Onboarding can mean different things to different organisations, but the aim is always the same: to give new starters the best first impression and to ensure they are prepared for their roles. Although a lot of the onboarding process can seem a bit of a tick and flick exercise, it is possible to make onboarding a fun and positive experience.

There is a lot that needs to be done during the onboarding process, and many people are involved in the collection and distribution of information – HR and payroll managers, team leaders, GMs, recruiters, etc. However, one of the biggest onboarding issues for businesses is information overload. According to ELMO’s 2020 HR Industry Benchmark Report, which surveyed over 1,500 HR professionals in Australia and New Zealand, one-quarter of respondents identified “too much information available” as a top challenge they were facing. So, this begs the question: how much information is too much? What information should be distributed to new starters, and when? And how can businesses strategise their onboarding processes to ensure their new starters are in equal parts prepared for their new role and hungry for more?

Humans can only retain so much information at any one time – one study found that the conscious mind can only store 3 to 5 pieces of information at once. So, to avoid burnout, the key is to drip-feed information so that the employee is only receiving necessary and relevant information – no more and no less. This will help them to retain important items. Below is a guide on what information should be distributed at certain points of the onboarding journey.

Before the employee’s First Day

As soon as an employee accepts their job offer, they are inundated with information about their new employer and new role. Typical job-related information they will receive in the lead up to their First Day is as follows:

  • Employee contract
  • Employee handbook
  • Office details
  • Company overview
  • Day One agenda

New starters may also need to read and complete workplace policies before they begin their new role. These policies may concern the following:

  • Email use
  • Internet use
  • Social media use
  • Alcohol use at company events
  • Attendance
  • Charitable donations
  • Code of conduct
  • Computer and network use
  • Confidential info – classification/handling
  • Conflict of interest
  • Dress code
  • Non-disclosure agreements

It’s likely that before an employee has even completed their First Day on the job, they have already had to consume a large amount of information about their new employer – and there’s plenty more to come.

An employee’s First Day

Day One is all about agenda and orientation. It’s where the new starter is introduced to the team and to the workplace, and where they have first-hand exposure to team rituals and workplace practices. (We all know how overwhelming the first day of work is!)

At risk of overwhelming your new starter, ensure the onboarding plan features activities that are engaging, fun and insightful. Below are some activities that will help them prepare for their role:

  • CEO welcome – whether in-person or a message via social media (e.g. LinkedIn)
  • Company vision, values and history – demonstrate through employee stories and case studies
  • Team introduction – get the new starter up to speed on who’s who, and invite them to team groups on messaging platforms
  • Workplace rituals and ceremonies – ensure they know what to expect day-to-day
  • First day schedule

An employee’s First Week

Week One is much of the same. Once the paperwork is out of the way, it’s all about engagement and role-readiness.

It’s a good idea to assign a buddy to a new starter – someone who can show them the ropes and teach them about the office culture and team quirks and who can introduce them to their new colleagues. A buddy relationship is informal, meaning the new starter will feel comfortable asking any questions, big and small.

Read HROnboard’s ultimate workplace buddy guide here!

An employee’s first 3 months

An employee’s first 3 months in a new role are crucial. During this time, onboarding practices must continue, in addition to probation management. This should consist of:

  • Regular (weekly or bi-weekly) feedback “catch-ups”
  • Setting performance goals that can be monitored and evaluated – via objectives and key results (OKRs) and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Discussing end of probationary period
  • Discussing any further opportunities for professional growth

Setting OKRs is a big piece of the onboarding puzzle. OKRs and KPIs must be communicated to the employee early (though perhaps not in Week One) as they enable organisations to align individual goals to business strategies and will help new starters to gain an understanding of their impact, both at a team level but also at a wider organisational level. OKRs are also a critical measure of performance and will inform performance catch-ups later down the line.

How technology can help

One last thing – onboarding software can help streamline onboarding information distribution. Automating onboarding processes ensure new starters know everything they need to know, that managers are up to date on their onboarding status, and that HR can regain precious time!

HROnboard, an ELMO company, offers a best-in-class software solution that reduces the amount of time HR teams and leaders spend securing the best candidates and undertaking the critical onboarding process for new hires. Our solution also helps manage internal employee role changes and can create a smooth and seamless process for exiting employees.

ELMO Software offers innovative cloud-based HR & payroll solutions to more than 1600 organisations across Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, helping them to manage, engage, and inspire their people. Our solutions span the entire employee lifecycle, from ‘hire to retire’. This includes a comprehensive suite of complementary solutions that further enhance the onboarding experience, namely Recruitment, Learning Management, HR Core, Survey and Connect. For further information, contact us

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