There are many aspects to quality employee onboarding, but it all boils down to helping your employee integrate into their new community at work and achieve success in their role.
To help you in your onboarding efforts, we’ve compiled a list of useful and engaging activities you can start implementing immediately to perfect the process.
Each of these activities will help you turn new hires into successful team members and ensure they stay with your company through thick and thin.
Let’s dive right in with the first and inevitable activity!
Filling Out Paperwork Before the First Workday
Everyone remembers their first day at a new company. Whether those memories will be positive or negative will depend on a variety of factors.
One of them is how that first day at work is structured.
If the employee can jump right in and start contributing to the company mission as soon as they enter the office, chances are they will feel valued and engaged from the get-go.
On the other hand, if the day is spent on filling out forms and signing endless documents, the employee will remember it as tedious, maybe even wasted.
To prevent an unfavorable first impression, it’s a good idea to get all of the red tape out of the way before the new hire’s first day at work.
In fact, it’s becoming more and more unusual to save the paperwork for the first day, as 81% of employers report that they have their new employees fill out the necessary forms as a part of their pre-boarding process.
That means using the period between offer acceptance and the first day at work to send the employee all the forms and documents needed for them to become a fully-fledged employee.
Here’s an example of a friendly email you can send to collect the necessary documents:
Be sure to provide them with any assistance they may need and answer all of their questions so that they feel supported at every step.
Apart from freeing up space during the employee’s schedule on the first day, this will also give you a reason to stay in touch with the new hire and keep them engaged during this waiting time.
With most of the paperwork out of the way, the new employee is much more likely to have a successful, highly engaging first day that they will remember fondly.
Getting to Know the Person Through Surveys
Along with the necessary paperwork, there’s one more thing you can send to the employee that will help you prepare for their arrival and make the onboarding process more personal, inclusive, and fun.
We are, of course, talking about the onboarding survey.
The onboarding survey is an excellent opportunity to find out everything you need to know about your new employee.
It can help you make onboarding more personalized and provide invaluable information you can use in the future to make sure your employee feels included and cared for at your company.
Your get-to-know-you survey can be completely customized to fit your company’s needs and can include anything from basic information about the new hire to their t-shirt size.
Ask anything you feel might be useful to help you integrate the employee into the company culture.
For instance, you can ask questions about the new employee’s favorite books, food, or learning styles. Surveys can also help you gauge what equipment might help them be more successful and productive.
There are many resources out there that can help you craft and send your onboarding surveys.
You can use tools like SurveyMonkey, or make the survey a part of your larger onboarding process using specialized software like BambooHR.
Have a look at their onboarding survey feature above.
After you’ve collected the answers, you can archive them for future reference, or share them with the entire team.
After all, they’re probably excited to meet their new coworker and eager to find out more about them.
Introducing the New Hires to Their Colleagues
Establishing interpersonal relationships at work is a crucial ingredient of a happy and productive workplace.
Furthermore, encouraging close friendships at work also improves employee retention. Studies have shown that 60% of employees are more inclined to stay with their company if they have friends at work.
Therefore, it’s important to dedicate enough time and resources to provide opportunities for team members to get to know each other, collaborate, and mingle.
To help your employees build long-lasting relationships at work, it’s important to nail the introductions as soon as the new hire joins the team.
Introducing a new employee to other team members can be done in a variety of ways.
A good place to start is by making a new employee announcement and sending it to everyone in the company, or everyone on the team if you work in a larger organization.
Have a look at how BaseCap handles new employee announcements.
They include a photo, which is very handy when your team members are trying to connect a name to the new face at the office.
The role of the new employee is also emphasized at the top and a couple of interesting facts are given about the new hire.
The announcement also makes good use of the onboarding survey, which we discussed in the previous section.
A couple of answers from the survey are given in the announcement and they say a lot about the new employee’s hopes and expectations as they are starting their new job.
They’ll serve as a nice icebreaker when the new employee meets their new colleagues in person.
