Employee onboarding is one of the most important steps in the hiring process, as it helps new hires quickly become productive members of the team. However, many companies don’t have effective onboarding strategies, with 12% of employees stating their organization does a poor job preparing them for their role. After you have decided to hire a new employee, your next step is to review your onboarding process and ensure you are preparing your team for success. Here are the steps you need to take to optimize your onboarding plan. Before the hiring process. Creating a seamless onboarding process requires careful planning, and it all starts with understanding the specific needs of the role. The objective of these efforts is to make the new employee's first day (and the days that follow) as smooth and informative as possible. Follow these steps before you hire a new employee for a smooth and efficient transition. 1. Evaluate the needs of the role. Before you start designing an onboarding plan, evaluate the role by meeting with current employees. Ask them about their onboarding process and what they wish they would have known on their first day. If you are not the direct manager for this role, work closely with the appropriate leaders in the organization when drafting the onboarding plan. If the role does not currently exist within your company, search job postings on LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and other related sites to get an idea of the industry standard qualifications and requirements of that role. This step will give you ideas on what internal documentation you need to prepare for the open position. 2. Create a pre-hire checklist for the manager. After you have evaluated the open position, create a checklist of the following items managers can prepare before a new employee’s first day: Training documents Create a separate list of all the training materials that need to be created before the employee’s first day. These may include standard operating procedure (SOP) documents, instructional guides or how-to videos. You may also include information on employee benefits and what steps new hires may need to take. HR paperwork Gather all the necessary HR paperwork the new hire needs to complete, such as their W-4, I-9, direct deposit and necessary insurance forms. You can prepare some document information by collecting the hire’s full legal name, date of hire, home address, and any other basic information. Prep workstation and tech. If the position requires the employee to work in the office, make sure their workstation is clean and has all the necessary hardware they require. For remote workers, ensure their hardware is ready to be shipped, so they will receive it on their first day. You’ll also want to ensure the employee has access to all the software they need to complete their jobs, such as Wi-Fi passwords, login information, and the correct software user permissions. Supervisor meetings Finally, plan a meeting between the new employee and their direct manager on the first day of work. At this stage, you may also plan regular meetings with the new employee to track their progress and provide feedback. With these tasks out of the way, you can properly prepare your employee for their first day of work. After an employee has been hired. 3. Create a first-day checklist for new hires. An employee’s first day on the job is daunting, so preparing a checklist or guide for them to complete will help them get acquainted with the business and their coworkers. Here are some common first-day tasks you can assign a new employee: Consider a mentorship program. One of the best ways to prepare your hires for success is to set them up with a seasoned mentor. This can be a formal or informal process, depending on your company culture, but this person should guide the new employee through their first few months and provide support where needed. Introduce them to the team. At some point on an employee’s first day of work, their manager, mentor, or senior team leader should introduce them to their teammates. You’ll also want to make sure new hires know who to contact if they have any questions, such as HR personnel, the IT/Help Desk team, and project leads. Explain company culture. On their first day, employees should get an overview of their company culture, such as what days/times they are expected to come into the office, how long breaks should be, and the company dress code. Review training and onboarding documents. Ensure your employees have the paperwork you prepared in the pre-hire phase, and go over any questions they may have. It’s common for new employees to feel nervous about asking questions, so setting the stage for them to feel comfortable will go a long way to getting them up to speed. Tour the facility. For in-person positions, give your new hire a tour through the workspace so they know where to find common areas, such as restrooms, kitchens, important offices, and conference rooms. Do an activity together. A common practice managers do is take new employees out to lunch, so they can get to know their supervisor and/or co-workers in a non-work setting. You can also consider a team exercise so more experienced employees can spend more face-time with the new hire. Prepare their first-week responsibilities. The next step in your onboarding plan is to prepare employees for the week ahead. This timeframe should ideally introduce them to the work they are expected to complete while also getting them more acquainted with company policies. Give them their first assignment. Within an employee’s first couple of days, give them their first task or assignment to complete. This will provide them with practical experience, as they will get acquainted with the project workflow and reporting structure and gain a deeper understanding of their role within the company. The key is to establish set parameters up front, such as quality expectations and deadlines. Outline the work ahead of them. While a new hire is completing their first tasks, map out a series of achievements and milestones you’d like them to cross at specific times over the next few weeks of work. This will help them feel as though they aren’t missing any responsibilities on their plate. Set an end-of-week meeting. Prepare time at the end of an employee’s first week with their manager to discuss their progress and answer any questions. You can make this a recurring meeting throughout their first month, but the goal of this initial meeting is to review the work they have completed and make sure they are prepared for the days ahead. If the manager has noticed early signs of undesirable behavior, this is a good time to quickly address the situation and set positive habits. After their first month. By the end of an employee's first month, they should feel more confident in their role and know who to turn to if they need support. However, you can extend your onboarding plan timeline to ensure you create a supportive environment for your team. Here are a few ideas on what to include in an onboarding plan after a new hire's first month at the company: Conduct a one-month check-in with HR. After your employee's first few weeks on the job, set them up with a meeting with HR. The goal of this meeting is to ensure they feel engaged and educated and know their way around the business. It also gives HR insight into the onboarding process so they can update the plan for future hires as needed. Check-in with their mentor. An individual's mentor is going to have the most insight into how the new employee is doing. Work with the mentor to build an ongoing training process for the new employee, taking extra care in the areas in which they need improvement. Build a company career roadmap. Take time to consider an employee's long-term goals at your company. You can help them build a roadmap so they know how and when they can earn bonuses, raises, or a promotion. The effectiveness of an onboarding process is pivotal to the successful integration and productivity of a new hire. By taking the time to understand the specific needs of a role, creating checklists for both manager and new hires, preparing the new employee for their first day and week ahead, and extending support beyond the first month, you set the foundation for an efficient and fulfilling employee experience.