“We don’t have the time to create an employee onboarding process, but we know we need it.” Does this sound familiar? Everyone is overworked and short on time. It becomes a vicious cycle of not having the time to build the processes that will ultimately save you time. So how do you create an onboarding process that covers the most urgent areas quickly?
Launch an employee onboarding process in less than a week
We put together a practical and actionable step-by-step list and templates that will get your onboarding program off the ground within a week. The trick is to start with the basics and then add on to it over time.
Just like committing to physical fitness, you are better off taking small steps now rather than putting it off until you can allocate time and resources to run a marathon. The small steps you take today will create the momentum needed for long-term success.
Building an onboarding program in small increments has the added benefit of being able to test it out and make adjustments as it evolves. It is shaped over time by company growth, employee insights, budget fluctuations, and technology.
How do you structure an employee onboarding program?
Companies that build an onboarding process over the course of months complete exercises, brainstorming sessions, and feedback gathering. The goal is to determine how to customize an onboarding plan around company goals, culture, stakeholders, and employee personas.
But the purpose of this 6-step guide is to develop the most necessary elements of an onboarding process and LAUNCH it quickly. From there you can grow and improve it. But the short-term goal is to simply get it started.
Four phases of employee onboarding
This quick-launch plan will focus on six steps along an onboarding timeline that spans four phases:
- First day
- Role-specific training (2 to 4 weeks)
- Transition to productivity (Usually ending around 90 days from day one)
The role of the 6 C’s of employee onboarding
No matter how simple the onboarding process is, it is always essential to include the 6 C’s of onboarding: Compliance, clarification, confidence, connection, culture, and checkback. But don’t worry, we baked those into the steps. These are the elements of successful onboarding backed by science and theory. Read this article to learn about the 6 C’s of employee onboarding.
Keep reading for an abbreviated version of each phase of onboarding and the minimum action items required to get an employee onboarding program off the ground this week.
Six steps to launch an employee onboarding program
Are you ready to get started? Don’t miss the downloadable templates to help you build your onboarding process step-by-step.
Phase 1: Pre-boarding. Employee onboarding before day one
This phase of onboarding sets the stage for a positive and productive onboarding experience. Yet it is often overlooked by employers and is thus an unremarkable experience for new hires at best. At worst, a lack of clear communication leads to confusion and anxiety around expectations.
Step one: Plan for Compliance with first-day instructions and paperwork
Your HR department probably already has an offer letter template and process for communicating first-day instructions. But do you arrange for mandatory paperwork to be completed before day one?
Doing so gets it out of the way and paves the way for a remarkable first day focused on connection with the team.
- Compile all of the mandatory paperwork requiring filling out and signing. Make sure to check on labor laws and arrange for compensation if required. Or, you can make this an optional step.
- Create a great first impression by making it easy for the new hire. For example, use fillable forms and electronic signatures.
- Clearly outline whom to contact with any questions.
Step two: Create Connection with a welcome from the supervisor
This is a less common step but makes new hires feel like a part of the team before they have even started their first day. A welcome can be as simple as a text message or as elaborate as a video tour of the office and introductions to the team.
- Decide on the format and medium (e.g., text, email, video) and create a template.
- Determine who is involved in this step and coordinate. What timeframe is expected? How will they communicate so that this step is completed? Who will remind the supervisor and follow up?
The pre-boarding stage leading up to the first day is powerful. During this time new hires forge ideas about how the new job will be and try to keep their nerves under control, wondering how they will perform and fit in.
The main objective of this phase of the onboarding process is to provide clear expectations and build a connection early on.
Phase 2: A warm welcome on the first day of employee onboarding
If pre-boarding sets the stage for the employee experience, then the first day is the grand opening. New hires are in a heightened state of awareness as their perception is formed about the workplace.
During this crucial point on the onboarding timeline, new hires will develop attitudes and opinions about the organization. They will be forming answers to these questions:
- Is leadership organized?
- Are workers valued and respected?
- How well does the team communicates with one another?
Ideally, the majority of the compliance paperwork was completed during the onboarding process so that the first few days can be spent connecting with the team and ramping up employee engagement.
Step three: Reflect the Culture with a warm welcome
The first hour is crucial. Effective coordination with the team will lead to a streamlined first day that reflects a sense of organization, teamwork, and overall top-notch culture.
- Create an onboarding checklist for the new hire’s first day. This should be fairly standard across positions. At a minimum it includes:
- Office space and tools ready (or items pre-delivered if remote)
- Computer and app logins set
- Onboarding materials available
- Greeted by the immediate supervisor upon arrival
- Create a brief survey for the end of the first day. This shows new hires that the company cares about them, which reflects on the culture.
