• eileen@hrxconsultingllc.com

On-Boarding Done Right

You have found the right person – they accepted your offer and you are so excited about them filling your vacancy. Flash to that person– they are really happy that you chose them, but there is some apprehension on their part – what are they walking into? The hiring process doesn’t end at the offer – it’s only just begun! On-Boarding is the continuation of the hiring process and it starts the retention and eventual engagement process – if you get that far with this new hire!

If you do not have an On-Boarding process set up yet…you need one! So, let’s get it set up! Here’s what you need: the right mindset! You need to think about this new relationship from the new hire’s perspective, as well as yours. What should every new situation be? Welcoming – Comfortable – Positive – Inspiring!


When you send your new hire your official offer letter – make it exciting! Let them know how very glad you are they accepted the opportunity to join your team! Give them the information about where and when they are to report, with whom they will check-in, and let them know what to except that first day. The letter is going to provide them the details of the position, the title, FLSA status, pay, supervisor, work schedule, and any benefits that were negotiated (e.g. extra vacation) and/or are available to that position.

Send your new hire the link for completing their new hire paperwork (if you’ve gone electronic), if not, send them (via email or US Mail) all of the paperwork they will need to complete and bring with them to their New Employee Orientation (their 1stday). This new hire paperwork consists of: I-9, W-4, your state’s income tax withholding form, e.g. K-4 for Kansas, direct deposit form (if you use that), emergency contact information, and employee identification form. Clearly state they are to bring with them on their first day, the documentation listed on the I-9 forms (their choice of which ones from the table on page 3 of the I-9 form).


Think back on a time you started a new job – it was all new. You had no idea where anything was, who anyone was, and what to expect. That is a typical way people start out their new job, but you can do much, much better!

Prepare for your new hire’s first day. If this position will need business cards, order them and have them ready sitting on his or her desk! Make sure all of the equipment needed is set up and ready to go. If this employee will be using a computer, make sure all of the programs needed are secured and just waiting for the new password. Ensure the work area is fully stocked with the tools and supplies they will need. Instruction manuals on how to use the phone, log-in for various programs, tools, etc. should also be readily available.


New Employee Orientation (NEO), is your new hire’s first day. This is the moment where your new hire is going to get their first glimpse at whether everything on your website is true or trash. They decided to accept your offer based on what they read, heard, and hope is true. Now their own personal perception begins! Share with them the purpose, drive and motivation of your organization. Let them know the history and challenges you have overcome to be where you are today. Be honest – talk warts, scars, failures and successes. Let them know what you’re challenged with now and how you’re addressing it and how they will be helping.


Share with them the ways they are going to help make a difference! How their work in your company makes a difference and impacts society. It does NOT matter what position your new hire will be holding – everyone in your organization impacts your customers – it is YOUR job to understand and communicate how this position is critical to your success! For example, the crew member who cleans the lunchroom doesn’t just sweep and clear off tables. This person helps ensure their fellow employees have a clean and healthy area to take a break so they can re-charge themselves to be able to serve the clients with a positive and helpful attitude. Everyone needs to understand how, what they do, makes a difference and impacts the company, the customers (internal or external) they serve and how that impacts society.

There are always compliance issues to address during NEO, non-discrimination and anti-harassment, workplace safety, code of conduct, etc. But here’s the bottom line – it shouldn’t be just compliance, it should be part of your culture! You will review those policies you have in place. Yes, some are legally required, but they should be how things truly are at your organization. Think about that – does it reflect your culture? Will your new hire hear one thing at NEO and see another when they get into their job?

You also want to make sure during NEO you get Identification badges done, the I-9 documents examined and documented, and other paperwork completed. You will want to communicate about the next steps of the On-Boarding process.

During NEO, plan for a meal to be brought in or take the new hire(s) out to lunch. To help your new hire integrate more easily into their new position, assign him or her a “Partner”, someone who is assigned to them throughout the on-boarding process. The Partner should be introduced at this time – the lunch. This person is their “go to” person for any number of reasons – mostly questions: Where …? What….? How…..? Why….? The Partner should be someone with tenure and is a good reflection of the culture and not his or her supervisor.

Day Two for the New Hire

If NEO is only half a day, you can start the next part of the On-Boarding process in the afternoon. It’s the job of the new hire’s supervisor to take them around and introduce them to all of their co-workers. If the intranet shows photos of employees, that is extremely helpful! Critical areas such as restrooms, breakrooms, vending machines, and other commonly referred to areas are to be shown to the new hire by the supervisor.

A training schedule should be established by the supervisor to cover all of the equipment, processes and areas of responsibility of the new hire. This training should be prioritized and distributed throughout the first few weeks. If there is any required compliance training, i.e. hazardous materials, anti-harassment, etc., it should be included in this schedule.

Probationary/Introductory Period

The purpose of a Probationary/Introductory (P/I) Period is to see how well the new hire works out in their position and in the company culture. It is very possible there could be varying P/I Periods for different positions, i.e. some positions may require a longer learning curve. The employee should be advised of the length of the P/I Period and what to expect during that time.

For the remainder of the new hire’s P/I Period, the supervisor should provide information to the new hire on how he or she will be evaluated, e.g. establish performance goals, receiving an evaluation at the end of this period, etc. There should be regular meetings between the new hire and supervisor, e.g. daily briefings, weekly 1:1, bi-weekly 1:1, monthly 1:1, staff meetings, etc. These meetings do not have to be long meetings (it’s best if they are NOT). The purpose of the meetings is to encourage dialogue, answer questions, provide guidance, direction and feedback.

Sometimes, the person you thought you hired is not the same person who shows up for work. Depending on your company’s policy, you may not have to follow a progressive disciplinary process, if the new hire is seeming to not be working out. If you believe you have provided ample opportunities for the new hire to learn and understand what is expected, you can advise the new hire of that fact and terminate the employment. Unless there are extreme and egregious issues, the new hire’s record should reflect he or she is eligible for rehire.

The new hire also uses this time to determine if your company is everything he or she thought it would be. They could decide to leave during this time and that should be with no hard feelings and no “not eligible for rehire” on his or her record.

Per your company’s policy, at the end of the P/I Period, you should follow the policy as to how the new hire is handled. Some organizations might allow the new hire to be eligible for benefits, receive a pay increase, or just be notified that he or she has passed their P/I Period. You do not want to communicate there is any “permanency” to the position now. It is important to remind the employee, if you are in a “At Will” state (unless there is a contractual agreement), they still can be terminated at any time, for any reason (except an illegal one), with or without notice. The employee can also quit their job for any reason or no reason without notice. However, policy should dictate how employee’s benefits, who quit without notice, will be handled.

At the end of the P/I Period, survey your new hire on their experience. You want to know if what you said they would receive, they received. You want to know if their experience was helpful in learning their new role and feeling welcomed into your company. Ask for suggestions on how things could be improved.

By establishing this type of On-Boarding process, you will be ensuring a good start for a stronger employment relationship. By demonstrating support for the immediate and future success of your new hire, you are paving the way for a more engaged employee.

You can request a free “On-Boarding Checklist” on my website’s Resource Tab. If you would like assistance with designing an On-Boarding Program or with any HR Headache, contact me and I will be happy to help!

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