Strategies for Effective On-boarding

Ensuring new recruits get off to a great start

Onboarding or inducting an employee into a workplace refers to the process of integrating new hires into the organisation, preparing them to succeed at their job, and helping them become fully engaged, motivated and productive members of the organization.

It includes the initial orientation process and the ensuing three-six months (or however long it takes to get an employee ‘up-to-speed’ in a particular company or role).

A successful onboarding program is one which leaves an employee feeling welcomed, supported and knowledgeable about their new work place. New recruits must be left knowing that they can ask for help if they need it and how to source the information and resources they need to problem solve and make decisions.

Things to consider

Before implementing or modifying an induction program it is worth conducting an audit of your current offering and considering how well it addresses some the questions below:

  • What things do new employees need to know about this work place that would make them more comfortable and able to adjust quickly and easily?
  • What impression do we want to make on a new employee’s first day?
  • What policies and procedures must employees be aware of on the first day to avoid mistakes on the second day?
  • What can we do to ensure new employees become acquainted with co-workers without feeling overwhelmed?
  • Does our program offer new starts the opportunity to spend time with key colleagues, line managers etc in the first hours or days?
  • Can these people provide the new employee with plenty of information on the most important internal and external stakeholders related to the position?
  • What resources can we supply to ensure new starts have the equipment, resources and information they need to feel welcome, comfortable and confident?
  • Does the new recruit have access to a buddy to ensure they receive plenty of personalised attention and to convey the message that they are an important addition to the team?
  • Does our induction program kick off with the most important information and allow new starts to ask questions?
  • Do we give the new recruit a clear overall sense of our collective corporate goals and culture and how they slot into that strategic vision?

Executing a Successful Induction

A great induction program starts after an employee has accepted the job and before they actually arrive for their first day on the job.

Before the first day

  • Stay in touch with a new employee after they have accepted the job through a welcome letter or phone call. This gives new starts the opportunity to ask questions and is a great way to break the ice.
  • Send an outline of the induction program with the welcome letter so the employee knows what to expect, especially during the first week. Remember to include start time and any office security/parking details.

On the first day

  • Ask line managers and key staff members to be at work before the new employee arrives.
  • Ensure the new employee’s work area is ready for the first day of work and that the employee has access to an email address, an internet/intranet connection and if necessary a phone.
  • Make sure existing staff members know when a new employee is starting and encourage them to be part of the welcoming process. Sending an email/memo the day before a new recruit starts in the workplace is a good way to remind existing staff to say hello.
  • Assign the new employee a buddy or mentor to show the employee around the workplace, make introductions and start initial training. Ensure the buddy is informed and prepared in advance of the first day.
  • Start with the basics and give the new employee time to takeover complicated assignments or responsibilities.
  • Ensure employees are advised about any administrative responsibilities, such as signing in and out and break times.
  • Try and organise a team/group lunch for the new employee on the first day or within the first week to provide opportunities for colleagues to socialise learn to know each other.
  • Give employees the opportunity for self directed learning ensuring they know who to ask if they need support.
  • Consider off loading information to the intranet so new employees know exactly where to go to look up any general employment related information.

Provide an orientation folder

Providing new employees with a folder either before they start on the job or on the first day is a great way to ensure they have all the information they need to settle in and will ease paperwork surrounding payroll, superannuation and tax.

Documents to put in the folder include:

  • The employee’s job description.
  • Company forms and descriptions of when these should be submitted to HR to expedite salary payment and so on.
  • A list of frequently asked questions and answers.
  • A contact person/department list including all phone numbers and extensions.
  • An organisational structure chart so the new employee knows where their position fits in the big picture.

David Lee from HumanNature@Work proposes that employers who can positively answer the following questions probably have a best practice induction program and says that this is likely help an organisation build a workforce of engaged, committed and highly productive employees.

  • Do you make your new hires feel welcome?
  • Do you inspire pride?
  • Do you help new hires see the big picture?
  • Do you show how employees matter?
  • Do you collect and share stories?
  • Do you make your orientation program interesting and interactive?
  • Are you designing it from the new employee’s perspective?
  • Are you holding your orientation program when it’s most understandable and beneficial?
  • Have you broken your orientation program down into digestible, bite sized chunks?
  • Are you offloading as much information as possible to your intranet?
  • Do you have a mentoring program?
  • Are you making it easy for new employees to tell you how they’re doing?
  • Do you help your supervisors and managers do their part well?


Successful Onboarding: How to Get Your New Employees Started Off Right by David Lee Principal, HumanNature@Work.

The Importance of a Successful New Employee Orientation Program in by Kelly Services.

Developing a Successful Induction Program by Bay of Plenty District Health Board.

1. SHRM Presentation The Wynhurst Group

This Better Workplace Bulletin was First Published in August 2012