What Is Employee Onboarding?
Employee onboarding is the critical process of integrating employees into an organization. These employees might be new hires or current employees transitioning into a new role.
It includes a range of activities that teaches new hires how things work at an organization, whether in terms of work culture, tools, or processes.
The length of the onboarding process depends on the organization, as some have an onboarding process that lasts a few days while others have a program that lasts ninety days.
Many wrongly assume that onboarding and employee orientation are the same things. However, they are two distinct processes. Orientation is needed for filling out paperwork and routine tasks. On the other hand, onboarding is more comprehensive and can last for up to a year.
Why Is Onboarding New Hires So Important?
Starting a new role can be lonely. Team members may have come from past companies where they had gained a decent amount of traction. Starting from the bottom isn't easy, making the first few months of a new role difficult.
Here are some of the main reasons we invest in onboarding:
New Hires Feel Welcome Immediately
Everyone has experienced the "first day at work" awkwardness. How much better would you have felt if you had been welcomed immediately? I bet you'd have loved your new workplace even more.
So, when new hires are onboarded right away, you’ll be laying a great foundation for a better employer-employee relationship.
Increase Team Bonding
Celebrating new hires creates an opportunity for people across different departments to interact with each other. Thus, when new hires arrive, departments that have never met or don't meet often will get to know each other better. If your organization currently struggles with departmental silos, these events will help everyone.
Sets Role And Company Expectations
When we invest in onboarding, we are setting expectations for new employees. Instead of going into a company and feeling lost, employees can acclimate and understand why their role is vital.
25 Ways To Onboard New Hires
Now that we've considered the benefits of onboarding new hires, let's dive into 22+ practical ways to do so.
Onboarding can be fun, and these creative ways to welcome new hires will help you get the best out of the process.
1. Personalized Welcome Video
If you run a remote team and don’t have the opportunity to meet new hires physically, you could use personalized welcome videos to onboard them and make them feel appreciated.
The HR team, managers, or even all members of the new employee's team can create a short welcome video. Then, you can share the video through email or on social media. If you want to make this service more manageable, a tool like Tribute can make editing easy while allowing submissions from several people.
2. Schedule A Lunch
Want to make new hires happy? Then schedule a lunch for them. Next, extend a lunch invitation to the new hire, their manager, and their team members.
Having a larger lunch allows them to meet and interact outside of work. You can do this before or after they start to work. Just be aware of your new team member's time as they transition to your organization.
3. Send Them A Signed Welcome Note
Welcome notes are a cheap and thoughtful way to onboard new hires. However, you can take it further by having several team members sign it. You could even involve others from different teams or departments.
When building out your welcome note, ensure it says more than "welcome to the team!" How can the card you send show gratitude and excitement for your new employee?
- Add deeper insight into why you were excited to bring this person into the company.
- Share advice on excelling at the company or in their new role.
- Throw in a small gift card to a place they love so they can treat themselves on their first day.
4. Feature Them On Social Media
Another easy way to celebrate your new team is by featuring them on your social media pages. Don't just put up their name and picture, but with their permission, you could also include their passions and any exciting quirks they have.
Doing this can increase employees' camaraderie and offer prospective talent a peek into your company culture.
Here are some potential questions you can ask for your spotlight:
- Why did you choose to join our company?
- What excites you most about your new role?
- What's a fun or surprising fact you want others to know about you?
- How did you learn about the position you're in now?
- What's your favorite food?
- How would you describe yourself in three words?
- What are two truths and a lie about you?
5. Treat Them To A Trivia Game
Onboarding games are fun and are an excellent way to get new workers to relax during their first days or months.
One of our favorite games is trivia. Create a list of trivia questions and customize these to cover company quirks, policies, and background. Of course, you could include basic trivia or questions about other new hires.
This activity is fun and allows new hires to show off how much they’ve learned during the first days or months of onboarding.
6. Send Them A Care Package
A care package is an easy way to make your employees happy. It’s private and personalized enough to make employees happy about receiving it.
The care package’s contents depend on your organization and the recipient. For example, if you’re giving snacks or food, ensure that you know what your new hire is allergic to or doesn’t eat.
If the new employee is moving to a new city, you could include helpful items like a city guide or a certificate from a local restaurant. In addition, you can create a list of attractions, restaurants, and things to do that seasoned workers recommend.
7. Create An Onboarding Wellness Challenge
Onboarding can be a grueling process. There is so much information to absorb and people to meet. The entire process can be emotionally, physically, and mentally draining (even if you love your new job.)
Companies must consider the mental and physical health of new hires during this time. By creating an onboarding wellness challenge, you let your team know that it's okay to be overwhelmed while giving them tools to cope.
