What is onboarding?

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  • What is Onboarding? A Definition, And Why You Should Take it Seriously

A solid onboarding process can make all the difference when it comes to a new employee’s experience — and their success. As soon as an employee is able to do their job properly and contribute in a meaningful way, the sooner they’re able to feel like engaged and valuable members of the company.  

Continue reading to discover:  

  • What onboarding is
  • A breakdown of the onboarding process (with a checklist)

Onboarding best practices

What is onboarding?

At its core, onboarding is the process by which a new employee is initiated into a company or organization. But any good HR professional knows there’s a bit more to it than that. Onboarding starts during the recruitment and hiring process, and can stretch over the course of the individual’s first year. 

Successful onboarding provides key information and important context for the employee in areas such as their specific role, company policies, company culture, and business processes and systems. 

A good onboarding plan will cover three key areas:

A strong onboarding process gives the employee insight into not only where they’ll be working, but how they’ll be working.

The complete onboarding process

Here are the three key parts of the onboarding process, broken down step-by-step.

The organizational onboarding process

Step 1: ensure paperwork is complete.

All good onboarding plans start before the employee starts their first day. Instead of having an overwhelming stack of papers waiting at their desk for them, send new employees any documents that can be electronically signed and filed, beforehand. 

This gives them a headstart on getting integrated within the company and their first taste of how things work. Nobody wants to be stressed out — or bored — filling out piles of paperwork the first day at a new job. 

Step 2: Create an employee profile on your HR software 

If the documents mentioned above need to be signed through an employee HR software such as BambooHR , Workday , or Collage , you might have completed this step already. If not, it’s great to get this done as soon as you can so that you can provide access to the new employee. 

Step 3: Give your new hire access to their email and tool accounts

First, give your new employee access to their email account, since it’s usually used to access other accounts. You can do this before their first day and use their new email account to communicate with them throughout the onboarding process. Make a list of all the tools and software your new hire will need, and make sure access is prepared for them either before or during their first day.

Step 4: Prepare the employee’s workstation

Part of the onboarding process is making the employee’s physical transition to the office as smooth as possible — as long as they’re not working remotely . Let them know where they can park, how to get into the building (key card, buzz into the front desk, etc.) and so on. Make their desk ready for them. Provide the office supplies they need, like notebooks and pens. Set up their chair and computer. It’s also helpful to have their computer connected to the internet and office printer before they start.

5. Organize essential training

While much of this will be job-specific (and fall under the technical area of the onboarding process), there will always be organizational training to do. At Unito, all new employees do:

6. Provide a schedule for their first day

One of the most stressful things about the first day on a new job is not knowing what to expect. Ease any worries by providing a first day schedule for your new employee. 

This can include information such as: 

A first day at a new job comes with many questions, but a clear schedule goes a long way into helping them feel at ease.

7. Provide any relevant reading materials 

In between meeting new team members and getting used to a new office, it can be a relief for new employees to sit down with some reading material for a bit. 

Have printed copies of the company policies, a company culture guide, and any relevant style guides (copywriting or design) for them to read. Schedule a dedicated time later in the week to go over the documents with the employee to discuss any questions or concerns they may have. 

The technical onboarding process

1. outline job responsibilities.

While your new hire knows what was outlined in the job posting, it can be really helpful to walk them through their responsibilities on the first day. Set up some time to have a more in-depth discussion regarding what their day-to-day will look like, who they’ll be working closely with, and what their key deliverables are.

2. Provide clear goals

If any employee doesn’t know what success looks like within their role and the organization, there’s a good chance they won’t achieve it. Work with the employee to develop clear and achievable goals that align with the company’s objectives. 

At Unito, we use objectives and key results for goal-setting. New hires are walked through the company and departmental OKRs , and then work with their manager to set personal OKRs right out of the gate. 

3. Run job-specific training

In addition to all of the company-wide training they’ll receive, they’ll obviously need training specific to their role. Try to plan this for their first week or two, and they aren’t blocked from progressing by a simple lack of training. 

This training may be led by the manager or other members of the organization that they’ll be working closely with. 

4. Schedule weekly check-ins and coaching sessions

It’s important to schedule regular check-ins and coaching sessions with the individual. Weekly one-on-ones with the manager are a great way to ensure the onboarding process is running smoothly. As the employee becomes more comfortable, these can shift to bi-weekly or monthly as needed.

Some questions to discuss with the employee: 

The social onboarding process 

1. introduce the new employee.

The first step to integrating a new employee into the company’s social culture , is to let everyone know they’re arriving. This could be an email, Slack message, or personal introductions (or all three!). Be sure to include the new hire in your messaging so they can start interacting with their new colleagues. It’s an easy way to break the ice.

2. Assign them a work buddy

When somebody is hired at Unito, they get a “buddy” in the company they can go to with questions about culture, process, or anything else they might be wondering about. As a new employee, it can sometimes feel like you’re bothering your manager every few minutes with another question, so this additional connection and resource is helpful for all involved.  We encourage our buddies to take their new colleagues out for coffee in the first week, to help kick-start that connection.

3. Schedule a welcome lunch

As mentioned above, a welcome lunch on the employee’s first day can make a huge difference in helping them build social connections right away. Schedule a lunch for the new employee’s immediate team, or any other people they’ll be working with on a daily basis. This lets everyone get to know each other more personally, and it’s easier to ask for help from someone you’ve spoken to. If this lunch happens at a restaurant, cover the cost of this lunch for the new team member. Don’t force them to pay to get to know people.

4. Schedule meetings with key team members 

While some training may be led by members of other teams, you should also schedule meetings between the new hire and key coworkers. This might include managers of other departments, individuals they’ll be working with often, or important members of the company. These meetings can be either one on ones , or include full teams (as long as they don’t consist of more than 10 people)

An employee onboarding process checklist

Now that you know the basics of a successful employee onboarding process, it’s time to put it into practice. We’ve created a simple employee onboarding checklist to help you plan, organize, and streamline your process.  Having a standardized onboarding checklist means no new hire falls through the cracks, and you don’t have to worry about missing a step.

You can download the onboarding checklist here . 

At Unito, we’ve built our onboarding template into an Asana project. Every time we hire a new employee, we duplicate the project and assign the above tasks to the relevant person within the company. This adds visibility to the onboarding process and ensures nothing falls through the cracks. 

Now that you know what you should be doing in order to effectively onboard new employees, let’s talk about how you should be doing it. Here are some best practices to ensure you’re getting the most out of your onboarding plan. 

Make organization a priority

Your new hire will be looking to you for guidance, so it’s important that you’re organized and in control of the situation. 

For example, if you had scheduled an introductory meeting with another team and then forgot about it, or didn’t prepare anything, the new employee is left feeling confused and uncomfortable. If you’re running around trying to do a million things, you’re sending the wrong message to the new employee. Take a breath, make sure your calendar is up-to-date, and show the employee that they’re in good hands. 

Don’t overwhelm the new employee

While one of the main goals of onboarding is to have new employees productive and integrated into the company as soon as possible, this won’t happen if you overwhelm them with information or tasks right away. 

While it’s recommended you outline some easy-win, upcoming tasks the employee can start thinking about, don’t ask them for any hard deadline work within the first week. The first few days at a new job often include a firehose of information the employee is trying their best to learn, so refrain from adding the pressure of an assignment. 

Ask for feedback 

Remember: your employee onboarding process isn’t set in stone. As you apply your onboarding plan to more and more new employees, you can continuously update and shape it to work best for your organization. To do this effectively, ask for feedback from all new employees verbally during weekly check-ins, as well as at the end of their probationary period.

Some questions to ask when requesting feedback: 

The onboarding experience doesn’t have to feel like a chore for new employees — or HR managers. With the above checklist and best practices, you can develop and optimize a successful onboarding plan that will create — and keep — happy, productive employees.

Why employee onboarding is so important

While employers once might have simply dropped new hires at their desks with a brief rundown of the company, today’s HR teams and managers know this isn’t an effective or sustainable approach. If you want to succeed — and you want your new hires to succeed — you need a proper onboarding plan. 

Here’s a more detailed look at the key benefits of a thorough onboarding process. 

Attracts top talent 

One of the main issues facing recruiters and businesses today is the ability to attract top talent. With talent pools shrinking and hiring demands growing, HR departments are strapped trying to build an attractive brand to potential employees.

Since the onboarding process begins during the recruitment and hiring process, companies need to establish a solid brand up front. When a potential employee heads to your company website and looks through the culture section of your careers page, your values, or even the appearance of team members featured on the website, they’re gaining knowledge of your organization. And since 79% of job seekers consider a company’s mission before applying for a job, this part of the onboarding process is crucial. 

When your brand and core values connect with potential employees, you’re able to efficiently and effectively attract top talent who are not only informed about what your business stands for, but are engaged with your brand. 

Improves retention

First impressions matter, and it’s no different when it comes to employee onboarding. Up to 20% of new employees leave the company within the first 45 days, and improper onboarding can be a very influential part of that. The proof? According to research by Glassdoor, organizations with a good onboarding process improve the retention of new hires by 82% . 

The loss of newly hired employees isn’t just a minor annoyance for businesses either. It’s literally a costly mistake. The average U.S company spends $4,000 to hire a new employee. That’s not to mention the countless hours invested by other members of your team throughout the hiring process and in the first weeks or months before that employee leaves. You want to do everything in your power to make sure that money and effort is well-spent. 

Increases productivity 

When an employee quickly understands what it takes to succeed — and has the proper tools and knowledge to do so — they’re able to start contributing to the business right away. 

In fact, organizations with successful onboarding plans have a 62% higher time-to-productivity ratio . New employees can spend less time trying to figure out how the printer works or how to use their project management tool, and more time actually getting the work done. It’s a win-win. 

Boosts business growth 

Thanks to successful onboarding, new employees report feeling higher levels of engagement . Onboarding helps build and nurture a supportive and trusting relationship between a new hire and their manager, and shows them that the company is dedicated to their employees. 

With these higher levels of engagement come higher levels of profitability. According to research from Gallup, highly-engaged teams show 21% greater profitability than less-engaged teams. Not only that, but disengaged employees cost U.S. companies up to $550-billion a year . 

Get onboard with onboarding

The onboarding period is the most crucial time in the employee-organization relationship. It’s essential that HR professionals and managers work together to create a good first impression.  Both you and the new hire jumped through more than a few hoops to establish this new relationship. With the right onboarding process in place, you can make sure this relationship starts off on the right foot.

Before you go

Struggling to get work done across tools? Tool stacks are growing at an unprecedented rate, as are the headaches associated with them. You probably have a favorite tool where you get most of your work done, but it’s not always what your colleagues want to use. Instead of wasting time copy-pasting data and switching tools, why not try Unito?

How to automate recruitment reporting

Recruiting new hires creates a lot of data, which is why Unito recruiters automate their reports with Unito.

Find out how

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The Startup

The Startup

Alida Miranda-Wolff

Apr 3, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Structuring a 90-Day Onboarding Plan

By alida miranda-wolff.

It’s an employee’s market, especially in tech.

Unemployment nationally is at 4.1% and even lower in areas like professional and business services, financial activities, healthcare, and of course, technology.

The effect is that retention numbers in tech are at critically low levels, including an average tenure of one to two years at some of the most respected tech companies.

In other words, onboarding has never been more important.

A study from BambooHR found that approximately 17% of employees who are hired leave in their first three months at a new job, while nearly 30% leave in their first six months.

The Onboarding Myths

Problems with onboarding are not new. Yet, they persist today for reasons ranging from limited time and resources to the misconception that a Darwinian, “sink or swim” system will naturally select for winners over losers.

But let’s be clear: onboarding is necessary to save time and resources. Hiring is time-consuming and expensive, as is introducing a flurry of new people into your organization. An upfront investment in your new hires extends their average tenure and ultimately their productivity.

The most common reasons for early departure all tie back to either insufficient or poor onboarding. Employees who left cited clearer guidelines around responsibilities, more effective training, and various forms of social recognition from peers and leadership as factors that would have convinced them to stay.

A “sink or swim” approach doesn’t work in a system without context. Talented people will often fail without the resources to learn in an organization, and untalented people will often adopt a parasitic strategy within your organization, which can be very successful in Darwinian systems.

Think about it this way: the apprenticeship system in Renaissance Florence produced a slew of the greatest artists of all time. Most of these artists started off as ordinary boys with no discernible talent.

However, apprenticeship allowed these boys to become masters through training in a progressive series of steps. They went from grinding colors all the way to inventing their own work.

Onboarding is a necessary part of transforming a new hire into your company’s next Michelangelo.

Building an Easy-to-Execute and Rock-Solid Onboarding System

Establishing a predefined, repeatable process for onboarding will reduce the amount of time you spend ramping up new hires and increase overall retention.

During the first 90 days, your employees should progress from learning to doing; they should receive all necessary introductions, training, and education during this timeframe.

I built an easy-to-execute and proven model that I’ve used on my own hires and implemented with tech companies that breaks down into four simple phases:

· 0 Days: Defining Purpose · 30 Days: Learn · 60 Days: Build · 90 Days: Do

Each new phase overlaps with and builds off the others. While an employee focuses on learning in the first 30 days, learning does not stop at the 60-day or 90-day marks. However, where that employee expends energy shifts. At 60 days, the employee is still learning, but spending more energy on building.

I advocate for a true 90-day onboarding period because putting a container around activity helps new hires ease into a role, mentally prepare for their responsibilities, and develop the understanding and skills necessary to succeed.

90 days also makes a new work environment more manageable.

Remember, for new people joining teams, they don’t just have one full-time job, but two: doing the job and adjusting to the culture and conditions of the job.

I’ll define each phase and give examples of what an employee should be doing in each one, but first, a word to the wise:

Don’t burn your people out on day one.

0 Days: Defining Purpose

One of the most important phases in onboarding is often the most neglected: defining the new hire’s purpose in the organization. This goes beyond a job description, and starts with expectation-setting .

In The Employee Experience , researchers Tracey Maylett and Matthew Wride uncovered a game-changing discovery about employee satisfaction.

“Engagement, satisfaction, and happiness often depend less on the conditions in which one works and more on whether expectations are aligned and met.”

In other words, it doesn’t matter if a company is hard-driving, unforgiving, and demanding or friendly, collaborative, and family-focused. What matters is whether expectations are set around these factors when people start.

Think about it this way. Employee satisfaction at Amazon is high, despite media coverage depicting conditions as punishing. Why?

Employees know what they’re getting into before they ever set foot in their new open-plan offices.

Exceptional onboarding starts before an employee’s first day, and in fact, usually starts during candidate interviews. Whoever you hire should have at least a general idea of:

1. What am I here to do? 2. What do I have at my disposal to do it? 3. What do I need to know to succeed? 4. Who are my key stakeholders? 5. How am I being measured? 6. What behaviors are rewarded in this culture? 7. What behaviors are looked down upon in this culture?

Granted, the answers to the first five questions may change. Still, when you design the new role (which happens before you ever talk to candidates), you should have the answers to these questions in mind. You should also be transparent about what could change and why, which will appropriately set expectations around the overall environment.

