What is the best employee onboarding process

Onboarding: The checklist for the optimal process

A good start is important for new employees and the company alike. In order to retain employees early on, you should give onboarding the highest priority and develop a suitable concept. This checklist supports HR managers and executives in mastering the most important onboarding tasks with confidence.

With this checklist for remote onboarding, you can give employees a good start even remotely.

Definition - what is onboarding?

Under a Onboardingprocess one understands the hiring and targeted integration of new employees in a company. Onboarding, a concept from human resource management, uses measures to make it easier for employees to find their way “on board” of the new company.

How long does onboarding take?

The onboarding of new employees begins with the signature of the employment contract and usually ends with the probationary period, i.e. after approx. Six months. However, the duration of the onboarding depends largely on the complexity of the position - shorter or longer periods are also possible.

What are the tasks and goals of onboarding?

A good onboarding has the task ...

  • to introduce new employees quickly and safely to their new tasks,
  • to bring them closer to the corporate culture and internal processes and
  • to support them in establishing contacts with colleagues.

The overall goal of onboarding so is that Productivity and Motivation of the new employee and Loyalty to the employer to build up. This has a positive impact on employer branding and reduces redundancies during the probationary period.

The three phases in the onboarding process

For employees, the onboarding process begins when the contract is signed and ends when the trial period ends. What should be considered when onboarding? Certainly a lot. Onboarding can initially be roughly divided into three phases:

Phase 1: preparation >> Before the first day of work

Phase 2: orientation >> On the first working day and in the first working week

  • Introduction to the new tasks
  • Getting to know colleagues, company processes and culture

Phase 3: integration >> Over the rest of the probationary period (and beyond)

  • Regular feedback meetings
  • Team building

In the following, we have broken down the onboarding tasks for you across the individual phases.

Phase 1: Onboarding before the first working day

HR managers can support new colleagues to arrive quickly and safely in the company and the new area of ​​activity. Martina, Personios Director Talent, shares in this video how you can organize the onboarding before the first day of work and which onboarding tasks you have to do.

1. Clarify formalities

Is the contract regulated? Have access rights been clarified? Does the newcomer have suitable uniforms? This should be considered at least one to two weeks before starting a new colleague.

2. Provide information

Does the new colleague know when and where to go? Does he know the essentials, what to expect? You should have emailed all of this in advance.

3. Involve colleagues

All colleagues involved in the onboarding process should be provided with the necessary information in advance and know about their respective to-dos. Typically, these are the secretariat, office management, IT and, if necessary, sponsors who support the employee on his / her first day.

Automate your onboarding tasks

No routing slips, but automatically distributed to-dos that employees are reminded of in good time. Everything in person.

4. Prepare the workplace

Ideally, the new employee will find a fully functional workplace on their first day. Equipping this with all means takes a certain lead time and should therefore be prepared in good time.

  • Access to the office should work on the first day. This often requires the installation of a new entry code or the preparation of a new key.
  • Every employee should have their own computer, which has to be set up again when there is a change in staff or when a new purchase is made. Please note the delivery time of a new device.
  • The above also optionally applies to a mobile company telephone and a company car.
  • Workplace / seat in general: Does the new colleague have a fixed seat? In addition, a screen, a chair, a mouse and keyboard and writing tools?
  • Access data must be generated at an early stage - passwords, access rights, invitations to use certain tools - so that the new colleague can set up their virtual workplace on the first day of work and thus save a lot of time in the onboarding process in the long term.
  • Do additional licenses for certain programs have to be purchased for the new employee?

5. Coordinate appointments

Invite the new colleague to upcoming appointments and, if possible, arrange an interview with the most important interfaces (your own department and other departments).

Best Practice: This is how onboarding works at Mailchimp

Around 200 new employees are onboarded at Mailchimp each year. A couple of highlights:

  • Employee Integrations Associates ensure that newcomers feel welcome and have all the resources they need. At the end of the first week of onboarding, there will be a feedback discussion.
  • Travel through all major offices / locations, chat with two of the co-founders and free lunch.
  • People who keep new colleagues company over lunch during the first week.
  • Welcome gifts that match the new employee's favorite snacks, colors, hobbies (newcomers fill out a questionnaire beforehand).

Download the free onboarding checklist now

6. Organize staff training

Does the new colleague need additional training in a certain area, for example on how to use selected programs or devices? These should be booked before the start of the employment contract in order to accelerate the familiarization period in a certain subject area.

7. Define responsibilities

When the new employee takes on a position that did not exist before, there is often a reallocation of responsibilities. It is the task of the team leader to communicate this in detail to the existing employees. As part of the onboarding, the responsible HR manager should listen again to prevent a dissatisfaction with the new colleague.

8. Get a welcome gift

One day before the new employee's first day at work, you or one of your colleagues can get a small present to get started in the new work environment, here are pralines, a small bouquet of flowers or the like. You can find out below why this point is part of good onboarding.

Phase 2a: Onboarding on the first working day

In order to spare your new colleague the typical Monday morning chaos and to create enough preparation time for yourself, you can calmly let him start an hour later than usual. With these to-dos, the first onboarding day is a success.

