How to Onboard New Employees (and Actually Have Them Stay)

Hiring a new employee is an exciting time. But if you’re new to employee onboarding, there’s a lot to think about. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how to get a new employee started off right in the midst of starting your business and spinning multiple plates at the same time.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Fortunately, you don’t have to have a degree in human resources or take courses to get a structured onboarding plan in place for your budding team.

To help onboard you to onboarding, we’ve rounded up some top tips and best practices to help you create an onboarding experience employees will love—and keep them around for the long haul.

Why you need to onboard new employees.

First impressions matter. And onboarding is the first glimpse a new employee has into your small business, so it’s important to make it count.

The goal of employee onboarding is to introduce them to your small business and their role on the team. You’re providing them with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed. This not only benefits your employees but puts them in a position to support your business in the best way possible. 

But onboarding goes beyond simply helping your new hire fulfill their responsibilities. It’s a two-way street.  You’re also introducing them to what it’s like to be a part of your team and what they can expect working with you long-term. 

Despite the value in employee onboarding, only 29% of new hires say they feel fully prepared and supported to excel in their role after their onboarding experience.

What happens if you don’t have an onboarding process?

Nearly 1 in 5 employees either report that their most recent onboarding was poor—or worse, that they received no onboarding at all.

Unfortunately, when employees aren’t properly onboarded they can:

    • Struggle with their responsibilities and tasks: Even the best new hire isn’t automatically going to know how to do their new job. If they aren’t trained properly, they’re not going to be able to perform at their best. And in the worst-case scenario, they could be doing their job entirely wrong.
    • Be less productive and engaged in their role: Onboarding boosts employee productivity in more ways than one. Of course, the right training helps them do their job better. But by setting them up for success, they’ll be more motivated and engaged in their work. In fact, employees who have a successful onboarding experience are likely to be 70% more productive
    • Be unsatisfied with you as their employer: A comprehensive onboarding process shows your new employee that they’re a valued member of your team. It’s no surprise that employee onboarding is closely tied to employee job satisfaction. If employees feel overlooked from day one, it can leave a bad taste in their mouths that can be difficult to come back from.
    • Be more likely to leave for a different job: You’ve invested the time into hiring and onboarding your new employee, so you likely want them to stick around as long as possible. But without a quality onboarding process, they can find themselves feeling unsupported in their role, causing them to jump ship sooner rather than later.

If you take away anything from this article, make it this: don’t skip employee onboarding.

How to onboard a new employee in 8 easy steps.

While every onboarding process might look a little bit different, here are a few steps to guide you through the basics of employee onboarding:

  1. Provide your new hire with an onboarding packet before their first day. Digital is ideal so it can be emailed right to them.
  2. Create an onboarding plan and schedule.
  3. On day one, provide a tour of the workplace and introduce any key individuals.
  4. Review company policies and guidelines.
  5. Provide education about your company, products, and services.
  6. Train employees on software, processes, and systems.
  7. Review role, responsibilities, and expectations.
  8. Gather onboarding feedback from your new employee.

Tips for successful employee onboarding.

It’s pretty common to see some form of employee onboarding across businesses of all shapes and sizes. But not all onboarding is equal. It’s common to see businesses try to get away with the bare minimum; an onboarding mistake that can impact both employee experience and their performance.  

Luckily, you know better.

Let’s look at some quick do’s and don’ts for creating an awesome employee onboarding experience.

How to start your new hires on the right foot.

    • Do start onboarding before day one: By preparing a welcome packet and providing onboarding information to your new hire ahead of time, you can make their first day less stressful for everyone. 
    • Do ask for feedback: Ask your new hire what they liked and didn’t like about the onboarding process. Use these insights to improve your onboarding experience in the future.
    • Do automate where possible: There’s a lot to cover with employee onboarding, automating things like welcome packets and using digital storage tools can help streamline the process and keep things stress-free.
    • Do make time for questions: Set aside time for your new hire to ask you questions, whether it’s about HR details or how to track working hours. Being open to questions can help you catch anything that you might have missed in your onboarding plan and make sure that your employee has everything they need.
    • Do set onboarding milestones and goals: Even a simple checklist of onboarding tasks can help make certain that nothing gets overlooked. Plus, it can help new hires feel productive in the first few weeks as they settle into their new role.

Things to avoid for new hires.

    • Don’t skip onboarding: It might seem obvious, but it’s still common to see companies of all sizes skimp on onboarding in hopes of saving time and resources. In reality, skipping onboarding will cost you more in the long run. 
    • Don’t wing it: Onboarding should be done thoughtfully to make sure that you and your new hire get the most out of the experience. Ideally, you should have a written plan in place to keep everyone on the same page. This is especially true for onboarding hourly employees who may have a more particular work schedule.
    • Don’t rush the process: Onboarding doesn’t happen in one day. Trying to tackle too much at once can be overwhelming for your new hire. Feel free to spread out training and onboarding activities over the first week or even the first month.
    • Don’t forget to make it personal: Your first employee is a key part of your business. A little extra warmth can go a long way. Consider sending them a welcome gift or going for welcome lunch to make them feel like a part of the team.

Want to keep them happy? 

A solid onboarding process alone has been shown to increase employee retention as much as 82%. But onboarding and training are just the first steps to keeping talented employees on your team. 

You shouldn’t do a complete 180 on the employee experience once the onboarding process is over. Some of the best ways to keep your employees happy and engaged post-onboarding?

  • Offer flexibility with work schedules where possible.
  • Prioritize employee appreciation.
  • Provide competitive compensation and benefits.
  • Listen to their feedback and take action.

Need some help managing the onboarding process?

Onboarding is key to growing your business, and knowing how to onboard a new employee is the first step to that. But you don’t need to do it alone.

Homebase’s all-in-one employee management platform provides the tools you need to build an effective onboarding process. From automated welcome packets to HR and compliance support, Homebase has everything you need to grow your small business.

With Homebase, employee onboarding and retention have never been easier. Automate onboarding with Homebase today.

Employee onboarding FAQs


When should employee onboarding begin?

Employee onboarding should begin before their first day. Once an employee has signed their offer letter, you’ll want to start preparing their onboarding experience.

While some things like training likely won’t start until day one, tackling things like new hire paperwork can help streamline the onboarding process and make employees feel welcome before their official start date.

How long should onboarding last?

Onboarding often takes longer than you might think. A good onboarding process can last anywhere from three to six months. While of course, the bulk of the training and onboarding will happen in the first few weeks, it’s important to continue providing support in the following months to set them up for success. 

What’s my role as a manager during employee onboarding?

Your role as a manager during the employee onboarding process is to guide the new hire through their onboarding experience. It’s up to you to make them feel welcome and valued as a new employee. You should be available to provide feedback, as well as answer any questions and lend a helping hand every step of the way.

Related posts

Help! I Have to Onboard Someone for the First Time

Your first hire is a big step for you and your business. Congrats! Now that you have an employment offer…

Read article

Retail onboarding: a step-by-step guide

A great retail onboarding is foundational for the success of your business—and your employees. If you’ve found some well-rounded team…

Read article
Effortlessly schedule and track your team's time with Homebase.
Try our basic plan free, forever.
Try Homebase for free