3 Ways to Get More Out of Your Onboarding Program

At some point during a new hire’s first day, they might have to complete tax withholding forms, read and respond to company literature, or watch a video on company procedures. But in order to get more from onboarding, it needs to be about much more than policies and paperwork. Onboarding should be a social and integrated experience that starts before a new hire’s first day, and lasts well into their first year.

Led by HR, an integrated onboarding program can include support from coworkers, managers, and even senior leaders.

To get more from onboarding, the whole company should be involved

When the entire company has a hand in onboarding, this makes it easier for new hires to learn the ropes, understand the culture, and see how they fit into the bigger picture. And it’s an opportunity for team members to step up, share the load, and act on things that matter to the company.

Many companies are concerned with new-hire retention.

Not every new hire sticks around for the long-run. In fact, 25% of new hires leave their jobs within the first six months, according to one recent survey. Meanwhile, SHRM notes that new employees who have a positive onboarding experience stay at their new jobs longer than those who have a negative onboarding experience.

When you consider the time, effort, and capital involved in recruiting, the last thing you probably want is to ramp it back up in order to fill the same position.

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 front door. Any number of small details that happen in the first few days can determine whether your onboarding experience will turn them into key contributors, or send them back into the job market:

  • Perhaps, they’re not recognized at the front desk when they show up for their first day of work.
  • The new hire gets lost trying to find their workspace.
  • They discover that their workspace doubles as a utility closet, something no one told them.
  • The rest of the first day consists of a stack a paperwork, a 90-minute orientation video they watch alone, and a five-minute pep talk with their manager who keeps getting their name wrong.
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Three Ways to Get More Out of Your Onboarding Program

True, the first day might not be the only day of onboarding, but it can be the most important. And a couple of early faux pas can get the entire experience off to a rocky start. Meanwhile, if other onboarding activities feel forced, disorganized, or leave the new hire wondering what’s happening—you might inadvertently be showing them the exit, rather than the path forward to a successful career.

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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3 Tips to Get the Most from Onboarding

To help make sure new hires discover your culture, get a sense of expectations, and begin to build relationships with coworkers, here are three things to consider as you evaluate and enhance your onboarding program:

  1. Remember what stands out about the new hire

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.

  • Look for ways to personalize the onboarding experience around the new hire’s professional strengths and skills.
  • Consider a fun group activity that lets the new hire shine while they interact with coworkers. Did they mention that they’re a semi-professional bowler? Schedule a bowling party to welcome them to the company.
  • On a one-on-one level, your employee manual might talk about building a roadmap to career growth. It’s never too early to help the new hire build a concrete understanding of what this might mean for them.
  1. Let them know what’s happening when, and ask for their input and feedback

New hires appreciate having a voice in the onboarding experience. Sometimes this involves following up with them to make sure they’re picking up on the details of their job and the culture. Other times, it’s as simple as checking in to make sure they’re comfortable with their workspace.

  • During pre-onboarding, have the hiring manager send a list that describes what the new hire can expect during the first week. They’ll appreciate knowing what’s coming. Ask if they have other expectations, and invite them to share feedback.
  • Make sure their workspace needs are being met. For instance, the new bookkeeper might ask for an extra office shelf, and will be happy when they see it in their office on the first day.
  • If the hiring manager asks them to jump into a project before they have time to complete a new hire orientation, be flexible. Let them know how valuable the orientation is, and circle back with them to make sure they complete it.
  1. Mix it up if possible

Let’s face it, some onboarding sessions can be boring, even if they’re valuable. Build experiences into your onboarding program that change things up here and there.

  • Allow hiring managers to treat new hires to a special lunch during their first week or two. This can serve as a nice icebreaking event that includes employees from other departments.
  • Some companies include games like company trivia, quizzes, or even the occasional round of “two-truths and one-lie” as a way to break up the monotony of presentation after presentation. These types of experiences can help new hires discover things about the company they won’t find in the employee manual.
  • When it comes to scheduling skills-based trainings, consider meeting with the new hire, and getting feedback from hiring manager, to decide which trainings are the most valuable, and when might be the best time for them to take them. The new hire will appreciate having a say in what comes next.

Yes, onboarding will always include some level of paperwork and presentations. But that doesn’t mean the whole onboarding experience needs to add up to a week of watching slide shows and completing documents. As the new hire begins to get a sense of their career path, make sure your onboarding program helps them enjoy their first steps.


How onboarding actually looks and plays out is different at every company. Whether your onboarding program lasts a few months, or extends into your new hire’s first year, myStaffingPro helps you stay organized. Contact a representative today, and find out how we can help you get the most out of the hiring process.

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