4 Essential Ways to Improve Your Employee Onboarding Process

10 min read

With back to school in full swing and fall around the corner means one thing: hiring season is in full peak.

But recruiting employees is only half the battle. 

Keeping them on board is where the magic happens.

According to Gallup, only 12% of employees “strongly agree” that their organization does a great job onboarding new employees.

In other words, there’s a lot of room for improvement on the onboarding front.

After all :

Poor onboarding = disengaged employees = higher turnover.

Without a solid onboarding process in place, your interviewing efforts go to waste and wind up costing you more in the long run.

A recent study conducted by SHRM found that it costs the average company 6-9 months worth of an employee’s salary to identify and onboard a replacement.

That’s not even including the number of hours spent training your new hire.

On the contrary, companies with successful employee onboarding processes can improve hiring retention by 82% and report greater revenue and profit margins.

Along with insights from our team and key findings by HR leaders, here are 4 ways to improve your employee onboarding process:

1. Prioritize the Employee Experience by Keeping It Simple, Silly!

If you want to improve your onboarding process the first thing you need to do is put yourself in your new hire’s shoes and prioritize their experience.

So let’s paint a picture, shall we?

After being unemployed for quite some time, they’re reentering the workforce.

New people, new environment, new role.

A lot is expected: new paperwork to fill, safety protocols to follow, employee handbooks to read and most of all: new responsibilities to take on and master.

Most companies make the mistake of pumping out the entire process in a day’s worth.

Which explains why 88% percent of employees are unhappy with their company’s onboarding process.

According to Kathryn Minshew, founder and CEO of career advice from The Muse, it’s important to take the load off by sending the new hire relevant information BEFOREHAND.

Information such as “their employee handbook and benefits information ahead of their first day gives them a chance to get acquainted with the culture before they step in the door”.

Adjustment takes time and the last thing you want to do is bombard or scare away your new hire by overwhelming them on their first day.

The first day is a crucial step to making a good first impression on your new hire.

Always put yourselves in their shoes by asking yourself: 

If I was a new hire and this was my first day on the job, would I enjoy the onboarding experience I’m receiving? 

If the answer is no, then you have some adjustments to make.

There’s a time and place for information overload and it’s not during the beginning stages of the onboarding process.

The first day should be focused on a “mini-onboarding session”. 

New hires need time to become reacquired with their new role and tasks.

This includes: 

  • Introducing them to the team and offering them a friendly tour of their workplace (if applicable).
  • Reviewing their work schedule and hours either manually or digitally with an employee scheduling app.
  • Helping them set up any equipment they may need.
  • Doing some light paperwork ( including code of conduct, safety policies and reviewing job responsibilities) *emphasis on light*
  • Answering or clarifying any questions they may have along the way.

That’s it! 

No 3-hour snoozefest PowerPoint presentation on safety protocols or 20-page paperwork required.

The rest of the week should involve ensuring their new training is put in place, their tasks are given and the equipment they need to succeed is functioning properly.

When it comes to the employee onboarding process, structure is needed but the most important part is to keep it “light” and “simple”.

With an employee onboarding software in place easily takes the stress off.

2. Keep the Lines of Communication Open at All Times

Communication is a buzzword. 

It gets thrown around left and right yet when it comes down to it, most employers have a hard time successfully implementing it on a day to day basis. 

We’ve all had that one boss who told us “not to hesitate to reach out to them if there are any questions”.

Yet when you did reach out, their approach was cold and suggested annoyance more than anything else.

Don’t be that person.

Instead, be the employer who genuinely cares about your new hires’ well being and helping them out when needed.

Because let’s face it: Adjustment isn’t easy and we can’t know what we haven’t learned.

Plus, if you don’t have the proper training in place, your new hire is going to approach you a handful of times.

Either that or they’re going to spend unnecessary time attempting to figure it out on their own only to get frustrated.

Deb Lamere, Vice President of employee experience at Ceridian sheds light on the importance of touching base with your new hire on a daily basis:

“Checking with them via email or, better yet, in person could simply be a ‘How’s it going?’ or even sending them company information or industry news until they are added to the distribution lists. The more you can communicate and share with the new hire in the first few days, the better the experience is for him or her.”