To truly define a new hire’s purpose, work on developing four key guiding frames.

Vision Statement

Not to be confused with the company’s vision statement, this is a short paragraph defining the vision for the role. This paragraph should clearly state the overarching problem the person is being hired to solve or objective they’re expected to meet by clearly spelling out what they are there to do, how they will do it, and why it matters.

What sets this statement apart from an overview in a job description is that it factors in the person you hired and the unique skills they bring to the table.

For example, while a job description might call for a Creative Director who elevates the company brand through exceptional storytelling, the vision statement for a new hire who specializes in design may specify exceptional visual storytelling.

Roles and Responsibilities Overview Document

This document builds off the vision statement to clearly define the new hire’s role and how that role will be met.

The role consists of the three to five problems they will solve, while the responsibilities define how they will solve them.

In our Creative Director example, one of the bullet points under “Role” may be “Elevating the brand through exceptional visual storytelling,” which could solve the problem of insufficient brand awareness in the market. Under “Responsibilities,” however, the bullet point might say, “Architect Instagram strategy with an emphasis on original visual content.”

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

KPIs are the metrics by which employees — and businesses — are measured. In other words, what numbers does your new hire need to hit quarterly, annually, and overall?

You can develop these in more depth with the new hire during the onboarding process, but you absolutely must know how that person is going to be measured and communicate that in advance. Remember Peter Drucker’s famous adage, “what gets measured, gets managed.”

Milestones are more qualitative. These are objectives an employee must meet to justify their role and create value for the company, but can’t necessarily be measured with a number. For example, a milestone might be building a strategic plan for communications, while a KPI could be building a base of 100,000 Instagram followers.

Before your hires even begin work, they should know what overarching­­ value they’re expected to drive in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

However, you don’t need to be exceedingly granular in putting these frames together; there’s a time and place for that in the next steps.

30 Days: Learn

The first 30 days of onboarding are completely about learning.

It doesn’t matter to me how fast your company is growing, how many pieces you’re moving, or how many bodies you need. Employees need to learn to do the job to do it well.

With that said, learning doesn’t have to mean sending new hires to all-day lectures or training seminars.

The 70:20:10 leadership development model suggests learning comes from 70% challenging projects, 20% coaching and mentorship, and 10% structured learning.

In other words, in those first 30 days, your new hires can spend 70% of their time working on hard projects the company needs solved. However, to do so successfully they need the coaching and mentoring, along with the formal training.

To create the optimal conditions for learning, build preparation and acceleration into onboarding.


Preparation encompasses a huge amount of the onboarding process and sets the tone for the overall employee experience. This is where you provide all the tools, information, and connections needed for hires to truly acclimate.

Here’s a sample checklist for preparation you can use to keep yourself organized.

In the preparation phase, it’s critical to make sure that on day one, new employees know where they’re supposed to be, who they’re supposed to meet with, and what they’re supposed to do. Send all this information in a welcome email at least 24 hours before their first day.

When they come into the office, keep a checklist with you to make sure you’re getting them what they need, from an assigned workspace to a warm welcome from their peers and colleagues.

One on Ones Set up small, one-on-one meetings throughout the first month to welcome your hires into the organization, provide an overview of culture (what behaviors are celebrated, tolerated, and forbidden), set expectations around roles and responsibilities in more detail than in the purpose-setting phase, and project assignments.

The clarity and context new employees gain from these one-on-ones means they will know what to do and can therefore start doing it sooner, and better. Moreover, as Susan Cain points out in Quiet :

“Face-to-face contact is important because it builds trust, but group dynamics contain unavoidable impediments to creative thinking. Arrange for people to interact one-on-one and in small, casual groups.”

More personal meeting settings create relationships without hampering the generation of new ideas. Chances are you brought new people in to foster innovation, so make sure you’re not putting them in situations where pressure to conform outweighs the freedom to contribute perspectives.


In the first 30 days, you want to accelerate learning as efficiently as possible. That often means combatting a bias towards action.

As Michael D. Watkins warns in The First 90 Days , don’t fall prey to action imperative. Defining the “what” and the “why” of the role is necessary to quickly surface the best “how.”

To accelerate learning in your hires, employ these targeted methods:

· Discovery Meetings : Arrange meetings with “believable” experts in areas new hires will touch, as well as some they won’t. These informational meetings will educate them on how people approach problems across departments and disciplines, allowing them to avoid the “blank page” problem.

· Business Training : Whether you go heavy or light on training, there is one session that is absolutely critical to accelerating learning. That’s a business strategy overview meeting where you train employees on the business itself , company architecture, strategic and/or business plan, and market conditions. This training should be interactive and prompt participants to ask questions and contribute new ideas to demonstrate understanding.

· Learning-Based Projects : These encompass a broad set of categories, but generally comprise projects that involve job shadowing, collaboration with experienced employees, and most importantly, research.

· Reading : Exposure to leadership and development books and industry- or function-specific reading will absolutely increase new employees’ knowledge base, while also adding structure to their learning. I create a new syllabus for every new hire I bring on, whether they’re a full-time Analyst or a part-time intern. I assign a book a week to my new hires, but you can determine whatever cadence you want.

Throughout this phase, whatever projects your new hires work on, determine their success by how well they’re learning, not how astonishing their results are. You want to privilege what Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code, terms ‘deep practice.’

Deep practice is “struggling in certain targeted ways — operating at the edges of your ability, where you make mistakes.” Have them take on hard projects and push themselves to find new solutions beyond what they’ve done in past roles. Reward their analysis and refinement of errors over the end product, and the end product will eventually be far superior to what you could have imagined.

60 Days: Build

Learning doesn’t stop after the first 30 days, but instead continues in tandem with the act of building.

In some ways, building is just an extension of learning, where you trust new employees to dig deeper into the responsibilities themselves and engage in more independent work.

This phase is where they begin to build social ties, frameworks, and a collection of early wins to propel them into successful execution once onboarding is complete.

In this 30-day block, they should focus on strategy, development, and implementation.

Once new hires get the information they need, they should engage formal compilation and review. Their notes from discovery meetings, readings, and research should become findings on which they start to base more nuanced assumptions, hypothesis, questions, and ideas about the business and the challenges they’ve been hired to tackle.

This generally looks like a market analysis presentation, marketing audit, or research review session with me. Employees take their sources, along with their own original thought, and present what they’ve learned in a 60 to 90-minute presentation, complete with a final section featuring core observations and recommendations for the future.

Based on this analysis, give them the direction — but also the space — to develop a strategy to convert what they’ve learned into value for the organization. This usually takes the form of a strategic plan in the core functional area they’ve been hired to tackle first.

At this point, you should also encourage new employees to take what they’ve learned about the overall organization and develop a strategy for individual professional success, complete with goal-setting, skills-building requests, and more targeted asks for resources.

Usually a one-pager that you review and discuss with them monthly, this framework keeps employees focused on their own personal growth as a means of growing the business.


Now that a strategy is set, new employees take that strategy and use it to develop solutions to problems or opportunities for growth in real life. Take our Creative Director, for example.

As her strategy, she may architect a proposal for heightening brand awareness through visual storytelling complete with recommendations and steps to take, all based on her assorted findings. Then, she must develop ways to implement those recommendations.

She could create Instagram campaign mock-ups, work with copywriters on new platform language, explore other highly visual platforms, and compile a list of influencers who can tell these stories.

With such products developed, she must test their effects. This could involve seeking input from both internal stakeholders and those outside influencers on her campaign mockups, creating a small test campaign on Instagram to measure performance, and creating content on another visually-centered platform with a quantitative eye on initial engagement.

‘Development’ refers not just to products or solutions, but to relationships as well. At this stage, new hires should know their peers well enough to collaborate and ask for help, leverage discovery meetings into real relationships that persist after onboarding, and clearly understand their most important stakeholders.

Depending on the role, this may mean spending more time outside of the internal company network. What matters is that they are integrated into a trusted group of people who all materially and genuinely impact their performance positively.


Implementation takes those tests from development and expands their reach. This is where employees begin to fire on all cylinders and execute against the responsibilities they were hired to fill.

Notably, they might not yet fulfill all their responsibilities. The goal is to go deep rather than wide during onboarding because the lessons learned about the way the organization functions will lay the foundation for all future work. It’s about getting it right, first.

That’s why implementation is all about securing early wins.

Let’s go back to our Creative Director example. A Creative Director’s role is much, much bigger than running Instagram campaigns. But in the beginning, implementing successful campaigns does achieve the objective of spreading brand awareness and elevating the company’s market position.

The same logic applies to any other quick wins in the first 60 days, which typically take the form of fast fixes, initial pilots, new programs, project ideas, and system updates. All are important, but they typically focus on one area or one problem that needs to be fixed.

Watching new hires implement their findings and strategies is also the best way to understand how they’re performing and gain alignment on what their role needs to be and how they can move forward.

Providing real-time feedback during implementation is necessary for onboarding, the best means of ensuring expectations are aligned, and just good management.

90 Days: Do

In the last 30-day block, new hires are empowered and expected to “do” more than anything else. They should be measured according to KPIs and milestones, and they should understand they will be judged on outcomes as much as thinking and process.

Still, with just two months under their belts, forgive mistakes. Better yet, forgive certain kinds of mistakes.

It’s fine if new employees make mistakes based on lack of historical information, shaky skills with new systems or processes, or even lack of expertise in an area.

It’s not fine if they don’t follow company rules, disrespect stakeholders, turn in sloppy or late work, or fail to communicate appropriately around deadlines or to key stakeholders.

Remember, this is the honeymoon period. Attitude and commitment should not be a problem. It’s the employees’ responsibility to inform you of any extenuating circumstances that might result in bad behavior. Even then, take bad behavior seriously.

With that said, “Do” should be the easiest and least complex block of the process. This is where employees focus on cultivating relationships and teams, graduating from quick wins to longer-term ones, engaging in more wide-ranging work, and undergoing a formal review to ensure they’re on track.

At this point, employees do more than ask for help, they in turn are helpful. They build true trust on teams, and depending on the role, even build their own teams to oversee and manage.

If the role involves external stakeholders such as partners or clients, this is when they begin managing them on their own.

At this point, early wins pay off and employees can begin to go wide and assume more types of responsibilities while working towards longer term goals.

Remember that successful series of Instagram campaigns? With clear validation, our Creative Director can now work on unrolling a full strategy around visual communications that touches a much broader swath of areas. Instead of just developing Instagram mock-ups, our Creative Director will begin setting the vision for an entirely transformed graphic identity company-wide.

While this may sound ambitious, remember the word “begin.” Usually, this unroll stage is the kick-off of bigger things to come.

Whether you do quarterly, annual, or even real-time performance evaluations, the last step in onboarding is always evaluation.

Create a scorecard if you don’t have one already and complete an assessment of performance over the last 90 days. Have the employee complete a self-assessment. Then, compare notes in a candid conversation around performance.

This is where you look at strengths and opportunities for improvement, and get feedback from the employee on the same.

It’s also where you recalibrate on KPIs and milestones going forward to make sure you are still aligned. If you are no longer aligned, reset expectations and explain why they’ve been reset.

Parting Words

I’ll leave you with one final mandate I’ve lifted from Ray Dalio’s Principles :

“Build the organization around goals rather than tasks.”

Every phase of this onboarding process is focused on goals that buoy and uplift your organization, and on how you can best position your people to achieve them. Refine it, tweak it, replace some of it, or use it exactly. Just remember: this is all in service of growth and goals.

Know what you’re working towards and why it matters, and know what your people are working towards and why that matters, too. Success will follow.

Alida Miranda-Wolff is the Founder and CEO of Ethos, a talent strategy firm for tech companies focused on driving company performance by shaping talent and developing culture. Follow her work on Twitter and VentureBeat .

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Alida Miranda-Wolff

Teaching Love. Scaling Empathy. Founder & CEO of Ethos Talent. Executive Director of Embolden & Co. Program Director for 1871’s WIC Accelerator.

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Why effective onboarding is more important than ever.

Forbes Human Resources Council

CEO and Co-Founder at  Inspirant Group . Curator and Champion of Culture. People Enthusiast.

Have you ever had an incredible onboarding experience that made you think, “Yes! I totally made the right decision — this is going to be so amazing”? I did. I had that experience. I had an interactive, immersive, innovative three-day onboarding-palooza. I remember playing some fun games and meeting some really interesting people across the organization. As a learning and development professional, I thought the design of the program was engaging and cutting-edge. I was so excited to be part of a company that had created and delivered something so incredible. On Thursday, I got to my desk all pumped up, knowing this was going to be the best job ever and that I’d forge a successful and long-lasting career that I could be proud of. I’d probably retire from there.

I quit nine months later.

What happened? Well, when I got to my desk that Thursday, it was crickets. My team worked remotely, most of them in other cities. There was only one other person in the office, and he was on a different team. I had to (virtually) hunt down my very busy manager to try to get an idea of what I was supposed to be working on. I got 30 minutes on her calendar early in my third week of employment.

It was a rough go. Many of my friends and family told me to stick it out for a year. "You’ll start to get an idea of what you’re doing by then,” they told me. I didn’t want to. Even if after a year’s cycle of deliverables, and even if the next round would be more predictable, I felt no connection to the team or the organization. I felt no excitement or passion for the work I was doing, and for a characteristically high performer, dialing it in was not only affecting my work, but my personal life as well.

I’m not writing about this as a therapeutic exercise (though thank you, I feel much better now). I am writing because not only have I lived that experience, but I have seen it over and over again with friends and with clients, and some of them are not even lucky enough to have had that awesome initial experience. Many times, company onboarding is merely providing an overview of benefits, an intro to technology and handing out ID cards.

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Best covid-19 travel insurance plans.

For an onboarding program to be effective and successful, you should proactively onboard your new hires for their entire first year. A successful onboarding strategy will reduce attrition and increase employee engagement, both of which impact your customers’ satisfaction as well as your bottom line. If you’re wondering what you could do besides benefits, technology and ID cards, read on.

1. Employees need to be immersed in your culture from day one.

How do you immerse employees into your culture? A great way is to share with them the company’s vision, mission and core values. When an employee understands the purpose behind the company (vision), how the company plans to fulfill that purpose (mission), and the guiding set of beliefs and behaviors that will help the company achieve its purpose (core values), the employee can align with their own beliefs and behaviors and see how they not only align with the values, but contribute to the company’s overall purpose.

2. Employees need to understand how to be successful in their new role and how success is measured.

From day one, employees should know what a successful employee at your organization does. Find model employees to mentor and speak with the new team members to show them what success looks like at your company. Set short term goals for your new hires to meet; review them, and offer real, applicable feedback on what they did and did not do well in meeting those goals.

Empower new employees with the ability to think independently and offer the best way to make decisions autonomously at your company. This will not only engage your employees from the start, but also contribute to a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

3. Employees need to be checked in on regularly.

This can and should go well beyond the first year. When an employee first starts, their direct manager should meet with them within the first few days, and with a weekly one-on-one meeting every week after that. Ideally, the new employee will meet with their boss’s boss and everyone else up and down the succession line on some sort of regular cadence (these are sometimes called “skip-levels”).

