How To Design An Effective
Employee Onboarding Process

How To Design An Effective Employee Onboarding Process

The problem with employee onboarding is the number of organizations doing it wrong. A whopping 88% of employees believe their organizations could do a better job at onboarding.

Considering that 20% of new hires leave their job within the first 45 days and that it costs 1.5-2 times their salary to replace them, it's clear that poor onboarding can have a massive impact on your bottom line.

We'll show you how to design an employee onboarding process that works. From creating a strategy from scratch to using data to optimize it, we'll cover everything you need to know to quickly get your new hires up to speed.

What is an Employee Onboarding Process?

Our previous chapter defined employee onboarding as “the process of orienting and acclimating new hires to their job, team, and company.”

While that's technically true, it doesn't capture the essence of what onboarding is all about.

At its core, new employee onboarding is about two things:

  1. Communicating company culture to new hires.
  2. Equipping new hires with the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to achieve peak performance.

When done correctly, employee onboarding can profoundly impact organizational culture. It's an opportunity to instill your company's values in new hires and set the tone for how they should interact with customers, teammates, and other stakeholders.

The proper onboarding program encompasses more than just orienting new hires to their job duties. It's about making them feel welcome, helping them understand the company's mission and values, and equipping them with the necessary resources.

Creating a New Employee Onboarding Process

If you're starting from scratch, the first step is to create a blueprint for your employee onboarding process. This will help you map out each process step and ensure that nothing gets overlooked.

A documented process will also make it easier to train new team members on onboarding and measure the success of your efforts.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

What are the goals of your employee onboarding process?

Goal-setting is critical for any business initiative, and employee onboarding is no exception. Without a clear understanding of what you're trying to achieve, it won't be easy to measure the success of your onboarding process.

Some common goals for employee onboarding include:

  • Reducing employee turnover
  • Improving job satisfaction
  • Increasing productivity
  • Fostering a positive company culture
  • Ensuring compliance with company policies

Depending on the size of your business and the nature of your work, you may have other goals for your employee onboarding process. Once you've identified your goals, you can start developing a plan to achieve them.

What are the key outcomes you want new hires to achieve?

Next, you'll need to identify the key outcomes you want new hires to achieve. These outcomes should be tied to your overarching goals for the employee onboarding process.

Some examples of critical outcomes include:

  • A clear understanding of their job responsibilities
  • Good working knowledge of your company's products or services
  • A sense of your company's culture and values
  • The ability to use mission-critical tools and systems
  • The ability to work effectively with their team

Again, the specific outcomes you identify will depend on the nature of your business and the goals you've set for your employee onboarding process.

That said, you must ensure that all of your outcomes are measurable. This will make it easier to track the success of your onboarding program and identify areas for improvement.

For example, if one of your goals is to reduce employee turnover, you could measure the percentage of new hires who leave within the first six months.

If your goal is to improve job satisfaction, you could survey new hires after their first month on the job to see how they're feeling.

Making goals and outcomes measurable will be critical for tracking the success of your employee onboarding process.

What steps will new hires need to take to achieve those outcomes?

After defining your goals and outcomes, you'll need to identify the specific steps new hires need to take to achieve them. These steps will form the basis of your employee onboarding process.

Some common steps in employee onboarding include:

  • Completing new hire paperwork
  • Attending employee orientation
  • Meeting with their supervisor
  • Training on company policies
  • Learning about your company's products or services by shadowing more experienced employees

As you develop your onboarding process, remember that every new hire is different. Some may need more training than others, while some may already be familiar with your company's products or services.

You may also need to adjust your onboarding process for different types of employees. For example, hourly workers may need a different onboarding process than salaried employees.

Once you've identified the steps new hires will need to take, you can start putting together your onboarding process.

How will you deliver each step of the onboarding process?

Now that you know what steps new hires will need to take, you'll need to decide how you're going to deliver each step. That is, you'll need to decide what format each step of the onboarding process will take.

