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What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of integrating newly hired employees into the organization and its culture, along with their new team and role.

Why is Onboarding Important?

Effective onboarding begins prior to hire. Onboarding should help new employees feel welcomed, supported, and informed. Retention rates and productivity, as well as positive company culture, are all common results of effective onboarding. 

Onboarding Objectives:

  • Organizational Acclimation and Integration: Welcome and integrate newly hired employees into the organization’s origin story, history, culture, values, and operations.
  • Role Clarity: Clearly define role responsibilities. Set goals and objectives, schedule regular check-ins, provide necessary resources & tools, and encourage open communications. 
  • Self-Efficacy: Employee empowerment. Empower employees in their ability to perform their new role by providing clear expectations, resources, and support to new employees.
  • Social Integration: Connectedness to new peers. Help build connections with the use of games or other tools that encourage interactions with peers.
  • Knowledge of Culture: Understanding policies, history, values, and social rules. Establish a strong foundation with orientation, specific job training, common documentation & resources (i.e., a handbook), cross-functional exposure, and ongoing support.

Why is this Topic Different for Employment Social Enterprises?

Onboarding for employment social enterprises may differ from traditional onboarding processes due to the unique nature of the organizations and their missions. They may also need to make additional accommodations to ensure that new employees can acclimate to the work environment, including the physical and digital environments.

If you’re interested in learning more about onboarding specifically for participant workers, check out out this overview document in the Employee Success Program section – 

Best Practices

Here are some best practices for onboarding:

  • Develop a comprehensive onboarding program: Onboarding plan should align with the organization’s values and operations, covering all essential aspects, including orientation, job-specific training, company policies, and cultural norms.
  • Get to know the new employee: Ask about how they’d like to be addressed (name, pronouns); as well as preferred communication style, work style, and celebration and recognition preferences.
  • Acclimate to the organization: Provide new employees with a comprehensive overview of the organization’s mission, history, culture, and short- and long-term vision and goals.
  • Assign a buddy or mentor (if possible): The mentor or buddy should be available to answer questions and help the new employee acclimate to the work environment, providing additional support and guidance as needed.
  • Schedule regular check-ins and feedback: Provide regular check-ins to ensure that new employees feel supported and engaged. This includes feedback sessions to discuss the employee’s progress and any concerns they may have.
  • Provide continuous learning and development: Provide ongoing learning and development opportunities to support the growth and professional development of new employees. This can include training programs, workshops, or access to resources and mentorship.

Foundational Concepts

There are several key concepts that underpin effective onboarding:

  • Organizational onboarding: Onboarding should help new employees understand the overall organization and how their role fits into it. This includes information on the organization’s origin story and history, mission, goals, and values.
  • HR onboarding: Onboarding should include information on HR policies and procedures, such as new hire paperwork, benefits enrollment, time-off policies, and employee handbooks.
  • Team onboarding: Onboarding should help new employees understand the team they will be working with, including team goals, roles, and responsibilities.
  • Role/job onboarding: Onboarding should include training and development opportunities that align with the employee’s specific role and responsibilities.
  • Culture onboarding: Onboarding should help new employees understand the organization’s culture and values. This includes the values and principles that are unique to social enterprises.
  • Work environment onboarding: Onboarding should include information on the physical and digital work environment, such as office layout, technology tools, and communication channels.

Concepts in Action

This sample onboarding plan incorporates foundational concepts of effective onboarding.

Pre-Start: Welcome and Needs Assessment

  • Send a welcome email and packet with organizational materials, including a clear outline of the onboarding process and expectations.
  • Get to know the employee by requesting information on their needs assessment to determine the new hire’s learning preferences, goals, and any accommodations needed.
  • Make any reasonable and necessary accommodations to the office set-up based on the survey results.

Week 1: Orientation and Organizational Onboarding

  • HR representative or team member greets and welcomes the new employee to the organization and their team on their first day.
  • New employee attends an orientation session on the organization’s history, vision, and impact to establish clear goals and expectations.
  • New employee meets with dedicated team members to connect the new hire’s work to the organization’s mission.

Weeks 2-4: Role and Team Onboarding

  • Provide new employee training on systems, tools, and role-specific skills to provide structured learning.
  • Provide networking opportunities with peers through collaborative projects to provide continuous feedback and support.
  • Include the new employee in team meetings to share ideas and perspectives to further promote a supportive work environment.

Weeks 5-12: Cross-Team Learning + Ongoing Support and Growth

  • Check in regularly with the new employee to review progress and discuss any concerns or questions in order to provide continuous feedback and support.
  • Shadow colleagues across multiple teams to gain a better understanding of the organization’s functions to support a structured onboarding program.
  • Invite the new employee to participate in social team-building activities to build relationships with colleagues (these should be optional based on the new hire’s preferences).
  • Support employee in their professional development to further develop skills and knowledge to provide opportunities for learning and support ongoing growth.

Note: This onboarding plan is a sample only and should be adapted to meet the needs of the organization and the new hire.

Success Metrics

To measure the effectiveness of your onboarding process, consider the following success metrics:

  • Retention rates: Measuring retention rates can help determine whether the onboarding process is effective in helping new employees feel supported and engaged.
  • Employee satisfaction: Measuring employee satisfaction can help determine whether the onboarding process is meeting the needs and expectations of new hires.
  • Time-to-integration and productivity: Measuring how long it takes an employee to be integrated and productive (in this context, productivity means adding value and contributing without direct oversight) can help determine whether the onboarding process is effective in setting new hires up for success.

Additional Resources

About S P A C E

S P A C E is a consulting firm that transforms the employee experience by creating a safe and positive work environment for all, particularly those who are most vulnerable to workplace adversity. They offer a range of services, including human-centered HR strategy and advisory, organizational development, and personal and professional development coaching and support.