Onboarding is a great buzz word from the Human Resources community. The problem is, the word has too many interpretations. Today I am going to break it down for you and answer the question, “What the heck is onboarding?” You will also be given tips to create a great onboarding process.

Onboarding can be simply defined as the process by which you prepare a new employee to be successful. Therefore, your onboarding process is everything you do for a new employee in order to provide them with the necessary skills and knowledge to be a productive team member. This also includes assimilating him or her into your company culture.

The onboarding process is very important. According to The Aberdeen Group, “66 percent of companies with onboarding programs claimed a higher rate of successful assimilation of new hires into company culture, 62 percent had higher time-to-productivity ratios, and 54 percent reported higher employee engagement”.

What does that mean? Having an onboarding process allows your employees to adjust and be productive faster. They will adopt the culture to fit right in, understand the role to produce desired results, and engage in contributing to the company’s goals (as long as they are the right fit).

The whole onboarding process spans from right after the job offer is accepted up until the new employee is considered (or should be considered) a fully productive team member. Now, the phrase “fully productive team member” leaves room for interpretation. Some believe its 90 days, while others believe it takes up to 2 years. Generally speaking, the process last 1 year. Some of you may now be wondering what do for a full year or two with this new hire.

Calm down! It gets easier the longer the employee is there. Just understand that the onboarding process is not just the first day or week on the job.

What should you include in your onboarding process?

There are many variations to the onboarding process. The tasks within the process must be designed to fit the company culture, budget, and type of role. Remember, each task or little extra you can do for your new employee will make a big difference.

Here are some tips for an effective onboarding process:

Before the first day:

  1. Send all required new hire paperwork to be completed before they come in to work
  2. Prepare desk, supplies, and computer access
  3. Arrange a nice welcome at the desk (sign, note, gift, etc.)
  4. Block manager’s time for the day to dedicate to the new hire


First day:

  1. Have the Manager greet the new employee
  2. Conduct an orientation
  3. Schedule meet and greets with team members and others throughout the company
  4. Provide a welcome lunch
  5. Start training beyond a pile of reading material


First week – 90 days

  1. Continue training
  2. Periodically check on progress, fit, and concerns
  3. Offer assistance to help the employee succeed


90 days

  1. Perform an assessment to gauge progress as well as company and role fit
  2. Set goals for improvement
  3. Offer additional training and assistance where needed


90 days-1 year

  1. Continue with periodic checks of progress, fit, and concerns
  2. Offer additional training and assistance where needed
  3. Express importance of asking for help and expressing concern
  4. Celebrate the 1 year anniversary


Considering the 90 days-1 year timeframe as part of the onboarding process prevents the new employee from slipping through the cracks and possibly leaving. It gives attention to this employee to ensure they are performing at the best level as quickly as possible.

More information can be found in the article, Set Your New Hire Up For Success!
A Quick Guide To Create A Personalized, Positive, and Informative First Day

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