On-boarding (also known as employee orientation) is the process of successfully integrating new employees into the organization. Effective on-boarding sets the tone for new employees.

On-boarding helps to foster a positive first impression and increases the likelihood that employees will buy into the corporate culture and assimilate into the position. Properly executing the orientation process can greatly increase the new employee’s satisfaction and success, which bodes well for retention.

Bringing on new employees successfully requires planning

On-boarding requires upfront planning and coordination to ensure that you’ve covered all areas. Depending on the size of your organization, the process may take a few hours or a few days, and should involve the participation of one or more stakeholders.

Whenever possible, ensure that everything the employee requires to do the job is prepared for their arrival, including:

  • Work space
  • Equipment (such as computer, software, cell phone)
  • Supplies (such as pens, paper, staplers)
  • Keys/pass cards and codes
  • Telephone extension and voice mail
  • Email account and network access
  • Business cards

Topics to cover during on-boarding

Upon commencement of employment, make sure to cover the following topics:

Company overview

  • History of the company
  • Company’s mission, vision and values
  • Organization chart
  • Culture—how people work and relate to each other
  • Important policies and how they support the company culture

Administration

  • Necessary paperwork for completion—such as employee record, payroll, tax forms and benefits applications
  • Pay periods, method of payment, benefits, and so forth
  • List of employees and their coordinates
  • Operational processes and procedures

Office tour and introductions

  • Introduce to staff, customers and suppliers as appropriate, especially those with whom they will regularly interact
  • Point out location of washroom(s), printers, photocopiers, stationery, supplies, and so forth

Appropriate training

  • Company—products and services
  • Operations—such as accessing the network and using the phone system
  • Health and safety
  • Other areas specific to the company and/or position

Job expectations

  • Review job description
  • Set goals and objectives (short- and long-term)
  • Provide day-to-day working requirements—such as hours of operation, staff meetings and breaks

Final hints for on-boarding sucess

  • Conduct on-boarding in a professional manner (that is, as you would conduct an interview).
  • Provide the new employee with a basic information package.
  • Use a new hire checklist to ensure that you address all aspects of the on-boarding process.
  • Create a list of frequently asked questions.
  • Convey just the essentials so as not to overwhelm the new hire with information overload.
  • Consider assigning a buddy to help the new employee with the transition.
  • Follow up regularly to clarify and answer any questions.

Useful Templates

References

Butteriss, M. (1999). Help Wanted: The Complete Guide to Human Resources for Canadian Entrepreneurs. Toronto: John Wiley & Sons.