So, what can you include in your onboarding wellness challenge? Activities that help employees disconnect and recharge throughout the day. Share a list of ideas and get employees to pick 5-10 of those activities. Then, ask employee
s to snap a picture and submit all this information for your consideration. Once they've submitted, you can reward them. Nectar's challenges feature is a great way to run your onboarding wellness challenge.
Here are some ideas for what to include in your challenge:
- Take a walk after work
- Take a nap to recharge
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Have dinner with your family
- Journal about your new work experience
- Watch television or read a book to decompress
8. Take Them Out To Tea
New hires can connect with managers and team members over tea or coffee dates. These “dates” will help seasoned workers learn more about the new person, what they like, how they work, and much more.
Like the rest of the ideas we provide, this doesn’t have to be a one-time thing. You can set it up often or give new hires corporate membership cards from tea shops or cafes.
In time, all new employees will feel like they're a part of the organization.
9. Throw A 90-Days Party
Research shows that many employees leave an organization within the first 90 days. Therefore, it's a good idea to celebrate new hires on the anniversary of their 90th day at the company.
Decorate with balloons, buy them flowers, or if online, have a fun Zoom background or something similar. You can even host a graduation ceremony celebrating employees leaving their learning period.
If done right, employees will look back on this day with fond memories, which will do wonders for their morale and engagement.
10. Make In-Person Introductions
The first days are usually awkward for new people because they don’t know anyone. But you can make them feel better and welcomed by planning in-person introduction meetings.
Therefore, we recommend designing a meeting that aligns with the company culture to introduce the new person. Introductions can take different formats, from one-on-one introductions to employees standing up to introduce themselves to everyone in the meeting.
The result of such introductions is that the employee is less likely to feel out of place the next time they’re at work.
If you have a hybrid work environment, new remote employees could make their intro over any video conferencing tool your company uses.
11. Conduct Entry Interviews
Want to make your new hire feel heard and a part of the company? Then conduct entry interviews! During these interviews, you should ask the new hire what the company can do to support them throughout their employment.
According to Arianna Huffington, the founder of Thrive Global, entry interviews can open the company’s eyes to how it can better motivate and retain employees. New hires might be hesitant to speak up, but entry interviews can make them speak their mind.
12. Organize A Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun. Incorporating these events into your onboarding process and beyond can be enjoyable for your employees.
Create a series of tasks and questions that expose new workers to the different areas of the company. Aside from increasing their familiarity with the different areas of the company, this activity can also be designed to make the new workers meet with all the other employees and learn what they do.
13. Collect Their Feedback And Work On It
A good organization listens to the opinions of its employees and welcomes their feedback. Ensure your organization is ready to collect feedback at essential stages of a new hire’s journey.
You can use Nectar's challenges feature to encourage new workers to fill out onboarding surveys after they've been with your organization for 30, 60, and 90 days.
Ask them questions to determine how they feel about your onboarding process and whether they have enough resources to succeed in their new job.
By doing this, the new staff will feel listened to and integrated into the organization.
14. Give Them Company Swag
New hires are excited to represent their new employer, but gathering any number of company-branded items often takes a while. If you want to celebrate your new hires, show them they are integrated from day one with company swag.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways to enjoy swag. Some employees may want a hat, while others enjoy a long-sleeve t-shirt. Instead of sending the
swag you enjoy to team members, you could give out a certain number of points for swag. With Nectar's robust swag catalog, you could give new hires points and ask them to use those points to purchase company-branded items.
15. Offer Continuous Learning Opportunities
Employees reveal that one of the most valued aspects of employment is the opportunity to learn new things and develop professionally.
Innovative organizations ensure that onboarding is for more than just a few weeks. Instead, they think of it as a continuous process that can last for several months or even throughout the employee's first year at the company.
By keeping employees engaged through continuous learning opportunities, you'll prepare them for new positions in the company and empower them to be better employees.
Specifically, you can celebrate new hires by offering them a credit to a site like Udemy or offering a new hire learning challenge on Nectar. For example, Nectar has an internal 500-point learning and development challenge where employees can earn for investing in their continued education.
16. Provide A Welcome Kit
A comprehensive welcome kit can be a creative way to onboard your new employees. The kit should contain helpful things to make them feel welcome and understand how the company works.
Some items you could include in the kit include:
- An employee handbook
- Office supplies or tools to set up their home office
- A map of the office
- Information about the mission and vision of the company
- Helpful information like dress code, working hours, parking, etc.
However, remember that there’s no need to go overboard with the welcome kit. Just have what they need ready when they arrive and make them feel welcome.
17. Gamify Their Onboarding
Another way to make new hires feel at ease is by gamifying the onboarding process.
If your company is used to friendly competition, this can be a great way to integrate new team members into your company culture.
You could make it digital by using Nectar's challenge feature to award points as new hires complete different onboarding tasks.
For example, you could award points for taking a security training or setting up direct deposit.
Being rewarded for checking off these small tasks doesn't have to be expensive or resource-intensive. Set a budget for how much you want to spend on these new hire challenges and stick to it.
