Employee Onboarding Dos and Don’ts – 5 Key Actions for Employers

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Employee onboarding doc and don'tsEmployee Onboarding SHOULD BE relatively simple and easy. It is if employers prioritize it and manage it effectively. But many organizations seem to rush through HR onboarding, as the following data from a 2017 CareerBuilder survey show:

  • 36% of employers don’t have a structured employee onboarding process
  • 25% of employers report their HR onboarding process take a day or less
  • 26% report their process takes a week
  • 21% report their process takes a month
  • Just 11% report that onboarding extends over three months or longer

In light of this information, let’s look at what organizations should do and should not do in their onboarding efforts.

  1.  DO Extend HR Onboarding to at Least 3 Months

Onboarding shouldn’t just consist of employees filling out required forms, getting introduced to their team members and being shown their work area. Much of the value in onboarding comes from activities that take time, including an introduction to the company culture, ongoing personalized training and/or mentoring, and defining goals and expectations for the employee.

Yet, as noted above, only 11% of employers’ onboarding processes take three months or longer!

According to same survey, hiring and resource managers whose organizations provide a structured onboarding program say the rewards include:

  • Employees are more engaged (49 percent)
  • More employee confidence (46 percent)
  • Employees have greater trust in the organization (45 percent)
  • Greater efficiencies (44 percent)
  • Higher productivity (42 percent)
  • Higher morale (38 percent)
  • Lower employee turnover (31 percent)
  • Contributes to meeting revenue targets (21 percent)
  1. DON’T Let Employee Onboarding Become a Check-Off

Have you ever Googled the term “HR onboarding checklist?” The results are scary. SO MANY CHECKLISTS! (We’ve even made one, although it’s a bit different than most.)


There’s a reason for the cornucopia of checklists: onboarding has many important elements (some required by law), and checklists help ensure you don’t miss any. But the danger of a checklist is letting the elements on the list become mere check-offs. It’s easy to let the quality of the onboarding you provide slip over time, especially as new hires are tackling business-critical or revenue-producing projects.


While some elements are check-offs (e.g., required forms), for others (e.g, introduction to culture), the quality with which they are conducted matters greatly. You’re dealing with people—and it’s important to offer every individual an experience that will contribute to them being engaged during onboarding and over time in your organization.

  1. DO Automate Employee Onboarding

Technology makes the new hire onboarding process more efficient, and cuts down on mistakes. While small businesses may find using spreadsheets sufficient, employers who regularly are onboarding new employees should consider using dedicated technology solutions.


According to the earlier survey, 39 percent of a subset of hiring managers “say they electronically capture most or all of their onboarding information for new hires at their company, while 47 percent capture some of it. One in 7 (14 percent) capture none of it electronically.”


Collecting and processing onboarding information manually takes more than half of HR managers three or more hours per employee, according to the survey, and leads to the following problems:

  • Heavier workloads for HR (37 percent)
  • Higher stress levels for HR (35 percent)
  • Required documentation, like compliance-related forms, were missing (28 percent)
  • Delayed started dates (22 percent)
  • No record that the employee read and acknowledged company policies and other information (17 percent)
  • The candidate ended up walking away from the positions because the process took too long (9 percent)


  1. DO Use a Technology Solution That Meets Your Organization’s Needs

There are many different onboarding technology solutions on the marketplace. It’s important to choose a solution that meets your organization’s needs.


For example, companies that onboard large numbers of new hires every year—called “high-volume onboarding”—need more robust onboarding management technology than smaller organizations. The challenges of high-volume onboarding include:

• Any tasks that must be conducted manually take up substantial amounts of time and resources.

• You need a team to manage onboarding, and for the team to be effective requires quality internal communication that keeps everyone on the same page, preventing delays and mistakes.

• Any solution you use must have the robust technical capabilities required to facilitate, manage and analyze the onboarding of hundreds to potentially thousands of new employees simultaneously for large events.

Companies that offer enterprise tools for employee onboarding software like EMPTrust EMP-board can realize some of the benefits of automation with compliance, speed and accuracy

  1.  DON’T Let Your Onboarding Be Too Rigid

All new hires should have quality onboarding experiences, but that doesn’t mean that every aspect of onboarding should be the same for everyone.
Let’s take a look at two examples where having variability in your onboarding process is valuable or even required.

First, suppose some of the employees you hire have a primary language other than English. Are you taking steps to ensure that policies are explained in a way that they can understand? Is every employee given materials in their primary language? Cultural and language sensitivity are especially important for organizations that are working to increase diversity or operating in multiple countries.

Second, employers that have new hires in different countries, perhaps Canada and United States, need their onboarding to be flexible enough to stay compliant in those countries. At the very least, different countries mean different required forms, so you’d need your onboarding management system to ensure that U.S. new hires get the U.S. forms and Canada new hires get the Canada forms, every time.

Your employee onboarding process should be able to support a standard global corporate standard as well as cater to local and regional regulatory rules and form requirements.

Long-Lasting Value

You’ve invested heavily in sourcing and recruiting. Don’t blow all that time and money by making a mess of the onboarding process, thereby turning off new hires. Instead, follow the dos and don’ts above to provide onboarding that excites new hires and delivers long-lasting value to both your employees and your organization.

“In our next series of employee onboarding articles we will explore building regulatory compliance into your structured onboarding program.”


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