As mentioned earlier, setting up some sort of buddy or mentor program helps new employees get to know other people in their department or across the company. This helps with culture immersion as well.

Creating a culture of happy, engaged, and inspired employees starts with their onboarding experience. Be sure to plan for a yearlong strategy to immerse your newest team members in your culture.

Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?

Meighan Newhouse


Creating a Plan for Onboarding Success

March 14, 2016 | By NACE Staff

A woman carries some file folders containing her company's onboading plan.

TAGS: samples , onboarding

Like with other programs associated with your recruiting and hiring efforts, you need to approach your onboarding program strategically to achieve the best results. But what does an effective onboarding plan look like?

Below is a sample onboarding plan that you can adapt to meet your organization’s needs and keep your program on track:


First Quarter

Second Quarter

Third Quarter

Fourth Quarter

Posted March 2016. This information is adapted from “All Aboard! Take Your Onboarding Program From Lackluster to Blockbuster” by Emily Bennington, which appeared in the April 2012 issue of the NACE Journal .

(For more about developing an effective onboarding program, see “ Onboarding Done Right: New Hire Engagement Is the Key .”)

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Percentage of employers who screen candidates by GPA Job Outlook 2023

Average number of days from job offer to acceptance 2022 Recruiting Benchmarks Report

Median percent of entry-level professionals hires who are new college graduates. 2022 Recruiting Benchmarks Report

Average percent of eligible interns converted to FTE 2022 Internship & Co-op Survey Report

43% versus 58.6%

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How to Develop an Employee Onboarding Plan

Onboarding plan

5 min reading time

onboarding business plan

Emma O'Neill , Product Marketing Manager at LearnUpon

Onboarding encompasses a lot of things. There’s so much for your team to consider and implement and a lot of information for your new hire to take in. It can be overwhelming. This is where an employee onboarding plan comes in. Think of it as a blueprint that outlines every aspect and eventuality of the onboarding process.

Download the eBook

eBook: Build an Employee Onboarding Program

6 Steps To Develop an Onboarding Plan

1. know your employee onboarding goal.

Before you jump in and plan content, it’s important to know why you’re onboarding your employees – what is the goal? Commonly, the aim of onboarding is to “acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors in order to become effective organizational members and insiders.” But what does this actually mean for your business? It’s essential to have concrete goals for what you want to achieve. This should encapsulate:

If you’re training a salesperson, the goal could be that after 90 days of onboarding training they need to deliver a demo to their team that reflects your business’s practices and style. Or using a marketing team example, let’s say the goal could be for a learner to pitch a new marketing campaign. For some roles, the goal might be obvious, others not so much.

If you’re struggling, do some research. Ask team members and managers at what point they considered themselves part of the company. Also, ask when do they consider new team members successfully integrated into the organization. Setting this final goal enables you to develop a strong onboarding strategy. Your new employee is also more likely to understand what your expectations are. And in turn, this will support them in completing their training.

2. Create your onboarding training team

The next step to building an eLearning onboarding strategy is to figure out who’s involved. Depending on your company size, structure, and role, this varies. For some, it’s an HR, L&D or Training & Development task with little to no input from anyone else. Others see it as a group effort with managers, HR, and co-workers all involved.

The most impactful onboarding should be a group effort, bringing together all factions of your business. To make this guide as helpful as possible, I’m going to use the example of how a company might onboard new marketing hires.

Onboarding plan - create your onboarding training team

3. Invest in the right tools

Team members, content, timelines – these are all significant aspects to plan when onboarding. But, one of the most important is planning for the tools you will be using to onboard your new hires and how these affect the onboarding journey. It’s essential to think about the tools you’ll need (like an HR system) to collate resources and engage with the employee. Are you also going to get an LMS to deliver onboarding training? Or go for a blended learning model with a mix of face-to-face and online training?

Then there is content creation – do you need additional tools and resources to build onboarding content? Not every tool is a must have, so when planning your onboarding get into the nitty-gritty of the tools you’ll actually need so that you create the most valuable experience for your employees.

4. Map your onboarding steps

With your team and goal established, now you can map out an onboarding strategy to nurture your new hires to their goal. The simplest and most successful method to do this is to create learning steps or “mini” goals. These, when put together, build a path to the end goal. These steps should be incremental, each building on the last to create a focused strategy. For our marketing example, here’s a flow that we’d create for our new hires.

onboarding plan - list each step of the onboarding training

These steps can be a mix of online training and face- to-face. Some may last a few hours while others might take days or weeks to achieve. But, as you can see, they create a clear path to your learner hitting that all important end goal. If possible put a timeline against these steps and try to establish how long the process will take. For each employee and team, this might be different, but understanding the time needed to train, will help you create a more efficient, structured strategy.

5. Plan your onboarding eLearning courses

With your steps in place and there to guide you, it’s time to crack on with course content . Content is often seen as an overwhelming aspect of any training, but it needn’t be. As with our customers, we recommend you think about your audience first. Put yourself in their shoes and ask:

From here, go to your subject experts. They can provide you with all the necessary resources to deliver training at each step. Look internally at your team and the resources you have on hand . You’ll likely find you already have a lot of the content you need. For example, company culture guides and rules of conduct are usually standard across an organization. These can be used in your onboarding. And for our marketing onboarding, there’s eBooks, demos, webinars, blogs, etc. All perfect for repurposing! With our marketing hire example, we end up with a course structure like this:

onboarding plan - map out your onboarding courses

Crucially, don’t front-load your learners with information. One mistake we’ve seen is new hires being handed a bulky manual to read. And while that’s a great resource, digesting all that info at once is overwhelming. Instead, pull out the key elements. You can structure your courses around these smaller, essential learnings. That way your learner isn’t bombarded and they’re more likely to retain the information they need.6. Know how you’ll measure your KPIsThe last stage in planning an onboarding strategy is knowing your KPIs and how you plan to measure them. So many businesses skip this step. They develop a comprehensive onboarding plan, then don’t have specific KPIs and have no way to measure its success.

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4 min reading time

3 min reading time

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A Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees

A sample onboarding plan for new employees is a starting point to build an impactful onboarding process. According to recruiting data, 1 in 4 hires usually leave their job within 6 months due to a poor employee onboarding process . 

This article discusses a sample onboarding plan for new employees and its features. We will talk about how to prepare an employee onboarding process that extends beyond logistics and paperwork.

Additionally, we included different plan templates, such as the 30 60 90 day onboarding plan template :

If you are also interested in additional tools for managing the new hire onboarding process, we have also drafted examples of onboarding flowcharts. You can find them here: onboarding flow chart .

Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees

First and foremost, a well-planned onboarding process enables new hires to feel welcome into their new company. This is due to the fact that it facilitates their integration into the new workplace.

An onboarding plan is a key component for your staff onboarding process . The goal is to introduce new hires to their companies’ expectations, skills, knowledge, and culture .

The onboarding plan examples or templates from multiple organisations show a clear focus on impacting their employees. This is possible by providing all new hires with the necessary skills and information to perform effectively in their roles. For example, new employee training is a crucial component of any onboarding agenda template and any sample onboarding plan for new employees.

Furthermore, some onboarding objectives examples that are employee-specific include: attaining peak performance and delivering key expectations in the shortest possible time frame. This is essential for embarking on a successful employee lifecycle .


The self doubt and the anxiety will continue for some months.

—Brad Desmond, Psychologist and Coach.

Read interview

The Nine Key Elements of a Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees

A well-drafted sample onboarding plan for new employees can provide an HR professional or a line manager  with a step-by-step planning. This will ensure that new hires receive all the essential information at the start of their employment. This will enable them to perform in their roles as soon as possible.

A sample onboarding plan for new employees should aim to increase the teamwork among the employees and improve office culture. Moreover, it should also aim at recouping the costs of recruiting and the costs of onboarding a new employee . This is possible when you attain fast productivity and contribute to the team efforts.

The following are the key features that we decided to include in our onboarding plan template .

This is one of our onboarding plan examples and is based on the strategic onboarding framework and essential moments of your employee journey map .

Be Ahead of Day 1 and Build the Preboarding Phase

Any activity and interaction that occurs prior to day one belongs to the preboarding stage. This phase includes activities such as sending a welcome email from your new manager , and the logistical set-up that would enable you to do your job as early as day one.

Implement Gamification in your Onboarding Plan Template

Another feature of an onboarding plan template for new employees is gamification. Onboarding gamification introduces game-based elements like competition, scores, and rewards to boost their morale as they experience Pre & Onboarding. It aids new hires in building engagement with their new company. 

Provide a Successful Day 1 Orientation to your New Hires

The activities included in your Day 1 orientation are crucial for setting the tone for the overall onboarding process and its success. A sample onboarding schedule for the first day at work would include a personal introduction to the other team members. Team integration is crucial for a successful first day on the job. Social connections make the difference in many cases.

Use Onboarding Agendas Templates

During the onboarding process new hires will have multiple meetings. An onboarding agenda template is a ready-to-use onboarding tool or task manager . By using it, organisations leverage to communicate to new hires the key objectives and talking points for each meeting. In this way, they feel prepared for every single one.

Schedule the First Week Activities Strategically

One of the first week’s activities includes, for example, participating in a social activity with the whole department or team. These actions will enable new hires to gain a better understanding of the organisational structure and will help them to get to know their new coworkers.

Here, you find some first-week activities examples:

If you implement this strategic onboarding in your company, your new employees will benefit from:

You can also set some of employee onboarding process metrics . KPIs are a necessary part of such a complex process as onboarding. Having clear objectives will also help you track the progress of their journey. For example, by using the employee onboarding software introdus , you will be able to track how your new employees’ onboarding is going.

Schedule The First 3 Months

The first 3 months onboarding schedule includes the necessary on-the-job training to be provided for equipping new hires and fellow them with the skills they need to perform effectively on the job.

Furthermore, organisations often start tracking their performance early to that you fulfill their onboarding goals. They can expect the allocation of smaller tasks and projects at first. New employees will eventually transition into taking more ownership of projects, as their onboarding process progresses.

Again, you can expect some progress tracking meetings and surveys along the way. That will ensure that they are on track, meeting the milestones of their onboarding journey.

Check the First 12 Months

After the first 12 months, it is important to review their journey to date. This meeting would not only survey their performance , but also their feelings for being a part of the team. At that point in time they can consider themselves integrated in the team. (You can discover here a sample of onboarding survey questions .)

Additionally, new employees start thinking about their development within the organisation. They can decide together with their manager or mentor what their development goals would be. Furthermore, they will decide on the timeline for achieving those goals.

Keep a Continuous Feedback

Feedback collection is crucial feature for our sample onboarding plan for employees. This is because it allows to have a progress and status report. It is also providing a platform for learning and adjusting.

Company and new employees benefit from feedback and surveying. They express their needs and receive additional support in any “problematic” areas. At the same time, the company has an opportunity to gain insights that can shape future onboarding efforts.

Use Onboarding Tools and Software Solutions

The trend of automating processes is also apparent in the way multiple organisations carry out their onboarding. This is especially the case for employers with large volumes of new hires and a global distribution.

More precisely, multiple employee onboarding solutions have emerged on the market. Their aim is to make onboarding more seamless, less error-prone, more engaging, and more resource efficient.

introdus, another example of an employee onboarding software solution, leverage multimedia content and pre-made timelines. The company combines the available timelines to match new hires specific department. In addition, they can implement add-ons so as to ensure a smooth journey.

A classic example of such tools is a well-structured onboarding checklist . You can use it to build these journeys on your onboarding platform. A sample onboarding plan for new employees should be supported by checklist of activities .

New hires will undertake every stage of their onboarding process. You also can use an offboarding checklist template , when your employees require it.

You can also consult a more specialised onboarding planning, with our software developer onboarding article. The article also includes a checklist and a list of best practices.

Onboarding Insights

 92% of new hires think that a structured Onboarding process & plan are crucial for them to get a great start at their new job.

—According to ‘Your Pre & Onboarding Buddy’ eBook.

The 30 60 90 Day Onboarding Plan Template

The 30 60 90 day onboarding plan template is a tool for helping new employees to get onboard in their new company. It ensures a structured and comprehensive start new hire experience.

A new employee 30 60 90 day onboarding plan offers a structured and transparent roadmap for their onboarding. It will set them up for the first 90 days on the job. Thus, it guides them when beginning the employee lifecycle, while focusing on learning, planning and execution.

Moreover, the onboarding 30 60 90 day plan for new hires is tailored to the  new role, qualifications and prospects . It also helps them connect with the company’s culture and values.

The Four Key Elements of The 30 60 90 Day Onboarding Plan

The onboarding plan with 30 60 90 structure will be specific with regards to the design of each stage. Each stage will be clear on the  onboarding checklist . There are some key elements that your plan will contain:


What should new employees achieve by the 30th day? How about by the 60th day? And finally, what have they achieved by the 90th day? The new hires have to know the expectations associated with the new role from the very beginning.


Obviously, the 30 60 90 days represent important milestones in the onboarding process. But are there any other intermediary milestones? Are there other check-in dates?


Your plan has to contain the answers to the following questions:

They will get to know right off the bat who will guide them in this process.


Your plan will detail all the relevant onboarding metrics that you use to assess their performance. For example, a metric for success can be completing all the necessary learning and training. Learning is a key component of a 30 60 90 day planning, as highlighted by The Future of Customer Engagement and Experience .

The Four Reasons to Use a 30 60 90 Onboarding Plan

What will you gain by using a structured onboarding plan? We have identified four reasons to start using a new employee 30 60 90 onboarding plan.

1. Improve retention

Organisations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by  82% , according to Glassdoor. Moreover, when employees experience a good onboarding process, they are likely to preserve the employment  relationship for 3 years . In fact 69% of the total employees experienced this, according to SHRM.

2. Achieve a smoother transition

When using an 30 60 90 onboarding plan, new hires will gain familiarity with the company tools, an increased understanding of the company processes, and clarified work expectations.

3. Align expectations from the beginning

Many new employees feel a mixed bag of emotions when starting a new job. They can be excited and sometimes overshadowed by stress of doing the right things. Hence, it is extremely important to fully grasp the expectations of your 30 60 90 plan for new hires into the new role.

4. Provide structured information and keep new hires updated

When new hires miss clearly defined targets, milestones and deadlines, they can only guess what is actually going on. The same applies for having a process for monitoring and feedback. This places substantial pressure on them. It could also hinder their overall performance, or they feel dissatisfied with their onboarding experience.

30 60 90 Day New Hire Plan Template

We know that it is crucial to ensure a positive employee experience from the very start. So, in order to help you, we have drafted a 30 60 90 Day new hire plan template. Moreover, it can provide you with the blueprints for building a specific onboarding plan template within the framework of the 30 60 90 onboarding structure.

It is easy to start with onboarding planning when using a 30 60 90 Day new hire plan template. You can download this template for free:

A Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees

New Hire Training Plan Template

A new hire training plan template is an easy-to-use tool that employers can use to monitor the efforts invested in training new employees. A well-thought out training plan can shorten the time it takes from onboarding to full productivity. On average, new hires should attain full productivity after 8 months.

