8.7 Onboarding, Orienting and Training a New Employee

Any effective company has training in place to make sure employees can perform his or her job. During the recruitment and selection process, the right person should be hired to begin with. But even the right person may need training in how your company does things. Lack of training can result in lost productivity, lost customers, and poor relationships between employees and managers. It can also result in dissatisfaction, which means retention problems and high turnover. All these end up being direct costs to the organization. In fact, a study performed by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) found that 41 percent of employees at companies with poor training planned to leave within the year, but in companies with excellent training, only 12 percent planned to leave (Branham, 2005). To reduce some costs associated with not training or undertraining, development of training programs can help with some of the risk. This is what this chapter will address.

For effective employee training, there are four steps that generally occur. First, the new employee goes through an onboarding, and then he or she will receive in-house training on job-specific areas. Next, the employee should be assigned a mentor, and then, as comfort with the job duties grows, he or she may engage in external training. Employee training and development is the process of helping employees develop their personal and organization skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Employee Orientation and Onboarding

The first step in training is an employee orientation and onboarding. Employee orientation and onboarding is the process used for welcoming a new employee into the organization, assimilating them into the culture and getting them the tools they need to start the job. The importance of employee orientation and onboarding is two-fold. First, the goal is for employees to gain an understanding of the company policies and learn how their specific job fits into the big picture. Employee orientation usually involves filling out new hire paperwork such as TD1 forms, Personal Tax Credits Return and the new employee’s SIN.

The Goals of an Orientation and Onboarding

  1. To reduce start-up costs. If an orientation is done right, it can help get the employee up to speed on various policies and procedures, so the employee can start working right away. It can also be a way to ensure all hiring paperwork is filled out correctly, so the employee is paid on time.
  2. To reduce anxiety. Starting a new job can be stressful. One goal of an orientation is to reduce the stress and anxiety people feel when going into an unknown situation.
  3. To reduce employee turnover. Employee turnover tends to be higher when employees don’t feel valued or are not given the tools to perform. An employee orientation can show that the organization values the employee and provides tools necessary for a successful entry.
  4. To save time for the supervisor and coworkers. A well-done orientation makes for a better prepared employee, which means less time having to teach the employee.
  5. To set expectations and attitudes. If employees know from the start what the expectations are, they tend to perform better. Likewise, if employees learn the values and attitudes of the organization from the beginning, there is a higher chance of a successful tenure at the company.

New employee onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team.

Onboarding new hires at an organization should be a strategic process that lasts at least one year, staffing and HR experts say, because how employers handle the first few days and months of a new employee’s experience is crucial to ensuring high retention.

Getting Started with the Onboarding Process

Finding the best candidates for positions in your organization is only part of building an effective team. The process of onboarding new employees can be one of the most critical factors in ensuring recently hired talent will be productive, contented workers.

However, in some organizations, onboarding is often confused with orientation (Little, 2020). While orientation might be necessary—paperwork and other routine tasks must be completed—onboarding is a comprehensive process involving management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.

Key Questions to Attain Team and Upper Management Buy-In

Before implementing a formal onboarding program, employers should answer some key questions to attain team and upper management buy-in, including:

  • When will onboarding start?
  • How long will it last?
  • What impression do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of the first day?
  • What do new employees need to know about the culture and work environment?
  • What role will HR play in the process? What about direct managers? Co-workers?
  • What kind of goals do you want to set for new employees?
  • How will you gather feedback on the program and measure its success?

Once these questions have been answered, HR professionals and upper management can devise a plan of action to help new employees quickly assimilate company policies and workflow while getting fully acquainted with the organization’s culture.

Human Resource Recall

Some companies use employee orientation as a way to introduce employees not only to the company policies and procedures but also to the staff. For an example of an orientation schedule for the day, see below figure.

Employee training” by NestléCC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Steps in Onboarding

  1. Tour
  2. Have clear goals and expectations
  3. Create a schedule
  4. Use digital documents
  5. Match new employees with a coach or mentor
  6. After onboarding training

1. Tour

Ensure new employees have had a tour of the company and met some of the staff.

2. Have clear goals and expectations

By setting clear goals and expectations for new employees, it helps them to understand the company, the staff, the policies, procedures; and what their job will be. Managers are able to help the new employees if they are having problems meeting the goals and expectations.

Be realistic about goals: Employees can feel overwhelmed when they start a new job. It is important to design a program that is simple and the employee is able to retain all the information. This way employees will feel comfortable and confident. Let them achieve small goals initially, and then build on more complex goals.

3. Create a schedule

Create a schedule that shows new employees what they will be spending time on each day of their orientation and to review the materials with them. If there is information that is required reading ahead of orientation, ensure it is forwarded to the new employee prior to the training. Ensure you build in some fun activities!

4. Use digital documents

When an employee starts a job there is a lot to learn i.e., policies, safety, products/services, rules and so on. This can create a great deal of paperwork. To lessen the paperwork, use digital documents. Employees can use devices in the training, and in their daily work when they need to find an important document. Having the documents at their finger tips also adds to reassurances for new employees.

5. Match new employees with a coach or mentor

The onboarding will help new employees learn about the job and the company. However, working with a coach or mentor in a real life experience integrates the learning. Ensuring that the new employee has someone they can reach out to for help or guidance can reduce stress, reduce errors on the job, and help the employee to become productive quicker.

6. After onboarding training

Some ideas to help employees blend into the company are to schedule informal events, speak to them about any challenges they are experiencing and solve them, and regularly review their progress.

“21. Onboarding a New Employee” from Human Resource Management V2 by Ellen Mathein is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

“6.2 Onboarding Steps for New Employees” from Human Resources Management – 3rd Edition by Debra Patterson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.


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Sales Leadership Management Copyright © 2023 by Fanshawe College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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