Explore top onboarding practices in our guide, from icebreakers to buddy systems and personalized welcome gestures. Learn how to streamline the process with technology, foster early connections, and gather crucial feedback to ensure new hires are onboarded with efficiency and warmth, setting the stage for their success and your company’s retention goals.
Best onboarding process examples
1. Take Time for Introductions and Icebreakers
First impressions matter—so if you want new hires to feel welcomed and included, start their first day with a team meeting, in person or virtually.
Technology can help you create those connections even when teams are dispersed across locations. For example, you can help teams get to know their new members with a virtual icebreaker:
- Team Trivia: Have everyone submit a strange or unusual fact about themselves, and the team has to guess who is connected to each fact (use a polling app like Kahoot!).
- New Hire Questionnaire: Invite the new hire to fill out a get-to-know-you questionnaire with questions about their hobbies, interests, and even favorite treats.
It’s especially important that employees get to know their managers better than they would in the hiring interviews.
You don’t want to bog down a new employee’s first day on the job. Instead of spending hours manually filling out paperwork, we recommend automating these steps with employee self-onboarding software.
For example, BambooHR’s onboarding technology allows you to gather electronic signatures for all the necessary employment paperwork, like I-9s and W-4s.
- Company Policies
- The employee handbook
- Getting to know their manager and teammates
Did you know electronic signatures can help you save up to $300 and 30 hours for every new hire?
2. Pair New Hires with an Onboarding Buddy
Workplace friendships and positive team relationships can be a huge boon for employee engagement and retention. In addition to giving your new hire a brief introduction to the team, assign them a partner or buddy to help them get those friendships started early.
An onboarding buddy also helps new hires build crucial connections not just to the people but to the organization as well, including:
- Giving new hires an insider’s understanding of the culture and structure of the organization
- Increasing time to productivity—by up to 97% for new hires who met with their onboarding buddy more than eight times in their first 90 days
- Helping new hires feel more satisfied with their new job
- Providing more support from the new hire’s manager and broader team
3. Send Company Swag
There are all sorts of options out there for branded swag: Coffee mugs, t-shirts, hats, the list goes on and on. Whether you choose a small gift or something more elaborate, it should be relevant and meaningful to the people receiving it and also further the onboarding experience.
For example, at BambooHR, we send every new hire a copy of Crucial Conversations, a book used by nearly half the Forbes Global 2000. As new hires adjust to life at BambooHR, we rely on the book’s core concepts to approach difficult conversations. It’s a helpful, actionable introduction to our values and culture.
4. Invite New Hires to Lunch
Help new hires build connections by treating them to a company-paid lunch with their immediate team, other employees in their department, or collaborators across the organization.
To help ease the possible awkwardness of a virtual lunch, here’s another onboarding idea to consider: a trivia game!
Keep in mind: Onboarding programs should last well beyond the first day or even the first month, for that matter—we’ve found that longer and slower onboarding drives better results.
5. Stock Up on Their Favorite Snacks
A powerful way to show new employees they matter is in the seemingly small details. So even if it might seem trivial, making sure you have a bag of honey-roasted peanuts or a king-size Twix ready is an easy way to show you’re paying attention.
With this simple gesture, you’re making new hires feel instantly comfortable, especially if they’re a remote employee who won’t be able to partake in all your in-office perks.
6. Announce New Hires on Social Media
Posting about new hires on social media is your chance to throw some virtual confetti, put your new people in the spotlight, and earn brownie points with future candidates to boot. It shows everyone that you value your new hires and you’re proud to have them join your organization.
It’s also a good idea to invite new hires to post their own announcement. To make this easier, provide new hires with a ready-made social graphic they can post without having to craft a whole message themselves.
7. Offer In-Person Training for New Remote Employees
If your remote employees live far away—and your budget allows it—consider bringing new hires to your headquarters for in-person training during their initial onboarding period.
Even if remote employees won’t be on location, an in-person meeting will nurture their sense of belonging, allow them to meet coworkers, and get a “feel” for the office culture.
For virtual onboarding, we recommend:
- Make sure all team meetings include a video call link
- Encouraging employees to keep project management software up to date
- Giving all employees access to instant messaging software (such as Teams or Slack)
8. Help Remote Employees Set Up Their Home Office
Just as you’d set up a cubicle or desk for an on-site employee, it’s important to make sure new remote employees have all the equipment they need on day one.
Since remote workers won’t come to a physical office, you’ll need to send them a company laptop. As an added perk, you can restock their office supplies with items like:
- Branded notebooks or other paper goods
- A stipend or reimbursement for home office supplies furniture
- A stipend for internet access
- Gift cards for coffee shops or home food delivery services
9. Ask for Feedback With an Onboarding Survey
Every new employee has a different perspective on your onboarding program, so why not ask for their input with a simple survey?
This survey will help you find areas where your onboarding program can improve. Additionally, the process of seeking feedback can make employees feel valued and heard, which is important for their engagement and satisfaction.
Start building your survey by focusing on these key categories:
- First-day experience
- Training and resources
- Relationships with colleagues and managers
- Company culture and values
Putting together a powerful onboarding process doesn’t have to be complex, but it does need to be thoughtful. By automating paperwork, making introductions, and showing your employees you care about their success, you’ll start every new employee’s journey off on the right foot. Good luck!