How to Nail your Employee Onboarding Overhaul in 3 Simple Steps

Posted in Best Practice Thoughts & Culture

It’s time to ditch the dull and dusty new hire welcome.

So, management have set their new year’s resolutions and – booyah – a newer better onboarding program has topped the company’s list of goals. And because ownership of onboarding seems to sit neither here nor there amongst HR teams, you might have eagerly thrown up your hand to revitalise this dusty process, or worse, your boss flick-passed it to you while you were out ordering coffee and you begrudgingly accepted.

Either way, you’re onboarding’s nurturing mother now, so we’re here to help you understand why it should be your priority project in 2019 and how to start your onboarding overhaul so it’s done well.

Why you should care about the onboarding experience

Positive onboarding experiences have been found to improve employee productivity, success, and engagement, and increase customer satisfaction (= big wins for your business).

So, if you’ve been suffering this year with employee turnover and disengagement levels higher than a dam wall, overhauling your dull and disheartening onboarding is right to sit at the top of your resolutions list because it’s harming your business.

We don’t just mean digitising your onboarding and subbing in a few e-sig forms to make you look “modern” and “tech-savvy” (said with sarcastic air quotes), we mean moving your onboarding away from the traditional compliance mindset to create an engagement-led onboarding experience.


Don’t fret, pet, we’ll guide you through the important bits to help you nail your onboarding project.

The 3-Step Guide to Nailing Your Onboarding Overhaul

Step #1: Create a business case for onboarding

Before you waste time running around in circles, find out if a business case already exists for your onboarding project. Successful onboarding requires a budget and resources because you’ll need to partner with awesome onboarding technology (remember, we’re trying to move past simple digitisation to create an extraordinary employee experience).

Step #2: Set clear goals and intentions

What is your data telling you? Are you noticing a high number of first day no shows? Or, is low customer satisfaction wearing down your brand? How engaged are your employees?



When you can align project objectives with strategic business goals and benefits, you’ll have a much easier time meeting them (and gaining the necessary support of key players along the way!). Make sure you can measure the impact your awesome onboarding will have on the business (e.g. reduce no-shows by 100%).

Step #3: Define your values and culture

The whole point of engagement-led onboarding is to provide new employees with an out-of-this-world welcoming experience – but it needs to be aligned with your brand promise and reality.

Whip out your EVP and make a note of who you are and how you’d like to be seen, and then identify the ways – behaviours, experiences, messaging – you can communicate your brand to new employees from the moment they sign the contract.

No doubt, the cliched compliance and efficiencies-led onboarding process you adhere to is a stark contrast to your authentic brand.


Now, what should awesome onboarding look like?

Now that you have the essentials in place, you can start designing an awesome onboarding experience. Here are four elements of successful onboarding:

#1 Prioritising the employee experience over compliance

Make it personal. That is the best way to enhance any experience, whether we’re talking consumers, candidates, or employees. Make.It.Personal. They’ll be forever putty in your hands.

Engagement-led onboarding is about shifting from the archaic one-size-fits-all approach and providing hyper-personalised experiences and communication that’s tailored to individual employee needs. You can check out our demo to see what we mean.

#2 Preboarding

Onboarding starts before the new hire’s first day; from the moment they sign their contract (some might argue even earlier). The reason for first day no shows is likely one of two things – you fed them a lie during recruitment and they figured you out, or, you left them locked out in the cold after the contract was signed and didn’t bother connecting with them until they… didn’t show up. Cold, guys.

Pre-boarding can warmly and gently welcome new hires to the team and org culture, drip feed compliance paperwork, and give them a head start on training so by the first day, they don’t feel like they just walked into a tornado of overwhelmageddon.

#3 Duration

Contrary to popular belief, there’s no hard rule on how long onboarding should go for. We believe onboarding takes as long as is needed until the employee feels comfortable and competent. It is most definitely longer than one month, and depending on the technicalities and responsibilities of the role, could even be a year.

Which means, ditch your crappy first week induction checklist. It’s no good.

We’d suggest aiming for six months. Six months of wooing to make happy, gooey putty.

#4 Making it awesomest

You want an onboarding experience that is the envy of competitors and top talent.

Your actual aim is to WOW new hires, emotionally connect them with your values, culture, and teams, and provide meaningful communication frequently, so they feel valued. This means you’ll need the hiring managers on board onboarding, as they’re most responsible for the employee’s experiences (which is why you should look for onboarding tech that coaches managers to be onboarding rockstars).


Get started on Project Onboarding Overhaul here

Onboarding is an overlooked hero in the employee engagement conundrum. Positive onboarding experiences can boost engagement, productivity, and customer satisfaction; it can reduce turnover and recruitment costs and save you time and money on lengthy and expensive hiring activities.

Onboarding is the golden child of 2019.

Get these essentials right and you can start building an engaging employee onboarding experience that delivers measurable returns to the business.

Build your business case for onboarding technology

Special offer: learn employee engagement from the best

Canva was crowned #1 in the 2018 Best Places to Work Study. Talk about impressive!

On 21 January 2019, we'll be holding a webinar with Canva.

Now you have the opportunity to find out how Canva built an engagement-driven culture that has talent clamouring to get in its doors.

We will discuss how Canva has made employee engagement a part of its DNA, and how its Team Happiness staff approach the onboarding of new hires, from pre-boarding through to day 1, and over the next few months.

Don't miss out.

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