentoring programs

Assign each new employee a mentor—preferably someone from the same department or with similar professional experience. The mentor serves as their first point of contact for questions and support, and helps the new employee find their way around the company more quickly.

Coaching sessions

Offer regular coaching meetings in which personal and professional goals are discussed and development plans drawn up. These sessions foster employee engagement and professional development.

Team orientation activities

Organize special activities aimed at introducing the new employee to the team. This could include team lunches, joint projects, or team-building events.

Regular team meetings

Ensure that new employees regularly attend team meetings so they understand current projects, goals, and challenges. These meetings also provide a platform for the new employee to share ideas and feedback.

Corporate events

Invite new employees to company events, such as parties, anniversaries, and other social events. These events are excellent opportunities for them to build informal networks and experience the company culture at first hand.

Workshops on corporate culture

Offer workshops that deepen your employees’ knowledge of the company’s history, values and traditions. Such events can strengthen understanding and appreciation of the company culture.

Feedback loops

Implement a system in which new employees can give regular feedback on their experience and integration. This can be done through surveys, individual meetings with HR, or direct feedback to line managers. Use the feedback collected to continuously improve the onboarding program.

 

Evaluating and adapting the onboarding program

Step 6 in onboarding

It should now be clear to everyone that a successful onboarding process is not a rigid one. Evaluation and adaptation are part of it. This enables you to continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your onboarding process and make any necessary changes in a timely manner. Here are our tips:

 

Define success criteria

  • Define specific, measurable indicators (KPIs) that evaluate the success of the onboarding program. These can include, for example, training duration, employee satisfaction, time to full productivity, and employee retention rates.
  • Schedule regular meetings to review and analyze the data collated. This will help you identify trends and react to problems in good time.

Collect feedback

  • Encourage new employees to give open and honest feedback on their onboarding experience. This can be done through surveys, feedback forms, or personal discussions.
  • Also collect feedback from the other people involved in the induction process, such as mentors, line managers, and the HR team. This will give you a comprehensive range of viewpoints on the onboarding process.

Analyze and evaluate the data

  • Analyze the data you have collected and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the current onboarding process.
  • Compile regular reports on onboarding performance. These reports should not only show the results for the KPIs, but also contain suggestions for improvements.

Adapt your onboarding process

  • Adapt your onboarding activities based on the feedback and analysis results. This could include updating training materials, amending schedules, or introducing new activities.
  • Test new approaches and be open to experiments and pilot projects within your onboarding process. This can encourage innovative practices and keep the program dynamic and adaptable.

Foster the learning culture

  • Create a culture of continuous learning and improvement, both for the new employees and for the team carrying out the onboarding.
 

Ensuring long-term support

Step 7 in onboarding

The seventh step in the onboarding process is concerned with providing long-term support for new employees. This phase is crucial to ensure that employees are not only successfully inducted, but also remain motivated and continue to develop over time.

  • Create an individual development plan for each new employee that is tailored to their specific career goals and needs. These plans should be reviewed and updated regularly to identify relevant training opportunities.
  • Provide access to internal and external training programs, online courses, and workshops. This not only fosters the employees’ professional skills, but also their personal development.
  • Highlight career opportunities within the company and show what steps are necessary to reach these positions. This gives new employees a clear idea of possible promotion paths.
  • Even after the initial phase, an ongoing mentoring program can be very valuable. Long-term mentors can help employees develop professionally and establish important networks within the company.
  • Implement a system that allows for regular feedback both formally through performance reviews and informally through the employees’ line managers. This helps employees understand their performance and continuously improve.
  • Develop a recognition system that rewards outstanding performance. This could include formal recognition programs, bonus payments, or simply public praise.
  • Encourage participation in company initiatives that strengthen the corporate culture, such as volunteering, company events, and social gatherings.
  • Encourage new employees to join internal networks or interest groups. This promotes interaction with colleagues outside their immediate working environment and supports the formation of supportive communities.
  • Offer support with organizational changes and personal challenges. This could be through access to counseling services, support groups, or resources for personal well-being.
  • Consider flexible working arrangements to support their work-life balance and meet their different needs.
 

The bottom line.

A well-structured and planned onboarding process is crucial for the successful induction of new employees. It not only ensures smooth integration into the company, but also contributes significantly to employee satisfaction and productivity. HR managers can create an onboarding program that effectively supports new employees and motivates them to succeed in their new roles. By incorporating technology, adapting to individual needs, and continuously evaluating and adapting the onboarding process, you ensure that you not only meet current requirements, but also proactively respond to changes in the working environment going forward. This strengthens employee loyalty to the company and promotes long-term development and motivation. Investing in a solid onboarding program pays off in the long run by reducing staff turnover and fostering a strong company culture that attracts and retains new talent.

 
Janet Beier | Senior Marketing Manager
Janet Beier
eLearning author
 

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