How to Design Your Onboarding Program

How does your organization handle onboarding new hires? Do you have a structured system in place to ensure that every new member of your team has exactly what they need, exactly when they need it? Or is your organization more casual, teaching new hires whatever a manager or trainer thinks they may need to to know in the moment, with no formal process or structure?

These, of course, are two extremes–and most organizations fall somewhere in the middle. But if you’re reading this, you likely want to help your workplace move away from the latter option and more towards the former, and that’s a good thing: there’s always benefit in creating an onboarding program that really works for your company and your team.

So if you’re designing a new onboarding program, where do you even start? It can be daunting trying to figure out how to create a new onboarding program that works for your team, but by doing so, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring your organization increases productivity and reduces unnecessary turnover.

What does your new hire need to succeed?


Your first task is to make a list of everything that your new hire needs in order to succeed during the onboarding period, whether that be a week, 3 months, or a year. You’ll want to start this process by thinking broadly; that is, rather than listing what every single individual position might need specifically, pull back and ask what general needs any new employee must have fulfilled in order to do their job and learn effectively, regardless of position.

To get you started, here are some examples of common needs most organizations will need to think about with onboarding new hires:

  • Building access and ID badges
  • Logins and security credentials
  • Health insurance and benefits documentation
  • 1-on-1’s with supervisors and management
  • Office tours and meet-and-greets
  • Probationary period expectations
  • First-year goal setting
  • Technical training on position-specific software and duties

Once you write all this down, you’ll want to start organizing it chronologically, starting with the things that need to be ready on day one and going from there. Once you have these needs cataloged and ordered, you can start gathering the materials needed to accomplish each one.

Map the moments that matter most


Now that you’ve looked at onboarding from your point of view and figured out what the organization needs for a new hire to succeed, now you’ll want to flip it around and start thinking about what the new hire themself will want in order to feel comfortable and capable during the onboarding period.

While there will be a lot of overlap in terms of the nitty-gritty details (the new hire probably wants those login credentials as much as you!), there are also plenty of moments you might not even consider. When you’ve been with an organization for a while it’s easy to lose sight of how emotionally overwhelming starting a new job can be, and it can be beneficial to sit down and create an “empathy map” of all the key moments during the first year of the job that can impact a new team member’s sense of morale, confidence, and belonging.

We encourage you to map it out yourself, but a few examples of these key moments might be:

  • The job offer call or email
  • Walking through the door on day 1
  • Meeting their managers and their team
  • The first interaction with a client or customer
  • The end of a probationary or contract-to-hire period
  • Their 1-year anniversary

By defining what these crucial moments are, you’re putting yourself in the shoes of someone going through your onboarding process, and you’re in a better position to make that process as smooth and positive as possible. Of course there will always be snags, but if you can really emphasize the highs and minimize the lows of the process, you’re more likely to build employee trust and commitment

Test, retest, and iterate your onboarding program


Like any new program, once you start putting it into practice you’ll quickly realize that no matter how much you planned, some things just aren’t working the way you’d hoped. Instead of just letting it be and accepting the issues without question, you’ll want to always be iterating on your onboarding process. If you find a pain point during your new process, brainstorm ways to fix it–and when you implement a fix, track it so you know if the fix was effective. And if the fix is working, then move on to the next point of concern.

Nothing should be completely static, and you may uncover issues with your onboarding process years down the road–but that doesn’t mean you can’t address them. If you’re always paying attention and always willing to test and tweak your solutions, you’ll eventually land on something that solves any problem you have.

Utilize onboarding technology to encourage consistency and retention


One of the biggest issues organizations uncover during the new hire onboarding period is increased staff turnover. A study by the Work Institute determined that out of all employees that quit their job in 2017, 40% did so in the first year, meaning that the onboarding period is one of the most volatile times in terms of employee retention.

It’s easy to chalk early turnover up to poor culture fits, but a good organization will understand that their onboarding process is a huge contributor to how new hires see or engage with company culture–if a new hire decides the company isn’t “the right fit,” it’s often something (or a lack of something) in the onboarding process that has turned them off.

To encourage new hire engagement and minimize turnover during the crucial first year, a great option is to invest in onboarding technology that lets you take all the design elements you considered above and craft a consistent, reliable, on-brand onboarding program for your organization. By taking advantage of new technology to structure your onboarding program, you can ensure that every new hire gets what they need when they need it, that all of the emotionally important touchstone moments are given their due respect, and that any ongoing issues can be systematically identified and addressed as quickly as possible.


RedCarpet onboarding technology sets your team up for success


SilkRoad Technology enables people to thrive in a changing workplace, and SilkRoad’s RedCarpet onboarding technology is an industry leader in engaging, training, and developing new hires and existing employees to ensure that your organization is running as efficiently and productively as possible every single day.

To learn more about our talent management software and see how RedCarpet onboarding technology can help you hire, train, and retain the top talent in your industry, contact SilkRoad Technology today.