Download the comprehensive Employee Onboarding Checklist by Dr. Talya Bauer — start making your onboarding process easier today
Want to roll out the red carpet? Find out in advance what the new hire’s favorite type of food is and order lunch for two: The new hire and immediate supervisor or work buddy. In a remote work environment, this can be accomplished with food delivery.
Step four: Provide Clarification with an onboarding itinerary
Do you remember showing up for the first day of a job and having no idea what to expect? The first day is already a stressful experience. Ease your new hire’s nerves by giving them clear expectations about what to expect during their onboarding period.
- Create a two-week outlook to include and include as many details as possible to let new hires know what to expect. This can be in the form of a packet (at the most basic level), presentation, or web page.
- Include a “who to contact” list and information for navigating their first few weeks.
- Cut the itinerary into bite-sized pieces and provide a daily itinerary.
- Create brief surveys for the end of each week.
Click below to use Preppio's employee onboarding process template.
Phase 3: Employee onboarding in the first two weeks
The attitudes and opinions that were sparked on the first day will either be strengthened or weakened over the first two weeks. During this phase, the onboarding program will begin to differentiate based on the role. But you can continue to build confidence in all new hires with consistent one-on-one meetings.
Step five: Build Confidence with consistent one-on-ones
One-on-ones can be as simple as a quick check-in by a work buddy, supervisor, HR, or upper management. Or they can be a longer and more formal meeting. They should be customized to the role and the timeline.
- Coordinate with employee onboarding stakeholders to determine their availability on a general basis. Create a template including the who, what, when, and where of the check-ins.
- Who will check in? Members of the leadership team should check in at least once for a quick, “How’s it going?” The direct supervisor should check in once a day briefly for the first week. And a work buddy can check in more often.
- What to talk about? Create a template so that onboarding stakeholders know what to ask and what to look for during check-ins.
- When will it occur? Include in your timeline a general time block understanding that the exact time will change based on schedules.
- Where to meet? In today's world, with remote technology, you can meet anywhere. Set the tone by meeting in a location (virtual or in-person) that aligns with the culture.
Phase 4: Transition to productivity
The transition from this point to full productivity varies depending on the position, but the employee onboarding process continues in a cycle of check-ins, feedback, and continued improvement.
Step six: Develop continuous improvement with Checkbacks
Up to this point, we have covered the 5 C’s of onboarding and now we move on to the 6th C: Checkbacks. Employee onboarding is a process of continuous improvement and checkbacks, or feedback, and provides the needed information for adjustments.
- Create surveys to determine how to better support the new hire and any opportunities for improvement in the onboarding program.
Leverage Technology to Launch Your Employee Onboarding program
The employee onboarding experience is enhanced when using the right technology. The following recommendations reveal how onboarding technology can improve each step of the way by leveraging the 6 C’s of onboarding.
Be crystal clear with new employees regarding objectives, timelines, roles, and responsibilities to leverage Clarification
- Using pre-entry onboarding software, get new hires set up with pre-hire paperwork.
Consistently cover the basics to leverage Compliance.
- A personalized access portal with information, forms, activities, to-do lists, maps, and photos of team members goes a long way toward helping with onboarding success.
Make the first day on the job special to leverage Connection
- Onboarding software can assign, facilitate, and track key stakeholder meetings with new employees for specific time guidelines (e.g., Meet with Barbara in Finance within your first 30 days on the job).
Take an employee-centric approach in onboarding to leverage Confidence
- Onboarding software reminds stakeholders to complete these steps and provide other resources to employees in preparation for check-ins, such as surveys, messaging, and task lists.
Engage stakeholders in planning to leverage Culture.
- Pre-entry onboarding technology is a great way to align new employees with the culture through messaging and resources delivered through integrated communication channels.
Use milestones to check in on employee progress to leverage Checkback’s
- Measure the progress of programs over time with an Enps (employer net promoter score).
Click here to get a free guide to choosing employee onboarding software
Recap: Six steps to create your employee onboarding process
You have your work cut out for you, but you can quickly create a beginning employee onboarding program with these six steps and the templates provided above. To recap, the six steps are:
- Plan ahead for Compliance with first-day instructions and paperwork
- Create Connections before day one with a supervisor introduction
- Reflect the Culture with a warm welcome on the first day
- Build Confidence with consistent one-on-ones
- Provide Clarification with an itinerary
- Continue progress with Checkbacks
Preppio offers customized workshops in its customer onboarding program to help companies build a comprehensive and robust process. Click below to get started.