Company Onboarding 101: Culture, Collaboration, & Compliance for New Hires
May 16, 2022
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Do you want your new hires to feel welcome and comfortable from day one at your company?
Of course you do. Creating this kind of employee experience increases retention and satisfaction. But it doesn’t come out of nowhere.
A key aspect of developing a welcoming environment is company onboarding. With a structured and well-designed introduction to the company, employees are more comfortable in the office, making them better team players.
In this guide, we’re breaking down the company onboarding process from start to finish. We’ll talk about what it is and why it’s important, plus the key steps and components in any company onboarding plan.
✈️ What is company onboarding?
Company onboarding is the process of introducing new hires to the organization overall. This experience gets new employees up to speed on the company culture, policies, and products.
Since company onboarding isn’t tied to the responsibilities of a specific role, virtually every new joiner participates in the same experience. The shared experience creates a strong first impression and lays the foundation for robust company culture.
🆚 Company onboarding vs role-based onboarding
The first few days at a new job can feel like a whirlwind of information for new hires. With so much information about the company, their team, and their role, new employees can quickly get overwhelmed during the onboarding process.
Separating company onboarding and role-based onboarding into their own processes makes it easier for new hires to remember and understand the most essential information.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what company onboarding and role-based onboarding entail:
Culture and values
Company policies and procedures
Goal setting with manager
Team-specific tool setup
Office tour and introductions
Process and workflow training
Email and tool setup
Distinguishing these types of onboarding for new employees benefits everyone. Your People Ops team can create a cohesive experience for every new hire while hiring managers can customize their onboarding journeys to the needs of their team and employee.
Take the sales team and developers, for instance. Both groups need the same introduction to the company culture and policies. But the role-based onboarding they need is very different.
Developer onboarding, on the other hand, requires much more complex and technical product knowledge.
❓ Why is company onboarding important?
Many companies rush through company onboarding in favor of role-based onboarding. But organizations that skip over company onboarding miss out on a ton of benefits for all employees.
It all goes back to creating an excellent employee experience for all new joiners. With the rise of remote work and an influx of younger workers, it’s time for companies to take employee experience seriously. This way, everyone wins.
Here are just some of the benefits you can reap when you develop company onboarding as part of your employee experience:
According to McKinsey, a positive employee experience makes new hires eight times more likely to stay at your organization. It’s clear — investing in your employee experience pays off.
👀 Company onboarding process overview
If you’re new to the idea of company onboarding, you might be wondering what the process looks like from start to finish.
Here’s a quick overview of the phases of company onboarding. Later on, we’ll dive even deeper into everything you need to cover in a company onboarding journey.
Creating a fantastic employee experience through company onboarding begins even before the new hire’s first day.
Often called preboarding, this stage gets some paperwork out of the way and gets new joiners excited about their role.
Building excitement helps calm new hires’ nerves so they can feel confident and prepared walking into day one on the job. You can add to your employee preboarding experience by sending welcome packages or setting up team meet-and-greets ahead of their start date.
In their first few days at your company, have new joiners participate in orientation.
New employee orientation is a brief and concentrated process where groups of recent hires learn about the company. It typically includes mandatory paperwork and training as well as information about company policies and procedures.
Don’t settle for a day-long employee orientation in place of a true company onboarding experience. Extending company onboarding beyond orientation is key in reaping the employee retention benefits it brings.
Company onboarding continues throughout the new hire’s first week. After that, you can extend it even further if it suits your company.
During the rest of the company onboarding process, emphasize building relationships with your new hire throughout the organization. While they should spend plenty of time getting to know their team, it’s also essential to get new team members familiar with people from other departments too.
A formal company onboarding process can last just a couple of days to a week, depending on the structure of your organization. Once company onboarding concludes, shift new hires into role-based onboarding led by their manager.
Throughout employee onboarding, you can reinforce topics covered during orientation through microlearning journeys. This helps employees truly absorb vital information about your company.
📝 7 essential parts of company onboarding
Developing a comprehensive but concise overview of your entire company can feel overwhelming. What should you include? What do new employees want to know, and what isn’t all that helpful?
To make it as easy as possible for you to create your own company onboarding checklist, we’ve created this list of key components.
Give new employees the inside scoop on how your company got its start. This is especially helpful for small businesses, startups, and mission-oriented organizations, where the company history is integral to the brand.
Company history might sound like a dry topic, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, make it interesting by alluding to company lore, inside jokes, or other pieces of the culture new hires should know.
Culture and values
What does working at your company look like and feel like?
You need to answer this question when discussing your company culture and values.
It’s helpful to provide an overview of company values along with examples of these values in action.
To reinforce company values, leverage the value of microlearning. With Zavvy, you can deliver brief lessons on company culture via Slack to keep new hires regularly engaged and create recurring touch points to internalize values.
Product and service overview
Since all employees are representatives of your business, it’s important that they can represent your business to others. Therefore, all new hires should have a good grasp of what your company offers and how it’s unique from its competitors.
