Onboarding Best Practices

BY IT GLUE | September 13, 2016

Our onboarding series is designed to showcase some of what we have learned about the onboarding process. First, we will discuss some of the best practices for onboarding new hires that we have uncovered. Subsequent articles will examine how documentation helps the onboarding process and on best practices for onboarding new clients.

With that in mind, let’s get started.

Send documents early

As you know, we ♥ documentation, but let’s face it, if your new hires are filling out paperwork, they aren’t making you money. Plus, if you wait until start day to deal with the paperwork, that can cause delays in processing any form that is sent to a third party, such as those relating to banking, insurance, and taxation. By sending these forms to your new hires ahead of time, you ensure that the forms are processed prior to the start date, so that less time is wasted on mandatory paperwork during the first day. BambooHR™ is a tool to handle this process online, saving the hire any extra trips to your office – do it all online, and all of the forms can be signed using Docusign®.

Onboard multiple people simultaneously

Onboarding and orientation are not free. If at all possible, spread those costs over multiple employees to lower the per-employee cost of onboarding. The time of a hiring manager or HR professional is better used onboarding several people at once, rather than repeating the process multiple times.

Prepare ahead of time

Set up each workstation. Set up security fobs and other access tools. Ensure that the phone and Internet are connected. Basically, make sure that when the employee is ready to get to work, they can do so immediately.  Supervisors should be aware of when the employee will start and be prepared to divert the needed resources towards training, teaching, and mentoring the new hire as soon as that person arrives. IT Glue™ can be used to document the entire onboarding process, allowing you to quickly reference this information each time you bring in a new hire, whether you are always hiring or won’t hire again for six months.

Have a schedule

There should be a schedule for an employee’s first day. Time should not be wasted. The schedule should include a start time that is later than the start time for the onboarding support team, so that the team is ready when the new hire walks through the door. The schedule should include time for touring the facilities, meeting key people, for learning about the company, and an appropriate amount of time should be set aside for the employee to begin learning the software that they will work with. Few new hires will be able to work independently on their first day, so ensure that this day is structured so that they aren’t sitting around doing nothing.

Start with the big picture

Teach the new employees about the company, its products, and the key aspects of its culture. Do not focus too intensely on the minutiae of their jobs on the first day, as they will likely have trouble absorbing it all anyway. Be wary of bombarding employees with too much, too soon.

Create opportunities for socialization

A positive social environment is one of the most important drivers of employee satisfaction and, ultimately, retention. The faster that a new employee makes friends and develops positive relationships with co-workers, the better that employee will adapt to his or her new environment. It’s understood that a new hire will not learn everybody’s name on day one. It’s just not going to happen. But there should be opportunities for new hires to get to know a few people within the company in a casual manner. Onboarding in a group helps with this, as the new hire does not need to face his/her first day alone. Onboarding day is a great time to have a small social event, towards the end of the day, to make sure that the new hires have a chance to mingle a little bit and absorb some of the great culture you’ve worked hard to build.


Onboarding isn’t just about the first day. Onboarding is about the entire time it takes to bring a new employee up to optimal productivity. Done poorly, this can take months. Done well, an employee can be productive almost immediately. An effective onboarding procedure has a plan for employee training, to teach them the business, the software, and the job as quickly as possible without information overload. Have a plan for how to get your new hires to be their best. Getting everybody working to their potential requires a pathway for transferring knowledge and building the skills needed for your new hires to be their best as soon as humanly possible.


As with all best processes, onboarding should be governed by metrics. These should be specific, standardized metrics that apply to each position. Form completeness percentage, time taken to onboard, and cost of onboarding are all valuable metrics.

Next, we will discuss the role that documentation can play with the implementation of these best practices.

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