3 Critical Elements in a Successful Employee Onboarding Program

By James Mitchell

Employee onboarding is a crucial component of effective business operations, providing your new hires with the background knowledge they need to perform their job duties to expectations. New employees may have industry experience or expertise, but they’re reliant on you to equip them with the knowledge they need to perform well within their role. To build a solid foundation with every new employee, your onboarding program should contain several critical elements.

Demonstrate Values, Procedures, and Policies Through Employee Stories

Your organization may have regulatory oversight, or you may have your own policies and procedures that create the framework for the way you deliver products or services. While you could simply provide new hires with a manual and expect them to spend the next three weekends poring over every detail, it’s more engaging and effective to demonstrate these values and company policies with real-world stories and examples from existing employees.

Not only does the sharing of stories cultivate information retention by putting concepts in context, but it also helps to communicate unspoken standards that exist within the company’s culture. Finally, stories can help to make new hires feel like they know something about their new co-workers and can provide fodder for ice-breaking conversations.

Clearly Convey Roles and Responsibilities with Organizational Charts

If you think organizational charts are outdated and obsolete, you’re in for a surprise. These traditional staples remain valuable tools in modern organizations (think ‘meet the team’ pages on company websites complete with roles, titles, bios, and headshots), particularly in the onboarding process. Giving new hires an organizational chart helps them understand the chain of command, learn what roles exist within other departments and who they might be interacting with, who to approach with questions about specific functions, and more.

What’s more, today’s organizational charts are living, functional tools that can be as unique as your organization. If you’re not a fan of formal titles, have fun with it by assigning roles such as “Chief Coffee Brewer” that lighten the mood while still conveying responsibilities.

Integrate Interactive Activities to Facilitate Two-Way Discussion

Onboarding was once a boring proposition for employees who just landed a new job, often consisting of a full week or more spent idly watching toiling through slide deck after slide deck with little information retention taking place. Onboarding doesn’t have to be boring by nature. Integrate opportunities within your onboarding program for new employees to interact with and ask questions of various representatives from the organization.

Not only does one-on-one or small group interaction lead to better engagement, but it enables employees to meet new co-workers with more than a mere, “Hi. Nice to meet you,” in passing. Spending time to learn how employees do their jobs on a day-to-day basis – even in departments not directly impacting a new hire’s responsibilities – cultivates appreciation for the many tasks that go into your overall business operations.

Ultimately, giving an interactive glimpse at the company as a whole leads to more-invested employees from the start, which can reduce turnover rates and thus lower your training costs. Think about how you can introduce your next new hire to the various facets within your organization through powerful stories demonstrating abstract concepts in real-world contexts, fun, living organizational charts that exude the personality of every individual employee, and other tactics that turn the old and stale into the new and engaging.


James Mitchell recently left a stressful career in finance because he wanted to find a more fulfilling career. Today, he is working as a freelance consultant. In addition to his new career, he enjoys volunteering for InternSolutions.net and finds it very rewarding to connect young people with lucrative career opportunities.

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