Better communication not only helps new employees feel welcome and comfortable it also maximizes their productivity from the get-go.

By keeping the lines of communication open, new hires are able to express their questions or concerns that may be holding them back from bringing their A-game in their role.

Whether it be creating their shift directly on their employee scheduling app, knowing how to perform a certain task or needing clarification on something, no question is a silly one.

The goldmine lies in the 1 on 1 communication.

While these exceptional circumstances make the hand-on experience a little more difficult to undertake, it’s still possible with the right safety precautions in place.

Otherwise, if you’re in the remote realm, having daily 1 on 1 check-in for the first two weeks via Zoom or Google Hangouts and ongoing opt-ins afterwards can work wonders in providing clarity in their tasks while maximizing their productivity and building a rapport with them.

3. Make the Transition Easier and Less Time Consuming by Adopting a “Buddy System”

Everyone loves having a buddy.

They add tons of value to your life and bring out the best in you.

Now imagine having a “buddy system” on your first day of work. 

Not only does it ease the first day of work jitters for your new hire but it takes a load off your shoulders as well.

If communication isn’t your strong suit and you don’t have the time to provide them undivided attention when they need it most, a buddy system can work wonders.

In fact, according to HCI, 87 percent of organizations that assign an ambassador or buddy program during the onboarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency.

Now that you know the benefits, let’s get down to the big question:

What exactly is a buddy system?

In a nutshell, a buddy system is an onboarding and knowledge sharing method used to orient new employees.

The buddy normally is an existing employee who guides the new hire through the first few weeks or months on the job.

In other words: it’s someone who ensures your new hire makes a smooth transition in their job role.

A buddy can do several things for your new hire including:

  • Share knowledge and wisdom about the company to get them acclimated
  • Answer any questions they have along the way, including suggestions on the best restaurants around 🙂
  • Explain company guidelines and policies
  • Help them create their first scheduling via an employee scheduling system
  • And so much more!

With a buddy system in place, your new hire has a designated person they can turn to for questions or guidance they may need along the way. 

It takes the pressure off you to help them each step along the way and makes them feel more at ease by having someone they can turn to (without it being their own manager) when needed.


According to HBR, it’s important to have a planful manager and a dedicated onboarding buddy to ensure their new hire has a positive and productive first few months on the job.

Afterall, the most important thing a new hire needs for success is support. 

4. Make Onboarding an Ongoing Process

Let’s face it: successful onboarding is an ongoing process. 

If you want to set your new hire up for success you need to think long term.

The last thing you want is for your new hire to drop off within less than 6 months because of their lack of engagement in their role.

As easy as it is to focus on the first week or month and let things slide from there, providing an ongoing onboarding experience has many benefits.

Employees who rated their onboarding experience as “highly effective” were 18 times more likely to feel highly committed to their organization.

Turns out, the best employee onboarding programs extend throughout the employee’s first 90 days—and may even extend out for a full year—to ensure new hires are fully supported as they ramp to full productivity.

In order to attract and retain quality new hires, it’s important to participate in an ongoing process that is designed to keep [new hires] engaged in their jobs, proactive and focused on their development beyond the first 90 days, and even the first year after hire or transfer.

Some key recommendations from Glassdoor include:

  • Ensure each manager schedules regular check-ins
  • Ask for and provide consistent feedback
  • Work with new hires to set goals and define expectations
  • Follow up on and schedule any remaining trainings
  • Check on benefits enrollment and usage
  • Encourage team-building with both formal and informal activities

Adjustment takes time and you want to ensure your new hire is on the right foot by acclimating them long term so that you can avoid high employee turnover.

Another way of doing so is by evaluating their performances based on 30, 60 and 90 day check ins.

This ensures your new hire is adjusting well to their responsibilities and to their team.

Since feedback isn’t a one way street it’s important to be on the receiving end and tune in to what they have to say as well.

After all, there’s no better way of improving your onboarding process than by hearing it from the source: your new hire.


Now that you know several ways to improve your onboarding process, it’s time to implement them in your business! 

Need help with recruiting, scheduling and managing your workforce? Start a free trial of Evolia today.

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