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Creating a stellar employee onboarding experience that helps employees soar!

employee-productivityStarting a new job is a bit like taking a trip. You do the research online, check out TripAdvisor, book your tickets, pre-book your seats, board the plane and hopefully everything goes well and you enjoy your vacation destination! This blog will go through the onboarding process for new employees in such way that employers can ensure new staff become engaged and performing members of the team as quickly as possible. That dream job should make you as happy as a dream vacation!


Onboarding starts before an employee is hired. Employer branding and culture shaping messages help candidates to self-select to ensure a good fit. You can be sure that potential candidates are checking you out on LinkedIn, Facebook and Glassdoor, similar to the way travelers check TripAdvisor when planning a trip. At this point in the process, candidates and applicants need to be treated like customers and clients. Ensure that your culture, values and brand are at the forefront of your recruiting strategies to attract the best fit candidates.


Your new hire paperwork, offer letter and job descriptions should be sent out seamlessly and it should be easy for candidates to complete and submit the documentation needed online. These types of processes are best when they are automated to ensure a consistent, efficient and seamless experience. Have you ever had an online booking fall through or lost a new employee before they started? Use checklists and technology to make sure nothing slips through. Clearly and concisely written offer letters and job descriptions provided at this time act as a booking confirmation. Make sure all the details needed are included.

Before starting (pre-boarding)

Once your new hire has received and accepted their offer, don’t leave them with nothing to do until the first day. Start your pre-boarding process to make sure the first day is a great experience. This is a good opportunity to give them access to training videos, compliance related documents, employee handbooks and more. It’s a bit like seat selection on an airplane. You’ll still get a seat if you don’t pre-book, but the advance seat selection makes boarding a bit easier. If at all possible, see if candidates can complete any compliance training necessary for the role online in advance. A best practice is to have a set amount or gift card to compensate employees for any time spent on mandatory compliance training at home. The use of videos can reinforce company branding, show off company culture and ensure consistency in training for all new staff. Best of all, employees can review as needed. Many of the mandatory training pieces, similar to the airplane pre-flight “safety talk” have to be completed before a staff can start any actual work in the company. Make sure that you have checklists for this process or an online tracking system. It is worth the investment to get this done before the first day onsite so that the actual first day can be more people and culture focused rather than compliance focused.

The first day

This is the most exciting day for the new staff and for the team. Anxieties may be running high for the new employee; it is a big change to come into a brand new organization. Make sure that managers and frontline staff are all part of the plan to create an unforgettable first day. The employee’s desk and work area should be prepared, meet and greets with senior staff and with their co-workers should be set up. Food, fun, opportunities to connect and clear expectations will set the tone for a successful lift off. Just as on an airplane the captain takes a few moments to greet passengers and let them know the flight plan – a roles and responsibilities discussion with a senior manager should happen that explains how the employee’s role connects to the business and the team goals. Have you ever been on a plane when it landed at its destination (usually a warm vacation destination) and the passengers broke out in spontaneous applause? Done well, the first day at a new job should leave the new employee with that same feeling, that they have touched down in a place in which they want to be.

The first week and beyond

The onboarding process will continue over the first week, 3 months, 6 months and even up to 1 year before the employee enters the regular talent management program. The onboarding in your organization during this time will depend on the employee’s role and your goals for the employee. It should include clear expectations on how and when performance will be measured, ongoing regular meetings with the employee’s immediate manager, partnering of the new employee with a peer mentor, on the job training and cross training in different departments, training and development excursions and more.

Continuous onboarding – manager and employee engagement

As described in Work Rules, by Laszlo Bock, Google has found it helpful to email out checklists and reminders to both the new employee and to their manager to ensure that the successful onboarding continues. This type of “nudge” with the email reminder and the simple steps proved to be very effective for successful employee engagement and decreasing time for the new employee to reach peak performance. Both the manager and the new employee responded to the nudges in ways that lead to measurable improvements (by 25%) in Google’s onboarding process. The email to managers included this simple checklist:

  1. Have a role and responsibilities discussion.
  2. Match your new hire with a peer buddy.
  3. Help your new hire build a social network.
  4. Set up onboarding check-ins once a month for your new hire’s first six months.
  5. Encourage open dialogue

(p. 295 Work Rules by Laszlo Block)

Hoping these tips help you and your organization to create “something special in the air” and that your new employees will find themselves “where they’ve always wanted to go, who they’ve always wanted to be!” Airline slogans

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Marcia Scheffler

Human Resources Generalist at Wawel Villa
Marcia Scheffler, M.A., CHRP Candidate is a Human Resources Generalist with M.A. working full-time as a Senior HR Officer. She is interested in the intersection of human resources theory and current best practices in HR. Read more
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