Managing a Team

Increase Employee Retention with an Exceptional Onboarding Process

The first days and weeks of an employee’s tenure may determine whether they stick around or not. This detailed guide helps you start off right.

Blog Author - Justworks
Jan 16, 20175 minutes
Blog Author - Justworks

Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.

456 postsAuthor's posts
Blog - Hero - To Do checklist

Do you remember your first day at the job you have now?

You were probably excited, a little nervous, and wanting to make the right impression. More often than not, employers also feel the same way. However, the onboarding process can feel overwhelming when there’s so much paperwork to handle and so much to learn.

Although it may be easy to overlook, an employee’s onboarding experience has a significant impact on how long she’ll stay with the company. For example, did you know that one third of new employees leave within the first six months? The same employees reported they might have stayed if they received more effective training or more clear guidelines on their responsibilities.

Onboarding Process Tips

So, how do you set up your new employee for success? These nine tips will help you streamline the onboarding process and make the experience more enjoyable for both parties.

Before the Big Day...

Create a Go-to Document for Reference

Starting a new job is exciting, but onboarding can be immensely overwhelming and stressful. For new employees on the marketing team, Justworks arranges an onboarding document that helps orient our new hires.

A document organizes the onboarding process and helps anyone who feels overloaded with new information at the start.

Although it’s also important to reinforce a lot of the information in person, by writing it down in advance, your new employee will have a place to reference before she has to bring you questions.

Here are a few things we like to add onto our onboarding document:

  • A welcome note and overview

  • Reading to get started (company background, reporting sheets, etc)

  • Email groups and/or calendars to join

  • Weekly and monthly meetings

  • Slack channels to join

  • Key people to set up meetings with; their positions, and what to ask

  • Initial projects

Have an Onboarding Checklist

Properly onboarding is a lot to keep track of. If you want to dot your i’s and cross your t’s, you can save and print our free onboarding checklist here. It includes:

  • What to Do Before Recruiting - Obtain an employer ID number and writing an employee handbook

  •  Interviews and Background Checks - Get written consent for any background checks and drug tests, stay compliant with anti-discrimination laws while interviewing

  • Offer and Hiring - Complete the proper forms, register with the Department of Labor and new-hire reporting agency, purchase workers’ comp

If you need even more information on best practices while hiring to follow certain state and federal regulations, you can download a free guide for that here.

Have Everything Ready to Go

There’s little worse than getting excited for the first day on the job and finding that your employer hasn’t made the necessary preparations for your arrival.

According to Mills Tower Watson, more than 25% of employees are at high risk for turnover. And as stated before, that number increases if the onboarding experience is negative.

Here are some concrete steps you can take to set up your employee’s workspace right from the get-go:

  • Give computer access to the necessary software (Microsoft Office, Adobe Suite, Salesforce, etc)

  • Configure the employee’s phone system and provide instructions for setting up voicemail

  • Set up their office email account

  • Have your new employee complete their 1-9 and W-4 form (more about that here) right away, so you can move on quickly and don’t hold up payments

Managing a Team

Your Complete Guide To Staying Compliant When Hiring Employees

Need more info on staying compliant when hiring?

Get the Guide

Encourage or Arrange Introductions

Before your new employee gets started, think about who she should meet and get to know. This might include people from her own team or different teams.

If you have a full-fledged onboarding manager, have him arrange coffee dates with some of those key employees. If not, at the very least give a list of those key people along with their email addresses so your employee can schedule meet and greet time.

By opening communication lines early, your employees will have more ability to collaborate and stay on the same page as projects develop.

The First Week...

Kick Off With a Warm Welcome

It’s cliche, but for good reason: first impressions matter. There are a lot of easy steps both you and your team can take to make a new employee feel at home. Here are just a few thoughts:

  • Send an email after your new employee accepts with a warm welcome, and maybe something fun like two truths and a lie.

  • Have your teammates sign a note extending a special hello and leave it on her desk for the first day.