18. Diversify Onboarding Formats
Many organizations send over a list of reading material to new hires or have workers sit in long orientation classes. However, it's better to make this process more engaging and interesting.
You can include the various activities we've listed so far, choosing those most appealing to new staff.
Additionally, instead of sending over a bunch of documents, it'll be beneficial to ask new hires how they prefer to learn. For example, if some learn better through videos or other media, why not add videos to the mix? While videos are more stressful to prepare, they are far more interactive.
Whatever way you decide to mix up the onboarding process, keep up with a copy of your work. You can often reuse the work you do during this onboarding cycle later.
19. Run A Buddy Program
A buddy program is one of the quickest ways to make new workers fit in. This system forms an informal support system for new hires to lean on as they slowly blend in.
An onboarding buddy is a seasoned employee who serves as the company's new hire’s support system. They can assist the new staff with understanding company culture and their roles.
With this system, your fresh hires can navigate questions and concerns more quickly as they adjust to the new workplace.
Note that this is not the same as a mentoring program. Those are more formal and focus on long-term goals and career growth.
Additionally, mentors are often senior members of the company. On the other hand, buddy systems pair a new hire with a current employee in a similar role.
20. Remind Them Of Perks
For some companies, the perks and benefits only start after the new hires have been working for 90 days.
If your benefits start on day one, let employees know what they can take advantage of immediately. Then, remind employees about the perks and benefits they can enjoy after 90 days.
Leave some time for employees to ask you questions about benefits. Some benefits like insurance and 401(k)s can be challenging to understand at first glance.
21. Explain Their Role
While employees might know their role at the company, they might need clarification on how their role contributes to the bigger picture.
According to this McKinsey report, most people prefer to work in roles that contribute to something higher. So, to meet the psychological needs of new hires, we recommend explaining how their role contributes to the company's bigger goals and overall vision of the company.
Managers should explain the new hire's role and what it means to the company's growth. Additionally, the Nectar app allows new people to understand the mission and values of the company and how they relate to them.
22. Have Them Start On A Friday
Most companies welcome new hires on a Monday morning. However, changing to Friday morning can be a welcome development for the new people.
For one, welcoming them on Friday, when everyone is relaxed, the general office mood is lighter, and everyone is already looking forward to the weekend, can do wonders for any anxiety the new workers might have.
You could also change their start time. For example, instead of having them start at 9, have them come in around 11 when there's a lull in activities. It's also an excellent chance to introduce them to everyone during the mid-morning coffee break.
23. Run A Bootcamp-Style Office
In this method, all new hires rotate through all teams in the organization. This style of onboarding is relaxed because it prevents departments from creating organizational silos.
In addition, it improves empathy across the organization as everyone has a taste of what other departments go through.
Furthermore, it's a low-cost way for new staff to meet many people in the company. While it might take a lot of coordination to pull off, the benefits company-wide are worth it.
24. Onboard Using A Cohort Method
Starting a new job can be lonely, especially when you are going through everything by yourself. It's nice to have other people to connect and share memories with. Each class of new hires will look back at their time together with fondness.
When you onboard using a cohort model, you onboard 2+ employees at once. This method saves time and resources for the organization. Companies using this method can often divvy onboarding tasks evenly across several company leaders vs. doing everything by themselves.
Cohorts take coordination. You must understand the company headcount and which new roles need to be filled. Then, you have to coordinate when each new position is filled and get hiring managers on board. Last, new team members need to be able to start on the same date. If you can get all of these ducks in a row, you'll be able to build a stellar onboarding program.
25. Set Goals For Their New Role
Lastly, it's essential to set goals for each new role. What will employees accomplish in their first 30, 60, and 90 days? What does it mean for a worker to be fully integrated into the company?
Each 30-day period at a company is a different stage: learning, contributing, and taking initiative. The purpose of these blocks is to take employees from learning about the company as it stands to making the company better.
When setting goals, make them realistic. Work in tandem with each new hire to set goals that excite them and make the company a better place. Remember that each goal should be a SMART goal.
Conclusion: Onboard New Hires With Ease
Integrating new hires can be difficult, but it's vital to the employee experience. Without proper onboarding, you set your team up to fail (or work harder than they need to.)
When building out your new hire onboarding process, consider how you can effectively integrate each new person into your company culture. Most likely, this will be a mix of:
- Filling out the correct paperwork.
- Learning about the mission and vision of the company.
- Connecting with company leaders, managers, and colleagues.
- Completing tasks and understanding the role.
Each task we discussed today can help you build a better onboarding program. Nectar can be a great addition to your onboarding experience. Our employee recognition software can help you encourage new team members during the onboarding process, while our challenges feature can help you gamify many onboarding tasks. Employees will immediately know what your mission and values are when they use Nectar regularly.