By Nicole Frank, PHR, SHRM-CP, Dave Jones, Inc.

In a continuing tight labor market and ongoing war for talent, it is important to ensure you are not cutting any corners in your onboarding processes with new employees. Just as the recruiting process is an opportunity to market your company to prospective employees, the proper onboarding of these new employees sets the tone for the culture of your company and begins the engagement process. Engaged employees stay and become productive members of your team and can even help you to recruit new talent.

They can also become voices that strongly support your company message. Onboarding employees properly gives you a head start with im-pacting retention. Many new employees will make the decision of staying with your company or leaving your company within the first 90 days of employment. What are you doing to impact that decision? New employee onboarding should start as soon as your can-didate accepts the position. It is vital that you establish a strong message to connect the new hire to your company. Throughout all your communications, be genuine.

Remember your first day at work? Where do I park? How do I dress? What do I need to bring? Who do I ask for? These are just some of the questions that new hires can have on day one. Whether you have a formal new hire orientation process, or you start new hires working right away, it is important that you are providing clear and concise information and welcoming all new hires to your team. Set the tone. Never assume they will know what your expectations or practices are without telling them directly. If your company has a mission, vision, and core values, connect your messaging to those as soon as possible and consistently carry that message throughout the employee lifecycle. This should be your branding and define who you are as an organization. The more this message is repeated – not only by you, but from everyone they speak to – the more your employee base will begin to embody these words as their own and live the core values of your company.

How do you make their day one the best day and one that they will remember? Completing paperwork and making sure employees are compliant – while necessary – is not the way to make it one for the books and have your new hires go home and proclaim, “That was the best first day ever!” Whenever possible, look for ways for your new hires to complete the onboarding paperwork or compliance pieces prior to their orientation or first day on the job.

The focus of day one with a new employee should be engaging them in your processes and focusing on how to get them working and participating as soon as possible. Can information be emailed to them ahead of time to complete and bring with them to the orientation? Can they read your employee handbook or policies before coming in? Can you utilize an HRIS system to automate some of these processes? Always look for ways to simplify the steps that you are currently taking. Again, while it is necessary to complete these steps within onboarding, what are alternative and fresh ways to get this done? How can you accomplish necessary steps within onboarding in a different, sometimes more effective way and get the employee working and making an impact sooner? Be creative and personalize the process to fit your company culture and expectations.

The onboarding process should also allow new employees to meet with various people and make connections throughout the organization. Today, we are getting more work done through others and in a collaborative work environment. Connect new employees to resources – both within your organization and outside – that can help him or her succeed; do this as soon as possible. As you think about your development from day one to today, think about who helped you throughout that journey. Very rarely has anyone walked that path alone. Look for mentors and ways to connect employees with mentors and buddies within your organization. Create connections for these new employees and make sure mentors understand the importance of their roles. Mentors can be people who have walked recently in that person’s shoes, or someone who has been a proven teacher and developer of employees. Mentors hold very important roles within any organization and can help in the retention of employees. Make sure they understand their purpose, value, and the message they are accountable and empowered to support and grow with new employees. Internal mentors and buddies are a resource for new employees. They can be individuals who can provide answers to some of the simple questions new hires have. Perhaps more importantly, they can be there to take others under their wing and help them develop and succeed. They can also inspire them to do great things.


When you connect new employees with their purpose on day one and have them spend time with people throughout the organization, it can provide them with the knowledge they will need to be successful. Again, connect new employees with their purpose and ensure they understand their value and impact to your organization. As existing team members invest their time and knowledge in the new employee onboarding process, it helps support the message that new employees are valued and not seen as a burden. Be prepared for new hires to start and make sure people are prepared and engaged in those interactions. Ensure everyone involved is telling a consistent message and is an ideal messenger for your company.

Have a plan and make sure that everyone involved in the new hire process understands their roles and their responsibilities. The small things can make powerful and lasting impressions. When the new hire walks in the building for the first time, are they greeted with a smile and an understanding of who they are and why they are there? Is their workstation set up and ready for them (computer, e-mail, phone, and office supplies)? Are their business cards or desk name plate ready for them? Are all the tools needed to do their job ready and available for them? Confirm prior to the employee arriving for day one that everyone is on the same page and ready for the new employee. If there is a schedule of events, make sure people know when they are scheduled to start and end, and what message they are responsible for communicating. Be prepared and be professional. First impressions will set the tone and expectations for your company. It is important that you do it right as you do not get a second chance to make a first impression.

While first impressions are important to make, your commitment to new hires must extend beyond day one and continue into their employment. Again, as most new employees will be making decisions on their commitment to your organization within the first 90 days of employment, work to continue to engage and develop people in the early stages of their employment. The old school mentality of “no one trained me,” or “sink or swim” or “just throwing them into the fire” simply does not work in today’s employment environment. Have an onboarding or training plan for new hires to help them feel comfortable within their roles and make sure they are aware of the expectations of the respective positions. Provide them with the support and training tools needed to be successful and truly engage them with your company and their positions. In today’s competitive job market, it is important to make sure that you commit yourself to helping people be successful within your organization. As you find wins in recruiting, make sure you are following the right steps to onboard employees to increase employee satisfaction, strengthen your company culture, and increase retention of employees. Remember, the small things can make a big difference.

Nicole Frank, PHR, SHRM-CP, is Human Resources Manager for ABC member Dave Jones, Inc. 

Recommended Articles
Articles & Papers


Managing Heat Safely
Safety (articles and papers)


Stop Falls Stand-Down week is May 6 to 10
Articles & Papers


Trenching and excavation safety is a year-round responsibility