5 key elements for your onboarding process

When thinking of your onboarding process, go through each of these 5 key elements!

Β min. read
July 24, 2023

When we talk about new employee onboarding, you can think of it as a process, a plan, a program, an experience, a workflow, a schedule, a sequence of interactions, and so much more, all at once! Those first 90+ days a new employee spends with their organization are key to their success. This means they must include a lot of different things.

When you think of your onboarding process, here are 5 things you're going to want to bare in mind.

1. Length πŸ“

How long do you envision your onboarding process being? Some say onboarding never ends (Forbes), but we can at least treat the first few weeks & months as a more intensive, projectized portion of the overall onboarding plan. As the leader running the onboarding process, you can put more focus & attention onto executing precisely and efficiently within that first window of time.

The first thing to think about when approaching your onboarding process is, how long do you want the initial focus to be? We suggest starting with a truly manageable length and then moving up from there. Is there a new employee or cohort starting in a few weeks? Take a few hours now to carefully map out how their first 2 weeks will go. When you've gotten through that onboarding cycle, gather feedback, then go back to make improvements. Maybe you are ready to add another 2 weeks of planning, resources, etc. for the next set of new hires. This way, you gradually build up a lengthier and more holistic onboarding process without needing to overinvest.

2. Content πŸ“Ό

What content are you delivering to your new employees? Is it all written? Just videos? 5 or 6 meetings? Similar to above, the idea is not to create an entire media empire simply to onboard and engage your new employees. Your onboarding process should contain an interesting, but manageable variety of content. When thinking through this, you can jot down what that mix looks like to get a quick visual, for example:

  • 5 slide decks
  • 3 videos
  • 2 articles
  • 1 product demo
  • 7 meetings
  • 8 software accesses
  • etc.

Here's ours at Aboard (for general onboarding, not team specific):

  • 6 software accesses
  • 5 meetings
  • 3 documents to fill out
  • 4 readings
  • 3 surveys
  • 3 activities/games
  • 3 videos
  • 4 misc. actions to do

As you can see, quite the variety, and we're only a team of 7 right now! Here's what some of that first day activity looks like in our Aboard platform:

We organize our content in Aboard and deliver it in a few clicks

Think through your content line up and then πŸ‘‡

3. Timeline ⏳

Any good onboarding process (or project) generally needs a timeline to adhere to. As a simple way to start, you can think of it as:

  1. What needs to happen before that new employee starts
  2. What happens the day that new employee starts
  3. What happens in the days/weeks after that new employees starts

Bucketing it in this way really helps to think of what needs to happen in sequence.

Low hanging fruit for before that new employee starts are to nail software access setup, sending out some welcome communications to the new employee and team, and ensure everyone is aware that new person is joining and how they will be involved in their onboarding journey.

The day that new employee starts is a toughie, it is very time sensitive to move quickly on connecting with that new employee and getting them up and running. This means having those welcome conversations, making introductions, and giving them access to the curated content you've planned & organized for them.

From there on, similar to a good ad campaign, you should endeavour for your onboarding process to provide ongoing interactions and content for that new employee. They will start to gradually pick up role responsibilities and tasks, but don't let up on providing as much crucial, company (or role-specific) information that will serve them in the long run.

4. Assignments πŸ™‹

Once you've got your length, content, and timeline all lined up, it's time to get the team involved.

We use the term "assignees" here because that is exactly what you are doing, assigning responsibility to everyone involved in the onboarding process. This includes:

  • The onboarding lead (yourself)
  • Hiring manager (potentially also the onboarding lead πŸ‘†)
  • Buddy (a colleague, on a different team, who represents the organization well)
  • Team leaders (or at least senior members from each team)
  • Senior leadership (i.e. 30 minutes with the CEO/President, etc.)

Ensure all meeting times with these stakeholders are set so that new employee makes valuable connections while also getting a good overview of how the organization operates. It is so important to get everyone on the same page and understanding how important their role in the onboarding process is.

One easy way to tackle this is to have a single source of truth. Somewhere that the entire team can quickly check and visualize how things are going. Spreadsheets were great for this (in the 90s), but there are newer more exciting platforms to help with this now πŸ‘€

Quickly view assignees and whether they've done their sh*t or not!

5. Scalability πŸ“ˆ

Finally, a key thing to consider for your onboarding process is scalability. You've put together an awesome onboarding process, you've picked a length to focus & grow from, you've got your content lined up, and your timeline with all necessary assignees, now comes the crucial question. How easily will this scale if you start hiring 2x, 5x, or even 10x faster. Maybe you work for an organization that is likely to raise external funding and scale quickly, rapid scale can happen quickly!

The best thing you can do is to try and automate and plan for as much scalability and rapid growth as possible. At worst, your onboarding will run so smoothly that even if you only onboard 1 or 2 people a month, you'll have so much extra time to work on other strategic objectives. At best, you'll be able to onboard 10 or 100 new employees with little different in manual time required. Curious how you can better plan for scalability, we're here to help!

A great onboarding process needs all of these key elements

Putting it all together, when thinking about your onboarding process, look at it through the lense of:

  1. Length - how long do you want it to be today (even as a start)?
  2. Content - what mix are you providing to your new employees?
  3. Timeline - when does everything happen in relation to the new employee start date?
  4. Assignees - who needs to be involved and are they aware of their part to play?
  5. Scalability - how quickly can your process scale to meet increasing hiring demands?

Curious how you can better tackle some or all of these key elements, let Aboard help!

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