As a human resources (HR) professional, one of the most foundational aspects of your job is onboarding and training new employees and providing the framework for supervisors to do so as well. There's also a lot that can go wrong during the onboarding process.

With some human resources onboarding best practices from Forbes and other sources in mind, you can better ensure your new hires are set up for success from day one.

1. Prepare Before the First Day

The first day of work or training is memorable for any new hire and sets the tone of what’s ahead for them, so it's critical for HR professionals to plan accordingly.

Open Lines of Communication

First and foremost, ensure that your new hire has your contact information as soon as a job offer is made. This way, they can reach out with questions before their first day and set themselves up for success. From there, keep the lines of communication open throughout onboarding and beyond; this means taking the time to check in with new employees and proactively asking if there's anything you can help with.

Early Engagement

Before your new employee's first day even arrives, take a proactive approach by ensuring clear communication is established. This should include a welcoming message from the unit director or CEO, depending on your organization's structure. Introduce the leadership, provide their contact information, and perhaps a brief message encouraging open communication. This personal touch not only makes your new hires feel valued but also provides them with the necessary resources to reach out with any questions they might have before they start.

Pre-Onboarding Materials

Prior to your new employee's first day, be proactive about gathering all necessary documentation, paperwork, and other materials needed to expedite the onboarding process. Ensure you receive everything required from your new hire in advance so their first day runs smoothly.

In addition to collecting paperwork, prepare and send a new employee toolkit to your new hire. This toolkit should include resources such as an employee handbook for them to read over in advance. Providing these materials beforehand helps the new employee feel prepared and informed as they step into their new role.

Access to Resources

Before your new hire's first day, make sure they also have access to any digital or physical resources they may need to do their jobs well. This includes having necessary email accounts set up, key cards made, and training modules prepared and assigned as needed.

2. Create a Structured Onboarding Plan

Having a detailed onboarding plan laid out ahead of time can also make all the difference in new hire engagement and overall experience.

Clear Timelines and Objectives

Take time to create a detailed schedule that includes information on scheduled training timelines, goals, and objectives for your new hire. Make sure that your new employee has access to this information so they can be on the same page in understanding their training objectives and what to expect from the onboarding process.

Personalized Onboarding Experiences

Understand, too, that no two employees are exactly alike. Creating a personalized onboarding experience can significantly improve engagement and accelerate the learning process for your new hire. By getting to know your new employee ahead of the first day, you can tailor training and learning experiences more effectively. Consider gathering information on their preferred learning styles, familiarity with essential software or apps, and comfort levels with various communication tools. This approach allows you to customize their training to maximize effectiveness and ensure a smoother transition into their new role.

Virtual Onboarding

With the rise of remote work, virtual onboarding has become increasingly important. It's essential to adapt your onboarding process to accommodate new hires who may be working from home. Ensure that all necessary technology, such as laptops, software, and access credentials, are provided before the start date. Schedule virtual meetings and training sessions using video conferencing tools to maintain a personal touch and foster a sense of connection. Additionally, provides clear guidelines on virtual communication protocols and sets expectations for remote work. By addressing the unique challenges of virtual onboarding, you can create a seamless and engaging experience for remote employees.

3. Involve Leadership and Team Members

You may be in charge of human resources onboarding, but you'll achieve the best results when you get other invested members of your team involved in the process.

Leadership Welcome

At the end of the day, collaboration is key to creating a quality onboarding plan. While the bulk of the onboarding process should be designed and executed by the direct supervisor who understands the day-to-day responsibilities and challenges of the role, it's beneficial for HR to provide a foundational framework. Meeting with other supervisors, managers, and members of leadership can also provide valuable insights and diverse perspectives. This collaborative effort ensures a comprehensive and effective onboarding plan that is tailored specifically to the needs of the new hire.

Mentorship Programs

In some cases, new hires may benefit greatly from having a mentor. According to Indeed, if you don't already have a mentorship program in place, now could be an ideal time to set one up. Take your time selecting the best and most experienced mentors for the job, and make sure new hires are matched up with the mentors who will best support their training.

4. Focus on Company Culture

You hired your employee not just for their technical skills and expertise but also because they seemed like they would enrich your company culture. With this in mind, it's crucial not to overlook company culture in your training and onboarding.

Cultural Immersion

Make an effort to immerse your new hire in the company culture as part of the onboarding process. This means not only sharing information about your organization’s beliefs, values, and mission but also demonstrating what makes the company culture unique. Consider creative approaches such as hosting a welcome event themed around company values, providing interactive virtual tours of your office highlighting key cultural spots, or arranging meet-and-greets with team leaders through informal coffee chats. Another effective method is sharing testimonial videos from current employees who discuss the impact of company culture on their personal and professional growth. These initiatives help new hires visualize and experience the essence of your workplace firsthand.

