Remember that time you switched schools as a kid? You know, when you pretended to like sitting alone and being referred to as “the new girl” for an entire year? Okay. Maybe you don’t remember. Maybe that was just me.

The point here is this: Your new hires are probably feeling an awful lot like that super awkward eighth grader. How you bring them into the fold can be the difference between success and failure; between being excited about their new opportunity or second-guessing that decision.

Your onboarding process is how you will give your new employees the skills— and the confidence— they need to thrive. Make sure it does the trick.

Don’t confuse onboarding with orientation

If you think onboarding is merely the process of signing papers and running through the employee handbook, you’re selling yourself, and your new hire, way too short.

Just how important is a comprehensive onboarding program? Well, that depends on how much things like employee performance, turnover, and engagement matter to you.

According to research from Aberdeen, organizations with a standard onboarding process experienced:

  • 54% greater new hire productivity
  • 50% greater new hire retention
  • Twice the levels of new hire engagement

Meanwhile, Modern Survey reports that while 91% of HR professionals understand that onboarding is critical to success:

  • only 56% have an effective process in place
  • just 35% are executing consistently
  • a mere 26% measure or monitor their program’s effectiveness

Onboarding helps lay the foundation for happy, successful and long-term employees. Sadly, less than half of employees think their company does a good job with onboarding. Here’s a quick re-cap of how you can stay on the good side of that list.

Make new hires feel at home

The number one goal is make your new hires feel like part of the team. But you can’t do this by simply pumping up your new hire about how awesome your company is. You’ve also got to get your current staff excited about the new addition. New employees should never be a surprise. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

And don’t forget to build bridges! In a busy work environment, it can be difficult for people to take the time to get to know each other, but working in a vacuum is demoralizing. If you have a mentorship program, enroll each new hire as they come on board. If not, assign a friendly co-worker as the go-to for general office questions and to check in from time to time during the first few weeks.

These details might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things you need to accomplish, but often it’s the little details that matter most. So go ahead, invite the new guy to lunch. And be sure to get his name while you’re at it.

Show them how they fit in

Your new hire may have a perfect understanding of the new position, but does she also have a good grasp on the values your organization lives and breathes and why she (and the rest of the team) is so darn important?

Onboarding is a fantastic time to showcase your organizational beliefs and culture. Share the story of your brand, what direction you’re headed in, and how your new hire is going to help you get there. Talk about the values behind organizational processes and decisions. Make it meaningful. If you’ve got a personal career story or a personal favorite company story, tell it.

Schedule some time for your new hire to meet with various employees throughout the organization willing to share information about their current roles, what attracted them to the company and what they love about working there.

Employee engagement doesn’t just happen. It’s painstakingly cultivated over time. In fact, you might not even know when the process started. Was it during the initial interview? Or the moment she first clicked on your website? Maybe your new hire has wanted to work for you since she was six years old.

The main thing to remember is that every interaction, everything you say and do, will become part of the bigger picture that’s forever being painted— and where she sees herself in it.

Build confidence

Confidence isn’t a one way street. Or a two-way street. Confidence is that unruly intersection where five streets and three cross-walks all merge together into one crazy round-about. In other words, it’s complicated. And things can easily go awry.

You’ve chosen your new hire because you believe that person is the best fit for the company and the job. Ideally, your current team is confident you made the right pick. Hopefully, your new hire also believes he is a good fit, and is confident he made the right decision.

The quickest, most effective way to throw everybody onto a collision course is to subject your new hire to an haphazard, unorganized, and/or poorly executed onboarding process.

Here’s a brief summary of the rapid and extensive loss of confidence a bad onboarding experience can cause:

  • Your new hire loses confidence in the organization, their choice to join the team, and your leadership ability.
  • Your team picks up on these feelings and loses confidence in your new hire, their dedication to the job, and your leadership ability.
  • You see all of this happening and start to lose confidence your new hire’s capabilities, your hiring decision, your team’s loyalty, and your leadership ability.

The good news is that all of this also works in reverse. Build a strong onboarding process and you will see increased confidence across the board— in your new employees, your team as a whole, and even in your own abilities as a leader, trainer, and mentor.

Just remember, you’re not in this thing alone. Successful onboarding is a team sport. The best leaders recognize the need to share the load and ask for help when they need it.

So what are you waiting for? Design a kickass onboarding program and make yourself proud.


This is the eighth and final post in a series of blogs about how to effectively onboard new employees. For more information on this topic, read How to Effectively Onboard New Employees6 Ways to Accelerate LearningTips for Transition, and Define SuccessSecure Early Wins, and Concentrate on Culture, and Share the Load. Subscribe to this blog to receive new HR-related posts each week.


5 Pillars of Employee-Related Expenses eBook