The new hire training plan template constitutes a tool that employers have at their disposal for designing a training process. It meets specific goals and is integrated with their overall onboarding strategy.

Often, onboarding training plan might cover various training topics, necessary for improving the competence of the new hires and reduce the time to peak performance.

We have included an onboarding plan example of a new hire training template.

Manager Onboarding: Key Considerations

Although managers need onboarding as much as any other fellow new hire, there are some key considerations when onboarding new managers.

An onboarding plan for a new manager is key in aiding the new manager of a firm come to speed. The manager is the face of an organisation and, therefore, vital to the company future and development .

Thus, the integration process of a new manager requires proper planning to boost his integration and ease of performance. As such, the onboarding plan for a new manager should include training on leadership and management of human and other resources. 

The use of an employee onboarding schedule template assists companies in maximising their onboarding process in terms of achieving optimal time to performance results. In addition, a clear schedule aids employers ensure that nothing is left out of the onboarding process of new employees.

Onboarding Plan Sample for New Employees Insights

Manager roles require more time and dedication until accomplishing a full integration into a company.

—The Guide for Pre & Onboarding Managers.

A Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees

What is the Best Onboarding Program for New Employees?

The best onboarding program for new employees is the program that ensures the fastest time to full role proficiency, and that optimises resource use. Additionally, the best onboarding program has a strategic dimension, ensuring new hire retention .

In short, the best program is the one that is easy for the new employee to learn from and engage with. It’s that one that also supports the learning progression set by the company. introdus, one of the best new hire onboarding programs, will help your company onboard new hires smoothly and efficiently. Click here and see how it works here:

See how introdus works

introdus also has available a preboarding programme . Companies use it to increase retention and reduce new employees’ time-to-performance.

Thus, organizations need to make sure that their investment is recovered. Thus drafting the best onboarding program for employers will pay close attention to the costs of recruiting and the employee onboarding metrics .

Companies with the Best Onboarding Programs

We have identified two of the companies with the best onboarding programs. Find the following examples from different industries working from locations across the globe.

Google’s Team Approach to Onboarding

We are going to focus on a key aspect of Google’s approach to onboarding. It’s bottom-up approach .

Rather than having the HR leadership design the onboarding process for new hires, Google takes a different approach. It is the teams that welcome new hires who are fully in charge. Thus, Google takes a bottom-up approach to onboarding . The company once famously explained that it “lets the inmates run the asylum,” in a nod to their bottom-up approach to just about everything they do.

PNO’s Focus on Preboarding

One of the main goals of PNO has been to engage and empower new employees regardless of their physical location.

As such, there has been a focus on Preboarding activities meant to help new hires feel confident when starting their new job. PNO focuses on both the role-specific and the social dimensions of their onboarding process. This company uses a platform specialised in welcoming new employees, introdus.

In addition, we highly recommend that you also read the article about buddy programs at work . There, we have devoted a section to a real-life implementation example of a work buddy program from a social media management firm, Buffer.


I’ve heard from everyone (i.e. co-workers); everyone has benefited from Preboarding. It gives you that kind of awareness before you start.

—Nikolai Willer Svendsen, Fleet & Commercial Support at PNO.

Read Experience

Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees: Concluding Remarks

In conclusion, our sample onboarding plan for new employees was designed to create the right impression in any new hire’s mind. It is thereby aiding them in building the right engagement with the job, resulting in a long-term commitment to the employer.

Onboarding has to engage you and to ensure effective collaboration between with your new team and overall organisation.

An effective employee onboarding software will bring the best out of onboarding new employees, because every feature is designed to improve the competence of the new workers from Day 1.

introdus, employee onboarding software, regards the onboarding plan for new employees as a vital tool that establishes a long-term partnership between the employer and employees. When your employer does their homework and researches industry accepted best practices, and utilises a specialist drafted sample onboarding plan for new employees, you can be assured that they are taking the time and consideration to welcome you into the organisation. They are providing you with the learning, and social benefits of a good onboarding programme . And they are setting you up for success.

introdus  simplifies the process of executing the onboarding plan of every organisation by providing a streamlined platform that promotes optimum integration of new hires. The introdus platform is embedded with useful multimedia content that will in still the new hires with the confidence they need to attain job mastery.

Reap the benefits of a successful onboarding plan.

Book your demo

Human Resources

7 KPIs & Metrics for Measuring Onboarding Success

Marc Holliday

Onboarding sets the tone for the employer/employee relationship. Succeed and you boost everything from a new hire’s individual productivity to the company’s overall retention rates. Fail and you could find yourself with an exodus of early hires and spiraling recruitment costs.

With so much on the line, it’s prudent to continually measure onboarding efforts. Here are KPIs and metrics HR teams can use to quantify success — and discover opportunities to improve.

Why Is Onboarding Important?

The onboarding process is where new employees form their impressions of your company. A positive experience is vital to realize the full return on recruitment and hiring investments.

Done well, onboarding builds the “three C’s of success:” cohesion, completion and competitiveness. Cohesion inspires employees to work together to achieve business goals. When properly trained and outfitted, task completion is more likely. And a cohesive team that has the tools to succeed sets your company up to be competitive in the marketplace.

How Is Employee Onboarding Measured?

Talent acquisition is one of the three core aspects of human capital management . Within the acquisition bucket, factors HCM managers look at include cost per acquisition, time to fill a position, employer brand equity and onboarding efficiency.

For HR’s purposes, important onboarding metrics to track focus on how this process affects the employee experience, retention and recruitment rates, consistency and compliance, and other measures relating to both the HR team’s goals and business results.

7 KPIs & Metrics to Measure Onboarding Success

Improving the employee experience and business outcomes through excellence in onboarding is not a warm and fuzzy exercise that defies quantitative measurement. Quite the contrary: While there are certainly qualitative factors to consider, such as cultural fit and a new hire’s ability to quickly forge relationships with peers, even these can be quantified using indicators like involuntary turnover and engagement rates.

Let’s look at seven areas in which all HR teams should be gathering and analyzing data.

New-hire satisfaction

Data for evaluating new-hire satisfaction levels is usually obtained through the employee interviews and anonymous surveys that are key parts of an employee experience roadmap .

There are methods to cross-check satisfaction metrics, such as measuring correlations. For example, think about the link between employee connections and engagement. Companies that foster connections establish a culture of cooperation and cohesion and encourage more senior employees to proactively reach out to new hires; these efforts tend to pay off in engagement as employees find ways to work together to achieve business goals.

Just remember that these are correlations and not causes, so compute accordingly.

One of the best ways to identify satisfaction levels is with a net promoter score (NPS). Marketers will likely recognize this formula, as it’s used to track customer attitudes toward a company. And the same principles can apply to new hires. Ask new hires to rate on a scale from 1-10 how likely they are to recommend the company to a colleague or friend, based on their onboarding experience. Those who mark 9 or 10 are promoters, and those who mark 1-6 are detractors. The rest in the middle are passive. To calculate your net promoter score, subtract the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters. Benchmark against your competitors attracting similar talent pools if possible.

Net promoter score = Percentage of promoters - percentage of detractors

Voluntary and involuntary new-hire turnover

Voluntary turnover measures the number of employees who leave the company of their own accord. When this number is higher than expected, and/or if new hires are quitting very soon after their start dates, it’s a clear indication that something is amiss with either the hiring process or the employee experience. It’s also expensive, especially if the company is losing talent that is difficult to replace: SHRM estimates that replacement costs can equal six to nine months of the former employee's salary.

Note that while turnover is an important metric, it’s a lagging indicator. When an employee has quit, it’s too late to address dissatisfaction. Still, it’s essential to track who is leaving and look for patterns, such as managers, job titles or roles seeing more than average turnover.

Involuntary turnover means the department, or the company at large, either had to do a force reduction or managers found the new hire to be subpar in one or more performance expectations. A large number of the latter involuntary turnover category flags less-than-optimal recruitment, hiring and/or onboarding practices, so this metric should never be ignored. It is crucial to find out why you’re bringing in the wrong people or not equipping potentially good fits to succeed.

In both cases, the goal is to find and resolve problems so you can bring employee retention rates back into alignment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks turnover by industry and is a source of benchmarking data. HR specialists might want to survey line managers and departmental staff for insights on why it’s difficult to retain employees in certain competitive and essential roles.

Use these formulas to calculate your new hire turnover rate.

New hire involuntary turnover rate = (Number of new hires who are forced to leave in a given period / number of new hires in the same period) x 100

New hire voluntary turnover rate = (Number of new hires who leave of their own accord in a given period / number of new hires in the same period) x 100

Retention is the flip side of turnover — it measures how many employees decide to stay for a defined period and should be calculated based on a set baseline. SHRM estimates that as much as 50% of employee turnover happens within the first 18 months of employment, so many firms use this as a standard. If a worker stays past that period, it’s a safe bet they’ll continue.

Maximizing retention rates begins with making a good first impression with new hires, but more important is maintaining a positive employee experience over time. A big part of that is making sure that reality lives up to the promises and branding that attracted talent to your company — the “employee value proposition.”

Answering the question of what employees expect from your company is crucial in both attracting and keeping good people. A foosball table in the office and pizza lunches are likely less important to a senior employee, for example, than a positive culture and commitment to career development and growth.

New hire retention rate = # of new hires who stay with the company for at least 18 months in a given period / # of new hires in the same period

Training completion rate

Poor training completion rates can flag problems, such as too little time allotted to complete the training or a lack of manager buy-in as to the need for the program. High training completion rates, in contrast, indicate employee interest in improving their job performance and realizing promotion goals.

It’s well worth investing in training, which is key to employee engagement. A well-designed program translates to higher productivity, improved retention and morale, more innovation and other advantages to the company. From the worker POV, it indicates that the company is willing to invest in skills development.

An onboarding best practice is to develop plans and checklists to make new hires aware of training requirements and upskilling opportunities. Checklists also hold both managers and employees accountable for training completion.

A straightforward KPI to calculate, simply take the number of new hires who complete training and divide by the total number of new employees.

New hire training completion rate = # of new hires who completed training in a given period / total # of new hires in the same period

Time to productivity

The whole point of onboarding is to assimilate new hires and equip them to achieve full productivity as quickly as possible. Measuring the timespan from a new employee’s first day to when the hire achieves expected productive output is a solid indicator of how well your onboarding processes are performing.

Time-to-productivity metrics can and should vary between teams, seniority and roles, but they should be within a range that’s applied uniformly to all individuals in the same jobs.

To get an accurate measure of this KPI, work with managers and ask them to help you identify at what point new hires are performing the expected tasks for their roles with little or no supervision and trainings are complete. Consider holding regular 30-, 60- and 90-day check-ins with managers to ask about training and performance of new hires.

Average time to productivity = Total # of days until new hires are performing at expected levels with little oversight for all new employees in a given period / total number of new hires in the same period

Engagement rates

When outsiders become part of a cohesive group, they are then invested in the company’s success and engaged in contributing to positive customer outcomes. In effect, employer and employee now have an established relationship wherein both feel they are contributing to and benefiting from the other’s wellbeing.

When that relationship falters or fails to form, employees either never engage, or they become disassociated. Therefore, the degree of employee engagement is a strong indication of the health of the relationship and the drive to innovate and stay productive.

When calculating engagement, metrics to watch include absenteeism, turnover, your company’s ratings on employer review sites and, where possible, your average employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) . Like a traditional NPS, an eNPS provides a standard way to measure whether your employees are enthusiastic and would recommend the organization as a desirable place to work.

Here are a few formulas to calculate recruitment KPIs that can help you measure your new hire engagement with work.

New hire absenteeism rate = (# of workdays missed by new hires in a given period / total # of days worked by new hires in the same period) x 100

New hire turnover rate = (# of new hires who leave employment in a given period / #of new hires in the same period) x 100

To calculate the eNPS, survey new hires and ask them if they would recommend the company as a desirable place to work. Those who mark 9 or 10 are promoters, and those who mark 1-6 are detractors. The rest in the middle are passive.

New hire eNPS = Percentage of promoters - percentage of detractors

Return on investments

From an HR perspective, your company’s return on investments in recruiting, onboarding, training and talent management can be measured in several ways, including higher retention and recruitment rates, faster time to productivity, increased employee engagement, higher employee experience ratings and morale and increased productivity.

Identify the KPIs you need so you can measure onboarding ROI in terms of the business outcomes you seek. When onboarding is exceptionally well done, ROI tends to be fast and evident.

Here are some formulas and information for KPIs that can help you measure the return on investment made in onboarding efforts.

Offer acceptance rate = (# of offers accepted by applicants / total # of offers made) x 100

Retention rate = (# of employees who stayed for a given period / # of employees at the beginning of the period) x 100

Revenue per employee ratio = Net sales in a given period / average number of employees in the same period

To gauge employee satisfaction , consider deploying regular sentiment surveys. Include questions like, on a scale from 1 to 5:

Track how your employees rate your company over time and zero in on problematic departments and areas to try and help make improvements.

Best Practices for Improving Onboarding

In contrast, mistake-prone onboarding is a top reason new hires fail to meet expectations. One common problem? A pile of activities that overwhelm. Think about how many documents and administrative tasks you throw at new hires in the first few days. Could you provide forms ahead of time and task managers with getting technology and workstations set up in advance? Does all training really need to be completed in the first week?

Even when companies present the right set of activities for completion by new hires, many fail to properly follow through. The Human Capital Institute cites inconsistency, competing priorities, lack of manager buy-in and accountability and insufficient internal resources as top challenges to onboarding success.

Once those issues are resolved, HR professionals can improve their companies’ employee value propositions (EVPs) by showing ROI and working to provide tangible benefits, like flexible work schedules, that will appeal to any demographics or job roles where KPIs indicate a need for investment. Also consider offering more challenging or exciting work, training managers to provide better support, increasing training opportunities and helping people see purpose in their jobs beyond a paycheck.

Simplify HR and Payroll

Manage and Measure Onboarding Metrics With HCM

Human capital management processes and HCM software are invaluable for measuring and managing the onboarding processes. HCM best practices can also help you identify additional KPIs that will pay off in increased insights.

With HCM or a human resources management system (HRMS) , HR teams have a comprehensive collection of relevant analytics and tools, preconfigured with automated capabilities to ensure fast and accurate answers to important questions.

Remember that onboarding is not just paperwork to complete. It’s the foundation of a relationship between employee and employer. Given all the participants are humans, it is best to stay connected at a very human level. Use the processes to cement the relationship in a positive light rather than simply checking off items in a to-do List. Use automation to be more helpful to employees, and not to create emotional distance.


Employee Onboarding Explained

Employee onboarding is more than processing paperwork on new hires. Onboarding is the term that encompasses the organizational socialization to help new employees acclimatize to the culture so that their…

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The 6-step client onboarding checklist (with template)

Getting a new client up to speed shouldn't feel like reinventing the wheel every time. here's a customer onboarding checklist to streamline your to-do list..

In the excitement of a new project, it's easy to forget all of the little details to get a client set up. Having a documented onboarding process makes your life much easier. You get clients up to speed faster, show off your organizational skills, and save mental space for the work clients hired you to do. 