Make sure to include this information in your product overview:
Main products or product categories
Unique value or market positioning
Core audiences or brand personas
Ultimately, all of your employees should be able to identify a prospective customer easily.
Role-based onboarding requires product training too, but that training will depend on the needs of the role. Sales might need more knowledge of the customer-facing features, while engineers will need more technical knowledge.
Annual leave policies
Unsurprisingly, many new employees want to know about company leave policies and other benefits from day one. Benefits and leave are key parts of many compensation packages, so be sure to give this topic the appropriate attention.
Make sure each new employee understands the following about annual leave:
It’s essential to include annual leave in company onboarding, so every employee understands the policies the same way. With a consistent message around annual leave, you’ll mitigate inequities around time off.
Benefits and perks
Annual leave isn’t the only benefit employees should know about. Cover everything else your company offers employees so new hires can fully appreciate working with you.
Benefits can include everything from health insurance and stock options to gym memberships or weekly lunches. No matter what perks your company offers, make sure every employee knows how to access what they need.
It’s smart to create resources for this kind of information so employees can refer to it later. If some benefits kick in only after a certain length of time, you can create an automated journey in Zavvy to help the new hire access those benefits as soon as they’re eligible.
Tool access and setup
In our digital-first world, a lot of tool setup for an office can be taken care of ahead of time or even automatically. During company onboarding, allow time for troubleshooting things like password resets or missing API keys — just in case.
You can create task checklists in Zavvy to make sure new hires take care of all their basic tool setup:
You shouldn’t have to teach your new employees how to use essential office tools, but you can help them understand the nuances of how your company uses these tools. Here are a few examples of tool-related questions you can help new hires answer:
When should I send a Slack message instead of an email?
How do I access shared calendars?
What email do I use to log in to our HR software?
Who do I contact for password resets?
New hires will get more detailed tool training on their team, so stick to company-wide tools like email, instant messaging, and calendar systems.
Office tour and introductions
Offer new hires a full office tour and key introductions as soon as you can. While this might seem tricky if you’re in a remote office or hybrid work setting, it’s just as important no matter what the environment.
Helping new hires get familiar with the office environment is a huge factor in making them feel comfortable and welcome. Knowing where to go and seeing a few friendly faces can do wonders for calming a nervous new employee and curating a welcoming experience.
If you’re in a hybrid work office, consider giving new hires a video tour of the office setting. Use a smartphone to do a mobile video call as you walk around the office, pointing out important or interesting things.
If your office is fully remote, you’ll have to be a bit more creative. For example, consider webinar-style video calls with breakout rooms to introduce new hires to employees from other departments. Or set up a regular cadence of virtual meet-and-greets with people from around the company.
Keep virtual tours and introductions casual and fun. Send icebreakers for new hires to answer, or send coffee and tea packages so even remote employees can enjoy a cup of coffee together.
➡️ What comes after company onboarding?
When formal company onboarding comes to a close, it’s time to turn your new hire fully to role-based onboarding.
From this point, the new employee will work closely with their team to understand the processes and tools they need to perform well. Formal employee onboarding typically takes six to twelve months, depending on the organization and the complexity of the role.
Even after onboarding concludes, role-based training isn’t over. Ongoing employee training and development is critical to developing your entire workforce and planning for business changes.
As you develop your company onboarding plan, keep these best practices in mind.
Consistency is key in company onboarding, but that doesn’t mean you have to enforce rigid rules. Be mindful of teams with different role-based needs and allow flexibility in their company onboarding process.
For example, sales teams tend to focus more urgently on time-to-productivity since they contribute so directly to the bottom line. They may need a modified company onboarding plan to allow for more role-based training in week one.
Automate with onboarding software
Providing a consistent onboarding experience is a challenge even for small businesses, and it only gets more difficult as you grow. To mitigate this, invest in employee onboarding software like Zavvy.
With this kind of platform, you can build custom onboarding journeys and automatically assign them to new hires. People Ops and hiring managers get insight into role-based and company onboarding progress for everyone.
You can even automate things like
📅 Scheduling orientation meetings, department intros,...
🔄 Collecting feedback every step of the way to improve your process
Create a template
Developing a template for company onboarding helps you be consistent with every new employee while leaving room for change when needed.
Our employee onboarding checklist template walks you through everything you need to do for both company onboarding and role-based onboarding. Adapt this onboarding template to your company needs, then load it into your employee onboarding software to make it even easier to manage.
⚙️ Automate your company onboarding process with Zavvy
Ready to build the company onboarding program you wish you had as a new hire? Build your onboarding journey in Zavvy, where you can automate assignments and instantly track new hire progress.
Platforms like Zavvy offer a cohesive experience for all new joiners, contributing to a shared company culture and a sense of employee satisfaction. You can seamlessly move employees from company onboarding to role-based onboarding to ongoing training and development with a single tool.
Alex is a marketer at Zavvy. On this blog, he mainly shares insights gained from discussions with selected experts and from helping our customers set up and improve their onboarding or learning programs.