1. Welcome newcomers

The small welcome gift was hopefully provided punctually before the new employee's first day of work (see above) and is now unfolding its effect accordingly. Such little attentions strengthen the sense of belonging of your new team member from the first second and stay in your memory for a long time. Small gesture, big impact.

2. Initiate an introduction

To get started, we recommend that you arrange a small round of introductions. Of course, the entire company doesn't have to wait in the office for the new one at the beginning, but at least the direct colleagues from the same department or the “godfather” should introduce themselves and their area of ​​responsibility on the first day. This makes it easier to get in touch and lowers the inhibition threshold to ask someone for help directly if you have any questions.

3. Strengthen the team

Having lunch with colleagues from the same department on the first day of work strengthens the sense of community and creates a trusting basis for future cooperation.

Phase 2b: Onboarding in the first working week

What tasks do you need to have on your screen in the first week of onboarding? Here is an overview.

1. Provide a preview of the onboarding

The onboarding process should be explained to the new employee so that they know what to expect in the coming days or weeks.

Do not overwhelm your new colleague during the induction process by only giving verbal explanations. Write down as much as you can. If your HR software has an onboarding function, you can use it to set the tasks and reminders.

2. Clarify mutual expectations

Superiors should discuss the new job with the employee again and communicate the expectations to them. In contrast to this, the employee should also clearly express his ideas about the next few weeks. In this way, misunderstandings can be avoided in advance and a pleasant working atmosphere can be created.

3. Assign first tasks

The new colleague should be integrated into projects from the start. Designing exciting first tasks also helps to get employees excited about the company right from the start.

4. Clarify legal issues

If there are SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) that are relevant to the work of the new employee, they must be read carefully and signed before certain activities can be carried out.

5. Take a tour of the company

In order to give the new employee a clear picture of what is happening where and who is responsible for the respective department, all other departments should now also be visited.

Tip: For companies with more than 30 employees, a photo gallery on the intranet or a photo wall in the office for new employees is of great help.

Too many onboarding to-dos?

Create an onboarding template in Personio and let managers and specialist departments automatically remind them of their tasks.


6. Introduce products

A detailed product presentation is an essential part of onboarding. Especially for colleagues from non-product areas such as accounting, it is important that they know which products / services the company offers. If several new colleagues have their first day at work at the same time, such a presentation also offers a good first opportunity to link across departments.

Download the template for the onboarding presentation

7. Clarify company goals

What is the company's goal and what strategy is it pursuing? Make it clear to your new employee which goals you would like to achieve in the next quarter, for example, and why exactly their support is necessary. These goals should then also be reflected in the employee's target agreement.

8. Communicate corporate values

Knowing which values ​​are maintained in the company is crucial for identifying with the new employer. Especially if the new colleague comes from a different environment, for example has switched from a startup to a large corporation, the new environment can differ greatly from the experience. Here it is also important to pay attention to small details, such as: Do you have lunch together? Are cigarette breaks okay? What about working from home? Explain the values ​​that are common to everyone.

9. Show team spirit

It is often difficult for the new colleague to integrate into existing “employee groups”. Nothing is worse than having lunch alone in the first week at work, because after the first day nobody feels responsible for the new one. Make sure that your team also includes the new colleague at lunchtime and that a feeling of togetherness develops away from the desk.

Phase 3: After the first week of work

What should be considered when onboarding after the first week? You can find out in this video how you support newcomers in their first month of work.

1. Inquire about impressions

Get input from your new employee. What positive or negative did you notice during the first week? The longer you work in a company, the more you get used to the circumstances there, possibly also the negatives.

2. Provide follow-up information

In the first week, your new employee has a lot of impressions to process. Provide information piece by piece, not all at once. By the end of the first week at the latest, he should know / have everything new. This means, for example, vacation regulations, working hours, lists of abbreviations, etc.

The onboarding process after four to eight weeks

1. Give regular feedback

What is the best onboarding if there is no revision of the previous joint work after the first few weeks? It is important to have a feedback conversation with the new colleagues after a certain period of time and to repeat this process regularly. This is not only about evaluating the behavior and work of your new employee, but also about his / her open feedback about the first impression of the company.

2. Promote contacts

If several colleagues from different departments have started their first day of work together, cross-departmental exchange can be encouraged with an organized lunch a few weeks after starting work. The joint start makes it easier for colleagues to maintain contacts and promotes the working atmosphere.

With Personio, new employees get off to a quick start

With Personio, new team members are ready to go from the 2nd day, because every employee knows exactly which tasks have to be done before onboarding.

How to lead the onboarding process

    • Create an onboarding concept which includes the different tasks in the five onboarding phases and records which internal departments are responsible for the upcoming tasks at what point in time.
    • Clarify the responsibilities and lead times in advance. This applies, for example, to the provision of time and access cards, employee ID cards, office supplies, PCs, software and accesses. The same applies to the provision of data in the payroll accounting and the creation of a personnel file. Plan the lead times realistically.
    • Make a checklist. Record the administrative steps as well as the technical and social tasks of the HR department, the manager and the team. You can download our onboarding checklist here.
    • Use HR software in which the individual work steps of the onboarding run automatically - from the administrative tasks to the induction plan. In this way, HR maintains an overview and onboarding is more efficient.

Now calculate: You can save on onboarding costs every year