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  • Manuel Martinez

How to Create an Effective Onboarding Program to Retain Your Hires?

New Employees

Hiring takes a lot of effort, wouldn’t it be beneficial to keep the people you took the effort of hiring?

You have finally selected the most ideal candidate after creating a job description, posting on a job board, sifting through hundreds of resumes, interviewing multiple candidates, and finally selecting your ideal candidate after multiple rounds of questioning and consideration. Now, how to retain your ideal candidate. A standard onboarding process increases new hire retention by 50% and a great onboarding experience makes 69% of new hires likely to stay at least three years.

In this document, we will discuss everything needed for your new hire to be successful, from minute 1 to year 1!

Before Day 1 - Pre-Onboarding

Before your new hire steps into the building on day 1, there are a few things they should have received and been made aware of.

  1. Offer Letter and Hiring Paperwork - (2 weeks before the first day)

  2. Onboarding Packet/Welcome Letter - (1 week before the first day)

  3. Detailed Email on First-Day Expectations - (2 days before the first day)

Your new hire should receive and sign all necessary paperwork regarding their employment prior to stepping on the property. This will ensure that their first day and all that entails will be as stress-free as possible.

The rationale for spacing out the emails is to allow the new hire to effectively process each one without feeling bombarded. This will allow the new hire ample time to process, reason, and identify any questions they may have. Spacing the emails also reassures the candidate of your commitment to their success because you are periodically reaching out to them. This periodic communication and rapport will typically result in a more prepared new hire which in turn will lead to a great first day of employment

Offer Letter and Hiring Paperwork

Common employment legal forms include Form W-4, Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, Equal Opportunity Data Form, and State Tax Withholding Form.

Onboarding Packet/Welcome Letter

New hires should also receive and review Employee Benefits Documents, Employee Handbook, Direct Deposit Form, Policy Documents, and Acknowledgements.

Detailed Email on First-Day Expectations

If their first shift varies in any way from where they initially interviewed or were screened they must be made aware of these changes via an agenda, which will specifically detail locations, schedules, etc. before their arrival. This will facilitate a sense of preparedness and will maximize their feeling of excitement and confidence.

Alternatively, you may want to provide all of this documentation after their first day but ensure that they have ample time to review the information so that they have a better understanding of expectations. Most importantly, is that they receive their welcome letter and onboarding packet so they have an understanding of expectations and the process before their first day of employment.

Onboarding & Welcoming

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into an organization. It is your time to welcome your employee and set the standard for the rest of their time with the company.

The length of time that will be required to complete onboarding will vary according to the job description but it is typically 1- 2 days. Keep in mind what is in the best interest of your company and the preparedness of your employees; thus onboarding may require an extended length of time in certain circumstances.

There are a lot of things that can be covered and reviewed during onboarding. Part of motivating an employee is making them feel welcome. Consider providing your new employee with a “swag bag,” constituting gifts with the company logo such as clothing, mugs, hats, or any other items. Be creative!

Day 1

  • Ensure that there is an individual responsible for personally meeting and welcoming your new employee. They may provide the employee with an additional copy of the agenda/schedule which was previously included in their hire packet.

  • Give a detailed tour of the building, including rest areas and vending machine locations. Also, review the benefits your organization provides such as discounts, gym memberships, vending machines, or anything else.

  • Allow time for your new employee to meet and greet key personnel in all pertinent departments.

  • Provide your new hire lunch or invite them out to lunch.

  • Discuss your organization’s culture, vision, mission, and values. Ensure they know where they fit in that vision.

  • Discuss benefits enrollment, company holidays, policies, and the organization’s structure.

  • Ensure they can navigate the building and computer systems by being able to log in, go into authorized areas, receive codes or ID badges, etc.

Day 1 or 2

As stated previously, new hire orientation can be longer or shorter depending on the organization itself and the individual’s needs. Here are some things that can be split up or all done in one day.

  • Have the new hire connect with a buddy or mentor in their department, to ensure they always have someone they can collaborate with and learn from.

  • Any video training or compliance training can be done on this day including:

    • Workplace Safety Training

    • Diversity Training

    • Anti-Harassment Training

    • Information Security & Privacy

    • Code of Conduct Training

    • Abuse & Anti-Bullying Training

    • Workplace Violence Training

    • Compliance Training Specific to The Organization

  • After general compliance training, go into more specialized training which will provide more detailed information and demands of their specific role. The more informed they are, the more confident and productive they will be. This can include an onboarding video, specific to each department or role.

Ensuring Success Through Continued Follow-Up

Pre-onboarding should be initiated around 1-2 weeks prior to their first day. Then onboarding takes 1 to 2 days, starting on their first day of work. Then the follow-up!

Week 1

In the new hires' first week, they will hit the ground running. This will be the beginning of their insertion into the culture of the company and the time they will first start building connections.

Lead First

The first connection they should have is with their leader. Either their supervisor, manager, or department head. Engage the leader with a 1 on 1 meeting where objectives, tasks, expectations, deadlines, and more will be discussed. At this time you want to set a 3 month plan, so they know exactly what is expected of them.

Mentor Second

After that meeting connect them to a mentor who will guide them on their daily tasks and general workplace responsibilities. Ensure it is someone in their role or equivalent role. You want the mentor to be someone they can speak to openly without fear of repercussions. Although you don’t want them to be above them in status, you do want them to be a subject matter expert, have leadership qualities, and have fantastic communication skills. Without one of these three traits, they will be an inefficient mentor. If they do not know the role, they can’t be expected to teach; if they do not have leadership qualities, they won’t take charge of the mentee; if they are not proficient at communicating, they may lead and have great information but the message will not resonate with the new hire.

Month 1

At 30 days, there should be a follow-up between the leader and the mentor to discuss the progression of the team member, this will be an informal discussion and a time to evaluate if there is anything extra that needs to be done or explained. The leader will inform the mentor of the recommendations moving forward and inform the mentee of the new path.

Month 3

At the 90-day mark, there should be a formal follow-up with an objective evaluation process to check on the mentee’s progress. There should be three meetings, one between the leader and mentee, the leader and mentor, and all three together.

The mentor should evaluate the mentee, and the mentee should evaluate the mentor. This is how you further develop the program and run a successful onboarding program where new hires stay long-term.

Month 6

At month 6 it is time to evaluate the new hire’s designated career path. This is the time for the leader to speak with the mentee one-on-one again and discuss the mentee’s chosen path. It is a time to look at the future and discuss leadership positions or possibly transfers to other departments based on the individual’s interests.

Month 6 marks the end of the mentorship program and makes the mentee eligible to become a mentor as long as they meet the three traits discussed previously.

Many new hires who feel unsupported, do not have a clear understanding of their role or don’t receive proper training, leave their jobs before the 6-month mark. Having a great onboarding experience increases their engagement, operational success, and trust.


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