The onboarding guide

In this guide you will find all our insights and ideas on onboarding, online onboarding, reboarding and offboarding. From theory to tangible advice.


  1. The importance of onboarding
  2. The theory of onboarding
  3. In practice: our best practices for onboarding
  4. How can you successfully board online?
  5. Reboarding: the importance and the approach
  6. Offboarding for a new beginning
  7. An on- and offboarding workflow

1. The importance of onboarding

What's onboarding? Literally, onboarding means "bringing on board" your new acquisitions. You welcome them and set them on their way within your organisation through a kind of introductory programme

Why is onboarding important? You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Certainly not as a company. Research by Vlerick and Talmundo shows that 77% of HR professionals experience the increasing importance of onboarding. This percentage is even higher for new employees: 83% of new hires indicate that an onboarding process is valuable. Not convinced? Feel free to read on.

What does an effective onboarding process bring you?

  1. Employees integrate 79% smoother. They get a quick overview of your organisation and your product or service from all possible angles. It also ensures social cohesion and atmosphere on the work floor.
  2. If you foresee a first introduction to the manager while on board, the attitude of the new employees towards their employer is 78% more positive.
  3. You increase the commitment of your new employees by 78% if you involve them in everything from day 1. This gives them the feeling that they belong and that they are committed to the company.
  4. You help new employees to become productive faster. In companies with structured induction programs, employees can run 51% faster at full speed.

What is the ROI of an onboarding process?

Recruiting and on-boarding new employees in an investment and you want it to generate a return. But, just like any other investment, it also involves these risks. A step-by-step efficient onboarding reduces that risk. What is the ROI of onboarding?
The total cost of a new employee quickly rises to 62,000 euros, but at the same time a good onboarding avoids that this cost is lost or that additional costs arise that employee quickly leaves again.

2. The theory of onboarding

Don't panic. We'll keep it short and give you our best practices later. But we also have to give this: two essential onboarding theories.

How do you plan an onboarding?

An onboarding process goes beyond extra support on the first day or week. Follow these 3 steps as fully as possible:
  1. Pre-boarding
    It is important that your new employee feels part of the team from the moment of recruitment. So keep in touch, even before the first day at work. Inform the direct colleagues and arrange the necessary material and the correct on- and offline access in good time.
  2. Onboarding
    "I'm welcome here! With that feeling, the new employee has to step outside after the first day.
    A thorough introduction to the company, the team and one's own position is on the programme during the first week. Clarify the role the employee will take on and what results you expect. Schedule meetings with colleagues with whom the newcomer will often come into contact. They can help to "acclimatize" the new colleague.
  3. Follow-up
    Apart from regular, informal 'check back' moments, it is best to plan a regular formal consultation in order to closely follow the course of the onboarding. Be sure to enter into consultation after one month, after three months, after six months and after one year.

The 4 C's of onboarding

A theory that has already amply proven itself is that of the 4 C's of onboarding. Each of these parts has its own importance.
  1. Compliance stands for all the practical and administrative aspects of recruitment. Think, for example, of the contracts and policies, (digital) accesses and a well-equipped workplace.
  2. Clarification means that new employees get a correct picture of what you expect from them. The Vlerick study also draws attention to this: 64 % of new employees indicate that this is not entirely clear, while only 29 % of professionals are aware of it.
  3. Culture introduces a newcomer to the corporate culture and unwritten rules. An employee immerses himself or herself in the mission, values and future vision of the company. This culture is also expressed in the way in which employees interact with each other and with external parties.
  4. Connection can be taken literally: make sure that new people quickly feel connected to the company and the people who work there.
  5. An additional but indispensable C. Don't forget to organize a check back where you check in an informal way whether the new employee is gradually finding his way.

3. In practice: our best practices for onboarding

As promised: our very best methods of onboarding. And just something extra to do for your new employees. Admit it: you would be more likely to stick with a company that does its best to give you a flying start.


When onboarding, it is first and foremost very important that you do not forget anything that can prevent a smooth start-up. In this checklist you will find all the points of attention.

Questions your new employee wants answers to

In addition to the organisational side, there are also the questions of the new employee. He or she will have a lot of questions at the start and will not always dare to ask them. So feel free to take the lead and respond smartly.
  1. The "how-what-will-my-first-day-view" questions
    Send them an e-mail with all practical and organizational answers during pre-boarding.
  2. The "what's-my-value-here" ask
    them Show them why and how they can contribute to the company.
  3. The "I'll-turn-find" questions
    Plan a check-back or follow-up moment to see how everything is going.
  4. The "his-my-colleagues-friends" ask for
    a mentor or coach during onboarding.
  5. The "sit-it-in-with-my-development" ask
    them from the start which direction they want to evolve in and provide options.

How do you create a unique onboarding?

