5 Best Practices for New Hire Onboarding

New hire onboarding

We’ve heard it a million times – first impressions are everything. So why do so many organizations struggle to make a good first impression during new hire onboarding? 

Orientation and onboarding cultivate new-hires’ first impressions of your organization. While the interview process is their first real contact with your company, orientation and onboarding are the first time they get to peer behind the curtain. It’s the first time they get to experience and judge your organization from the inside. 

As such, it’s crucial to create an engaging, friendly, and informative new hire onboarding process. To successfully fulfill their job duties and integrate themselves into your organization’s culture, your new-hires will need a lot of information. 

But how you deliver this information to them is just as important as the actual content of your training and orientation. Although the HR or Talent Management team is responsible for the bulk of the new hire onboarding, leaders in every area of an organization should be vested in the onboarding practices.  

You don’t want to overwhelm your new-hires with so much information that they feel overwhelmed and confused. At the same time, you don’t want to give them such little information that they are unsure what to do, come their first day on the job. 

Creating orientation and onboarding programs that set employees up for success can seem daunting – especially if those programs must be delivered virtually.

With 25-30% of the workforce expected to work remotely by the end of 2021, it’s more important than ever to set up a strong virtual onboarding process.

In this article, we’re giving you 5 best-practices that will make your remote orientation and onboarding a win:

  • Convey company culture
  • Prep for onboarding
  • Make it interactive
  • Foster team connections
  • Get feedback

But first, we’re going to answer a couple of important questions about onboarding and orientation: 

  • Orientation and onboarding: why do they matter?
  • Orientation vs. onboarding: what’s the difference? 

Let’s get started!


Orientation and new hire onboarding are crucial to employees’ short and long-term outcomes at your organization.

For one, they can improve retention. One study found 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they received high-quality onboarding. 

Additionally, the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) reports that, among new-hires who quit within six months, one-third of them received little or no onboarding. 

Quality onboarding and orientation can also boost employee performance and shorten the learning curve. SHRM also reports that new-hires are 62% more productive if they’ve been through a formal onboarding process. 

Finally, great onboarding can drastically improve employee engagement. In fact, 54% of companies with formal onboarding programs had higher levels of employee engagement. 


While some people use “orientation” and “onboarding” interchangeably, they’re actually two different processes. 

Orientation is a distinct event within the greater onboarding process. It’s your way of welcoming and introducing new employees to your organization. Aside from giving out name badges and keycards, as well as completing W2s and health insurance forms, orientations should cover:

  • Company goals
  • Company culture 
  • Introduction to team members 
  • Company policies 
  • Office layout 

By the end of orientation, employees should be ready to begin their training. 

New hire onboarding, on the other hand, is a much longer process that integrates employees into their new role and the organization. Rather than a one-time event, onboarding spans several weeks. Onboarding should provide employees with individualized training about their role while reinforcing the big-picture ideas conveyed in orientation

By the end of onboarding, employees should be able to independently perform all of their duties. They should also be enmeshed in the company culture.


New hire onboarding process

Convey Company Culture

According to Robert Half, 35 percent of executives believe the greatest benefit of new hire onboarding is that it acquaints employees with the company’s values and expectations. 

Onboarding and orientation should be about more than just practical information, like where to save documents. Company culture and values should be emphasized throughout the onboarding process. 

This doesn’t just mean talking about company culture and values. It also means walking-the-walk of company culture. This shows new-hires that employees, leadership, and company standards truly reflect the organization’s mission, values, and culture.

Remember, this is your company’s first impression. You want to show–rather than just tell–your new employees about the culture. 

For example, if your company prides itself on efficiency, but your online training program lacks organization or is redundant–what does that convey about the company culture?

Prep for Onboarding 

A good way to ensure your virtual onboarding and orientation go smoothly is to prep ahead of time. Get as much done before your new-hires come in (or log in) for onboarding as you possibly can. 

One of the best tasks to get out of the way is any kind of log-in or software set-up. This includes company emails, credentials for the training software, permissions to access certain folders, etc. 

Setting up your new employee’s digital tools in advance is especially important when onboarding remotely. Not having accounts arranged beforehand can delay the start of your orientation day, which doesn’t make for a very good first impression! 

This process can be greatly simplified through automation. Platforms like Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow orientation and onboarding tasks to be automated. You can send forms, deliver training modules, collect feedback, measure employee performance, and much more on LMS software. This makes them a must-have tool in the remote-work era. 

Make it Interactive 

One of the biggest fears that business leaders have with regards to remote training and orientations is that they are boring. And these fears are well-founded! In the past, digital training was often boring, outdated, and not interactive.

However, the rapid expansion of the eLearning industry has created a host of fantastic new tools to make your digital onboarding fun and interactive. 

Gamification, for example, is the process of delivering information through a game format. While you can go all-out and have a video game designed for your orientation, businesses can incorporate games into their training without breaking the bank. 

You can create your own customized trivia or Jeopardy game online for free! And this can be delivered easily through any standard video platform that allows you to share your computer screen with viewers. 

Interested in learning more about interactive remote training? Check out our article, 5 Innovative Online Learning Tools That Will Boost Employee Engagement

Foster Team Connections

Starting a job at a place where everybody already knows each other can be intimidating. Orientation and onboarding should always allocate time and space for employees to interact with each other. 

In a remote setting, you have to go above and beyond to foster team connections because there aren’t as many opportunities to organically interact.

There are many ways to nurture team connections online. During your orientation sessions, for example, you can create group activities that require employees to work together. You can also divide the group into break-out rooms where they get the chance to discuss orientation topics with other team members. 

During onboarding, you can assign each new employee a virtual mentor–somebody that they can reach out to when they have questions. For bonus points, you can assign them a mentor from a different department, so they can get to know the employees and functions of other departments! 

Creating connections among employees is important for new-hires. It creates a friendly atmosphere, conveys the company culture, and speeds up the learning process by encouraging peer-to-peer learning. 

Get Feedback 

On orientation day and throughout onboarding, it’s important to check-in with new employees and get their feedback.

This gives you a sense of how they are adjusting to their new role. It also gives you the opportunity to reinforce the company culture through your conversations. Check-ins could be with Human Resources staff or supervisors. 

To streamline and organize the feedback process, create a feedback schedule where you hold video calls with new-hires at certain intervals.

For example, you might meet with a new-hire at the end of their first day, at the end of their first week, at the three-week mark, etc.  

During these meetings, you’ll want to ask questions that help you identify things like:

  • How prepared they feel for their new role
  • Any challenges they’ve encountered
  • What additional resources they need to be successful 
  • How well they understand their day-to-day responsibilities 

Feedback can also be collected via online survey forms. Whether you choose online forms or video calls, just make sure to create opportunities for new employees to give feedback throughout the onboarding process!


Orientation and new hire onboarding can drive short-term and long-term outcomes for new-hires. As workplaces become increasingly digital, it’s important to create quality onboarding programs for new employees. 

Incorporating these 5 tips into your remote onboarding and orientation can set your new employees up for success! 

Is your business transitioning to remote onboarding? Contact us today to speak with one of our learning & development experts!

“A vision cannot be realized without the ability to execute.”

Khris K. Bhattan
President, RTG Solutions Group
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