Client onboarding checklist

Make a copy, personalize it, and reference it every time you land a new client. But first, read on for more details on each step.

The client onboarding process checklist and template

If you want to streamline your workflow even more, you can automate your client onboarding. As we break down each step of the onboarding process, we'll offer some tips on how you can put your operation on autopilot . 

1. Send welcome documents

This is pretty meta, but the first step in your customer onboarding template is onboarding new customers. Kicking off the project with a warm welcome starts the relationship on a positive note and sets expectations. 

The Welcome steps from the checklist

There are two sides to welcoming your client: sending information about you and gathering information about them. Sending a prepared welcome document to every new client lets you answer frequently asked questions upfront. Use the doc to outline your process, introduce your team, and remind clients of your payment terms. 

This is also the point where you would send clients an intake form to get project details or access to documents. To make this step even easier, include a link to the intake form in your welcome document. Then, you can automate the process of getting a notification any time a client completes your form. 

2. Get your legal ducks in a row

The less you need to think about contracts in the onboarding process, the better. Having an established agreement and NDA process also makes it clear you're on top of everything, even if your left eye is twitching from too much coffee. 

The legal steps from the checklist

Your customer onboarding process will vary a bit in this step of the template, depending on who holds the contract. Sometimes, your client's company has an NDA or contract from the legal team that they want you to sign. If that's the case, you have to wait for the client to initiate this step—or nudge them to do so. 

I highly recommend automating your contracts. Take a look at Zapier's list of the best eSignature apps for some suggestions on the best apps to use, and then manage the signature process automatically : you can easily set up automations to prepare documents for new clients, send follow-up emails, get alerts for completed signatures, and more.

And even if your app of choice saves the contracts within its system, make sure you save copies of all agreements in your client/project management app as well. 

3. Prepare to get paid

Doing a little bit of administrative work upfront gets you set up to get paid on time.

The finance steps from the checklist

Similar to your legal onboarding tasks, your financial steps might vary based on the client. For example, you likely have your own accounting or invoice software to manage, but you might need to work within your client's payment platform of choice.

There might also be tax tasks to manage, like sending a W-9 . And you'll want to have a central location where you log agreed-upon rates for clients (if there's any variation). If you require a deposit or payment upfront, now is the time to set that up, too. 

If you want to make bookkeeping easier (and less prone to human error), you can connect your payment processor to your accounting app . This way, income tracking is automatic, and you can avoid manually transferring numbers between apps. 

4. Open the communication lines

Any agency or freelancer that's ever dealt with a clingy client or a ghosting collaborator knows the importance of communication. In addition to setting expectations around response times, it helps to establish communication channels right from the start. 

The communication steps from the checklist

Ideally, you and your client have the same preferred communication channel. In that case, there won't be much setup needed. If you work across tools, though, you may need to get set up on a client's chat app or invite them to yours. 

Creating a special folder, channel, or label for the new client in your inbox or chat app helps you stay organized. And if there are still some details to sort out, use this step of the client onboarding template to schedule a kickoff call.

5. Set up your project plan

Now that you've almost finished onboarding your client, it's time to get set up to work.

The project management steps from the checklist

First, you need to create a space in your project management workflow for the new client. This could be a new Google Drive folder or Notion page, a board on Trello or monday.com, or anything in between. The steps you need to take to add a new client workspace will vary based on your project management tool of choice , so make sure you customize the checklist accordingly. 

Note: you might also be asked to join your client's project manager too. It's not ideal to be working within multiple tools, I know, but it's the nature of the beast.

You'll also want a way to track and assign specific tasks, and add due dates if you have any. If you want to keep your clients or teammates in the loop, you can use automation to send project updates as messages in your chat app or otherwise automate your project management workflows .

6. Share your masterpiece

No matter what service you're providing, you'll likely have some files to share, whether it's a pitch deck, an article draft, a personalized fitness plan, or anything in between. So all that's left to do is send it to the client—and then refresh your email over and over as you wait for feedback.

You can wait until the work is complete to take care of this step, or you can do it earlier on in the process.

The file sharing steps from the checklist

You might have a separate folder or workspace where client-ready files live. If you go that route, you can invite clients to that space at the beginning of a project and then alert them when you add a new file (and you can automate your file management to make that happen automatically). Alternatively, you may choose to "flip the switch" at the end and turn on view or edit access once a project is ready to share. 

Automate your client onboarding process with Zapier

Most of the steps required to bring a new customer on board don't require innovative thought. These types of repetitive admin tasks are the perfect candidates for automation .

If you want to streamline your client onboarding workflow, you can use Zapier to connect your favorite apps . Start by choosing one step in your onboarding flow to automate, and go from there. Automating even a few steps in your process can clear up mental space for more high-impact tasks. 

Related reading:

Why client onboarding may be blocking business growth

Follow through on your marketing with a unique onboarding process

How a one-person business automates its onboarding process

This article was originally published in July 2021 and has since been updated.

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Steph Knapp

Steph Knapp is a freelance B2B + SaaS content marketer that loves educating and empowering curious humans. When she's not typing away, you'll find her volunteering at the animal shelter and obsessing over a new hobby every week.

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Customer Onboarding: Steps, Examples, and Best Practices

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The customer onboarding process is probably the most important stage of the customer lifecycle. While it comes right at the start of their journey, it sets the tone for their whole relationship with your product and company.

Customer onboarding has a significant impact on whether a customer keeps using your product long term or churns after just a few months. Done well, it sets your customers up for success and clearly demonstrates the value of your product. Done poorly, it leaves customers questioning why they signed up in the first place.

Below, we’re diving into six crucial steps of your customer onboarding process. You'll find actionable best practices to help you set your newest customers up for success, plus examples from companies with really effective onboarding at each step to inspire you when looking at your own onboarding process.

Customer onboarding is the process that new users go through to get set up and start using your product. It covers the whole journey: from initial sign-up to product activation and first use. Customer onboarding aims to deliver value to your customer as early as possible — in their first use, if possible.

Why is customer onboarding important?

Customer onboarding is so important because it sets the tone for the ongoing relationship your customer has with your product.

A good onboarding process will:

Keep your customers engaged.  Helping them clearly understand and experience the value they’ll get from your product will mean they start using it successfully, but more importantly, it’ll give them a reason to log back in and use your product again and again.

Improve trial conversions. If you offer a free or discounted product trial, customer onboarding is where your trial users get to experience the value of your product. If you can demonstrate real value in the onboarding process — right at the start of their trial — you’ll make it more likely they’ll convert into paid customers.

Good customer onboarding sets your customers up to get value from using your product immediately and repeatedly for as long as they continue using it.

The customer onboarding process: Steps, best practices, and examples

Here are six important steps of your customer onboarding process with best practices and tips for each to help you set your newest customers up for long-term success with your product.

1. Sign-up process

It’s tempting to think that customer onboarding doesn’t start until a customer has actually signed up for your product. But we believe the sign-up process is the first step of that journey.

Heap conducted a survey of 79 SaaS companies and found that the average conversion rate for their sign-up process was 36.2%.

While every company is different, if you’re seeing a higher than average drop-off rate (where users start signing up but don’t complete the process), it suggests you’re asking for too much information too soon.

Sign-up process best practices

Keep your sign-up process as short as possible. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for your product. How much of the information you ask for is nice-to-have rather than essential? Ask for the information that you need to get the customer set up and using your product, then ask for more information later when it’s needed.

Need a lot of information to sign up? Split it over multiple pages rather than asking for everything on one. Heap found that asking for sign-up information across multiple pages correlated with a modest increase in conversion rates. So if you need a lot of information from your customers when they sign up, make it feel like less by splitting it across multiple pages.

Make it easy to sign up with a service they already use, like Google, Slack or social media. This removes almost all the friction from the sign-up process and means new customers can sign up in a single click, which is a huge benefit, according to Heap: “When people have the ability to sign up with one click using a service they already use like Google or Slack, the signup rates improved by 8.2 percentage points.”

Example: Twilio’s sign-up page

Twilio’s sign-up page

Short form: It doesn’t ask for lots of information before customers can try out the product.

No credit card required.

Short, scannable bullet points alongside the form, reminding customers of the value they’ll get when they sign up.

Example: Trello’s sign-up page

Trello’s sign-up page

There's just one form field to fill out to get started, keeping it as short as possible.

It also gives customers the option to sign up with other tools they already use.

2. Welcome email

After a new customer signs up, the next step in your onboarding process is to send them a welcome email. This email should direct them straight back to your product so they can start using it and getting value from it.

Welcome email best practices

Say thank you! They’ve taken the time to sign up for your product, so it’s important to let your new customers know that you value them.

Share resources that’ll help them get started. This could include a product tour video, links to help center articles , or product FAQs.

Send them back to your product. While it’s helpful to share additional resources, the main focus for your welcome email is to get your new customer to click through and log in to your product. This should be the most prominent link and call-to-action in your welcome email.

Example: Luminary’s welcome email

Luminary’s welcome email

Source: Really Good Emails

Keeping it short and simple.

A single, prominent call-to-action button to get customers back into the product.

Example: DocSend’s welcome email

DocSend’s welcome email

One prominent call-to-action button.

This welcome email teases the start of their onboarding process, sharing three steps the customer will need to take to get started.

3. First log-in

They may have already seen a product demo, watched your product tour, and seen a ton of screenshots. But the first time they log in is your customer’s first real impression of your product.

At this stage, you want to get them set up and ready to start using your product. This normally includes a guided tutorial or set-up wizard to take your customers through each step of the set-up process.

First log-in best practices

Don’t make your customer guess! When they first log in, your new customer shouldn’t find themselves faced with a blank screen. Whether you start off with a welcome pop-up or a set-up wizard, it’s important that you have a way to show your customers around and help them start using your product.

Give your customer a quick win. Getting customers to experience meaningful value from your product requires ongoing activity and engagement. The more they use it, the more value they’ll get from it. But achieving small milestones or quick wins reminds them that they’re heading in the right direction and provides a psychological boost to keep them engaged. This could be as simple as completing your product walkthrough or inviting a colleague to collaborate.

Example: ClearBrain’s first log-in

ClearBrain’s first log-in

Source: ReallyGoodUX

This super clear overview of the account set-up process.

Positive, engaging call-to-action copy, motivating the customer to get started.

4. Integrations, invitations, and data imports

For B2B products, the onboarding process likely involves more than simply learning how to use the product. Your product is now part of your customer’s technology stack, and it doesn’t exist in isolation. Customers may need to set up integrations with other tools they use, import data from other sources, or invite their team to get the most value from your product.

Integrations, invitations, and data imports best practices

Automate as much of the process as possible. Setting up an integration between their marketing automation platform and your product — or importing data from one tool to another — can be a challenge. If you can automate as much as possible, it removes any sticking points that might stop the customer from getting value from your product.

Make it optional. Not all your users will need to set up integrations, invite colleagues, or import data from other tools, so don’t make this a compulsory part of the onboarding process.

Provide plenty of support. There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to integrate two tools you use every day and it’s just not working . Many enterprise SaaS companies have a dedicated onboarding team that helps new customers get set up, and data imports and integrations are a crucial part of that role. If you’re not providing a dedicated onboarding service, make it easy for your customers to contact support if they need to.

Example: monday.com’s user invite

monday.com’s user invite

This is the last step in the sign-up process. This is appropriate as the customer will experience much more value when using it with their team.

There are two different ways to invite team members — by adding their email or by sharing a link — which makes it easy to invite specific people or to invite a large team all at once.

5. Product walkthrough

A product walkthrough takes your customer through the steps that they need to take in order to get set up and complete key tasks within your product. The easiest and most impactful way for your customers to learn your product is for them to start using the product:

“...walkthroughs stand out because they teach not by showing the user what to do, but by getting the user to actually do .”

Selman Gokce, UserGuiding

Product walkthrough best practices

Make it possible to skip all or part of the walkthrough. Your new customer may already be familiar with your product. Perhaps they used it at a previous job or have seen other people using it a lot. A walkthrough that you can’t skip can be a barrier for customers who seem new but actually aren’t.

Make it easy for people to come back to it later. Not everyone will want to go through a product walkthrough the first time they log in. Make it easy for your new customers to come back to your product walkthrough at a later date — either because they skipped it the first time, or as a useful refresher on different features.

Make it easy for customers to find extra support if they need it. For some users, the walkthrough may not be enough to get them started with your product, and they might need more support. Make sure this is clearly visible and accessible within the walkthrough, for example, by providing contact details for your support team or having a live chat support feature.

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6. Follow-up emails

The goal of your onboarding process is to keep your customers engaged so the process doesn’t end after your customer has logged in that first time.

After your welcome email, you may want to send additional follow-up emails, offering tips and pointers to help your customer make use of your product and prompting them to log back in.

Follow-up emails best practices

Share helpful tips and resources. This could be links to your help center, tips on using particular features, or product updates. You want to make sure that each email you send your customer adds value, helps them achieve their goals with your product, and makes them want to log back in.

Share little and often. Sending short follow-up emails more often helps keep your customers engaging with your product and content. It also means you can focus on one feature or use case per email rather than trying to cover lots of subjects in one go and risking confusing your customers.

Consider sharing some social proof. Customer quotes and testimonials aren’t just for marketing. Consider sprinkling in a couple of customer quotes or links to case studies into your follow-up emails. These will remind your customer of the value of your product and what inspired them to sign up in the first place.

Example: Zapier’s follow-up email

Zapier’s follow-up email

Including a video to engage customers and show them how to get started.

Links to Zapier’s help documentation in case customers need extra support.

One prominent call-to-action button directing them back to the product.

What’s the goal of your customer onboarding process?

Your customer onboarding process comes right at the beginning of your customer journey , but it lays the foundations for your whole relationship. A good customer onboarding process helps not only with customer activation (getting them using your product), but also with customer retention .

It’s easy to think that the main goal of your customer onboarding process is to help your customers start using your product, but it’s so much more than that. The ultimate goal of your onboarding process is to set your customers up for long-term success with your product, right from the very start.

The truest measure of a successful customer onboarding process is whether your customers log back into your product in the days, weeks, and months after that first use.

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Emily Byford

Emily Byford

Emily is a B2B SaaS content marketer. When she’s not writing, she loves cooking and is a keen (indoor!) rock climber. Find her on Twitter or at ek-byford.com .

Employee Hiring Checklist

Allison Grillo

A thoughtful onboarding process can help set new employees on the path to success.

Getting new employees started off right can help you set them up for a successful tenure at your company. Therefore, it’s important to have a plan for employees’ first day, first week, first three months and first year.

Having an onboarding checklist helps to put new hires on the path to becoming productive team members who stay with your company for years to come.

What is onboarding, and why is it important?

Onboarding is the process of welcoming new hires to a company and helping them get settled in. For example, onboarding may include helping employees fill out necessary paperwork, taking them to lunch, getting them business cards and much more.

But although onboarding is typically thought of as the steps that occur in the first few days of an employee’s tenure, the reality is that the process can last a year or longer. That’s why it’s important to have a clear, well-established process in place before you get started.

The lengthiest and most elaborate onboarding is often reserved for executives, as they are seen as most crucial to a company’s success or failure and greater resources are devoted to their recruitment. Nonetheless, onboarding experts see great potential in spending more time with all employees, including entry-level staff.