A checklist, all well and good, but how do you create a unique onboarding? Don't forget that you often have to deal with different generations. So make sure you have a good mix that appeals to both traditionalists and millennials. Here are some examples of how other companies approach the induction program of their new employees.
#1 Commit to a personalized first impression

The more personal your onboarding feels, the more you will score with your new employee. When onboarding a millennial, you also have the masters of personalisation on the hook. They grew up with the internet: a place where every information is tailored to their personal needs. But older generations also like a little ego-stretching. You can easily respond to this by paying the necessary attention to what they say during your recruitment process.
#2 Make the onboarding trajectory visual

The information you want to share before the start day of your employee can simply be sent by e-mail, but you can also do something original with it. This way, an onboarding roadmap visually shows what you can expect as a starter.

#3 Give each new employee 50€ budget to make themselves known to colleagues

It is important that your new employee is also proactive in building relationships. Sentia gives new employees a budget of 50€ to make themselves known to their colleagues. For example, the budget has already been used to bake a large (yes, very large) cake. Or had an employee, after an office move, bring in a cleaning team.

#4 Get lasting results from concise interactions
short and concise content that gradually introduces them to your business. Instead of giving a presentation for an hour about the organisational structure and values of your company, you can compose a short quiz or organise a bingo like Intuo does.

#5 Organize a 'start, stop, continuous' conversation after 3 months A

employee also means a new fresh look at your company. Yuki makes smart use of this by organizing a 'start, stop, continuous' conversation after the first 3 months. During this conversation, the new employee will be asked what the company should start with (=start) and what the company should stop with (=stop). After this, they also ask what they think works and what your company should definitely continue with (=continuous).

#6 Go digital

Provide a fresh, digital approach. That works especially well with millennials. Let your new employees use onboarding software to digitally sign their contract in advance. Also give them access to their own employee profile, so they can enter their own details in your hr data management.

4. How do you set up a successful online onboarding?

Offline versus online

What changes with online onboarding? Purely theoretical: not much. The onboarding process still follows three steps and the 4 C's also hold up, although they do look a bit different in practice.
The 4 C's of onboarding digitized
  1. Compliance
    What needs to be put right in practice? A workplace. Even if it takes on a new meaning here. Have the material needed to do the job properly delivered to your home. Then new employees can install themselves.

    What does the administrative side mean? It involves access to software, data (e-mail address, logins) and contracts. Sometimes it is difficult to keep an overview. What has already been done and what hasn't yet been done. Keep track of this easily via our onboarding software in Officient where you can create a remote onboarding workflow.

    To make the communication personal from the start, we think it's a good idea to organize this part via a video call right away. A good start and half won.
  2. Clarificatio
    Creating clarity and certainty on the first day is essential, especially if everything is going to happen remotely. This is what the company does and where it stands, this is your team, this is your job and this is your planning. Share this information with the new employees in advance or on the first day. Through a collaboration platform (we use Notion) you can respond to two important issues:

    1) You give a clear picture of what the coming weeks will look like
    2) You ensure that there are sufficient learning and collaboration opportunities available.

    Make sure that it does not become too overwhelming. For that reason, we are also very much in favour of video meetings in this part of remote onboarding. When you have visual contact with new colleagues, you can better respond to their attitude.
  3. Culture
    Employees are ambassadors for your company. So give the company values and corporate culture from the start. The biggest challenge here? Distance can have the disadvantage that new employees cannot discover these values and culture for themselves. Therefore make sure that the way you communicate about it online already communicates these values and culture. This way you show that your word is backed up by action.
  4. Connection
    The most risky. But don't let that deter you, because it also means that there is still plenty of room for creativity and innovation here. How do you convey the feeling of your company online? How do you create an online connection with someone new? We advise you to immediately involve the new employee very well in the online happening. For example, organize a video lunch to get acquainted.
  5. Check back
    A very important C for online onboarding. Check regularly whether your new employees understand everything, are not overwhelmed by all the information, or whether they already feel at home. If not, ask where the pain points are and see what could be improved. This is new for both parties, try to grow together with the challenges you are facing.

Postpone onboarding

In crisis situations, online onboarding suddenly becomes extremely interesting. But sometimes that's not an option. If you can't set up an intensive onboarding program, it's best not to.

If you can't guarantee that your new employees will be able to work on the job because projects are cancelled, they won't get a clear idea of what is expected of them. This makes it difficult for them to carry out their new job. As an HR manager or manager, you have to take this into account. It is therefore better to postpone onboarding. Inform yourself, the new employee and the team about this in great detail.

But postponement is not an adjustment. Those new employees will simply start with you at a later time. So involve them in the company as well. For example, send them a book so they can prepare themselves and invite them to company meetings or afterwork drinks.

5. Reboarding: the importance and the approach

Onboarding is not just for new employees. It can also be valuable for existing employees in certain situations. Just think of colleagues who have been out for a couple of weeks or months for medical or family reasons, or for long-term homework situations. In such cases, the company does not stand still. Logically, we assume that things have changed. Therefore, when bringing the employees back on board, they have to be communicated. Therefore provide a reboarding.

