What Happens During Onboarding?

The simplest way to define onboarding is that it’s the official process of welcoming new employees into an organization. And as most hiring managers and HR professionals know, an integrated onboarding experience goes way beyond just filling out forms and showing your new hire around the workplace.

Today, more companies recognize the link between onboarding and retention.

Not every new hire will stick around for the long-run. In fact, 25% of new hires leave their jobs within the first six months, according to a recent survey from executive search and recruiting firm, Korn Ferry. But, as SHRM points out, new employees that have a positive onboarding experience stay at their companies longer than those that view their onboarding experience negatively.


Filling out paperwork will always be part of the onboarding experience. But companies also want to make sure new hires understand how they fit into your long-term vision. Download our recent Spotlight, “Building an Effective Onboarding Strategy” which discusses the link between onboarding and retention, and much more.

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What Exactly Happens During Onboarding?

Whether onboarding lasts a week, or continues well into your new hire’s one-year work anniversary, it can be helpful to track various ebbs and flows that can occur during the process. Below we’ve highlighted five key areas that can help address the “what happens?” question.

What Happens During Onboarding

5 Keys to Successful Onboarding

1. Get off to a solid start  

By the time a new hire starts their job, it’s possible that only a few days have passed between accepting the offer and walking in the door. A number of small details can determine whether your onboarding experience will turn them into key contributors or passive job seekers.

If possible, be there to welcome them when they arrive, or have another member of the team waiting for them. Ideally, this will be someone your new hire has met before, perhaps as part of a group interview. Showing new hires around, making sure their work station is set up, and helping them jump into work can all make a difference when it comes to leaving a positive mark on the first day.

2. Consider the paperwork

Does your new hire’s first day have to be consumed with completing new hire documents? Perhaps they can access onboarding paperwork by computer or smartphone during the pre-onboarding phase.

Once logged in, your new hire can complete key information. Be sure to comply with wage and hour laws as they relate to hours worked.

3. Make it a team effort

A moment ago, we mentioned having a member of your team meet your new hire when they arrive. When others in your company are involved in onboarding, it can make it easier for new hires to learn their way around, and see how they fit. It’s also a chance for team members to step up and share the load.

Before your new hire’s first day, have the hiring managers assign a couple of seasoned co-workers to volunteer as a welcome committee. Over the new hire’s first few weeks, they can take turns helping them get acquainted with the workplace and their coworkers, and make sure they have answers to their questions.

Encourage team members to keep things creative and fun when possible. For instance, perhaps they can set up group lunches with workers from other departments. This can help new hires put more faces with names. Doing so can help break down work silos, and spur collaboration.

4. Follow up  

As your new hire completes training modules, gets to know and partner with coworkers, and continues to learn about the company, keep in mind that a successfully integrated onboarding experience is a two-way street. It’s important to make room for follow-up conversations and feedback after a training or learning experience.

These can take the form of scheduled face-to-face check-ins with their boss, or even quick sit-downs during lunch. As conversations move beyond specific trainings or experience, consider having the hiring manager ask their new hire what their impression of the company is, or if they see how certain experiences support the big picture going forward. These early conversations can also pave the way for more extensive career mapping and planning.

5. Maintain a two-way street feel

Each new hire’s experience will be unique. Be open to what they share, and look for ways that you and others can encourage them to build their connections and find their place in the company, especially when it comes to long-term goals. In addition, look for ways to personalize the onboarding experience around the new hire’s professional strengths and skills.

When you were recruiting the new hire, you were looking for a certain mix of skills, knowledge, and experience. And you wanted someone who would fit the company culture. Now that they’ve arrived, continue to use this information as you lead them through the onboarding experience.


myStaffingPro helps you stay organized during the onboarding experience, especially when it comes to sharing access to essential onboarding forms and documents. Contact a representative today, and find out how we can help you get the most out of the entire hiring process, from requisition through retention.

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