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.

Contents

  1. The importance of onboarding
  2. The theory of onboarding
  3. In practice: our best practices for onboarding
  4. How can you successfully onboard 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 an 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 get you?

  1. Employees integrate 79% smoother. They get an 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. When you provide an initial introduction to the supervisor during onboarding, new employees' attitudes toward their employer are 78% more positive.
  3. You increase the engagement of your new employees by 78% if you involve them in everything from the first day. This gives them a sense of belonging and commitment to the company.
  4. You help new employees become productive faster. In companies with structured induction programs, employees can get to full capacity 51% faster.

What is the ROI of an onboarding process?

Recruiting and onboarding new employees in an investment which you want to generate a return. But, just like any other investment, it also involves risks. A step-by-step efficient onboarding reduces those risks. What is the ROI of onboarding?
The total cost of a new employee can easily amount to 62,000 euros, but at the same time good onboarding prevents this cost from being lost or from incurring additional costs if the employee leaves again quickly.

2. The theory of onboarding

Don't panic. We'll keep it short and sweet, and give you our best practices later. But we also have to discuss 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 to be as comprehensive 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!" That's what the new employee should feel after the first day. A thorough introduction to the company, the team and the new position are on the agenda in the first week. Clarify the role that the employee will take on and what results you expect. Schedule meetings with those colleagues with whom the newcomer will often come into contact. They can help " acclimatize" the new colleague.
  3. Follow-up
    Apart from regular, informal 'check back' moments, it is best to plan regular formal meetings to closely monitor the progress of the onboarding. Be sure to engage in discussions after one month, after three months, after six months and after one year

The 4 C's of onboarding

One theory that has been widely proven 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 onboarding. Think, for example, of contracts and policies, (digital) accesses and a well-equipped workplace.
  2. Clarification means that new employees get a accurate 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 newcomers to the company culture and unwritten rules. Employee immerse themselves 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 and tips for onboarding, and to go the extra mile for your new employees. Admit it: you would be more likely to stick with a company that does its best to give you a running start.

Checklist

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.
Download the onboarding checklist for free!

Questions your new employee wants answers to

In addition to the organisational side, there are also some inescapable but sometimes embarrassing questions. He or she will likely 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 "what-will-my-first-day-look-like" questions
    Send them an e-mail with all practical and organizational answers during pre-boarding.
  2. The "what's-my-value-here" questions
    Show them why and how they can contribute to the company.
  3. The "will-I-figure-out-my-way" questions
    Plan a check-back or follow-up moment to see how everything is going.
  4. The "are-my-colleagues-friends" questions
    Provide a mentor or coach at onboarding.
  5. The "do-they-care-about-my-developement" quesions
    Ask them from the start which direction they want to evolve in and provide training.

How do you create a unique onboarding?

A checklist is helpful, 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 their onboarding programme.
#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 have encoutered the masters of personalisation. They grew up with the internet: a place where every information is tailored to their personal needs. But older generations as well like it when their ego is flattered. You can easily respond to this by paying the necessary attention to what they say during your recruitment process.
Download the offer template for free!
#2 Make the onboarding process visual

The information you want to share before the start day of your employee you can just put on mail, but you can also do something original with it. For example, an onboarding roadmap gives a visual indication of what you can expect as a starter.

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

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

#4 Get lasting results from concise interactions

Choose short and concise content that gradually introduces them to your company. For example, instead of spending an hour giving a presentation about your company's organizational structure and values, you can put together a short quiz or organize a bingo like Intuo does.

#5 Organise a 'start, stop, continue' meeting after three months

A new employee also means a new fresh look at your business. Yuki makes smart use of this by organising a 'start, stop, continuous' meeting after the first 3 months. At that meeting, the new employee is asked what he or she thinks the company should start right away (=start) and what it should stop doing (=stop). After this, they are also asked what works according to them and what your company should definitely continue with (=continuous).

#6 Go digital

Make sure you have a fresh, digital approach. This works especially well with millennials. Let your new employees sign their contract digitally in advance via onboarding software. 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 an online onboarding? Purely theoretically speaking: not much. The onboarding process still follows three steps and the 4 C's remain, although they look a bit different in practice.
The 4 C's of onboarding digitized
  1. Compliance
    What needs to be put right practically? A workplace. Even if it takes on a new meaning here. Have the material needed to do the job properly delivered to your new employees' homes, so they can install themselves.

    What needs to be put right administratively? This 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 been done yet. 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.
  2. Clarification
    Creating clarity and certainty on a 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 task and this is your planning. Share this information with the new employees before or on the first day. Via a collaboration platform (we use Notion) you can address two important issues:

    1) You provide 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 this reason, we are also great advocates of video meetings in this part of the remote onboarding. When you have visual contact with new colleagues you can better anticipate their attitude.
  3. Culture
    Employees are ambassadors for your company. So introduces them to the company values and company culture right 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 you put your money where your mouth is.
  4. Connection
    A tricky one. 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 recommend that you immediately get the new employee very involved online. 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.
Request an Officient personalized demo!

Postpone onboarding

In crisis situations, online onboarding suddenly becomes extremely interesting. But sometimes it is just not an option. If you can't set up an intensive onboarding programme, 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.

However, delay is not cancellation. Those new employees will eventually start with you at a later date. So involve them in the company already. For example, send them a book so that they can already prepare themselves and invite them to company meetings or after-work drinks.

5. Reboarding: the importance and the approach

Onboarding is not just for new employees. In certain situations it can also be valuable for existing employees. Just think of colleagues who have been out of work for a few weeks or months for medical or family reasons, or long-term homeworking situations. In such cases, the company does not stand still. We logically assume that things have changed. Therefore, when bringing employees back on board, these need to be communicated. Therefore, foresee 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 restart. Inform them about how the reboarding process will preceed. 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. Re-integration
    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 on the teams

Why?

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

How?
Give them also the chance to say goodbye to their closest colleagues and to get used to their possibly changed position in the team. Support them well if they have to take on new tasks as a result of taking on a new role or a colleague leaving.

Updates on the goals
Why?

What goals have been adjusted 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 are starting over get a picture of this. This will enable them to get back on board more quickly.
How?
It seems a good idea to us to organise a reboarding company meeting for this. That way, you inform everyone of the new targets at the same time and the entire team is together.

Updates on the company
Why?
The mission may have evolved over time into something that better suits the situation. Along with that mission, the company culture may have evolved as well. Returning employees want to know what kind of company they are entering, what they will be working for, and how they will do it.

How?
Be open about this during the reboarding and think about it together with your team. This way you immediately integrate them into the new habits of the company. 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 end a collaboration on good terms is at least as important as a good start. Offboarding can help you to say farewell and to turn it into someting meaningful 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 leaving 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 improvements. 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 ajar
    Pull the door shut on good terms? Then maybe one day they'll come back, with a lot of new knowledge and experience.

In practice: our best practices for offboarding

Checklist
Just like with an onboarding, it is important that you definitely go over certain aspects during an offboarding. We are happy to provide you with a checklist-template with our best practices so that you don't forget anything.
Download the offboarding checklist for free!
8 questions for a 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 our processes, 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 your operating methods are 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 if these would be an issue to them: 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 the workflow module in Officient work?
  1. You can create multiple workflow templates that can be split up according to the team and the process 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 done, 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 what their progress is and the date when they were set to be active.
  4. Tasks can be assigned to both admins and employees. These appear as a separate tab 'tasks' in their self-service. This allows for a better distribution of the workload and makes it possible to better involve the employee in various HR processes.
  5. You receive automatic reminders based on current deadlines. You will be notified in the app via notifications, but we will also notify you via email.