Smooth sailing: best practices for a seamless employee onboarding process

Ghina Fahs
March 16, 2023
Smooth sailing: best practices for a seamless employee onboarding process
Core HR
Employee experience
Best practices

Welcome to employee onboarding! We’re here to give you the low-down on the best practices for getting your new employees up and running in a way that's both effective and fun.

So, you've made the hire, and now it's time to get your new recruit all set up and ready to rock. The first step to giving your people a great holistic employee experience is to make sure you have a solid onboarding program in place.

A good onboarding program not only helps the new employee acclimate to their new surroundings, but also sets the tone for what's to come in their new role. Moreso, the way a new employee is welcomed and integrated into a company can have a significant impact on their productivity, engagement, morale, and overall job satisfaction. With a good onboarding strategy in place, you can improve employee retention by up to 82%.

With all that in mind, it's essential to get it right from the get-go, and remember that onboarding isn’t just about the first few weeks of an employee’s journey with your company. Onboarding should take a minimum of 3 months, and can create an even better outcome if it takes longer.

Here are some of the best practices for designing an onboarding program that will have your new hires feeling like a valued member of the team in no time:

1) Have a structured plan in place

Onboarding should be a structured process with clear goals and objectives. Develop a plan that outlines the tasks, activities, and timelines for onboarding, as well as a schedule for the new hire’s entire first week. This plan should cover everything from completing paperwork to job-specific training to team introductions. Setting expectations and having a clear plan ensures that nothing is overlooked and that the new employee has all the tools and information needed for a smooth start.

This is a highly important step that shouldn’t be missed—winging it won’t work here. In a reddit thread about onboarding experiences, one user confessed, “nothing makes me doubt a new job more than sitting and doing nothing.” While it’s totally normal for things to be a little quiet in the very beginning, don’t completely overlook the importance of putting a process in place. If the onboarding doesn’t seem promising, it’s likely that the entire experience won’t seem so promising either.

Reddit forum screenshot about Smooth sailing: best practices for a seamless employee onboarding process.

2) Preboard: start before day one

Onboarding isn't just about what happens on the first day of work. It starts the moment a candidate accepts the job offer. Send them a welcome email that includes information on what to expect on their first day. If they’re coming into an office, let them know what they should wear, where to park, and what time they should arrive.

During this time, you’ll also want to give them a head start on standard administrative tasks. Send them their login credentials and HR paperwork to complete before their official start date so that they don’t spend their first day on admin tasks when they can be attending meetings, shadowing colleagues, and exploring their new environment.

The best part? Automation is your sidekick! An HR software like alfii can do much of the work for you. Have your new hires set up and complete their employee profiles in advance, so that you can share company policies for them to review and sign, while getting employee offer letters, contracts, identification, and other document requirements squared away automatically, all before the first day.

Your new employees can also use it to familiarize themselves with the team by browsing through the profiles of their new colleagues and getting a feel for the company culture.

3) Give them an employee welcome kit

It’s hard not to love a surprise gift! On their first day, welcome your new employees by giving them an employee welcome kit. While this isn’t exactly a requirement, it’s highly recommended.

Investing in a fun welcome package is an effective way to convey your appreciation for your new hires and get them started feeling confident and comfortable.

There’s no limit to what you can include in your welcome package, and employees do appreciate it a ton. Whether it’s branded company items or fun gifts, feel free to throw in anything that comes to mind. One reddit user shared that a company she worked for gave her a welcome package that included a Polaroid camera, Pendleton towels, Rumpl blankets, and much more!

Here are a few ways to get creative to make your welcome package stand out even more:

  • Make it personalized and include a special message from the hiring manager.
  • Involve other team members and get them to leave a short note, as well.
  • Give them an idea of your company culture by including some information about the company’s history, mission statement, photos of previous team building activities, company milestones, your brand story, and anything else that reflects the company’s personality.

4) Introduction meeting

Next, schedule an introduction meeting with the hiring manager for your new employee’s first day.

This sit-down provides the opportunity for them to get to know each other and set expectations around the employee’s role and performance. Clearly outlining what is expected of them early on will help them understand how they can best contribute to the team and what they need to do to succeed.

You can also include a brief overview of the company culture and any other important information they'll need to know. Wrap up the meeting by creating space for them to ask any questions they may have before getting started, and check-in with them afterwards. This helps to build excitement and anticipation for their first day and shows that you value them as an employee.

5) Provide the right tools, resources, and training

One of the first things you’ll need to take care of is ensuring that your new employee has all the tools and resources they need to perform their job effectively. This may include access to software, hardware, and other tools, as well as training and documentation to help them get up to speed quickly. Make sure everything is in place before they start, so they don't waste time waiting for things they need.

6) Get them to interact with colleagues

Introducing the new employee to the team and the company is critical. This helps them start off feeling welcomed and part of the team already. Send out a company-wide email that introduces the new employee and plan for formal and informal introductions in-person or over a video call with their direct colleagues, other team members, and any other relevant people in the company. Most importantly, schedule a one-on-one meeting with their direct supervisor to get them talking about goals and career aspirations!

Here are some other ways you can take it a step further to help new hires feel connected to their colleagues:

  • Assign a mentor or buddy to help them navigate their new surroundings.
  • Arrange a welcome lunch with direct coworkers.
  • Incorporate job shadowing and expose your new hires to different departments. This not only helps them better understand how different departments work together, but it’s also another good way for them to meet and get to know their coworkers.

7) Pace out the workload

It’s important to introduce work gradually so as not to overwhelm the employee with tasks while they’re still finding their footing and adjusting to their new environment. Assign new tasks bit by bit and set timelines to complete them. As you go, increase the responsibility that comes with each task and regularly check in with them to see if any adjustments need to be made.

8) Stay true to your values

If you want to be a people-first organization, you’ll want to keep re-anchoring yourself to your stated values and sticking with them. Practicing what you preach is not only important for the onboarding process but for the whole employee experience as well.

Employees need to be assured that they’ve committed to an organization that didn’t sugarcoat the benefits or culture during the hiring process in order to reel talents in. Transparency and honesty from the employer sets an example for the employee to show up to their responsibilities with the same honesty and integrity.

9) Check in regularly

Communication is key throughout the onboarding process. Regular check-ins and feedback sessions help new employees understand how they're progressing, what they're doing well, and what they need to work on. This also gives them a chance to ask questions and give feedback on their experience so far. We recommend starting with scheduling a 1-week follow up and a 1-month check-in.

10) Don’t stop refining your onboarding strategy

Finally, it's important to evaluate the onboarding process regularly and make improvements where necessary. Take feedback from new employees and make changes to the process to make it more effective. Look for ways to streamline the process, reduce redundancies, and make it a more enjoyable experience for new hires.


Employee onboarding is a process that can make or break a new employee's experience at a company. And a well-designed onboarding program is crucial to a new employee's success and contributes to the overall success of the organization.

The benefits of a good onboarding program are numerous, including improved productivity, engagement, morale, and job satisfaction, which can lead to higher employee retention.

Following these best practices can help new employees feel welcomed and valued, making them more likely to succeed in their new role and become long-term assets to the organization.

With alfii, we made it as easy as ever to give your new employees a delightful onboarding experience that runs smoothly, no matter where they are in the world! We’ve made it free for a limited time so that you can get a feel for the platform without having to make any commitments.

You’re just a few clicks away—sign up and try alfii for free in minutes.

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