What is the New Hire Onboarding Process?

The new hire onboarding process is the formal process of introducing a new employee to your business or organization.

It covers letting the employee know more about your business, from your mission and values to your policies and procedures, to ensuring that the new hire fills out all necessary paperwork and receives any training needed to successfully integrate with your company and perform their job responsibilities.

The onboarding process is, in essence, the process of integrating the new hire into your company.

new hire onboarding class

What are the Four Phases of Onboarding?

The four phases of onboarding incorporate all the steps necessary to integrate a new employee into your business, from the time they have accepted the role until they have made the transition into a fully functional employee with the skills needed to successfully represent your company.

Breaking down onboarding into those four phases can help you ensure that you do not miss any critical details as you integrate the new hire into their role.

Phase One: Orientation

During the first phase of the onboarding process, which may begin as soon as the new employee accepts a role with your company, you can start directly orienting the new hire to their new role. During this process, employees should:

  • Meet key members of the organization, including those that they're most likely to interact closely with during their employment
  • Review the employee handbook and any important policies or procedures that the employee will need to know about in order to successfully perform their job responsibilities or integrate with the company
  • Review any compliance-related materials for the new job or for the industry as a whole
  • Get to know more about the organization, its values, and its mission
  • Fill out needed paperwork, including W-4s

During the orientation process, employees will have a chance to get a better feel for the company as a whole while giving the company needed information about them. Often, this covers the basic information that employees need to make a transition to the company.

Generally, employees should not spend more than a couple of days once they start at the organization in this initial phase of the onboarding process. 

New hires, especially high-quality new hires, are usually eager to get started: to learn more about their job roles, figure out their place in the organization, and start working toward their new goals. 

However, you should not expect new hires to spend too much time on orientation processes before they join since they may need time to finish up their final responsibilities for their previous jobs before they dive in.

Phase Two: Initial Training

Once employees have been oriented to the company and started their first day, the initial training begins. 

During this phase of the onboarding process, you'll have the opportunity to formally welcome the new hire to your company and provide much-needed information about how to manage their daily job responsibilities. 

During the initial training phase, you should provide new employees with information about:

  • Your learning management system, training system, or reference library, where employees can get the information they need to be successful in their job roles.
  • Specific daily job requirements: During this stage, you should make sure to emphasize the specific tasks an employee will need to complete on a daily basis, who they should go to with questions, and how you will measure performance. 
  • Any other information that employees will need to be successful on a daily basis in their new job roles.

This initial training phase is critical to your onboarding process. New hires need to know what is expected of them in order for them to excel in their roles. Without that vital training, they may quickly become dissatisfied, and you may notice that your employees are not performing according to your expectations.

Phase Three: Transition

The transition phase is different for every job and every role. During this phase, you will have the opportunity to build your candidate into a high-quality, high-performing member of the team. 

Your new hire, during the transition phase, will learn:

  • A solid understanding of their position and exactly what is expected of them. Depending on the role and expectations, as well as your new hire's previous experience, it can take time to learn all the details of a position
  • How to integrate fully with other members of the team, including taking on full job responsibilities and a place as a full member of the team
  • How to train future hires 

The transition phase allows new hires to go from "the new guy" to a fully functional member of the team who is expected to take on the same job roles and responsibilities as other team members. 

During the transition phase, new hires will take on increasingly more work or move into all the responsibilities that go along with the job role. However, they may continue to receive support throughout the process that will make it easier for them to get answers to their questions or receive much-needed training and assistance.

Phase Four: Ongoing Training and Development

While the formal onboarding process may end once your new hire has been with the team for a while, your organization's responsibility to your new team member does not. After your new hire has completed the transition to a full member of the team, it's time for a new stage: ongoing training and development.

During this phase of the onboarding process, both your team and the new hire will have a chance to look over the new team member's existing skills and any skill deficits that might impact future performance. 

Then, you'll work together to set goals that meet both your organization's professional plans and the new hire's career development goals. You may cover questions like:

  • What type of training does the new hire need to become more effective in the role?
  • What training does the new hire need in order to achieve their career goals? 
  • How can you support your new hire in achieving those goals — both for your organization and for the new hire, professionally speaking? 

Take a look at available training, both inside and outside your organization. Point out any certifications or training options available through your internal learning and development system. Offer insights into the conferences or events your new hire may want to attend. 

These steps can prove critical to setting your new hire up for long-term success with your company and showing your company's support.

New hire

How Long is the New Hire Onboarding Process?

The length of the new hire onboarding process may depend on how long the new hire plans to be with your organization. Many experienced managers believe that the first 45 days after hiring are critical

Others note that onboarding continues throughout the employee's first 90 days on the job. However, highly effective onboarding, depending on your job, may continue for as much as 4-6 months, and in some cases, it may even cover an employee's first year on the job. 

Employees generally take around two to three months to start to feel comfortable in a new job. Prior to that point, they still feel like the proverbial "new guy," and they may not feel as though they have been fully integrated into the team. 

An effective onboarding process helps guide employees through that process and stays with them while they continue to develop their job skills and comfort on the job. 

How Can You Maximize New Hire Onboarding?

You selected the ideal new hire for your business, whether you used Crosschq 360 for a reference check or connected to a candidate referral network through Crosschq Recruit. Now, you're ready to start maximizing that new hire's potential. 

How can you maximize new hire onboarding to make a more effective, highly skilled employee who is well integrated into your team? Follow these best practices. 