After the announcement, it’s a good idea to also personally introduce the new employee to the team face-to-face.
You can do that at any point when the whole team is together during the employee’s first day. To go above and beyond, you can even organize a small event to welcome the employee, even if it’s just over pizza during lunch.
With the introductions out of the way, the next step is to start building connections between the employees, online and in real life. More on that in the following section.
Connecting the Team Online
Once you’ve successfully introduced the new hire to the team, it’s important to keep encouraging connection-building and collaboration around the office.
You can do that by providing communication channels and helping team members build a community at work.
As you already know, the internet provides us with a myriad of tools and resources that keep us connected.
With so many channels available at your fingertips, it would be a shame not to use them to deepen work relationships and facilitate quality collaboration between colleagues.
Some of the most useful networks for community building are Slack and LinkedIn. If you’re trying to encourage stronger ties between people within your organization, these would be a good place to start.
Slack works great as a kind of lobby for your company where your employees can interact, coordinate projects, or just hang out using the channels feature of the app.
You can create a #general channel to include all of your employees, or specific, smaller ones for people within one department, or employees working on a single project.
That’s a great way to release the flow of information and encourage effortless collaboration between team members, improving productivity and time-to-completion on important projects.
On the other hand, LinkedIn is amazing at building team spirit.
It works as a social network where employees can attach their profiles to the company they work for.
Recently, LinkedIn has introduced a new feature called the “My Company” Tab, where employees can follow news and announcements as well as share their own content, approved by the company page administrators.
The feature functions similarly to the main LinkedIn feed, but its contents are only visible to company employees. It’s almost like having an entire social network dedicated to your company.
These are just two examples of how online networks can help you build a community and encourage collaboration among your staff.
Use them, as well as other networks, to help new employees connect with their colleagues and get excited about working with you.
Setting Goals for the New Hire
Arriving at a new job, one of the biggest challenges your new employee faces is correctly determining what is expected of them and what goals they should be working towards.
Without a clear idea of how their work ties in with the company mission, your new employees are in real danger of becoming disengaged at work, which may lead to decreased productivity and higher turnover.
Disengagement at work is a bigger problem than you might think.
According to a Gallup survey, more than half of employees don’t feel engaged at their workplace and would consider leaving their job for a slightly better offer.
To steer clear of this disengagement epidemic, it’s a good idea to communicate clear goals to your employees from day one.
That way, your new hires will know exactly what’s expected of them at every moment and how they can contribute and advance their careers.
As soon as the employee starts working for your company, you should sit down with them and discuss the responsibilities and expectations tied to their role.
Take some time to articulate short and long-term goals to the employee.
Remember, clearly defining work goals in collaboration with the employee is a good way to ensure that those goals are clear and attainable.
Also, try to avoid setting abstract, long-term goals.
Instead, focus on smaller goals that can be easily measured to determine how successful the employee is at accomplishing them.
Having a goal to work towards is a prerequisite for job satisfaction.
So don’t miss these early opportunities during the onboarding process to set some clear, reasonable, and attainable goals in cooperation with your new employee.
There’s no doubt that employee onboarding is a high-touch, sociable process.
However, for optimal results, employees need access to resources that will enable them to learn independently and find solutions to everyday challenges, even when their mentor isn’t present.
That’s why the most successful companies invest time and effort into building knowledge bases and libraries that can be accessed at any time and from anywhere.
These commonly contain information such as company policy, employee handbooks, the code of conduct, instructions for company systems and software, and so on.
Having a solid knowledge base and sharing it with all employees, including new hires, is beneficial to every member of your staff.
It supplies employees with a wealth of information, meaning new hires can handle a lot more on their own.
It’s also of great help to supervisors and managers who have to spend less time training new hires on basic concepts and can concentrate on more pressing tasks.
If all this sounds good to you, you can start building your own company knowledge base right away.
It’s actually much easier than it sounds, thanks to documentation software like Archbee, which allows you to create an online library of documents and share it with every member of your team.
