Everything you need to know to help your organization implement a successful onboarding strategy.

What is Onboarding
Onboarding is the action or process of integrating a new employee into an organization or familiarizing a new customer or client with one’s products or services.

What does onboarding look like?
Most HR administrators have spent time thinking about onboarding. At the surface, onboarding looks like a string of a few simple tasks at the beginning of someone’s term of employment. In reality, a successful onboarding process “spans from several months to a full year and includes constant communication, feedback, and performance measurement.”

In this lesson, we will review the importance of onboarding, what to look for in onboarding technology, and what a successful onboarding process entails. You will also learn how Buffer’s platform can strengthen the onboarding process.


The Importance of Onboarding

We’ve noticed that employers are showing an increased interest in implementing onboarding strategies and software. This is likely because an onboarding program can be greatly beneficial for the long-term financial and cultural success of a business.

  1. Longer Employee Retention
    Investing in a strategic onboarding process can increase the tenure of employees. A recent study found that 69% of employees were more likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they had a positive onboarding experience. This is particularly useful because turnover is costly, especially when thinking about conducting interviews, extending offers, and training new hires.
  2. Higher Productivity
    Companies with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity, and employees of those companies that have the longest onboarding programs gain full proficiency 34% faster.
  3. Happier Employees

    Happy employees reinforce a positive work environment. Strong onboarding programs help employees engage with one another and understand how their roles work together. This can lead to office friendships, which also contribute to a positive work environment.
  4. Better Employee-Manager Relationships
    Managers experience less stress and greater satisfaction with new hires after the implementation of an onboarding program. This is because onboarding programs give employees the resources they need to succeed earlier, as well as outlets to ask questions.

The Onboarding Process

Now that you’ve learned about the importance of onboarding, let’s review what successful onboarding program looks like, step by step.

For the purpose of this course, we’ll review the process of onboarding an employee from the time they are sent an offer letter to the end of their first year.

1) The Official Offer

Employers should include as much information as possible when extending an offer. This includes salary, start date, team structure, and benefits eligibility.

With Buffer

The Offer Letter Flow available through Onboarding with Buffer’s platform includes the ability to create and send personalized offer letters. HR admins can use this feature to extend an offer letter to a new applicant with specific details like salary and start date via the system. The employee can send the offer back to the employer and officially accept the new position via e-signature.
HR admins can choose to show an applicant the benefits they are eligible for before they accept an offer.
HR admins can also allow the applicant to begin the onboarding process after they accept the offer. This will allow them to log in to Buffer’s platform and begin entering required information.

2) Preboarding

The second an official offer is accepted, employers should begin acclimating a new employee. This is also known as “pre-boarding.” Pre-boarding can include explaining the company mission, company structure, and the responsibilities the new employee will be expected to tackle in their first six months. These steps can ensure that the employer and employee are on the same page, and that both are working toward the same goals.

With Buffer
HR admins can use Onboarding with Buffer’s platform Custom Documents feature to send new employees educational materials like a flyer about the company structure or a company handbook, all before their first day. These documents can be sent at any time via Buffer’s platform, and the HR admin can choose to require a signature or review too. They can also be configured to send with an Offer Letter, but only be displayed if an offer is accepted.

3) Required Documents

Once an employee has accepted their offer and is on their way to being acclimated with their new role and company, it’s time for them to complete any information that is required by their new company, the IRS and/or U.S. government documentation. This includes:

  1. W-4 Form: An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form completed by an employee in the United States to indicate his or her tax situation (exemptions, status, etc.) to the employer. The W-4 form tells the employer the correct amount of tax to withhold from an employee’s paycheck.
  2. I-9 Form: Also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification, this form is used to verify the identity and legal authorization to work of all paid employees in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This process is usually completed by the employee submitting proofs of legal status such as a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, or social security card.
  3. Employee Information and Emergency Contacts: For legal purposes, most companies require a new employee’s full name, phone number, email, birth date, address, and social security number. Many companies also require each employee to provide emergency contact information.
  4. Additionally, HR admins must complete W-2 forms for each employee. The W-2 form is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax form used in the United States to report wages paid to employees and the taxes withheld from them. Employers must complete a Form W-2 for each employee to whom they pay a salary, wage, or other compensation as part of the employment relationship.

With Buffer

Each employee can complete their profile in Buffer’s platform and enter personal information necessary for online enrollment. They can also add emergency contacts.
Employees will also be able to complete W-4 information and submit documents for their I-9 forms through Buffer’s platform. Employers and HR admins can use the rules-based system to ensure completed and signed W-4 and I-9 forms. All of this information will be stored securely in Buffer’s platform.

4) Collect Payroll Information

To pay employees with direct deposit, employers must collect their bank information. They typically collect the bank name, account number, and routing number. This information is needed during the onboarding process to ensure prompt payment to the new employee.

With Buffer
Employers can collect direct deposit information during the onboarding process. This feature uses the same rules-based system we mentioned earlier to ensure accurate bank account information.

5) Benefits Enrollment

Employees should enroll in (or waive) benefits during their first few days of work.

With Buffer
If an employee completes onboarding with Buffer’s platform Onboarding feature, they will be prompted to begin online enrollment with Buffer’s platform. Here, they can review their benefit options, view side-by-side plan comparisons, cost per pay period, and informational videos and brochures. The rules-based system we mentioned for required documentation also applies here, reducing the administrative burden on HR.

6) Explain the Company Culture

Once a new employee has completed all the mandatory and legal steps for onboarding, it’s important to remember to continue communicating information that will help them succeed beyond their first few days.

The quicker an individual acclimates to company culture, the quicker they’ll adapt to the rest of their role. This is because they will promptly learn the proper channels to ask questions, who to approach for training and advice, and how policies involving PTO and working from home operate.

To help this cause, employers can pair each new employee with a veteran employee who can provide insight into how the company works from every angle. With a dedicated person to ask questions, a new employee will likely adapt to company norms quicker.

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