Effective onboarding involves much more than welcoming a new employee on their first day and showing them to their desk.

A well-thought-out onboarding program begins with the interview process and continues throughout the first year. The initial weeks and months on the job are critical to your new employee’s ability to fit in, become a productive member of your team as quickly as possible, and be an ambassador for your company. Be sure to engage employees early to help them acclimate to your culture and their role in the organization. Twenty-two percent of turnover happens within the first 45 days of employment (Bersin) so it is critical to maintain a close relationship with new hires to ensure long-term commitment and success.

Your onboarding procedure should be designed not only to convey important information to your new hire but to also make them feel welcome, valued, enthusiastic, and part of the team from day one. In fact, companies with an engaging onboarding program retained 91% of their first-year workers and 58% retained employees for three years or more (The Wynhurst Group). The importance of good onboarding, from both a practical and a morale standpoint, cannot be overstated.

There are 5 key elements to an effective onboarding program:


Onboarding begins during the selection process, giving your prospective employee a clear idea of your culture, working conditions, scope of work, and what they can expect from a typical day in the life of your company. Paint a clear picture of what your company is all about and “sell” it.


It is essential to be fully prepared for your new employee’s arrival. Prepare employment and benefits documents.  Set up their work station with everything they need including their new business cards, phone, computer, and office supplies.  Set up access to any tools or spaces they will need (email, passwords, alarm codes, keys, etc.).  Alert the other members of the team of their arrival and designate someone to be their mentor. Think about what questions a new employee is likely to ask and have the answers ready.


Everyone likes gifts and this is a perfect time to give a gift that shows how much you appreciate your new employee becoming a part of your team. A shirt with the company logo, a welcome aboard card, flowers, or whatever is representative of your company’s culture.  Take them and other key people with which they will be working to lunch on day one.


Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings between the new employee and their supervisor and use these meetings to go beyond project status discussions. This is an opportunity to deepen the employee’s connection to your company and to the people with whom they work.  Foster regular and healthy communication about what is going well and where there is a need for improvement.  You can use STM’s Start/Stop/Continue tool to facilitate these discussions.


The first few months are critical in setting the groundwork for commitment and retention.  If concerns arise, deal with them swiftly and appropriately.  Small issues can become big problems if not dealt with effectively and can have a significant impact on your ability to retain good talent.


As you can see, effective onboarding involves much more than welcoming a new employee on their first day and showing them to their desk. We hope these five tips will help you improve your new employee onboarding process. Now that you’ve hired the right person, make sure you get them off to a good start and keep them engaged and productive!

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