What you’re doing is creating pages for every document you need to share, publishing it online, and giving access to the people on your team who will find it useful.
It’s like having your own company Wikipedia available only to you and your staff!
Keep in mind that an unobstructed flow of information is another key ingredient for an effective onboarding process.
So, a good way to ensure that information flows freely at your company is to establish document sharing practices, such as a rich knowledge base available to your entire staff.
To reiterate a previous point, meeting with your new employees on a regular basis is a great way to stay on top of onboarding and ensure that the employee is feeling engaged and challenged in their new role.
In addition to one-on-one meetings, there are a couple more types of meetings that can help your onboarding efforts and ensure new hires are integrating into the company perfectly.
A good practice is to hold regular team meetings. Your new employee will have to work as a part of a group while working on complex projects.
It’s important that they find their place within the group dynamic and align their unique perspective with the goals and vision of the team.
In fact, 97% of workers agree that a lack of team alignment can negatively impact the outcomes of the project they are working on together.
Therefore, holding regular team meetings helps the new hire integrate with the team and gets everyone on the same page.
Finally, all employees, and new hires in particular, can benefit from some quality time with the CEO or other upper management personnel.
Studies have shown that c-suite executives are largely uninvolved in employee onboarding, which is a real shame as these are the people that carry the vision of a company.
Giving new employees a chance to interact with the CEO is an excellent way to make them feel valued and appreciated.
It’s also a good opportunity to learn from some of the most experienced members of your organization.
Of course, your CEO is one of the busiest people in the company, so it might not be that easy to schedule a regular meeting, especially in larger companies.
However, a friendly lunch with the new hires from time to time may be feasible.
It may not seem as much, but your new employees will definitely be impressed with this small token of appreciation.
The key takeaway from this section is that quality onboarding depends on quality connection building. And a structured approach to building relationships is to organize regular meetings everyone can benefit from.
Sending Welcome Gifts or Company Swag
Starting a new job means joining a completely new community.
That’s why it’s important to focus on building team spirit and making the new hire feel like a part of the community from day one.
A strong sense of community and distinct company culture are some of the most powerful weapons available to you to decrease employee turnover.
This is also a great way to increase your employees’ comfort levels, so they’re more likely to suggest new projects and ask important questions in their work.
That’s why 88% of workers and 94% of executives agree that distinct workplace culture is crucial for business success.
Making a new employee feel welcome can begin as soon as they accept your job offer.
That’s a great opportunity to send them a welcome gift or some company swag that will make them feel right at home, even before they ever set foot in the office.
Usually, a welcome kit comprises branded items that will be of use to your new employee in their everyday work.
This can include notebooks, headphones, pens, water bottles, and even hoodies for the chillier days at the office.
Some companies like to include quirkier items, as well.
That’s a great practice because it shows the fun side of your company and encourages employees to be themselves at work.
For example, interns at Google get a Nerf gun so they can hold their own in the interdepartmental nerf wars.
Including something like this in the welcome kit is also an excellent way to encourage employee interaction.
Employees are more likely to build strong interpersonal relationships at work, which should result in higher levels of collaboration and productivity.
With company swag, the sky's the limit.
Don’t be afraid to get creative and hook your new employees up with awesome gifts they’ll be proud to use every day.
As you may have noticed, this list of activities is much more than a catalog of tips to improve new employee productivity.
Our intention was to arm you with advice that will help you affirm your new employees and help them become their best selves while contributing to your company mission.
We’ve relied heavily on methods of bringing your team closer together, but we’ve also included tips on helping your employees grow and develop their skills, through efficient goal-setting and independent learning.
The items on this list are just a few examples of how you can make your new hires happier, more connected, and comfortable in their roles, which we believe are the true keys to company success.
We hope we’ve inspired you to keep experimenting with your process and come up with more awesome employee onboarding activities to try out with your new hires as a part of your onboarding process.