How to Create a Successful Onboarding Experience for New Hires.

Written by Matt Mundey

5 November 2023


how to create a good onboarding process and onboarding experience

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We ask industry experts for their tips when it comes to a good onboarding process and onboarding best practice.

Onboarding is a crucial part of your employee lifecycle.

It can be incredibly powerful when you consider the full lifecycle of your people.

But understanding your onboarding process and streamlining it can be tricky.

You’re likely battling lots of different requirements across teams, multiple tools and processes and many different stakeholders.

That’s a lot of pressure. And it’s made worse by the fact that onboarding is so widely recognised as being important to business function.

“The employee gets a good idea of what kind of company they’ve joined, what the future’s got in store for them, and if it’s a place they’d want to stay for a bit longer. A bad onboarding experience will no doubt make the employee way more disconnected and more likely to jump ship if the opportunity presents itself.”

Centralising all of this can be overwhelming.

But, that’s where we come in. In this blog, we’ll go through:

  • What is onboarding
  • Why onboarding is important
  • Onboarding best practices
  • How to onboard a new employee

Let’s get started.

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is a key part of hiring a new employee and transforming them from a new hire to a highflyer.

How long does onboarding usually take?

We asked a group of experts in L&D and HR for the inside scoop on their onboarding process and we found the average onboarding process takes 2 weeks.

However, they also specified that they expect it to take 3 months on average before a new employee is capable of doing their job completely independently.

“While basic onboarding tasks will be completed within the first week, training and learning experiences can take a few weeks to complete.”

How many tasks should form part of your onboarding?

Again, there was variety in answers when we asked our L&D experts for their insights on how many tasks should form your onboarding process.

On average, new hires are given between 10 and 40 tasks to complete as part of their onboarding.

“We cover everything from setting up email accounts to introducing new hires to their team members. We want to make sure that our new hires have everything they need to succeed in their new roles.

Can you do onboarding digitally?

Remote onboarding is a common challenge for L&D and HR professionals.

But it doesn’t have to be. We found that 60% of onboarding processes happen digitally. While some professionals used digital tools for all of their onboarding processes, most seemed to use a mix between digital and traditional.

Digital and face-to-face onboarding have their advantages.

“It also provides a consistent and standardized experience for all new employees, ensuring that they receive the necessary information and training to start their job effectively.

“But, as I said, it also brings drawbacks like the lack of face-to-face interaction, which can make it difficult to establish a personal connection with the new hire.”

“When employees enter the organization feeling welcomed and well-informed about what’s expected of them and how they fit into the larger picture, they are far more likely to stay with that company instead of leaving after just a few months because they feel misunderstood or unsupported.”

Why is onboarding important?

There are multiple reasons why onboarding is important to a business function. Some key ones are improved employee retention, greater capability and better business results.

We also asked our experts for their opinion.

Here’s what they had to say. 

“By providing them with the information, resources, and support they need to hit the ground running, we can minimize the learning curve and help them feel confident in their abilities to contribute to our company’s success.”

Onboarding process best practices

Now we know a bit more about what onboarding is and how it can support your business goals, let’s look at some best practices to consider when building out your onboarding process.

We asked our team of experts for their insight and this is what they said:

Create cohorts

It’s not possible for every team as it depends on the scale of your hiring at the time, but pooling new hires into cohorts is a great way to better manage the onboarding process.

It allows those doing the tasks, i.e. having meetings with new hires, to bunch them together. And it gives new hires an opportunity to create a bit of camaraderie with other employees as they’re quite literally, in the same boat.

Break down what’s important

But the first step is to break down what onboarding is and where to focus your attentions.

Splitting these into two separate processes can help you better build out your structure.

Build in exciting moments

While you might not be looking into adrenaline-junkie experiences like skydiving as part of your onboarding process, you still want to find something that is felt not just read, or heard.

You might consider gamification, such as a scavenger hunt. Or you might up the social engagement by looking at a competition or quiz.

Give a one-to-one focus

Sometimes, people need time and attention to truly understand something. Whether that’s your business structure, your product or service or their goals.

Providing a mentor or coach Is a common way to better Improve relations within the company and gives new hires someone they know and trust to go to with problems.

Curate the flow of information

Have you ever seen some organisational decks where they have overlapping information, or go into far too much detail at the wrong time?

Simplify your information and give people the right content, at the right time.

It can be easy to go into information overload. But really boil down what your new hire needs to know at what point.

You can add more detail later. Don’t overwhelm them and give them what they need to ensure the burden is off them from an information-gathering perspective.

How to onboard a new employee

Onboarding doesn’t have to be a complicated process.

With the right tools in place, you can reduce the manual labour for both your new hires, and your HR teams.

Think Learning helps its customers create learning environments for their people through innovative tools. We support a range of clients with their onboarding needs so that they can easily onboard new hires and support them through their employee lifecycle.