Some standard options include:

  • In-person meetings
  • Group orientations
  • One-on-one sessions
  • Online courses or tutorials
  • Videos
  • Printed materials

There is no right or wrong answer here. The best delivery method will depend on your company's culture, the size of your team, and the type of information you're trying to communicate.

For example, if you're implementing remote onboarding, you'll need to use a delivery method that doesn't require in-person meetings.

If you're onboarding many new hires at once, you might want to use a group employee orientation or an online course to efficiently onboard everyone.

Analyze your company's culture and decide what delivery method makes the most sense for each step of the onboarding process.

Who will be responsible for each step of the onboarding process?

You must clearly define roles and responsibilities for each step of the onboarding process. That way, everyone knows who is responsible for what, and there is no confusion about specific tasks.

For example, you might have your HR team responsible for collecting new hire paperwork and your IT team responsible for setting up new employee accounts.

You might also want to assign a specific supervisor or mentor to each new hire. This person can answer questions and help the new hire adjust to their new role.

How will you measure results?

As we mentioned earlier, ensuring your goals and outcomes are measurable is essential. This will allow you to track the success of your employee onboarding process and identify areas for improvement.

Some standard metrics you might want to track include:

  • Time to proficiency: How long does it take new hires to become proficient in their new role?
  • Employee retention rate: How many new hires stick around for at least six months?
  • Job satisfaction: How satisfied are new hires with their job?
  • Productivity: How productive are new hires during their first few months on the job?

You might also want to survey new hires during their onboarding experience at different points. This can give you valuable insights into what works well and what needs improvement.

Besides, you need a defined and documented process to collect this data.

When designing your employee onboarding process, ensure you include measures for each of your goals and objectives. That way, you can track your progress and make changes as needed.

How to Optimize an Existing Onboarding Process

Adopting a continuous improvement mindset is key to ensuring your employee onboarding process is always up-to-date and effective. An onboarding process that worked well a year ago might not be as effective today.

Reviewing and optimizing your employee onboarding process will ensure that it's always meeting your business's and your employee's needs.

The question becomes, how do you optimize an employee onboarding process?

A few ideas include:

Set up a system for collecting feedback

We've already talked about the importance of measuring results. But it's also important to collect feedback from employees at different points during the process.

You can collect this feedback in several ways, including surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

You should mix qualitative and quantitative research methods to get the most well-rounded view of the onboarding experience.

Creating a “research matrix” can help you keep track of what data you need to collect and how you'll manage it.

For instance, you might want to survey all new hires after their first week on the job. Then, you might conduct focus groups with a group of new hires after they've been on the job for a month.

You can also use other data sources to collect feedback, such as performance reviews and exit interviews.

From there, you can analyze your collected data and use it to improve your employee onboarding process.

Make data-driven decisions

When making changes to your employee onboarding process, it's important to base those changes on data. Even if you have an excellent idea for improvement, make sure you have data to back it up.

Let's use an example:

Suppose you've been collecting feedback from new hires and noticed that many of them are struggling with the company's timekeeping software. Thus, you've come up with the idea to offer a training course on how to use the software.

Before making this change, you want to ensure it will improve the employee experience. So, you decide to run a pilot program with a group of new hires.

After completing the pilot program, you survey the participants to see how they felt about the training course. The results are positive, and you decide to roll the system out to all new hires.

Taking a scientific approach to improving your employee onboarding process will help you ensure you're making things better—not just making changes for the sake of change.

Automate where possible

2022 affords businesses an unprecedented number of tools and platforms to automate repetitive work. According to McKinsey, 3 out of 10 activities are fully automatable in 60% of industries.

Besides, streamlining your employee onboarding process with automation can free up time for both HR and new hires. 40% of companies say automation boosts productivity.

If your company is still using paper forms and manual processes, now is the time to make a change. Automating your employee onboarding process can help you improve efficiency and accuracy while making things easier for everyone involved.

A few ideas for automating your employee onboarding process include:

  • Online forms: Use online forms to collect employee information and signatures. This will help you move away from paper forms and make it easier to store employee data electronically.
  • Electronic onboarding: Use an electronic onboarding platform to streamline the onboarding process. This can help you automate tasks like sending reminders and tracking progress.
  • Payroll: Connect your payroll system to your employee onboarding platform. This will help you automate setting up new hires in your payroll system.

