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Best Practices for Employee Onboarding

When you start a small business, creating an employee handbook is probably not on your to do list. Later, when your business starts to grow you need to find tools, templates, policies and other guidelines to get staff up to speed faster.

One part of your employee handbook development relates to employee onboarding.

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What is Employee Onboarding?

Remember your first day working for your company? When you walked in, you looked around and wondered, “Where do I start?”

Ideally, there should have been someone there to show you the ropes.

  • How to find your computer, log in, access the network
  • Meet your team members, see where they work, and introduce yourself
  • Spend time with the HR manager and go through the Employee Handbook, Training Manual and other policy documents

That’s all part of onboarding. It’s the process of getting you on board, i.e. understanding where you fit into the company and how it operates.

What is Employee Onboarding Important?

Employee onboarding serves three interrelated purposes.

  • Ensures new recruits feel comfortable, prepared, and supported
  • Helps them understand their role faster, embrace your values, and work with clients
  • Improves employee satisfaction and retention rates

This article explores the best practices for employee onboarding.

Employee Onboarding – Prep Work

To prepare for a new hire's start date, create an agenda for the first week on the job.

  • Schedule times for the new hire to meet with key staff members.
  • Provide staff with the new employee's resume and job description.
  • Encourage them to arrange a meeting and describe their own position, how their role interacts, and how they might work together.
  • Assign a mentor to the new hire for any questions,
  • Help them find friend and build a network within the company
  • Share information about resources and facilities
  • Outline your organizational culture and goals

Employee Onboarding – Technical Setup

Setup a workstation and provide them with the necessary equipment to get started, such as paper, pens, computer, phone, keys, and business cards.

  • Setup voicemail and email
  • Put your organization chart, staff list and phone directory on their desk
  • Leave your employee handbook and other documentation with them

Make sure all administrative forms, such as employment, bank details, and benefits are ready to be processed on day one.

Employee Onboarding – Day One

Your first day of a new job can be difficult. You can reduce their anxiety by:

  • Making sure someone is available to greet the new employee
  • Gives them an office tour
  • Introduce them to staff members
  • Shows them the fax, lunch room, and restrooms

You can balance out this information overload with a nice lunch; for example, make it a policy to treat new employees to a free lunch.

Later, schedule a meeting with their line manager. They should review the role and responsibilities and discuss their expectations for the next 30-90 days.

Employee Onboarding – Getting Settled

The first week focuses on the exchange between the new hire and other staff members, primarily with their line manager.

During the first week, the supervisor and new hire should:  

  • Discuss company policies, management style and processes
  • Agree on expectations
  • Create a timeline for deliverables

It is also important for they interact with staff that may not be on their team. Schedule at least one meeting with different staff members.

This gives them time to learn about the company from different perspectives and to create relationships with key staff members.

In addition to interacting internally, if appropriate, ensure that they meet in person any necessary partners, funders, Board members.

Employee Onboarding – Monitoring

Employee onboarding doesn’t stop after the first day. Instead, continue the induction phase past the first week and into first three months, if necessary. Look for ways to integrate new hires into other business units and the organization as a whole.

After three months:

  • Ask the line manager to provide feedback on the new hire's performance and
  • Solicit feedback from the new employee

Depending on your company culture, involve a member of the human resource department if it seems appropriate.


One key to effective employee onboarding is creating opportunities for feedback into the onboarding process.

Encourage new hires to share ideas on improving the operations, strategy, or company culture.

Employee onboarding is an iterative process that evolves over time. Although this requires an investment of time and energy, it pays dividends for your organization for years to come.

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