How to Speed Up Your Employee Onboarding Process

How to Speed Up Your Employee Onboarding Process

Around 31 percent of new employees leave their job within the first six months, which goes to show first impressions tend to be lasting impressions. How you introduce a new employee to your company can ultimately determine whether they stick around for the long run or jump ship as soon as a newer, better offer comes along.

Knowing how to successfully onboard a new employee can mean the difference between having a team that stays and having a high turnover rate. Companies that have efficient, robust onboarding processes tend to improve their retention rate by more than 80 percent. Plus, employee productivity is about 70 percent higher at businesses with effective onboarding processes.

When it comes to improving your company’s onboarding process, you want to look for ways to make it more efficient and speed up the process without sacrificing quality or clarity. Here are seven ways you can do just that.

why do employees leave

Be Prepared to Onboard Before the New Hire Arrives

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Without an idea of how you’ll bring new employees in, get their paperwork in order and show them how things are done, you have no way of knowing how to get a new employee up to speed.

Having a plan for onboarding before you bring anyone new on will also help you learn how to speed up your onboarding process. Think of onboarding like a machine. When everything falls into place and everyone knows exactly what they need to do, onboarding will run smoothly. But if anyone is unclear on their role, or if a key component of the machine is missing, the process will clatter to a halt.

Here’s what you can do to prepare for onboarding before your new hire sets foot in your office:

  • Assign Roles: One big turn-off for new employees that leads to confusion and inefficiency is having multiple people at a company give them the same — or worse, conflicting — directions or instructions. As part of your onboarding process, decide who will work with new hires and in which areas. Your human resources department can handle making sure the employee completes the necessary documents, for example, while division managers can handle actual on-the-job training. A supervisor or peer could also be responsible for welcoming the new employee socially and introducing them to other members of the team. Finally, a manager or supervisor should take on the role of mentor, working with the new team member to create a list of goals to work on during the first few months on the job.
  • Create a Plan and Review It: New employees are likely to have lots of questions about what they should be doing, where they need to be and so on. Along with giving each member of your existing team a clear role in the onboarding process, make sure to outline a clear plan for the procedure and review it with the entire team. That way, if a new employee has any questions, anyone will be able to answer them.
  • Make Sure to Cover the Basics: Your new employees need to know what their specific responsibilities and roles are, and how those duties fit into the company’s overall goals. They’ll also need to know the rules or expectations your company has. Onboarding should also introduce new hires to the company’s culture and give them a chance to connect with other members of the team.

how to retain employees

Start the Onboarding Process Early

One way to learn how to revamp your onboarding process is to start the process earlier than you think is necessary. Onboarding shouldn’t begin on day one — it should start before the new hire even becomes an official employee.

Starting the process early gives your new employees a jumpstart on getting to know the company, their responsibilities and your expectations. Starting early also gives your current employees and HR team a chance to get ready for a new staff member.

Here are a few things you can do to get a head start:

  • Prepare and email employment paperwork to the new hire, such as a W-4, I-9 and any other documents your company requires.
  • Create an email account for the employee, set up their office phone and create company social media accounts for them, if relevant.
  • Have the employee come in and have their photo taken for an employee ID.
  • Have the manager or supervisor create a detailed job description for the employee, outlining day-to-day duties, short-term goals and long-term goals.
  • Make a list of anything the employee would need to know about the workspace before they come in for their first day. For example, is there a code required to enter the building or use the restrooms? Is there a code for the copier? What are the names of the people in their department? What’s the WiFi password?
  • Create a benefits package for the employee and email any paperwork they’ll need to complete for insurance or retirement accounts before the first day. Be sure to include a document that details what benefits the employee is eligible for and the amount of those benefits, such as the number of vacation days, number of sick days and whether the company offers a 401(k) match.
  • Set up the area where the new hire will sit or work. Make sure they have a seat, the appropriate equipment and an adequate amount of office supplies, like pens, paper and a stapler.
  • Give the employee access to training materials before the start day. Whether your company’s training materials are a handbook, a series of instructional videos or web guides, they can get a head start on learning the ropes if you give them a week or two to review the materials before their start date.



onboarding should start before the first day

Make the Employee Part of the Team From Day One

Another way to make new employees feel comfortable faster is to immerse them in company culture right from the get-go. The first day is often the most critical day in a new employee’s career — up to 4 percent of employees have left a job after a terrible first day.

Getting the paperwork filled out before the employee comes in — and giving them all the welcome materials needed before day one — will allow your new team member to jump right in on their first day.

It’s critical for the managers and supervisors who will work directly with a new employee to allow room in their schedules on that first day for welcoming them. One-third of new hires say they want a manager to show them what to do and introduce them to others in the office on the first day. It can be very alienating for a new person to show up for work, only to be told the manager they’ll be working under isn’t there.