Automation can improve your business, but it's essential to use it wisely. You don't want to automate your employee onboarding process to the point where it's impersonal and difficult to use.

Before you start automating your process, take some time to assess which tasks would be best suited for automation. Then, implement those changes gradually to ensure they improve the experience for every party involved.

Digitize paper documents

Paper documents aren't only inefficient and costly and pose a security risk. Digitizing all onboarding documents is a great way to streamline the process while protecting your company's data.

A few things to consider when digitizing onboarding documents:

  • Ensure all documents are in a format that can be easily viewed and printed by all employees, regardless of their device or operating system.
  • Include links to digital versions of onboarding documents in the welcome email you send to new hires. This will give them everything they need to start their first day.
  • Allow new hires to fill out onboarding forms electronically. This will save time and prevent errors.

When digitizing onboarding documents, keep security and compliance in mind. Otherwise, you could be putting your company at risk.

Make it engaging

An effective onboarding process is more than just a series of forms and orientations. It should be an opportunity to engage new hires and get them excited about their new role.

A few ideas for making your employee onboarding process more engaging:

  • Personalize the employee experience: Send new hires a welcome email with their name, start date, and other personalized information. Doing so will help them feel like they're already part of the team.
  • Create a social media profile: Set up a social media profile for new hires and help them connect with other employees, customers, and partners.
  • Use video: Video is a great way to engage new hires and help them learn about your company culture. You can use video for orientations, job training, and more.
  • Make it fun: Add some fun elements to your employee onboarding process, like games or challenges. New hires are more likely to engage with the process if it's enjoyable.

How to Adjust Your Onboarding Process for Different Types of Employees

Not all employees are the same, so your onboarding process should be flexible enough to accommodate different types of employees.

For example, hiring a college graduate is different from hiring an experienced professional.

A few tips for adjusting your onboarding process for different types of employees include:

Tailor the experience

When onboarding a new hire, consider their previous experience and tailor the experience accordingly. For example, a college graduate will need more training than an experienced professional.

Tailoring the experience is more critical for some types of employees than others. For example, it's essential when onboarding a remote worker, as they might not have the same access to resources as an on-site employee.

Be flexible with the timeline

The onboarding process can take anywhere from a few days to a few months.

Some employees might need more time than others to adjust to their new roles. For example, an experienced professional might be able to hit the ground running, while a college graduate might need more time to learn the ropes.

Be flexible with the timeline and allow employees to take the time they need to adjust to their new role.

Allow for feedback

Employees should be able to give feedback about the onboarding process, helping you identify areas that need improvement.

For example, if employees feel like they're not getting enough support, you might need to provide more resources.

Choose the right software solution

If you're unsure how to get started, consider using employee onboarding software.

Employee onboarding software can help you automate and manage the onboarding process, making it easier for you and your employees.

When choosing onboarding software, look for a tool that's easy to use and offers the needed features.

There are many types of onboarding software available, so choose the right tool for you and your company.

No matter what type of employee you're onboarding, using the right software can make the process easier for you and your employees.


With the proper onboarding process in place, you can help new hires adjust to their new role and become productive members of your team.

The process should be tailored to the needs of the company and the employees. It should be flexible, fun, and allow for feedback. And it should use the right software to make the process easier for everyone involved.


Featured Articles

Some people define insanity as “doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” Sadly,  this is how many SaaS brands operate. ….read more

Numbers don't lie. As a SaaS owner, you are always looking at the numbers to make decisions. Two of the most important numbers ….read more

Executive Navigation™

The core way we help B2B SaaS leaders progress and achieve their goals.

Executive Navigation™ is based on experience, not just theory. It is successful entrepreneurs helping growing entrepreneurs scale their business from $1M – $10M+ in revenue.

Executive Navigation™ is designed to accelerate growth by flattening the learning curve. Want to learn more?