Effective Employee Onboarding Practices

by | Dec 14, 2023

Employers must be careful not to confuse employee onboarding with employee orientation. Onboarding involves much more than helping new hires fill out their direct deposit forms, select insurance plans, and set up their retirement account contributions. Instead, onboarding should focus on making new employees feel comfortable and connected with the employer so that they can be in the best position to succeed.

An employee onboarding process that consistently engages new employees from their first day on the job throughout their first few months—and beyond—increases the chances that both the employee and the employer feel like the match was made in heaven. Here are five best practices for employee onboarding.

Setting Performance Expectations

At a minimum, employers should set clear performance goals and expectations for new employees to meet (and exceed) at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day marks of their tenure. The team(s) that an employee will work with should also understand what will be expected of the new hire, including what duties and tasks the employee will be responsible for completing, when they will be expected to complete them, and which team members will be responsible for assisting the employee with them.

After 90 days, both the employee and the employer should know whether they are a right fit for each other. Most times, however, they will know well before the 90-day mark whether the relationship will be fruitful for both.

Periodic HR Check-Ins

Even after their first days on the job, new hires often have questions about the benefits and amenities they have access to through their employer. Some of those questions, like ones concerning health insurance, might weigh on a new hire because of how those benefits and amenities affect their lives outside of work. When HR team members check in with new hires at the 30-, 60-, and 90-day mark, they can answer questions the employees have that they do not feel comfortable raising with their team or supervisor, while also discussing with the employees how their performance is going as they continue to get acclimated.

Ongoing Mentorship

Although various supervisors, team members, and even HR representatives will play a role in helping a new employee get up to speed, employers should assign a new hire’s colleague to serve as a mentor or “buddy” for them. The mentor will serve as an informal resource for the new employee when they have questions about working at the company that they don’t feel comfortable asking through “official” channels. Whether it is learning the best place nearby to grab lunch, what the expectation is for keeping your camera on during a video call, or whether the employer lets employees work from home or leave the office early the day before a holiday, mentors can help new hires get comfortable in their new positions.

Involvement from Key Team Members

A new hire’s direct supervisor and other key team members should be directly involved in helping train and integrate them. The new hire should also be briefed on which team members will be most directly responsible for their training and orientation. In addition, new hires should have one-on-one meetings with firm leaders, department managers, and supervisors to learn everybody’s role in the organization. Meeting with firm leaders and managers can help new employees feel connected to the organization more quickly, especially if they work in a remote role.

This involvement from key team members can also come as shadowing. By doing so, a new hire will gain more context for the work they do, the work their colleagues do, how their employer conducts business, and the overall role they play in that effort. Though they may not expect to interact much with the people they meet when they’re shadowing a colleague, the experience allows them to meet new colleagues beyond those they work with normally, which could help them build more relationships and make them feel more comfortable in their position.

Consistent Outreach for 12 Months

Many employee onboarding processes can be measured in weeks, if not days. But the most effective onboarding processes last for an entire year. They are built on consistent outreach from HR team members and an employee’s managers that give the employee a feeling that their employer is invested in them and is looking out for them. This outreach includes ongoing discussions about performance expectations and mentorship, with the goal of ensuring the employee feels connected and productive throughout their first year at the employer.

Employee Onboarding is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Unlike employee orientation, which is typically completed within a few days of a new hire starting their job, employee onboarding should be a months-long process. The most effective employee onboarding programs involve close support, consistent check-ins, and a genuine effort by a new hire’s colleagues to help them feel comfortable and connected with their team and the employer, making it more likely that they settle in quickly and are poised for long-term success in their position.


Interested in learning more about how Verus can assist your law firm with establishing best practices in its human resources function, including an effective employee onboarding process? Email us at info@verusllc.com or call us at 888.681.1129 to arrange an initial consultation.

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