Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees - Atomic Hire Blog
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Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees6 min read

July 5, 2019 4 min read


Best Practices for Onboarding New Employees6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do you remember your first job experience? Did you attend a comprehensive onboarding session? Or did you figure out how things worked on your own? As per a recent survey, only 12% of employees agree that their workplaces do a good job onboarding new employees. Poor onboarding can defeat all the attempts to predict future job performance during the recruitment process.

Onboarding is also known as the organisational entry. It is a process used by companies to socialise and familiarise new employees into the work life and culture of the organisation. An important benefit of the onboarding process that is often overlooked is that it helps employers identify and better utilise the unique strengths of a new employee.

Onboarding can be lengthy but it is a very important process because it includes the programs, practices and policies which help integrate the new employees into a new workplace. Onboarding should be approached like a strategic part of the recruitment process rather than a typical orientation. 

Phases of Onboarding

There are 4 important phases in the onboarding process that will improve the experience for the new hire and help companies retain the talent they want and need:

1. Reinforce the decision of the new hire 

When a candidate chooses to join a company, they make a decision that will impact their professional and personal lives. Throughout the recruitment process, the new employee shapes expectations about the future in the organisation. In order to kickstart their journey on the right foot, it is important to understand what these expectations are.

The first weeks of a new hire are the best time to learn their expectations and make sure everyone is on the same page. By identifying the employee’s insights about their specific role and the firm as a whole it is possible to determine if their expectations match what the company can offer. Failing to fulfil the expectations of a new employee might be a precursor for low satisfaction at work, one of the main reasons for employee turnover.

2. Explain the whole process – what will happen in the first week?

Setting a clear objective for long-term success is an important part of achieving success. The problem with long-term success goals is that they are often vague. The initial step in helping new employees accomplish their long-term goals successfully is setting them up to accomplish short-term success. That is why the very first week of onboarding must be mapped out.

While defining the events for that first week, take into account what new employees are capable to realistically achieve. Next, consider what can be critical in being successful in the job that they will do. Is it helping in establishing relationships with the team members? Learning chain-of-command, digging into technologies and systems, understanding company values, and learning required skills? All of these can contribute to the final outcome. Nevertheless, it might not be possible to address each of them effectively in the first week, so it is important to carefully plan the activities and priorities for the first week.

3. Connect their skills to successful employees in the same role

New hires learn a lot about their new job in the first couple of weeks in a new company. As they learn, make sure that they have something to compare their overall progress against. It is key to eliminating any ambiguity as to what kind of performance is expected from them. One of the best ways to do this is to recognise the routines and behaviours of employees that are already performing successfully in a similar role. Using their ways and habits as an example they should pursue can be a good strategy to communicate expected performance.

After defining the required core skills, behaviours, and habits for the role, it is crucial to make it very clear to new employees what they are. Never assume that they will understand everything on their own.

The next step is constructing an environment where new employees are allowed to showcase their learnings. This can involve on-the-job training or other activities. The best way to maximise the value of these activities is to ensure that new hires are working on their development. Therefore, ongoing feedback on an employee’s performance and development are critical.

4. Re-assess everything

As soon as new hires gain six months of experience in the organisation, they, along with managers and teammates, need to identify if they are likely to succeed in their job in the long run. It is likely that six months are not enough to build an employee into the list of best performers. However, at this point, it must be clear what needs to be developed to achieve this. Should work relationships evolve? Are there flaws in the process that can cause conflict? Can they get training to be faster in what they have to do?

When conflict is identified that is hindering team collaboration, it’s crucial to directly address that conflict. Consider all options and dedicate time to find an appropriate solution. If mediation does not work within the team or in any other department of the company, re-assigning a new employee is perhaps the best option. Since plenty of time and effort have been invested in establishing a foundation for long-term success, discarding the values created from all of these efforts without repurposing them is a waste of time, effort, and trust.

Onboarding Checklist

A new hire onboarding checklist helps managers and HR professionals ensure that they are well-prepared for onboarding a new team member. It also assists the new employee going through the procedure of becoming part of a strong team covering all important steps for a successful work start.

Download our FREE Onboarding Checklist below.

The initial days after an employee starts working for a new employer will set the tone for their time with the company what will determine if the recruitment efforts will pay off.


One of the most considerable things in the onboarding process is learning through social interaction and building relationships. An ideal onboarding program will create a positive experience at every stage to help the new employees familiarise and understand their job while forming meaningful connections with their colleagues, boss, and the organisation.

Effective onboarding is also helpful for reducing the possible anxiety and confusion of a new employee and make them comfortable with the process. Newly hired employees are keen to take a role that fits their objectives and the organisation’s needs. Therefore, a well-planned onboarding process that makes them feel welcome and appreciated is very important.

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