Onboarding Employee Engagement: The Key To A Thriving Workforce

How To Achieve Employee Engagement During Onboarding

How To Achieve Employee Engagement During Onboarding

Onboarding is the process through which employees are introduced to their new work environment. During this period of time, new hires are expected to learn crucial skills and familiarize themselves with their role, coworkers, and company culture. Sounds like a very important process, right? And it is, which is why achieving engagement during onboarding is of utmost importance. In fact, if you fail to foster engagement during this crucial period, chances are your new addition will most likely make a swift exit. In this article, we explore the role and impact of onboarding on employee engagement, as well as 5 tips to boost employee engagement during onboarding.

Understanding Onboarding: More Than Just Orientation

Frequently, we hear the terms “onboarding” and “orientation” being used interchangeably in business settings. However, the truth is that orientation is only a small part of what we call “employee onboarding.” Let’s see what each one of these equally important yet different processes is all about.

Orientation refers to a short-term process that typically spans the first few days of employment. Its primary goal is to introduce employees to basic information about their new workplace, such as the company’s history, culture, and mission. It can also include a tour—virtual or onsite—of the company facilities. During this time, employees focus on completing important paperwork, learning about their benefits, exploring company policies, and getting an overview of their responsibilities and expectations.

Onboarding, on the other hand, is much longer and comprehensive, lasting up to several months or a year. While orientation is meant to show employees what their new company is like, onboarding is designed to immerse and fully integrate employees into their roles and work environment. Through processes such as training, mentoring, shadowing, etc., onboarding helps new hires transition into their new role, promoting long-term engagement and retention.

The Role And Impact Of Onboarding On Employee Engagement

The onboarding process holds particular weight when it comes to employee engagement. As the first introduction of the new workplace, it creates the first impression and sets the tone for the future experiences of the employee with the company. It also clarifies the responsibilities and expectations that come with their role, giving them direction and purpose from day one. Additionally, through onboarding, employees gain access to necessary training and resources that allow them to hit the ground running right away. Finally, the various activities that make up the onboarding process, such as mentoring, team introductions, and other social activities, break the ice between new hires and their colleagues so that they can start building relationships and feel like part of the team.

All in all, onboarding is a vital step in the hiring process that cannot be omitted. By introducing employees to the values and mission of their organization, clarifying their responsibilities, and helping them become part of their new team, you ensure elevated levels of satisfaction and increased odds of a long collaboration. Not to mention that you help them produce results early on and contribute to the productivity and success of your organization. Finally, investing in onboarding fosters a positive and supportive workplace culture, making your organization a sought-after employer that can easily retain and attract skilled employees.

Elements Of An Engaging Onboarding Process

In the world of business, engaging onboarding has been linked with leading HR expert Talya Bauer’s four C’s of onboarding, which stand for compliance, clarification, culture, and connection. Let’s take a brief look at each of the elements of this framework:

  • Compliance – This is the first and most basic level of onboarding. It involves filling in necessary paperwork, learning the rules and policies of the company, and complying with legal and organizational requirements.
  • Clarification – This level ensures that employees are clear on what their job description entails. They learn about their tasks and responsibilities, performance expectations, and how their role contributes to the accomplishment of organizational goals.
  • Culture – This step is particularly important, as it exposes the new hire to the company’s culture, values, and mission. Additionally, they get introduced to its history, traditions, unwritten rules, and overall behavioral norms.
  • Connection – Lastly, we have the highest level of employee onboarding during which the employee fosters relationships within their new work environment. This involves getting to know their team, managers, and employees from other departments through team-building activities, social events, or mentorship programs.

Keeping these elements in mind helps leaders create an onboarding culture that has the necessary structure to bring in the desired results. And what are those? Successful hires that stick around for the long run quickly integrate into the company culture and effectively contribute to the efficiency and productivity of the organization.

5 Tips to Boost Employee Engagement During Onboarding

Now that we have discussed the basics of employee onboarding, let’s see how you can maintain high levels of engagement during this process. Here are some tips to retain your new hires through an effective and engaging onboarding process.

1. Start The Process As Soon As Possible

A common mistake among HR professionals or leaders is believing that onboarding starts on the first day of work. However, there are numerous opportunities for connection with new hires between the time they accept the job offer and their actual start date. Preboarding, as this process is called, is a great opportunity to complete any important paperwork and prepare employees for their first day. You can share company handbooks, take them on a virtual tour of the company, or even invite them to a company event so they can start getting to know their team. This way, you ensure higher engagement and a more positive hiring process overall.

2. Be Transparent About Your Company Values

Another way to boost employee engagement during onboarding is to be clear about company values and principles. Entering a new workplace that is honest and transparent about its practices establishes trust and makes employees feel safe in their decision to invest their time and effort into the company. Furthermore, knowing and staying connected to company values contributes to the integration of new employees into the organizational culture. It allows new hires to understand expected behaviors and unspoken communication norms, making collaboration with their colleagues easier. Finally, transparency inspires employees to embrace and uphold company values, strengthening their commitment to the company and ensuring longer retention.

3. Establish Clear Expectations

Starting a new job can be challenging and stressful for many employees. You don’t want to aggravate this situation by leaving your new hires directionless. Even if you have explained the job role during the hiring process, make sure to provide detailed explanations of the specific tasks and responsibilities they are expected to complete. Additionally, describe how their role fits into the company culture and set early goals to get them started. This will boost their motivation and give them the confidence to take accountability and ownership of their work. Soon, they will be aligned with the company vision and ready to match the productivity and efficiency levels of their teammates.

4. Prioritize Fostering Relationships

When launching an onboarding process, it’s important to prioritize relationship-building—relationships with colleagues, team members, superiors, and, if applicable, clients. New hires enter an environment where everyone already knows and collaborates with each other, and if you don’t want them to feel left out, you need to ensure their prompt integration. By doing so, you help them feel like part of the community and boost their morale and engagement. Most importantly, you give them access to a support system that provides them with the necessary tools and resources to understand their role and start growing within it. Lastly, establishing open communication channels facilitates feedback exchange, resulting in more effective onboarding for current and future employees.

5. Remember That Onboarding Is Never Over

You shouldn’t view onboarding as a process with a clear ending point. Although some steps might need to be completed within the 30 or 60-day mark, the essence of onboarding is that it lasts beyond that point. For example, you must maintain a consistent level of communication and support throughout your collaboration with your employees, as well as continue to celebrate their successes and achievements. Continuous onboarding not only contributes to employee engagement and retention but also helps employees steadily progress in their skillsets and careers, empowering them to reach their full potential.


At the end of the day, the significance of effective onboarding for employee engagement cannot possibly be downplayed. By focusing on creating a comprehensive, positive, and engaging onboarding experience, you pave the way for a thriving workforce that will remain loyal and help you achieve your organizational goals. In addition, investing in onboarding will help you foster a supportive work environment that supports employee development and positions you as a desirable employer in the industry. Follow the tips we shared in this article and make sure your employees receive the best first impression when joining your team.

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