A reboarding timeline

Despite the fact that employees already know the company, there are many parallels between onboarding and reboarding. Here, too, it is best to follow the process using a timeline.
  1. Pre-reboarding
    Welcome your employees a few days before the effective restart. Please inform them about the reboarding process. Also make sure that your administration and organization is already up and running before the return.
  2. Re-situation
    What are the most relevant changes within the company? Where does the company currently stand? Your employees will be able to resume the normal way of working faster and with more commitment if they are up to speed with these changes. Communicate these updates as soon as possible during reboarding.
  3. Reintegration
    The employees are not new, but the company can be. That is why it is important to involve returning employees in the way they work now and the possibly renewed values and mission. They need to be reintegrated into the story in order to work as motivated as possible.

The state of affairs

Updates about the teams

People are evolving. They think about their trajectory, the challenges they want and the goals they want to achieve. This means that when employees start up again, some of their colleagues have taken up new positions or left the company. Inform returning employees well about this, because it has both an emotional and a practical effect on them.

How can it be done?
Give them the opportunity to say goodbye to their closest colleagues and get used to their possibly changed position in the team. Supervise them well if they have to take on new tasks because they are performing a new function or because a colleague has left.

Updates on the goals

Which goals have been changed or achieved in the meantime and what are the new goals? These determine the current situation of the company. It is therefore important that employees who start again get a picture of this. This way they can pick up faster.
How can they do this
We think it would be a good idea to organise a reboarding company meeting for this purpose. In this way you inform everyone of the new targets at the same time and the entire team is suddenly together.

Updates about the company
The mission may have evolved over time to something that better suits the situation. Together with that mission, the company culture may also have evolved. Returning employees want to know what kind of company they are going to be in, what they are going to work for and how they are going to do it.

How do they do that
Be open about this at the reboarding and think about it together with your team. You will integrate them into the new habits of the company in no time. You can do this, for example, by planning a welcome activity and linking it to the new company culture.

6. Offboarding for a new beginning

Being able to close in beauty is at least as important as a good start up. Offboarding can help you to make a new start from a farewell for both your employee and your company.

The importance of offboarding

  1. You keep the organization running
    When someone leaves the ship, you have to react quickly to avoid losing course. With a pre-designed workflow, you immediately know what you have to do. You say goodbye to an employee in a sensible way, while the department can keep running and you start looking for a replacement.
  2. You protect your (intellectual) property
    Departing employees take sensitive information with them. Even if you have departing employees sign a document in which they promise not to divulge any company secrets, you'd better make sure that they simply don't need to.
  3. You radiate something as an employer
    The way in which you say goodbye to an employee tells a lot about how you deal with them. A company that takes employees seriously from their start to their departure - and beyond - proves that it really values these people. And that this goes beyond what they have brought to the company.
  4. You get better at what you do
    Employees who are already standing outside with one leg are more likely to give their blunt opinions about how the company works. In exit interviews, you are given a lot of information that you can use as a basis for questioning all this yourself. In this way, you become a better HR manager or manager, you can create better opportunities for the existing team and achieve better results.
  5. You leave the door aja
    Pull the door shut? Then maybe one day he'll come back, with a lot of new experience in his pocket.

In practice: our best practices for offboarding

Just like with an onboarding, it is important that you definitely go over certain points with an offboarding. We are happy to provide you with a checklist-template with our best practices so that you don't forget anything.
8 questions for valuable exit interview
Finally, seize the exit interview as an opportunity to gather open and honest feedback and to show that you do care about their departure. These 8 questions should not be missed:
  1. Why did you go looking for something new?
  2. What did you like and dislike most about your job?
  3. Did you have all the necessary tools to do your job properly?
  4. Did you feel your successes were celebrated enough?
  5. How did you find your supervisor's support? Did he or she give you the necessary support?
  6. If you had to give us 3 tips to improve it, what would they be?
  7. Would you recommend our company to your friend?
  8. Are there any unresolved issues you'd like to discuss? Things you want to add?
The answers to all these questions reveal a broad spectrum for improving both your approach at company and HR level. They give you insights into how the way your business works is experienced and evaluated by others, making it easier for you to address pain points. And they give you the opportunity to check with future candidates and new employees on how they see these issues: this way you can find a better fit.

7. An on- and offboarding workflow

Do you want to make sure you don't miss anything while onboarding or offboarding? Then e-HRM can help you automate the process. In the hrm package of Officient you can start an onboarding workflow with all the tasks that belong to the process. This onboarding software gives you a nice overview of open and completed tasks.
How does workflows in Officient workflows work?
  1. You can create multiple workflow templates that can be split up according to the team, the location where the workflow applies and which process is involved (on and offboarding or custom).
  2. You will be assigned an overview of workflows per employee via the employee profile. There you can see which workflows are running for this employee. If you click on one of these workflows, a detail page will open which gives you more insight into which tasks are still to be performed, or which have already been completed.
  3. You can also navigate to the 'Workflows' tab in the main navigation to see all the workflows assigned to you as administrator. There you will also find their progress and the date when they were set active.
  4. Tasks can be assigned to both admins and employees. These appear as a separate tab 'tasks' in their self-service. This ensures a better distribution of the workload and makes it possible to better involve the employee in different hr processes.
  5. Automatic reminders based on current deadlines. You will be notified in the app via notifications, but we will also notify you via email.