  • Give away company swag in a welcome kit, such as mugs, pens, shirts, or a portable charger. It’s the perfect way for your new employee to start representing the company with pride.

Such gestures seem small, it can make all the difference when an employee is stepping into a new environment.

Designate an Onboarding Manager or Buddy

If your employee knows that she has someone she can turn to with questions, there’s less likelihood she’ll be frustrated later on.

Your staff might not be big enough to justify a dedicated onboarding manager, but you can designate someone within your team to assist in onboarding temporarily. In all likelihood, this will be your new employee’s manager or boss.

By designating an onboarding point person, you’ll also ensure your new employee is getting all the information she needs, and you’ll be more aware of the gaps on what she she hasn’t yet been instructed on.

Onboard in Batches with Employee Orientation

If you happen to hire more than one person at a time for your company, consider having your new employees begin on the same date.

Not only will it be more efficient for your company in training, but a tight new hire class can remain close, especially in a challenging environment.

Justworks always does a new employee orientation during the first week of an employee’s job. The orientation itinerary has evolved over time, but here are a few sample ideas you could use for your growing company:

  • Intro to Teams and Leaders - What are the different teams at your company, and who are the team leads?

  •  The Company Story - How was your company founded? What is its mission and purpose? Where is it headed to next?

  • Customer Profiles - What is your customer like? What are they looking for? Encourage your new employees to think about they buyer and how to prioritize their needs.

  • The Competitive Landscape - Who are your competitors and how do they sell themselves? What strategic advantages do you have over them, and vice versa?

  • Fireside Chat - Bring key employees from different teams and prepare questions to ask them about the company. Open the floor to your new employees to ask as well.

  • Company Values and Guidelines - What are your company values? What is your general approach to meetings? Are employees allowed to drink at work or take long lunches?

In the Long-Term...

Remember to Stay Compliant

Hiring and onboarding can actually be a bit of a legal minefield. For example, did you know there are questions that you cannot ask due to federal law?

Some things to keep an eye on, for example, include:

  • Reporting new hires to the state

  • New hire paperwork

  • Purchasing workers’ comp insurance

Research federal as well as state interview laws and strive to stay compliant. Not only will it prevent discrimination in your workplace, it will also protect your company from legitimate grievances or lawsuits from disgruntled former employees.

American employers must also fill out legal documents within a certain timeframe so as not to break the law. You can get more detailed information with our free webinar here.

Offer Tools That Make It Easier

Payroll, benefits, and other new employee paperwork can become a hassle, especially as you’re scaling your team. For example, if you offer your employees benefits, you may have to fill out mounds of paperwork on their behalf.

Onboarding to an HR platform should also be streamlined and simple, as it will save time and money for your business.

There are many options out there. Some people opt for Software as a Service (SaaS) where employee records are stored and accessed digitally. If you’re interested in checking out simple but comprehensive HR software, Justworks helps your company enroll in payroll, benefits offerings, and features like direct deposit quickly and efficiently.


Onboarding a new employee is a process that will change as your company grows. You should re-examine your onboarding process periodically and also seek feedback from current employees to find out how it worked for them and what could be improved. It should be an iterative process.

Although it takes a fair amount of work to set up, a quality onboarding process will pay for itself in the long-run when your employees decide to stay — in part due to the positive experiences they’ve had from the start.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.
Discover more of what you like
PEOHealth InsuranceBenefits & PerksPayroll & TaxesExpenses & FinanceEmployment LawsInternational

Check out our newsletter

Monthly tips on running a business in your inbox.

Check out our newsletter

Monthly tips on running a business in your inbox.
Written By
Blog Author - Justworks
Jan 16, 20175 minutes

Justworks is a technology company that levels the playing field for all small businesses. Through our software and as a partner, we help our customers take care of their teams, streamline their operations, and navigate the complex aspects of managing a workforce with confidence.

Learn more with Justworks’ Resources

Scale your business and build your team — no matter which way it grows. Access the tools, perks, and resources to help you stay compliant and grow in all 50 states.