Better onboarding also may help to reduce employee turnover and thus save companies money. Though COVID-19 has disrupted labor patterns in 2020, here’s a telling statistic: In 2019, a record 4.48 million workers quit their jobs, CNBC reported , citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employee turnover is expensive, costing companies a total of $617 million in 2018.

As the workplace changes to survive a pandemic, the concept of an “essential” employee has evolved. We thus might see more inclusive approaches to onboarding.  

Key takeaway: Effective onboarding helps your employees get comfortable, encourages productivity and may help to reduce employee turnover, thus saving companies money in the long term.

Employee hiring checklist: before the first day

Job requisition. Submit a job requisition form to human resources. This will get the payroll wheels turning.

Job offer. Send a formal job offer. It should be signed by the new employee’s manager. (This is assuming you are an employer in the private sector. Public agencies are subject to certain conventions and regulations that may require the job offer to be signed by someone other than the hiring manager.) A sincere and well-written job offer expresses your belief in the employee. And make sure the salary figure is correct!

Paperwork. Send all necessary paperwork to the new hire, including the following:

The Federal Labor Standards Act requires you to pay hourly employees to complete the paperwork required for them to start their job. Although you do have the option of sending them the paperwork beforehand, you must make it clear that their filling out the documents in advance of day one, on their own time, is voluntary. In the case of nonexempt employees, a nice courtesy is to send them the paperwork beforehand but allow them to complete it either during a workday or on their off-hours.

Basics. Send information on parking, building access and dress code. Provide this information sooner rather than later, so the new hire need not fret about it.

Job description. Provide a job description that reflects what you’ve learned during the interview process about the employee and the role. A good job description can serve as a guide for performance reviews. It can guide onboarding over the course of a new hire’s first year and beyond.

Access to portal. Ensure that the new employee can access the company portal, where he or she can stay up-to-date on company news, read about the company’s history, and exchange messages with co-workers.

Welcome notes. Email at least two welcome notes to the employee. One should be from a direct supervisor and the other from a senior executive. Mention that the new hire is welcome to contact either person with questions.

Benefits. Inform the employee of details regarding the benefits package, including vacation, sick and personal days, as well as the potential for promotions and salary increases. 

Workstation. Make sure the new employee’s workstation is ready. That person will not feel like a valued team member if they are unable to log in to your system. Don’t forget items like business cards, a stapler and stationery; extras like a coffee mug or flowers can also make the new employee feel welcome.

Team welcome. Let other team members know that someone new is coming, and encourage them to stop by and say hello. Employee onboarding is everyone’s responsibility, not just HR’s.

Key takeaway: By focusing on the details and sending positive thoughts, you can help the new employee feel like a welcome member of the team from the moment they walk in the door.

Employee hiring checklist: the first day

Key personnel. Alert the receptionist to expect the new employee’s arrival. The same goes for security staff or anyone else the new hire is likely to encounter upon entering the building or office.           

Presence of the supervisor. Have the employee start on a day when the appropriate supervisors are present. Otherwise, the new person might feel a bit lost.

Tour. Lead the employee on a tour of your entire operation. Be sure to provide a glimpse of the important things happening in your office, and remember to point out key areas, such as the human resources offices, the restrooms and the kitchen.

Special touches. Make the first day special. Have a welcome card sitting on the employee’s desk, along with some company swag, like a coffee mug or a T-shirt.           

Lunch. Take the employee to lunch. Try to get to know the employee a little better, and avoid talking too much about work.           

Work. Give the new employee something to do, preferably something more than busywork but not an overly daunting task.  

Praise. Remind the employee of your appreciation of whatever special quality the person brings to the company. Explain how that quality will enhance office life and your team’s productivity.

Self-onboarding. Encourage the new employee to reach out to other team members, thus taking responsibility for their own onboarding.

Handbook. Present the employee with a company handbook, and go over any areas of special concern or importance, including matters of safety and security. Discuss legal and policy regulations.

Key takeaway : New employees usually remember their first day at a job. You can do a great deal to make the memory a happy one and pave the way for a long tenure at the company.  

Employee hiring checklist: the first week

Training material. Assign training material, which should cover both short- and long-term learning.

First project. Assign a first project, and check on the new employee’s progress. Ask how you can help.

Mentor. Assign a peer mentor to the new employee. The mentor should be an experienced, trusted member of your team. Mentoring involves showing someone the ropes and answering questions. Some new hires are apprehensive about directing questions to managers, for fear of seeming incompetent. However, avoid overreliance on a mentor; be sure you are available to address any questions or concerns.

Supervisor. The new employee and their supervisor should discuss the new hire’s role in the company’s future.                       

Expectations. Explain expectations for the following month. Let the new employee know about likely workflow. Stress how the employee is involved in some of the company’s long-term goals.

Orientation. Arrange for an orientation session. The session should involve HR people, peers, other new hires and perhaps a senior executive or two. Emphasize the new hire’s contribution to the company’s future. Video presentations and slideshows are helpful. So are structured interactions with other team members. These activities should be fun and interactive – think icebreaker-type games. Avoid prodding the new hire into giving a speech or performing in some difficult way.

Paperwork follow-up. Meet with the new employee to make sure all paperwork is in order.

Key takeaway: A full and structured first week of onboarding will help the new employee get comfortable with their job so they will be ready to contribute at a higher level.

Employee hiring checklist: the first three months 

Progress. Assess the employee’s progress in becoming a productive team member and in absorbing the company’s culture.

Commemoration. Celebrate the employee’s “first-quarter anniversary” with a gift, or maybe lunch. Note the occasion in the office newsletter or other information platforms.

Outside events. Encourage the new employee to participate in voluntary events outside the office, such as company retreats or seminars, lunches, parties or just drinks after work.

Development. Recommend reading material for professional and personal growth. Ask the new hire to identify their favorite aspects of the new job and company, with an eye toward taking on new responsibilities.

Open communication. Meet with the new employee to see how he or she is doing. Avoid yes-or-no questions like, “Is everything all right?” Instead, ask questions like, “How could we make your job easier?” or “What things about our office do you like, and what could use improvement?” Discuss the ways the new hire is contributing to the company’s long-term goals and how that contribution can be enhanced.

Small talk. Touch base with the new employee in the break room or wherever small talk happens. Get a feel for his or her level of job happiness. Get to know the person.

Key takeaway: Communication and participation are the keys to onboarding in the first three months. You and the new hire must talk, listen, learn and do whatever it takes to be a team.

Employee hiring checklist: the first year

Check-in. Continue checking in, always encouraging the employee to think long term.  “Where do you see yourself in five years?” need not be a question asked only in the interview process.

Professional development. Offer opportunities for professional development internally, at a local educational institution or online.

Consultant. Engage the services of an outside consultant to advise new employees and to act as a sounding board. Although these sorts of external coaches are typically associated with executive onboarding, they have the potential to strengthen employees at all levels of the organization.

Assessment. Evaluate what worked and did not work during onboarding. Seek the employee’s opinion, either informally or through a survey.

Key takeaway: Make sure to continue the onboarding process through the new employee’s first year and to evaluate what worked and what didn’t.

By following this checklist, you can help to ensure the onboarding process is just the start of a positive, long-lasting relationship between each employee and your business.

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13 New Customer Onboarding Best Practices

Madeleine LaPlante-Dube

Published: July 12, 2022

Following best practices for customer onboarding is essential if you want to retain more customers and increase their lifetime value. If you offer only a serviceable onboarding experience — or, worse, don’t offer one at all — you risk losing the customers you worked so hard to earn.

onboarding business plan

In this post, we’ll cover the importance of following customer onboarding best practices, then share the best ones you can implement to delight clients during the onboarding process.

→ Download Now: 8 Free Customer Onboarding Templates [Free Kit]

Why is it important to follow customer onboarding best practices?

You've heard of the theory of evolution, right? Only the adaptable — not the strong — survive in this unpredictable world. The business world is no exception. Your company is an organism, and it needs sustenance to grow.

Customer onboarding is your sustenance. Following best practices in onboarding will help your company grow and expand, whereas choosing to stay the same in a changing business world will stall your company.

Following onboarding best practices benefits you in the following ways:

It ensures customer success.

According to Sixteen Ventures , an onboarded customer is two things:

For Groove HQ , on a slightly different strain, a customer is onboarded 1) the moment they sign up, and 2) the moment they see success with your product. At any rate, you can think of an onboarded customer as simply this: one who is confident in your ability to get stuff done, because they've seen you do it.

It prevents churn.

As customer success thought leader, Lincoln Murphy, famously says, " the seeds of churn are planted early ." In other words, they’re planted right after customers sign up with you — and maybe even before that, during the sales process. That’s why it’s so critical to create a stellar onboarding process.

Failing to follow onboarding best practices will take you down when churn hits you like a gigantic asteroid careening towards your little corporate planet. So, to make your company's environment inhospitable to the seeds of churn, it's essential to examine your onboarding practices and improve upon them.

It reinstates your product’s value.

Onboarding is a process, not a one-and-done action. It goes beyond the handshake not only to prove your value over and over, but also to sustain a meaningful, mutually beneficial relationship.

To that end, read on for evergreen customer onboarding best practices that apply to any industry.

Featured Resource: Customer Onboarding Templates

onboarding business plan

HubSpot's free Customer Onboarding Templates will help you create an onboarding process that's flexible, consistent, and effective. Click here to access them for free.

Customer Onboarding Best Practices

To get your customers acquainted with your products or services, it's necessary to implement best onboarding practices. Following the techniques listed below will equip you to create a seamless, engaging onboarding experience that can lead to happy, recurring customers.

1. Create a best-in-class customer onboarding program.

best in class customer onboarding program example: hubspot

You can’t expect every customer to instantly know the ins and outs of using your products or services. When left to their own devices, they can easily become frustrated, and disgruntled customers can lead to a high churn rate, which refers to the percentage of customers that stop using your company’s products or services during a period. To keep your customer churn as low as possible, create a quality onboarding program.

Customer onboarding is a process that nurtures and proactively guides new customers through learning and using your products or services. This first step in building this relationship increases customer lifetime value. While it is more expensive to attract new customers than it is to focus on existing ones, this process has the potential to create an excellent and memorable experience for new customers. As they move through this process, this can increase your company’s perceived value in their minds and push them to be loyal, repeat customers in the future.

Additional benefits of a quality customer onboarding program include increased revenue, word-of-mouth referrals , decreased customer service costs, and increased engagement. Customer onboarding sets the tone for the ongoing relationship your customers will have with your products and business. Here you will find onboarding ideas to help get your customers acquainted with your brand.

2. Find the best customer onboarding software.

Once your company has plans to create an onboarding program, you will need to find the right software to suit your needs. These programs give you the tools to create in-app onboarding, and onboarding videos while measuring engagement with your customers. These tools can translate into welcome email series, product tours, video tutorials, and more.

Customer onboarding software currently available includes WalkMe, Apty, Whatfix, Userpilot, and Chameleon.

3. Define expectations and set milestones.

I'm a huge advocate of asking as many questions as possible, but this is especially important in the first few days and weeks of engagement with your customers. The biggest question to answer is this: How do they define success? In the new age of customer success, the word "success" is synonymous with the ultimate goal. That means defining what they want out of your engagement, or the so called, “desired outcome” among people in the SaaS customer success world. That will set the stage for setting the customer's expectations.

Next? Make a plan and make it happen. This will require setting "success milestones" — a fancy word for goal deadlines — and letting your customer define what those will look like during the sales process, no matter what it looks like in your industry.

Most importantly, be very real: make sure you’re setting milestones you can hit, accurately, every time.

4. Customize the experience.

There's a lot of stuff out on the web about customizing the onboarding experience for new employees that will make them feel at home. Treat your customers like you would do to a new, valuable employee. Consider your customer as a partner and make their onboarding experience specific to them and their needs.

Part of the onboarding experience should be individualizing each account, and that should be one of your standard protocols. What does individualizing the onboarding experience look like? Consider the principles of UX design : The experience with you, regardless of industry, should be valuable, useful, desirable, accessible, etc. That could range from creating client-only VIP portals, creating personal profiles, offering exclusive content, being readily available, and understanding enough about your customer to know the questions they're about to ask and answer them before they wonder.

Side note: Random check-ins, either solicited or otherwise, are incredibly helpful to both you and the customer in terms of quality assurance, and they tend to be a pleasant surprise. Ask them how the onboarding process is going for them, or if they have any questions, or if there is anything you can do to improve, etc. By doing so, you will stay ahead of the game.

5. Implement onboarding activities.

As you onboard your customers, how will you get them excited? How do you plan to keep them engaged? You might find it necessary to implement various activities throughout the process. To keep your customers committed during onboarding, consider adding video tutorials, Q&A check-ins, webinars, and even one-on-ones to create variety in how they familiarize themselves with your product or service. As you decide which activities to include, the various methods will help you accommodate the different learning styles of your customers.

6. Onboard the team.

I'm talking about your team. And not just your sales team — the whole team. Make sure everyone who will be involved knows the needs, pain points, story, background, and onboarding process of the customer.

Make no mistake — this is a relatively new concept, made popular by customer success . Doing an internal onboarding brief not only makes the customer an integral part of the everyday functioning of the company, but also aligns the team in a way that will allow for the proper flow and functioning of new ideas, less time briefing, and generally a better-oiled machine.

Sailing a smooth ship is necessary during the onboarding process more than any other time in the sales cycle — remember, the seeds of churn are planted early — because it's walking the walk when it comes to really making the customer's needs a part of your company's daily to-do list.

7. Gather data.

Gather data, gather data, gather data. Whether that looks like website analytics , buying tendencies, typical sales cycle length, how the customer fairs in the overall market, and so forth — gather data.

Why? For starters, elite businesses attribute 68% of their success to data collection and analysis.

customer onboarding best practices stat: impact of using data

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Face it: You could be clueless about your customers' needs , and it's hurting your relationship with them and your own growth.

Data will also be your go-to not only through the onboarding process but beyond it. Having baseline data to compare progress or failure to will help you define the success of your sales. You must consistently prove your value beyond the onboarding process, but to do so, you need to gather the necessary data during the onboarding process.

8. Focus on the relationship.

This is not a sale. This is a partnership. It doesn't matter if the sale is a matter of seconds (buying an article of clothing) or a couple of years (selling software to whole companies) but in selling you have created the opportunity for a relationship.

So how do you create a relationship? Assign account managers. Check in. Follow, like, and comment on their content on social media. Call for progress checkups. It's simple, honest, earnest communication. Trust is the antithesis to churn, and relationships build trust and show value .

9. Communicate.

This one is so obvious I almost don't want to write it down. Notice throughout each best practice above, communication and contact is necessary for success. Good, consistent communication during the onboarding process will be what makes or breaks your relationship with your customer. Don't leave them at the sale! Be with them during the initial stages of your engagement and make sure they know you're available.

10. Follow up after onboarding is complete.

Your relationship with the customer shouldn't end once the onboarding process is complete. After all, it would be a shame to build all of this rapport just to cut ties abruptly.

