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Joleen Jernigan
Joleen Jernigan

What Does Employee Onboarding Mean?

Updated:
September 16, 2022

Onboarding is the process of guiding new hires into a company’s bigger picture and company culture, with the goal of helping them integrate better into the company and gain a deeper understanding of their new roles. Onboarding shows new employees how they fit into the overall business and encourages them to feel more positive about the company as a whole and more confident in their own jobs.

It’s not just about the first days. An effective onboarding process has a lot of positive implications for the  longer term. Gallup recently released an article stating that only 12% of employees polled believed their company did a good job with employee onboarding, yet  employees who had a good onboarding experience tended to stay with the company longer and expressed more satisfaction with the company.

Now that you know what employee onboarding is and why it matters, let’s dig into how you can create a new-hire onboarding process that builds employee engagement and retains top talent.

More effective employee onboarding

Onboarding begins with the new hire paperwork and orientation process, but—if done well—goes way beyond that. A decent onboarding program includes much more than an initial quick tour of the building (for on-site workers) and new hire checklist completion. Effective onboarding starts immediately on day one and includes introductions to various departments and persons at the company, employee handbook training, job training, and immersive workplace social opportunities wherein the new hires hear firsthand from their peers about the company.

How long does the onboarding process take?

Onboarding can be carried out in a couple of days to a few or several months, with more effective onboarding spread out over more time. In fact, onboarding often works best when it is ongoing over time vs. a one-and-done task. It’s an investment in employees that can improve retention rates and employee job satisfaction. A newer style of onboarding best practices is called a 30-60-90 day plan, which outlines the first 90 days of a new team member’s employment — familiarizing them with company policies, teamwork, and goals. The idea is to spread the onboarding practice  over time to help them better adjust to their new work environment and work responsibilities.


With proper onboarding, new hires gain a deeper understanding of the company’s culture and mission. It is a type of organizational socialization intended to lead to employees becoming more productive, integrated team members quickly, as solid onboarding encourages comfort in the role and at the company. Onboarding also can assist with employee buy-in for the company’s culture and their place in it, because they feel supported and prepared to do their jobs and participate in the company’s overriding goals.

Thus, while there is no set answer to how long onboarding should take, Gallup and others have shown a correlation between an extended, in-depth onboarding process and engaged employees and lower turnover rates. An onboarding process administered over time, created to truly integrate employees and answer the questions they may have rather than tick off HR boxes ad rush new hires into their new jobs is a better option.


Who does new employee onboarding?

If you have a human resource team, they will play a big part in new hire onboarding, laying out the process and getting the ball rolling. But, small businesses usually don’t have a comprehensive human resource team, and these functions may instead fall on the hiring manager. That doesn’t mean you can’t spread out the responsibilities such as peer-to-peer interactions. But while these types of meetings can add to new hires’ enthusiasm for their roles and the company, this is only one type of interaction that is useful during onboarding.

Leadership should be involved, with either they or human resources informing the new employees of potential future opportunities and other roles in the company. Having a sense that there is potential to grow with the company is another indicator of job success and satisfaction, and yet another reason that effective onboarding may lead to better employee retention.

I’m a small business. Can someone help with my employee onboarding?

By now, you’ve discovered that successful onboarding takes planning and time. For small businesses with small HR departments (or no HR department), undertaking these onboarding activities can be overwhelming. It’s yet another reason why more and more Texas small businesses are outsourcing their benefits and HR activities like employee onboarding and payroll to professional employer organizations (PEO) like Decent. We take care of your people, allowing you to focus on your business. To learn more, check out our features here or contact us at support@decent.com.