1. Start the onboarding process early

While it's important to respect your new hire's time — you do not want to place undue stress on a new hire when they're trying to wrap things up at their old job — you do want to begin the onboarding process early. 

Take care of as much paperwork as possible before your new hire actually arrives on the job. Let them know ahead of time what their schedule will look like before those first vital days on the job. Introduce some of the members of your team. 

New hires are often nervous and unsure of what to expect when they come in for their first days. By providing them with more information about the company as a whole, you can help set them up for success long before that first day begins. 

2. Create a list of everything your new hire needs to know during onboarding

(Actually, you may need more than one list)

There are a lot of processes that go into bringing a new hire into your organization. Not only do they have paperwork they have to fill out for everything from tax withholding to insurance and benefits information, but they also need to know all the basic processes associated with your company. 

Make a list of everything your employees will need to know about your company and everything they will need to do. You may want to list:

  • What paperwork the new hire will need to take care of in the early days of employment

  • Any training modules the new hire will need to complete

  • Who the new hire needs to meet

  • What processes you want to take the new hire through before they officially get started in their new position

  • What your new hires need to know in order to be successful in their position. (Hint: that may be information that you need to flesh out in communications with the new hire.)

  • The tools your new hire needs in order to be successful, from the specific hardware they'll need to the access to specific platforms, programs, and apps

Creating a clear checklist or process that helps govern new hires can make it easier to ensure that all your new hires get the same training and information. While online training systems can help standardize that information and present it the same way to all new members of your team, you should still manually check off important details like introducing a new hire to the team or ensuring that the new hire has filled out relevant paperwork.

3. Connect your new hire with a mentor to create a better onboarding experience

One of the biggest challenges of integrating with a new job is not knowing who to go to with questions. Mentoring can help close that gap and prepare your new hires to better develop their skills and integrate with the company. 

A mentor isn't just someone who goes over the company's policies and procedures. Instead, a mentor can help answer any professional questions your new hire might have and even connect your new hire with other employees throughout the company. 

Seventy-one percent of Fortune 500 companies have a mentoring program in place, and as many as 97% of people who have mentors find them valuable. A mentor offers one-on-one support to your new hire. 

Sometimes, management teams may want to deliberately take new hires under their wings themselves. Other times, however, you may find it more effective to assign experienced members of the team to act as mentors to your new hires.

4. Don't overwhelm your new hires with information during the first 30 days

In some companies, new hires quickly become overwhelmed with the wealth of information thrown at them over the course of just a few days. They may struggle to keep up with all the policies, procedures, and data required for them to start the new job. All too quickly, they may fail to retain any of what is presented to them.

To avoid overwhelming your new hires, try some of these strategies:

  • Break down training and information over a period of time, rather than trying to present it all at once. 
  • Make sure new employees — and old ones, too — have access to the information they need most in written form. Electronic databases are a great way to ensure that employees always have the information they need at their fingertips.
  • Highlight the most important information. 
  • Take a break for the day when you start to notice that new hires are no longer absorbing the information or are starting to look overwhelmed.

Remember, onboarding isn't an overnight process. You can't push enough information into a new hire's head to make them immediately comfortable with your company, your procedures, and your standards. You can, however, give them what they need to get off to a great start. 

Instead of focusing on ensuring that they know everything they need to know in order to be successful, make sure they know where to access that information: what documents or databases to check, who to contact, or how to get their answers.

New Hire Onboarding

5. Make time for one-on-one connections during new hire onboarding

Connect your new hires to your senior management team, not just in a group, but one-on-one. Take the time to go over expectations with them immediately and give them a chance to ask questions. 

Your senior team is a critical part of working for your company, and you want new hires to feel comfortable with you. Furthermore, taking the time to connect with them individually can make them feel more appreciated and give you a chance to address any issues that could prevent the new hire from being successful with your organization.

6. Create opportunities for connection during onboarding

When you welcome a new hire to your company, consider having a company-sponsored lunch out or getting the team together for a drink after work. If you're working with a remote team, consider having a remote "coffee meeting" to give everyone a chance to connect.

Personal connections are a critical part of your overall company culture — and by opening the door to those vital connections, you can give new hires a better strategy for integrating into that culture.

7. Regularly ask for feedback on your new hire onboarding process

As new hires transition more fully into your company, ask questions about their onboarding experience. What did they like? What didn't they like? How can you provide better support to your new hires as they move into more fulfilling roles with the company? 

Feedback from employees who have been with your company for a few months and who have already been through that process can help you adapt it to better meet the needs of future employees.

8. Don't end the onboarding process too soon

Try not to assume that at the end of 30 or 60 days, or even at the end of 90 days, a new employee is fully onboarded. Even employees who have been with your company for months may still have information that they don't know or processes that they don't fully understand. 

For the first six months to a year of your new hire's tenure with your company, continue to provide ongoing support and training information to help enhance their connection to the company and raise their odds of success.

9. Create a plan for the employee's future

Today's employees care about their training and future prospects. They want to know that your organization cares about them, too. As part of the onboarding process, make sure you also develop a plan for the employee's future development. 

You may want to include things like specific training the employee should undertake, the milestones you want an employee to achieve to get a raise or promotion, or the conferences you want this employee to attend. Don't be afraid to think long-term. By showing your commitment to an employee's overall professional development, you can often increase that employee's commitment to your company, too.

Onboarding a new hire correctly can help set them up for success and maximize their performance, not just in the early days after their hire, but also as they continue to work with your company. With these strategies, you can set your employees up for success and increase their value to your organization.

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