Instead, leave the door open by giving customers a way to communicate with their account manager after they complete onboarding. That way, if they have more questions about your product or want to onboard a partner or new employee, they have a direct channel to reach your team.

You should also follow up with customers periodically to see if they have additional questions about your product or service. Once they've mastered its basic features, they might be eager to learn more advanced techniques and tips. This can lead to timely conversations where reps can upsell and cross-sell customers with add-ons or upgrades.

11. Continuously assess customer needs.

The purpose of onboarding is to give customers everything they need to accomplish their goals. But, depending on the length of your onboarding process, customer needs might change as they start to use your product or service. It's important to routinely check-in with customers to see if your onboarding is still effective and relevant to their goals. You wouldn't want to put in all this time and effort just for customers to churn because they don't see the value of your product.

This is where your relationship with the customer becomes very important. If they trust you, they're more likely to be transparent and communicate their needs. This will allow your team to pivot and create a personalized experience based on their feedback.

12. Onboard product add-ons and account upgrades.

Just because a customer has already completed your onboarding process, doesn't mean they can't go through it again. If they purchase something else from you, or sign up for an upgrade, they'll need to learn how to use their new product.

This is where it helps to have multiple onboarding teams and processes. Some reps should be dedicated to onboarding new customers, while others should help the existing ones learn how to use add-ons and upgrades. Remember, repeat customers are more valuable than new ones because they're purchasing additional products with little or no acquisition cost . These people already trust your brand, so it's up to your team to keep them happy and engaged.

13. Make your onboarding process accessible, flexible, and repeatable.

As we mentioned above, businesses are living, breathing, organisms, and they grow based on their goals, circumstances, and environment. As companies scale, their short and long term needs adapt, leaving it up to your success team to respond to the customer's transition. If your onboarding process is rigid and doesn't leave room for change, it'll be difficult to fulfill all of your customers' needs.

In addition, your onboarding process should be accessible and repeatable, so new employees, or your customers' partners, can learn how to use your product. Even if this comes at an additional cost, customers expect your business to make it easier for them to bring on new users.

Start Onboarding Your Customers

Great customer onboarding is your shelter in the inevitable event of churn. Churn happens, but by following solid onboarding practices, you can guarantee that your company won't end up in the Business History Museum, with the dusty bones of every other old-school business who was scared of change. So go forth, evolve, and welcome new customers with excitement, engagement, and enthusiasm.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.    

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HR Insights for Professionals The latest thought leadership for HR pros

The fight is on for companies not only to land talented employees, but to keep them.

How to Build the Perfect Onboarding Plan

Week in, week out, thousands of smartly dressed, impressively punctual individuals are turning up for their first day, ready to soak up new skills and sync with the forward-thinking ethos of their new company.

The pressure is on HR departments to do justice to this enthusiasm, but turning new hires into productive, happy workers requires a plan. As figures published by the Society for Human Resources Management show, bottom lines as well as reputations are at stake.

IFP how to build the perfect onboarding plan for new hire

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Almost a quarter of the US workforce goes through a career transition each year. Turnover is highly expensive, a pitfall that can be avoided if employees are given the comprehensive onboarding plan that they deserve.

In the early stages of assimilating new hires into an organization, all resources and tools must be used to maximize engagement into the corporate culture. This will enable employees to nurture a productive mentality, which in turn will boost their value while facilitating integration into the workforce.

Read on to find out about:

Why is onboarding important?

An onboarding process should comprise one or two years’ sustained communication, feedback and performance measurement, to maximize the employee’s loyalty and longevity in their new role.

The practice can boost retention and improve employee performance. Furthermore, employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69% more likely to stay with an organization for three years. On the other hand, 15% of employers cite a lack of an effective onboarding program as a contributing factor behind the decision to quit.

Onboarding is critical to e-commerce firm, Zappos , which places new workers on three weeks of orientation prior to starting in their new roles. They even agree to pay new hires $3000 if they decide to move on from the company after the orientation. It goes to show at how good Zappos is at spotting the best candidates during its initial interview process.

It is critical, therefore, and in all parties’ interests that a new hire be brought onto the employing company’s wavelength; they need to understand brand values, orientate themselves within the company cultural and be made clear of performance expectations.

Done correctly, a comprehensive onboarding ticks all the boxes, saving time, money and improving business across the board.

Onboarding standards

Traditionally, onboarding begins with the paperwork. This is known as orientation ; it allows you to collect all relevant human resources, payroll and benefits forms. Formal aspects may also include distribution of written documentation, courses and presentations from HR managers, meetings with internal stakeholders, training periods and ongoing mentorship.

However, one size does not fit all. Further to the standard elements, employees’ further integration depends on a host of factors, including:

Concerns for both new hires and hiring managers can be addressed by an onboarding process, while the ‘Four Cs’ lend more concrete steps to sound onboarding:

Firstly, Compliance involves basic legal and policy related concerns; Clarification refers to employees understanding their role; Culture pertains to communicating organizational norms, and Connection highlights the relationships employees need to allow them to work effectively.

Establishing a clear, formal onboarding process over the first six months is essential to help set each new employee up for success by helping them navigate the corporate environment and understanding what it takes to succeed in their new position.

Key considerations when developing your onboarding:

Employer branding

A predominant view of onboarding sees the process as beginning on an employee’s first day, but evidence proves this an antiquated concept.

The onboarding pathway can be traced back to that first idea an employee has of your company. Brands need to realize how much influence they have over this inception, and how much their success hinges upon it.

When interrogated about the meaning of employer branding , consider what you want your candidates to feel or visualize when they hear your brand’s name or see its logo. This is an issue Mark Kern, founder of a video game company based in Aliso Viejo, California, had to address.

After struggling to attract the kind of talent he needed to get his company off the ground, Kern contacted 100 individuals that he most wanted to have on his staff, then sent each one an elaborately packaged iPod containing a personal message outlining the artistic vision of Red 5 and reasons to join the workforce.

Kern was creating an employer brand and it was no less than a leap out of the box. Of the 100 prospects contacted, more than 90 logged onto his site. Today he estimates that 16 of the 21 people he’s hired since the campaign found out about his company as a result of the initiative.

In a subsequent Wall Street Journal article , Kern states that the creative talent comes on board initially because they buy into the vision your firm projects.

Employer brand is as critical for larger corporations as it is for start-ups like Red 5. Back in 2004, Google displayed maths problems on billboards across cities in the US. It’s no surprise that its crop of subsequent résumés came from maths nerds of the tech giant’s desired caliber. The initiative suitability tested applicants and accrued considerable press coverage.

Automated onboarding

Automated onboarding programs (AOPs) exist in larger companies as a streamliner of the talent acquisition process. Further benefits include lower costs, improved turnover, faster delivery processes and happier, more productive employees.

AOPs can use an onboarding portal which holds all the relevant documentation. This enables departments to dove-tail operations as new hires are integrated, while individual employees can view e-papers they want, when they want in a secure, confidential environment.

When Nathan Walls started at Thoughbot, he received a welcome packet in his inbox two weeks before his start date, which empowered him to get started on necessary paperwork. Simple, but highly effective, Nathan’s first day was freed up so that productivity could begin at technical setup instead of paperwork.

Tools such as RightSignature can be used to check, send and sign electronic versions of paper forms, and Namely deals with direct deposit establishment and other employee information.

Automating the onboarding process takes pressure off HR departments by reducing the amount of time associated with basic administrative processes during onboarding. Managers and HR reps have the ability to focus on higher-impact activities instead.


Notwithstanding employees’ individual needs, a sound onboarding plan should include as little improvisation as possible. Ensure you have prioritized what information to share so that new hires are productive from the start. This is not the time to overwhelm a new team member .

While managers and departments should strive to establish a set onboarding program, the process should be extendable if necessary; a one-week or one-day program, which more than 30% of employers use, is considerably less effective than a term of a month or more.

Fresh employees will be more receptive to briefings if there is a staff member to welcome and mentor through the first few days or weeks. Also, allow plenty of opportunity for questions to be asked.

Assessment and evaluation

As with all processes, tracking effectiveness is key to making improvements. Alarmingly, just 20% of employers have defined ROI expectations for their training programs but practices would be much improved if managers had ways to measure how effective their policies are.

Kellogg Company founder, W.K Kellogg famously pledged to invest money in people, a tenet to which the ubiquitous breakfast firm holds true today. Drawing on the power of their workforce, internal surveys suggested Kellogg needed to improve their onboarding process, and the company acted accordingly.

Today, Kellogg rely on employee onboarding training, new manager assimilations, employee resource groups and a 30-60-90-day checklist. They revitalize onboarding by allowing employees to review their own onboarding progression using an onboarding track record tool. The tool assesses strengths and weaknesses of previous activities, enabling the firm to identify problem areas and address these accordingly.

Such analytics can form the backbone to accurate program assessment, and can help to create new surveys and track the adoption of the use of company tools. As a result, managers can see which aspects of a job new hires are performing well at, and where more training may be required.

The truth that talent management depends on a successful onboarding strategy is brought into sharper focus when one considers the high cost of recruiting the right candidates for a big company’s future.

Even so, research finds that while 64% of firms plan to increase hiring over the next year, just 32% have a formal onboarding program in place. ICIMS find explanation in many firms focusing too much on pushing paper around instead of working on what really matters: getting staff learning, while feeling involved and valued as quickly as possible.

To harness the potential of onboarding, HR departments must use all means at their disposal, engaging stakeholders and bringing in employees, to round off a well-managed, sustainable program.

A multifaceted approach will maximize the chances of new employees becoming productive and engaged members of the workforce, in the swiftest and most economical way possible. 

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onboarding business plan

onboarding business plan

onboarding business plan

onboarding business plan

How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

When written effectively, a business plan can help raise capital, inform decisions, and draw new talent.

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Companies of all sizes have one thing in common: They all began as small businesses.  Starting small  is the corner for those just getting off the ground. Learn about how to make that first hire, deal with all things administrative, and set yourself up for success.

Writing a business plan is often the first step in transforming your business from an idea into something tangible . As you write, your thoughts begin to solidify into strategy, and a path forward starts to emerge. But a business plan is not only the realm of startups; established companies can also benefit from revisiting and rewriting theirs. In any case, the formal documentation can provide the clarity needed to motivate staff , woo investors, or inform future decisions.  

No matter your industry or the size of your team, the task of writing a business plan—a document filled with so much detail and documentation—can feel daunting. Don’t let that stop you, however; there are easy steps to getting started. 

What is a business plan and why does it matter? 

A business plan is a formal document outlining the goals, direction, finances, team, and future planning of your business. It can be geared toward investors, in a bid to raise capital, or used as an internal document to align teams and provide direction. It typically includes extensive market research, competitor analysis, financial documentation, and an overview of your business and marketing strategy. When written effectively, a business plan can help prescribe action and keep business owners on track to meeting business goals. 

Who needs a business plan?

A business plan can be particularly helpful during a company’s initial growth and serve as a guiding force amid the uncertainty, distractions, and at-times rapid developments involved in starting a business . For enterprise companies, a business plan should be a living, breathing document that guides decision-making and facilitates intentional growth.

“You should have a game plan for every major commitment you’ll have, from early-stage founder agreements to onboarding legal professionals,” says Colin Keogh, CEO of the Rapid Foundation—a company that brings technology and training to communities in need—and a WeWork Labs mentor in the UK . “You can’t go out on funding rounds or take part in accelerators without any planning.”

How to make a business plan and seven components every plan needs

While there is no set format for writing a business plan, there are several elements that are typically included. Here’s what’s important to consider when writing your business plan. 

1. Executive summary 

No longer than half a page, the executive summary should briefly introduce your business and describe the purpose of the business plan. Are you writing the plan to attract capital? If so, specify how much money you hope to raise, and how you’re going to repay the loan. If you’re writing the plan to align your team and provide direction, explain at a high level what you hope to achieve with this alignment, as well as the size and state of your existing team.

The executive summary should explain what your business does, and provide an introductory overview of your financial health and major achievements to date.  

2. Company description 

To properly introduce your company, it’s important to also describe the wider industry. What is the financial worth of your market? Are there market trends that will affect the success of your company? What is the state of the industry and its future potential? Use data to support your claims and be sure to include the full gamut of information—both positive and negative—to provide investors and your employees a complete and accurate portrayal of your company’s milieu. 

Go on to describe your company and what it provides your customers. Are you a sole proprietor , LLC, partnership, or corporation? Are you an established company or a budding startup? What does your leadership team look like and how many employees do you have? This section should provide both historical and future context around your business, including its founding story, mission statement , and vision for the future. 

It’s essential to showcase your point of difference in your company description, as well as any advantages you may have in terms of expert talent or leading technology. This is typically one of the first pieces of the plan to be written.

3. Market analysis and opportunity

Research is key in completing a business plan and, ideally, more time should be spent on research and analysis than writing the plan itself. Understanding the size, growth, history, future potential, and current risks inherent to the wider market is essential for the success of your business, and these considerations should be described here. 

In addition to this, it’s important to include research into the target demographic of your product or service. This might be in the form of fictional customer personas, or a broader overview of the income, location, age, gender, and buying habits of your existing and potential customers. 

Though the research should be objective, the analysis in this section is a good place to reiterate your point of difference and the ways you plan to capture the market and surpass your competition.

4. Competitive analysis 

Beyond explaining the elements that differentiate you from your competition, it’s important to provide an in-depth analysis of your competitors themselves.

This research should delve into the operations, financials, history, leadership, and distribution channels of your direct and indirect competitors. It should explore the value propositions of these competitors, and explain the ways you can compete with, or exploit, their strengths and weaknesses. 

5. Execution plan: operations, development, management 

This segment provides details around how you’re going to do the work necessary to fulfill this plan. It should include information about your organizational structure and the everyday operations of your team, contractors, and physical and digital assets.

Consider including your company’s organizational chart, as well as more in-depth information on the leadership team: Who are they? What are their backgrounds? What do they bring to the table? Potentially include the résumés of key people on your team. 

For startups, your execution plan should include how long it will take to begin operations, and then how much longer to reach profitability. For established companies, it’s a good idea to outline how long it will take to execute your plan, and the ways in which you will change existing operations.

If applicable, it’s also beneficial to include your strategy for hiring new team members and scaling into different markets. 

6. Marketing plan 

It’s essential to have a comprehensive marketing plan in place as you scale operations or kick off a new strategy—and this should be shared with your stakeholders and employees. This segment of your business plan should show how you’re going to promote your business, attract customers, and retain existing clients.

Include brand messaging, marketing assets, and the timeline and budget for engaging consumers across different channels. Potentially include a marketing SWOT analysis into your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Evaluate the way your competitors market themselves, and how your target audience responds—or doesn’t respond—to these messages.

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7. Financial history and projections  

It’s essential to disclose all finances involved in running your company within your business plan. This is so your shareholders properly understand how you’re projected to perform going forward, and the progress you’ve made so far. 

You should include your income statement, which outlines annual net profits or losses; a cash flow statement, which shows how much money you need to launch or scale operations; and a balance sheet that shows financial liabilities and assets. 

