By: Elles Skony, Head of People at XSELL Technologies


Big yes! The onboarding phase represents the most critical piece of your employee’s experience with your company. Done well, you have increased your company’s success by unlimited multipliers. Done poorly, you have wasted valuable time, energy, and resources.

BambooHR surveyed over 1,000 currently employed Americans and found that nearly a third of them have left a job before crossing the half-year mark. According to the research participants, the top reasons for leaving so soon after starting a new job were poor onboarding experiences, a lack of clarity surrounding job duties and expectations, or a less than a stellar boss.

It’s important to remember that onboarding is not solely administrative; however, it is the mechanism through which new employees acquire the necessary knowledge, skills, and behaviors to become effective organizational members and contributors for long-term success. The first interactions of your new hires cement cultural norms and the behaviors you want to see. Lack of consistency during that experience can lead to divergent new hire views of the organization’s culture, mission, and values. Consistent messaging, however, and positive interactions lead to higher engagement in new hires.


So how can we do it well?

Begin onboarding immediately and create a consistent experience and connections to the company culture for every new hire. In smaller companies especially, you have the opportunity for new hires to meet every single employee. These invites need to be intentional and planned, do not leave it all up to the new hire. Set up the meeting invites prep the rest of the organization on the lens this person is coming from and experience they are bringing, even give them a few fun facts to bridge the conversation.

Once new hires feel connected and we understand their communication style and have established relationships, we can then move into taking the new hire through learning objectives focused on not only the persons day to day job, but how the company makes money, where they fit within their industry, and any other foundational knowledge about the business.

With meaningful connections and foundational understanding of how their job contributes to the larger whole, you then make sure to repeat, check-in, repeat, check-in, and… repeat! Reinforcing the right messages and ways of working in multiple ways, and continuously improving with the new hire’s feedback, is critical during the first 90 days.


Let’s break it down

Why recreate the wheel when LinkedIn has designed it already? Check out their step-by-step tool for onboarding, including templates, tools, and checklists.

We’ve also laid out a few best practice tips for those important timeline moments below.

  • Pre-First Day: Keep it positive, informative, and simple. Show them how excited you are. Welcome them with SWAG and a welcome packet of information! No money for SWAG? Have everyone at the company send them an email welcoming them before their first day – totally free but an amazing feeling! And keep it simple. The more questions you get from new hires on your benefits package, HRIS set up, or anything administrative, it means you are not keeping it simple enough; break it down further.
  • First Day: Keep it high level and fun. Your new hire does not need to dig into a spreadsheet on their first day. Pack their day with fun, energetic learning sessions and introduction meetings with other employees. You want them raving to their significant other or roommate about how they made the right decision and had the best day ever!
  • First Month: Information station. Ensure your new hire has the essential information to be successful in their new role; tech systems, common acronyms, communication tools, slack channels, stakeholders across the company, etc. Ensure that at the end of 30 days, if your new hire has a question, they know exactly who or where to go for the answer.
  • First Quarter: Focus and clarity on their job. When your new hire emerges from their first 90 days, you want them focused and clear on the expectations of their role, the goals they are trying to achieve, and the results that are being measured to determine if they are successful. Training and knowledge transfers should ideally be complete at the end of this first quarter.


Create an inclusive onboarding experience

An inclusive onboarding experience accommodates and supports ALL of your new employees, not just some of them. With inclusion at the forefront, the goal is to invite each person to feel comfortable and welcome during their onboarding experience. They receive the support they need to get acclimated and ultimately can contribute more successfully.

Some ways to do this :

  • Ensure your DEI programs or philosophies are presented and educated on in NHO presentations
  • Buddy program – pair them up with someone else at the organization with conversation prompts to get to know each other’s backgrounds – make sure it’s focused on personal, not just work!
  • Include diverse perspectives – vary the presentations your new hire is receiving to include many voices at the company. If you don’t have many voices, call that out and articulate your vision.


Be specific in the culture you are building

It’s important to establish the dos and don’ts of your culture during this onboarding phase. This can be in the formal format of anti-harassment policies or other important reminders, but it is also in the form of informal cultural norms. Be clear with new hires on what the company does or does not condone, share stories of people who exhibit the core values, be clear on behaviors that are not aligned with your core values. Employee handbooks are not the answer here; cementing cultural norms and walking the walk is how to accomplish this.


In summary

There is no one-stop solution for an onboarding process at your company, although the templates are certainly helpful. The important thing to focus on is the experience. Do your new hires come out of their first week has had a positive experience? Are they able to establish meaningful connections in their first month? And are they set up with the right information, tools, and support to be successful in their role after 90 days? Gauge this through surveys, 1:1’s, or other forms of check-ins to ensure these critical experiences are happening, so you can feel confident you have laid the right foundation towards retention and high performance.


This article was written by Elles Skony, Head of People at XSELL Technologies