The first day should have a special feel to it, and you should do what you can to make a new hire feel unique and welcome. Scheduling these activities for an employee’s first day can help him or her get acclimated more quickly:


  • Make Introductions: Have every member of your department — or at least everyone the new team member will work with — gather in a conference room. Introduce the new employee, explain their role, why you hired them and ask them to share a fun fact. Then, have each member of your existing team introduce themselves, as well. You should also encourage your current staff to leave some time in their day to speak with the new employee one-on-one.
  • Give Them a Tour: As the manager, it’s important to take the new employee around the building or campus and show them where everything is. Don’t just show them their desk and the bathroom. You should also point out the HR department, the lounge or kitchen, any vending machines, the fastest copier and maybe even the best local lunch spot.
  • Go Over Goals and Expectations: If both the employee and manager are on the same page from day one about the expectations for the job and the goals of the role, the new hire is likely to become productive much sooner.
  • Pair the Employee With a Mentor or Buddy: Although most new hires want a manager to show them around, you might not always be around to answer all the questions new workers have. Connecting your new team member with a mentor — either a peer or supervisor — gives them someone to turn to whenever they have questions. Be sure the mentor understands their role and is willing to provide guidance and be pro-active about engaging with the new team member.

onboarding an employee on their first day

Share Company Culture With Them

You want employees who know the rules and follow them, but you also don’t want to scare off new employees by making it seem like your company has a lengthy list of “must-follow” rules. Here are a few proper employee onboarding tips that will help you show new hires your company’s values and cultures, which can motivate and encourage them to perform the jobs well:

  • Be Transparent: Make sure all materials you give new hires are a good reflection of your company’s culture. From the job description to your company’s website and social media presence, any material a new or potential employee receives before being hired should present your values and give a clear look into what your business culture is like. For example, if you’re a buttoned-up, formal company, don’t feature images of workers playing ping-pong on your website. If you expect everyone in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, don’t post images suggesting people can telecommute.
  • Invite New Hires to Company Events: You can start including new hires even before their first day. Maybe you regularly hold a company happy hour on Friday afternoons, or perhaps a few members of the team meet on Monday mornings to talk about the latest episode of a TV show. No matter the topic, let your new team member know about company events and encourage them to attend — even if it’s before their start date.
  • Give New Hires a Cheat Sheet: You might consider giving new hires a cheat sheet, especially if your company uses a lot of jargon or acronyms. This resource will help them “learn the language,” helping them get up to speed and feel like a true part of the team more quickly.
  • Have Lunch With New Employees: Set a lunch date with your new team members about a week into the job so you can touch base and answer any questions they have in an informal, relaxed setting. You can also explain any ideas or tasks that might be causing a newbie cultural confusion.

how managers can help onboard employees

Set Clear Expectations

How long should it take a new hire to get up to speed? There’s no one right answer, as the onboarding process can vary so much based on the type of work a person is doing and the level of the position. There’s no set average time to onboard a new employee.

That said, setting clear expectations from the start — or even before the start — will help speed up the time it takes an employee to get acclimated to the position and the role.

When going over your expectations for the job with a new employee, make sure to break things down into actionable steps. You want to give the person an idea of what you hope they accomplish during their first year in the job. However, it’s also important to provide them with an idea of what you want them to have done within the first month — or even the first week. Breaking down goals and expectations into specific, manageable pieces will help your employee prepare for the months and weeks ahead.

You also want to let your employee know how you’ll evaluate their work. Will you have regular check-ins or evaluations to make sure they’re on track? It can be worth scheduling check-ins with new team members after the first week, first month and first 60 days to make sure they’re swimming and not sinking. If they’re struggling, those check-ins will give you a chance to toss them a life preserver and get them back on track.

set clear expectations as part of the onboarding process

Focus on What Matters

With so much to focus on during the onboarding process, it can be easy for certain things to get lost in the shuffle. As a manager, it’s better to focus on introducing your employees to the company’s culture and making sure the expectations for the job are clear than to worry about whether the employee completed all their paperwork.

Using technology to help with the onboarding process, such as an onboarding automation software that handles all the paperwork, will help you focus on making your new staff members feel like they’re part of the team.

Work to Constantly Improve Your Onboarding Process

Even the best onboarding processes will have some issues from time to time and should be updated as times and expectations change. Keeping track of your company’s onboarding effectiveness metrics will help you see when, where and how you can make improvements.

If you’re looking to speed up your company’s onboarding process, contact us today to learn more about Vanguard’s employee onboarding automation software.

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