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7 Tips to Improve Employee Onboarding

Bringing on new employees comes with its challenges, so it is crucial to invest time and energy into cultivating a positive onboarding experience for everyone involved. A study by Glassdoor discovered that “a strong onboarding process can improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.”

So, with that in mind, here are some of our top tips for improving your employee onboarding.

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A simple, fun way to welcome your new hires on their first day is with an onboarding kit–with things like laptop, notebook, pens, employee handbook, water bottle, stickers, etc. It’s a more personalized way to provide them with their necessities and some branded merch, and it helps give them a better feel for the company values and culture. This is especially important when onboarding new employees, as studies show that “companies with an established company culture have a turnover rate of 13.9%, compared to 48.4% at those without.”

Of course, throwing the company logo on a cheap product is not the point, but if you choose higher-quality and/or thoughtful swag, this will communicate a lot about who you are as a company and show your employees that they are appreciated right from the get-go. For example, if you are a company that values sustainability, providing new hires with a good quality, branded water bottle reinforces that value. Plus, who doesn’t love swag?

Start Midweek

Another tip for onboarding is to start people midweek, rather than on a Monday. The first few days of a new job are full of information and introductions and can often be a bit overwhelming. Starting midweek is a good way for new hires to ease into the job, take in new information and decompress over the weekend before starting refreshed and energized for their first full week.

Get Social

When a new hire first arrives in the office, it can be helpful to assign someone to show them around and make introductions. This can be the HR manager, their manager or even an unrelated colleague that they wouldn’t otherwise speak with on their first day. Many new hires might take the initiative to introduce themselves to everyone, but it’s a nice courtesy to take them around and show people that you are excited they’re on board.

A study by SHRM showed that “there are 4 elements that go into a great onboarding experience: self-confidence, role clarity, social integration, and knowledge of culture…and when executed effectively, these 4 elements result in onboarding that is 69% more likely to retain employees for 3 or more years.”

Planning a social activity outside of the office during an employee’s first few weeks is also important for integrating them into the social environment at work. It allows them to speak with more people–some that they may not work directly with–and to feel like they are already a part of the team. Whether it’s a dinner or something more active like bowling or mini-golf, it will help your new hires to feel welcome and facilitate positive company culture and comradery.

Connect Before the Start Date

Socializing with coworkers is an important part of integrating new employees into their roles–and this doesn’t have to wait until they arrive in the office on their first day. Connecting new hires with current employees before their start date promotes a smoother transition for both parties. Start by giving a brief introduction of the new hire–tools like BambooHR make this easy with automated “get-to-know-you” questions that are sent out to new hires and current employees.

Another great practice is to have current employees reach out to new hires before they start. Add them on LinkedIn and drop them a friendly message, for instance. Then when they arrive in the office, they will already have a familiar face and an icebreaker for initiating conversation. Or better yet, consider inviting them to a social event with some people in the office before their first day.


“Harvard Business Review said it takes employees 8 months to reach peak productivity, yet the average onboarding program lasts only 3.”

It is essential to note the difference between orientation and an onboarding program. Conducting a weeklong orientation is important, but it cannot be stressed enough that the onboarding process needs to continue well beyond this. A 2014 study by BambooHR revealed that “31% of employees left a job within 6 months of starting, and 68% of those left within the first 3 months” citing poor onboarding and the need for more effective training as reasons for leaving.

Get Feedback

As you navigate through the employee onboarding process, it’s valuable to gather feedback from your new hires to ensure that they are thriving. Aside from speaking candidly with them during onboarding, a new hire survey is a useful tool for making any necessary changes that will help to improve their–and future new hires’–experience.

Gamify the Onboarding Process

One more tip for improving employee onboarding is gamification– ”the use of points, badges, leaderboards, or other elements of what we generally know as “games” in tasks that already exist to motivate participation, engagement and loyalty.”

Gamify onboarding tasks by assigning points/badges, or running friendly competitions between new hires. This will raise the stakes and encourage new hires to stay more engaged in the overall onboarding process. Studies have even shown that gamification increased productivity during onboarding by 90%.

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