A good onboarding process is the key to any company. In addition to easing anxiety for the new hire, it can increase retention by 25 percent and improve employee performance by 11percent. Employees who go through it are 69 percent more likely to stay with a company for at least three years. It’s important for the process to last more than 90 days because it can take 8 to 12 months for a new hire to be as proficient as their more experienced colleagues. And ultimately, happier, more productive employees help save the company money.

An onboarding process should follow a structured timeline, similar to what follows.

Before the first day.

Prepare and send all the HR paperwork for the new hire to complete ahead of time to save time during that first busy week. Meet with the new hire’s direct supervisor to discuss their role, goals, projects and agenda for the first week. Prepare a comfortable workstation and make sure they has access to any online portals or digital tools they’ll need. Assign any required reading and make company videos or podcasts that promote the company’s culture and mission accessible.

The first day.

Alert the receptionist that a new hire will be reporting and assign a mentor or buddy for the day (or longer) to welcome them, make casual introductions and take them to lunch. They should be formally introduced at a team meeting, given a tour, and inducted into company culture. Give him a physical tour of the office and make sure their immediate supervisor discusses their role and expectations.

The first week.

Assign the employee’s first project and schedule regular check-in meetings. Explain the expectations for the first month. Check over paperwork and make sure the benefit accounts are properly set up.

The first month.  

During the next few weeks, explain long-term goals for your new employee and strategic objectives for the company, and be clear on how those align. Provide any reading material for personal growth. Encourage reasonable social interaction between employees to build a sense of cohesiveness and foster individual happiness.

Longer term.

In the first 60 days, be sure to review the onboarding process with them to determine how helpful it was. Is more training needed? What, if anything, is the orientation lacking? The employee will feel their opinion and feedback are valuable and it will help you plan for additional hires. Within 90 days, schedule the employee’s first official review. In the meantime, make sure they have a support system and open lines of communication.

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