5. Implement Interactive Training Sessions

Interactive and engaging training sessions can hold your new hire's attention while maximizing retention, so it’s crucial to consider best practices when creating a training plan. Typically, while HR may provide the overarching framework and resources for training, the actual execution and adaptation to specific job roles should be managed by the business unit’s supervisors.

Hands-On Learning

Many people learn best by actually doing. Supervisors should focus on reducing the amount of lecturing during training sessions and increase hands-on training opportunities. This practical approach ensures that new hires are not only engaged but also well-prepared for the realities of their jobs.

Continuous Learning Opportunities

Career development is a key component of any onboarding process and should be actively managed by the supervisor. Consider the potential career trajectory of your new hires and provide them with access to ongoing professional development opportunities. Supervisors should be equipped with the tools to guide this progression, ensuring that each employee can reach their full potential within the company.

One effective way to achieve this is through structured shadowing opportunities, where new hires can observe and learn from experienced employees across different areas of the company. Additionally, consider implementing regular career development meetings and creating personalized growth plans that include both short-term goals and long-term aspirations. These initiatives not only foster a learning culture but also help employees see a clear path forward in their careers at the company.

6. Utilize Technology and Tools

These days, human resources professionals have access to some excellent technology and tools that can make their jobs easier while improving the new hire experience. Are you taking full advantage of these?

Digital Onboarding Platforms

The right onboarding software can really streamline the process for both sides, so consider implementing one of these platforms if you haven't done so already. An effective digital onboarding platform should automate the process as much as possible while tracking progress and improving new hire engagement.

7. Establish Clear Communication Channels

At all stages of the onboarding process, new hires should know who they can reach out to (and how) when they have any questions or concerns. This can be done by establishing clear communication channels as part of your onboarding plan.

Feedback Loops

Similarly, feedback loops are another important communication tool in HR and particularly in the onboarding process. By continually seeking and gathering feedback from new hires—and actually taking action on it—you can use active listening to make changes and improve processes as needed.

8. Set Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

New hires can benefit significantly from setting clear employee goals, which should encompass both short-term and long-term objectives. Traditionally, it is the supervisors who collaborate directly with new employees on this task, rather than HR. Therefore, it’s important to equip supervisors with the right tools and training to effectively work with new hires on establishing these goals. This could include training sessions on goal-setting techniques, access to goal-tracking software, and regular check-ins to adjust goals as necessary. By ensuring that supervisors are well-prepared, you can facilitate a more productive and aligned goal-setting process, keeping all parties on the same page and focused on achievable outcomes.

Initial Performance Objectives

Make sure new hires are clear on their short- and long-term goals for the first few months and even the first few years at your organization. You'll also want to inform them of what the performance review process looks like as well as what to expect and how often reviews will be initiated.

Career Development Plans

In addition, it is best practice for supervisors to actively engage with new hires in developing detailed career development plans. This involvement empowers each employee to visualize their future within the company and devise strategies to achieve their goals. Supervisors should be equipped with the necessary tools and training to effectively guide this process. Providing workshops on career planning, access to career mapping tools, and regular scheduled meetings to discuss progress and adapt plans can greatly enhance the effectiveness of these efforts. By enabling supervisors to lead this initiative, new hires can receive personalized support that aligns with their specific roles and aspirations within the company.

9. Conduct Regular Check-ins and Assessments

Not all new hires will feel equally as comfortable proactively reaching out if they have questions or issues with their onboarding, which is why it's so essential for HR professionals to schedule regular check-ins with new employees and provide ongoing support as needed.

Initial Check-ins

Set reminders to check in with new hires every so often. This might include a quick weekly meeting to inquire about their progress and offer your support. Over time, this may evolve into monthly or quarterly check-ins. Regardless, it's crucial your new employees know you're there to help and that you value their experience.

Ongoing Support and Evaluation

While the initial training and onboarding process may only last a few days or a few weeks (depending on the complexity of the role), your role as an HR professional is ongoing. Your employees should have access to ongoing support, evaluation, and other resources they need to do their jobs well beyond the initial onboarding process.

10. Continuously Improve the Onboarding Process

You will want to revisit your onboarding procedures regularly and be prepared to make changes as needed. This way, you can work toward perfecting your processes with each new hire.

Learning From Feedback

Ask for feedback regularly and take it seriously; you can gain some valuable insights and ideas from new hires when you take the time to ask about their experience.

Learn More About Human Resources Best Practices Today

Working in human resources can be both challenging and rewarding. With these effective onboarding strategies in place, you and your new employees will be set for long-term success and an enjoyable first-day experience.

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