“An income statement is the measure of your financial results for a certain period and the most accurate report of business activities during that time, [whereas a balance sheet] presents your assets, liabilities, and equity,” Amit Perry, a corporate finance expert, explained at a WeWork Labs educational session in Israel.

It’s crucial to understand the terms correctly so you know how to present your finances when you’re speaking to investors. Amit Perry, CEO and founder of Perryllion Ltd.

In addition, if you’re asking for funding, you will need to outline exactly how much money you need as well as where this money will go and how you plan to pay it back. 

12 quick tips for writing a business plan 

Now that you know what components are traditionally included in a business plan, it’s time to consider how you’ll actually construct the document.

Here are 12 key factors to keep in mind when writing a business plan. These overarching principles will help you write a business plan that serves its purpose (whatever that may be) and becomes an easy reference in the years ahead. 

1. Don’t be long-winded

Use clear, concise language and avoid jargon. When business plans are too long-winded, they’re less likely to be used as intended and more likely to be forgotten or glazed over by stakeholders. 

2. Show why you care

Let your passion for your business shine through; show employees and investors why you care (and why they should too). 

3. Provide supporting documents

Don’t be afraid to have an extensive list of appendices, including the CVs of team members, built-out customer personas, product demonstrations, and examples of internal or external messaging. 

4. Reference data

All information regarding the market, your competitors, and your customers should reference authoritative and relevant data points.  

5. Research, research, research

The research that goes into your business plan should take you longer than the writing itself. Consider tracking your research as supporting documentation. 

6. Clearly demonstrate your points of difference

At every opportunity, it’s important to drive home the way your product or service differentiates you from your competition and helps solve a problem for your target audience. Don’t shy away from reiterating these differentiating factors throughout the plan. 

7. Be objective in your research

As important as it is to showcase your company and the benefits you provide your customers, it’s also important to be objective in the data and research you reference. Showcase the good and the bad when it comes to market research and your financials; you want your shareholders to know you’ve thought through every possible contingency. 

8. Know the purpose of your plan

It’s important you understand the purpose of your plan before you begin researching and writing. Be clear about whether you’re writing this plan to attract investment, align teams, or provide direction. 

9. Identify your audience

The same way your business plan must have a clearly defined purpose, you must have a clearly defined audience. To whom are you writing? New investors? Current employees? Potential collaborators? Existing shareholders? 

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10. Avoid jargon

Avoid using industry-specific jargon, unless completely unavoidable, and try making your business plan as easy to understand as possible—for all potential stakeholders. 

11. Don’t be afraid to change it

Your business plan should evolve with your company’s growth, which means your business plan document should evolve as well. Revisit and rework your business plan as needed, and remember the most important factor: having a plan in place, even if it changes.

A business plan shouldn’t just be a line on your to-do list; it should be referenced and used as intended going forward. Keep your business plan close, and use it to inform decisions and guide your team in the years ahead. 

Creating a business plan is an important step in growing your company 

Whether you’re just starting out or running an existing operation, writing an effective business plan can be a key predictor of future success. It can be a foundational document from which you grow and thrive . It can serve as a constant reminder to employees and clients about what you stand for, and the direction in which you’re moving. Or, it can prove to investors that your business, team, and vision are worth their investment. 

No matter the size or stage of your business, WeWork can help you fulfill the objectives outlined in your business plan—and WeWork’s coworking spaces can be a hotbed for finding talent and investors, too. The benefits of coworking spaces include intentionally designed lounges, conference rooms, and private offices that foster connection and bolster creativity, while a global network of professionals allows you to expand your reach and meet new collaborators. 

Using these steps to write a business plan will put you in good stead to not only create a document that fulfills a purpose but one that also helps to more clearly understand your market, competition, point of difference, and plan for the future. 

For more tips on growing teams and building a business, check out all our articles on  Ideas by WeWork.

Caitlin Bishop is a writer for WeWork’s  Ideas by WeWork , based in New York City. Previously, she was a journalist and editor at  Mamamia  in Sydney, Australia, and a contributing reporter at  Gotham Gazette .

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New employee onboarding process: Step-by-step checklist and guide for 2022

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and a good one is crucial when it comes to employee onboarding. While some businesses boil onboarding down to orientation and a week of training, this approach misses a valuable opportunity. More importantly, it may lower your return on investment (ROI) for each new hire.

Effective onboarding boosts productivity and employee retention, with 76% of workers claiming on-the-job training is the most vital part of their first week.

We'll break down employee onboarding best practices to help you make the most of every new hire. 

Quick review: What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding program considerations, the employee onboarding process, download our free employee onboarding checklist, onboarding checklist for new hires, creating your onboarding template.

Employee onboarding includes making hiring decisions, welcoming new hires, and transitioning into the role

After making your hiring decisions , employee onboarding is the systematic flow of activities your new hires go through. Your onboarding process organizes these tasks into a structured, repeatable set of steps. Whether you prioritize training or introducing your company culture, you can get new hires up to speed in a matter of weeks. 

The best onboarding processes empower new hires with the tools they need to be productive, successful team members. Refined onboarding lets you do that in an organized and manageable way. Ideally, your approach is comprehensive, with management, HR, and veteran team members lending a hand.

Why employee onboarding matters

Employees are 69% more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they got a structured onboarding experience. However, ineffective onboarding makes your business look poorly managed. On top of that, new hires with that impression are less likely to stay.

The benefits don’t end with retention. Organizations say effective onboarding improves general productivity and work satisfaction. Overall, a structured onboarding experience makes employees feel confident in their employers and more engaged with their new roles.

The main goals of onboarding include:

Onboarding considerations: the process takes time, leadership should assist, make new hires feel at home, and introduce the company culture

Before building an onboarding program, businesses need to remember a few considerations. With the right mindset and priorities, you can create the best process for introducing new hires. 

How long does the onboarding process take?

Your onboarding process—or the steps you take to fill out paperwork and handle new hire tasks and training—may only take a few days. However, your new employee’s onboarding period may last much longer. It should last at least 90 days, with some HR experts arguing that it should extend through your employee’s entire first year.

You can break the onboarding process into individual components:

Who should lead your onboarding process?

Your onboarding leaders depend on the size of your business. For example, large teams have direct supervisors and HR personnel to oversee the process. For large companies, here’s an example of the role breakdown:

Because many small businesses only retain a handful of employees, senior employees will juggle more tasks. In cases like these, software packages can help. QuickBooks HR solutions streamline operations and give access to tools and templates that simplify hiring, setting HR policies, and creating onboarding checklists. 

The 5 C’s of employee onboarding and why they matter

Teams need to prioritize making new employees feel motivated and respected. To do this, you can follow the five C's of employee onboarding. These five C's represent the main points to emphasize when introducing new hires to your business and include:

Remember not to treat the five C's like boxes you can check off and then ignore. Instead, work these qualities into every step of the onboarding process. Using the five C's as a general framework makes new hires feel like a part of the team as quickly as possible. 

Company culture

A company culture is the lifeblood of your business. Positive work cultures keep your employees engaged in their jobs and loyal to your company. It also improves employee productivity and makes recruiting strong applicants who admire your vision easier.

As your organization grows, you risk outgrowing your culture. Be sure to have regular discussions about company values to keep your culture at the forefront. By explaining these priorities, you help employees align with the business's vision and they better understand their expectations and contributions.

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The onboarding process begins long before your new employee steps foot in the building. And it doesn’t end after 90 days. A solid onboarding process supports your new employee from the moment they accept your job offer through their first year of employment. We have a few tips to help you keep your employees on track for their first year and beyond.

Phase 1: Pre-onboarding steps

Have new hires fill out their paperwork before the start date . These forms cover benefits, payroll , employment policies, and emergency contact information. Once their signature is in, you can set up their workstation, job equipment, and logins for their first day. 

Phase 2: Welcome your new hires

During their first week , new employees learn the ropes and meet your team. Aside from orientation on the first day, this period focuses on building a foundation for future training. Making them feel welcome and a part of the company culture is essential. 

Phase 3: Role-specific training

Over the course of three months , your new hire will settle into their role. Between training, shadow sessions, and the gradual buildup of new tasks, they should understand everything expected of them—from job duties to time tracking . Check in with new employees regularly in case they have any questions or problems.

Phase 4: Transitioning fully into the role

After the first 90 days , your new employees should have found their footing. If they can perform all their regular duties without issues, you can consider them a fully-fledged part of the team.

Post-onboarding performance reviews

Like all employees, new hires should go through performance reviews every three to six months . You can assess their strengths and weaknesses and decide where they need additional support. Take the opportunity to ask them for feedback during these reviews. This way, you can find out which parts of the onboarding process worked better than others.

The onboarding process has lots of moving parts. Without a comprehensive checklist, it's easy to miss a crucial step. Fortunately, an onboarding checklist helps provide a positive and structured onboarding experience for every new hire.

We've done the heavy lifting for you. Download our free checklist to get started. Then, you can follow the steps or customize them for your onboarding process.

download new hire checklist

A positive onboarding experience can inspire confidence in new hires and increase their engagement and longevity with the company. Use this checklist to help guarantee you never miss a beat. 

1+ month prior to start: Ensure materials are up to date

Before bringing in a new employee, make sure your new hires receive up-to-date resources. Whether they want to know about company policies or benefits, your team needs a reliable source of accurate information. 

Here are the main topics to focus on for new hires:

2-4 weeks prior to start: Send and file new hire paperwork

Once you've picked your candidates, it's time to process their new hire paperwork. Signing this essential paperwork officially brings your new hire into the fold.

For this step, employers have to:

1 week prior to start: Schedule first-day emails and alert teams

Once the paperwork checks out, employers can prepare their teams and office for the new hire. During this last week, you should confirm that the new employee is ready to hit the ground running on Day One.

Prepare to welcome the new hire by making sure you:

First day: Welcome the new hire

Remember: First impressions matter. An employee’s first day is your first chance to build rapport. It’s a good idea to create opportunities for employees to engage with their team and their new role.

Here are some things you can do on their first day:

First week: Support and reinforce

New hires get a lot of information on the first day. For the remainder of the week, it’s a good idea to reiterate and build on some of the most important points.

Beyond that, the first week is all about keeping your new hire engaged. By the end of the week, they should feel invested in the culture, the organization, and their new job. People like to feel productive, so give your new employees tasks that can keep them engaged.

Here are some things you can do during their first week:

First month: Train and get acquainted

Your new employee may catch on quickly. But don’t halt your onboarding efforts when your employee starts feeling comfortable. The first month is an opportunity to ensure your employee is happy, confident, and engaged for the long run.

Here are some things you can do during their first month:

3 months post-start: Transitions and feedback

As your employee gets more comfortable in their role and nears the end of their first 90 days, don’t lose steam! You don’t want them to feel abandoned after a few months on the job.

Here are some things you can do during their first 90 days:

6 months post-start: Check-in and review

No matter how long an employee has been with your company, it’s a good idea to review your company policies and expectations consistently.

Here are some things you can do to keep your employees on track through their first year of employment:

While most businesses share the same onboarding outcomes, each organization has its ideal format. You can create an employee onboarding template that fast-tracks new hires into their roles and your company culture by iterating on your process. While the process takes time, the impact it will make on new hires more than justifies the cost.

Simplify onboarding and managing a small business with QuickBooks software today.

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  5. The Ultimate Guide to Customer Onboarding

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  6. 15 Ways To Improve Your Onboarding Process

    The onboarding process is often an ideal time to introduce your new employees to the culture of your workplace. Talk to them about the values your company holds. Consider the ways those values permeate the workplace, from the way people interact with one another in the office to the lives people lead outside of it.

  7. Creating a Plan for Onboarding Success

    Below is a sample onboarding plan that you can adapt to meet your organization's needs and keep your program on track: Pre-Arrival. ... Provide overview of company (e.g. organizational structure, lines of business, major customers, etc.) and protocol (e.g. dress code, arrival time, benefits, and so on).

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    Setting this final goal enables you to develop a strong onboarding strategy. Your new employee is also more likely to understand what your expectations are. And in turn, this will support them in completing their training. 2. Create your onboarding training team. The next step to building an eLearning onboarding strategy is to figure out who ...

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  10. A Sample Onboarding Plan for New Employees

    An onboarding plan is a key component for your staff onboarding process. The goal is to introduce new hires to their companies' expectations, skills, knowledge, and culture. The onboarding plan examples or templates from multiple organisations show a clear focus on impacting their employees.

  11. 7 KPIs & Metrics for Measuring Onboarding Success

    Here are some formulas and information for KPIs that can help you measure the return on investment made in onboarding efforts. Offer acceptance rate = (# of offers accepted by applicants / total # of offers made) x 100. Retention rate = (# of employees who stayed for a given period / # of employees at the beginning of the period) x 100.

  12. The 6-step client onboarding checklist (with template)

    As we break down each step of the onboarding process, we'll offer some tips on how you can put your operation on autopilot . 1. Send welcome documents This is pretty meta, but the first step in your customer onboarding template is onboarding new customers.

  13. Customer Onboarding: Steps, Examples, and Best Practices

    Here are six important steps of your customer onboarding process with best practices and tips for each to help you set your newest customers up for long-term success with your product. 1. Sign-up process It's tempting to think that customer onboarding doesn't start until a customer has actually signed up for your product.

  14. How to Successfully Onboard New Hires

    Try to get to know the employee a little better, and avoid talking too much about work. Work. Give the new employee something to do, preferably something more than busywork but not an overly ...

  15. 13 New Customer Onboarding Best Practices

    Customer onboarding software currently available includes WalkMe, Apty, Whatfix, Userpilot, and Chameleon. 3. Define expectations and set milestones. I'm a huge advocate of asking as many questions as possible, but this is especially important in the first few days and weeks of engagement with your customers.

  16. 9 Steps to Writing a Business Plan (With 2 Templates)

    Here is a list of steps to help you write a business plan that is unique to your business: 1. Start with the executive summary. The executive summary is the introduction that outlines the contents of your plan. This summary also defines your company and its purpose within your industry. The following information is usually included:

  17. Onboarding Checklist & Templates [20+ Ready-to-Use]

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  18. How to Build the Perfect Onboarding Plan

    An onboarding process should comprise one or two years' sustained communication, feedback and performance measurement, to maximize the employee's loyalty and longevity in their new role. The practice can boost retention and improve employee performance.

  19. How to write a business plan in seven simple steps

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    Phase 1: Pre-onboarding steps. Have new hires fill out their paperwork before the start date. These forms cover benefits, payroll, employment policies, and emergency contact information. Once their signature is in, you can set up their workstation, job equipment, and logins for their first day.

  21. Dynamics 365 Business Central

    Partners can use a combination of in-product artifacts, such as the Get Started checklist, teaching tips, configuration packages, and assisted setups. In 2022 release wave 1, onboarding to Dynamics 365 Business Central will be even easier because we will focus on people-centric experiences. Business Central becomes able to provide easy access ...

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    By offering customers better discoverability, installation, and setup of these types of apps, unnecessary friction is removed, and their business can more quickly become productive and focus on the more complex areas of onboarding. In 2022 release wave 2, we are adding an in-product experience that will make it easy for users to find relevant ...