Creating the Best Onboarding Experiences: What To Do and What Not to Do

Creating the Best Onboarding Experiences: What To Do and What Not to Do

We’ve all heard the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This couldn’t ring truer when it comes to onboarding new employees. The onboarding process is not just about orientation; it’s the first real taste of the company culture and can set the tone for an employee’s entire tenure. It’s in these pivotal early days that the best onboarding experiences are crafted, leading to higher employee retention rates.

Why Does Onboarding Matter?

The onboarding process is your opportunity to build a strong foundation with your new hires. It’s a chance to set expectations, share your company values, and integrate them into your team. When done right, it can significantly impact employee engagement, productivity, and retention. According to a study by Glassdoor and the Brandon Hall Group, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.

However, creating the best onboarding experiences is not just about ticking boxes; it involves a thoughtful, personalized approach that makes the newcomer feel valued and part of the team from day one. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into what to do and what not to do for a successful onboarding experience.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Onboarding

1. DO: Plan a structured onboarding process

The best onboarding experiences start with a well-planned process. Before your new hire’s first day, have a clear, structured plan that covers everything they need to know – from company policies to role-specific training. This will help them feel more confident and secure.

DON’T: Leave your new hires in the dark

Avoid leaving your new hires to figure things out on their own. This can lead to confusion, frustration, and a sense of being unwelcome especially in a virtual environment.  

2. DO: Prioritize connection and relationship-building

Building relationships is key to successful onboarding. Arrange meet-and-greets with team members, assign a buddy or mentor, and create opportunities for social interaction. Building relationships is not just a job for HR but everyone from leadership down.

DON’T: Allow new hires to feel isolated.

Avoid letting your new hires feel like they’re on an island. This is especially important when onboarding remotely. Regular check-ins and virtual team activities can help foster a sense of belonging.

3. DO: Provide all necessary resources and tools

Ensure that new hires have all the tools and resources they need to perform their job effectively. This includes setting up their email accounts and giving them access to software, hardware, office supplies, and other necessary materials. Also, a little company swag or gift card for coffee never hurts in making someone feel welcome and equipped. 

DON’T: Overwhelm them with too much information at once

While it’s important to provide resources, avoid information overload. Break down information into digestible chunks and allow time for questions and clarification.

4. DO: Set clear expectations

Clearly communicate what is expected in terms of job performance, goals, and company culture. This helps to prevent misunderstandings and aligns the new hire with the company’s vision.

DON’T: Leave them guessing about their role

Avoid leaving new hires guessing about their responsibilities. Uncertainty can lead to stress and decreased productivity and a lot of wasted time. 

5. DO: Keep the process engaging and interactive

The best onboarding experiences are both informative and engaging. Use interactive training methods, such as hands-on tasks, to keep new hires engaged and aid learning.

DON’T: Make the onboarding process a one-way street

Avoid a one-sided onboarding process. Encourage feedback and open communication from new hires. This can provide valuable insights for improving your onboarding process.

The Power of Good Onboarding

A well-executed onboarding process not only boosts productivity but also contributes to a positive company culture and employee happiness. It shows new hires that you value their contribution and are invested in their success. On the flip side, a poor onboarding experience can lead to disengagement, lower productivity, and, ultimately, higher turnover rates.

Whether you’re onboarding in-person or remotely, remember that the best onboarding experiences are those that make new hires feel welcomed, equipped, and excited about their journey with your company. So, y’all, let’s roll out the welcome mat and make those first impressions count!

About the Author


Marcia is the founder and CEO of TalentFront. She leverages her executive background in talent recruitment, leadership development, performance management, sales, and marketing to provide insightful recruitment solutions to a diverse range of clients. Her experience on both sides of the hiring equation helps her fully understand the struggle in finding and retaining top talent – and the reward in finding that just-right person.