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The Do’s and Don’ts When Onboarding New Hires

Yes, hiring new employees is a complex process.  Yes, you have spent a good amount of time and money to find smart and innovative talent to add to your team.  Yes, you have set high goals and expectations for your new employees to meet.  Yes, you know that employee retention begins on the first day of the job.  Yes, you know the best retention tool you have is the employee’s overall relationship with his or her manager.  And yes, you know how powerful first impressions are.  Unfortunately, many employers know all of those facts yet stop short of completing a proper onboarding process to allow new employees to seamlessly integrate into their companies.

As a business owner, you have a lot at stake in how you welcome and orient your new employee.  Here are the do’s and don’ts when onboarding new employees:


  1. Create a written draft of your orientation and onboard plan detailing how new employees can be efficiently and seamlessly onboarded. What will their first day look like?  Who will they meet with and what topic will they discuss?  How will you teach them what their responsibilities are?  Who will they directly work with?  How will they learn your internal company systems?

  2. Group new hires together. If possible, try to schedule new hires on the same or similar start dates so they can be educated together.  Not only will this save you time, but it will give your new hires a friendly face or two with whom to learn together.  This also presents a great opportunity for people from different departments or teams to meet and it will build cross-functional relationships in your company.

  3. Send an email out to everyone in the company a couple of days before the employee’s start date so they are prepared to welcome the new hire.

  4. Prior to their start date, inform new hires of what they should bring on the first day, i.e., two forms of ID, a computer, etc. Let your new hires know not only the office address, but if there is a specific place they are to park or if your office is close to a subway stop to add less stress to their commute on the first day.  Don’t forget to confirm their start date, start time, work dress code, and exactly where to go.

  5. Introduce new employees to their team members and assign each a mentor. A mentor can help new employees integrate into their new workplaces and interested, friendly coworkers will increase employee retention and satisfaction from the first day on the job.

  6. Schedule lunches throughout the first week for the new hire to meet with different coworkers. The new hire’s direct supervisor and mentor should also attend these lunches.  You want to provide the new hire with the opportunity to meet many coworkers from the company so they feel welcomed and part of the new workplace.

  7. Create an employee playbook that provides a simple overview of your company. Include your values, mission, perks and policies.  It is also a good idea to include who your stakeholders or customers are, what success looks like for your organization, a description of your company’s culture, and who your team members are (including pictures and  a fun fact about each teammate).

  8. Develop a list of FAQ’s. Compile the 5 to 10 questions every new hire asks you within the first six months and provide detailed answers.  You should review this list of questions during the onboarding process.  Not only will this save you time but it will allow your new hires to answer their own questions without seeking out your guidance as often.

  9. Set up attainable 30, 60 and 90 day goals. By providing a few easily achievable goals new hires will find immediate success and will be re-energized about their decision to join your company.


  1. Forget the new hire’s start date and leave them at reception for a half-hour while the reception staff figures out what to do with them or who is expecting them. It is important to welcome new hires in a supportive, informed way.  Reception staff should be prepared to greet the new employee. Remember, welcoming new hires at reception is the first impression you get to make.

  2. Leave the new employee in the noisy lobby to fill out paperwork and read and sign off on a 100 page employee manual for an hour. Instead, send the manual and paperwork to the new employee ahead of time.  Build in a little bit of time during the first day for HR to answer any questions they may have.  But remember, the first day is your last chance to make a positive impression on your new employee.  Don’t waste that first day by having the new employee fill out paperwork and only meet with HR.

  3. Fail to assign or set up the new employee’s workstation. There is no better way to completely turn off an employee than scrambling to organize a work area, set up an email address, phone system, or computer for the new employee.  A desk or office is the new employee’s “home” at your company, so setting it up before hand and even personalizing it with a nameplate lets new hires know you care about them.  Employers may also include a welcome gift – such as a mug with the company’s logo on it or a stack of business cards.

  4. Only show the new hire where their work area is. Give new hires a tour of the office and be sure to include where the kitchen, break room, supply closets, and restrooms are located.  There is nothing worse than having a new hire aimlessly wander around the office looking for supplies or the kitchen and not having the confidence to simply ask.

  5. Assign a new hire to another employee who has a major, career-impacting deadline in a couple of days. Or worse, schedule the new hire to start their new job while their manager is on vacation or out of the office. Remember, new hires have needs and require guidance.  A manager who shows they have the time commitment to onboard and mentor a new employee will ensure a long, fruitful relationship.

  6. Give the new employee busy work that is not related to their core job description because their supervisor is busy. New employees want to feel productive and immediately valued.  Let new employees make a contribution to their team on the first day.

  7. Forget to check in with new hires on a regular basis over the first 90 days of their employment. Remember the 30, 60 and 90 day goals you set out for your new hire to achieve?  If you don’t check in regularly with them how will you know if they have met your expectations?  Schedule either a formal or informal meeting, even a meal with the person to check in.  This is also an opportunity for you to get feedback on the onboarding process as a whole.  It is critical for employers to use feedback from new hires to improve their onboarding process and to increase employee retention and overall morale.  Have new employees tell you what they liked best and how the orientation process could be improved, made faster, easier or more engaging.  Not only will you receive valuable feedback, but you will establish the clear message that your company values that new employee’s input and you expect them to speak their mind to better improve the organization.

Remember, you are onboarding a person, not onboarding the role.  It’s easy to skimp on the orientation process by thinking “they’re smart, they’ll figure it out.”  Failing to think of the onboarding process as an opportunity to inspire new employees increases the chance you will make a bad first impression on new hires.  Follow these do’s and don’ts when onboarding new employees and you will increase productivity and employee retention.


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