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How to Give Your New Employees a Positive Onboarding Experience

You established the business case for more headcount, interviewed numerous candidates, checked references, made an offer and your top candidate accepted. Job complete! Well…not so fast.
A seamless employee onboarding experience is the first impression that leads directly to improved retention and productivity. Onboarding has the second highest impact of all HR practices, after recruiting itself, according to research from Boston Consulting Group. Other surveys show that more than two-thirds of employees are more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they have a great onboarding experience.
We all know that successful onboarding is much more than taking your new employee out for a team lunch on their first day. Here are some tips to improve your onboarding practices and make your new employees feel like valued members of your team starting on day one.
1. Give Them A Head Start
Make your new employee feel welcome before they step inside the building. Consider sending a surprise welcome package with company gear (a hat, t-shirt, leather notebook or pens). Email your new employee shortly before they start to let them know the team is excited to welcome them onboard. Better yet, create a sense of community by taking a few minutes to create a short video of the team saying hello.
Managers of new employees can take it a step further by inviting the new employee out to breakfast or lunch a few days before they start. It provides an opportunity for the manager and employee to get to know each other apart from the hustle and bustle of the first day, and it allows the employee to ask any last-minute questions and underscores that at your company, employees matter. Or, if the manager and new employee don’t work in the same city, a call can have a similar impact.
Help new employees get all new hire paperwork completed. Make sure your onboarding forms are available online and share a link with instructions, providing a convenient option to complete all necessary forms so they can concentrate on their job activities their first day.
Make sure your existing team is briefed and encourage them to greet your new employee and make them feel welcome.
2. Create a Welcoming Space
Be prepared for your new employee’s arrival. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for new employees to enter their new workspaces only to find a computer isn’t set up or no one thought to provide office supplies. That doesn’t make for a great welcome.
Order business cards well in advance; it’s a small thing but there’s nothing like an excited new employee proudly sharing their news with family, friends and industry colleagues. And take the necessary steps to ensure the employee’s new company email address is ready to go.
3. Have a Plan for Day One
Make sure the new employee’s manager is prepared to greet the new hire upon arrival. Have a team lunch arranged so your new employee isn’t eating lunch at their desk alone. Give a tour and personally introduce them to coworkers. Describe what to expect their first week.
Consider appointing an experienced employee as a team mentor, someone who can show the new employee the ropes (and fill them in on what those company acronyms mean!). The mentor can serve as the go-to person for questions during the employee’s first several weeks when the manager isn’t available.
Are there other new hires at your office? Make sure the new employee and recent hires have an opportunity to meet; it’s a way to include your new employee in an instant social network.
4. First week and beyond 
Onboarding isn’t limited to day one, or even the first week. Develop a plan so the employee knows what to expect – and what your expectations are – for the first 30 days, the first 60, the first 90. Have regular check-ins to understand how the employee is acclimating to their role, your team and the company culture.