The onboarding process flow

Different business units all play a role in welcoming a new employee

In addition to being a key component to introducing a new employee to their role, effective employee onboarding workflows also:

  • Bring together all the necessary departments and individuals to streamline the onboarding process
  • Consolidate necessary onboarding tasks and workflows
  • And lay the foundation for successful hiring.

While HR teams have typically been responsible for onboarding new employees, other departments—including finance, facilities, IT, and legal—also perform key roles in supporting new hires.

Here’s a look at how interdepartmental collaboration and individual stakeholder involvement helps modernize and improve the onboarding process flow.

Onboarding begins with the job offer. A recruiter is typically involved at this stage and remains so at least until an offer is accepted and all parties agree on salary, start date, and other details.

Acceptance of a job offer sets in motion a number of tasks and workflows behind the scenes, beginning a process known as “preboarding.” Although some new hires won’t interact with their future employer until their first day, others use this preboarding period to get a jump on information-sharing and paperwork.

Forward-thinking HR departments may automatically send new hires a welcome packet, sometimes in digital form, that outlines benefits and company policies on privacy, data protection, health and safety, discrimination, harassment, and more.

HR may also share materials needed by finance and legal teams for payroll and compliance purposes. Forms requiring a signature can include a W-2 for the IRS, proof of citizenship status, and non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. While new employees tackle paperwork, managers often begin working with IT and facilities to allocate their workspace, order a computer and other basic equipment, and prepare network access credentials.

What many HR professionals call the Day One checklist is perhaps the longest set of required actions in the entire onboarding process. This doesn’t have to be a chokepoint, however. Completing a rigorous preboarding checklist takes some of the time pressure off Day One, making it easier for employees to hit the ground running.

In addition to meeting new co-workers and getting situated in a workspace, traditional Day One tasks typically include:

  • Setting up a new computer,
  • Choosing a username and password for shared software and communications platforms,
  • And opening a company email account, which may require hands-on assistance from IT.

To quickly familiarize themselves with specialized software used by their team, employees can begin training right away, either through a learning and development platform or with real-time guidance from co-workers.

With some of the pressure or routine rigors taken off of the first day, other employee onboarding processes that may not be as time-sensitive can be completed during the first week of employment and at the employee’s pace, such as:

  • Selecting and enrolling in a health care plan,
  • Enrolling for a corporate credit card or smartphone plan,
  • Ordering business cards,
  • Or requesting access to specialized services like travel expense accounts or a company car.

This flexibility frees up new hires to engage in more stimulating aspects of their role, engaging them in their roles more quickly and effectively.

Companies with large numbers of incoming employees may stage orientations every Monday to welcome groups of new hires, distribute swag, and show employees around the office.

To facilitate added new hire integration with the organization and its culture, within the first month of the employee onboarding process, managers may:

  • Suggest online classes or microlearning opportunities to bolster necessary skills,
  • Make reskilling opportunities available,
  • And stage social events to help new hires forge relationships with team members and more established employees.

Managers can also use this time to set up check-ins with new hires to gauge their progress and establish a precedent of proactive employee onboarding. New employees are often asked to complete surveys about the onboarding experience and these may be repeated on a schedule — the end of their first week, month, quarter, and year, for example — for the most robust, detailed information.

At many companies, onboarding is “Day One and done.” However, the most effective onboarding programs continue for as long as a year as employees settle into their new roles. These process flows can build off of the first week and first month processes, checking in with employees and creating a pattern of communication and documentation. Additional professional development opportunities may be offered, along with regular, continued employee surveys and social engagements.

This process can help surveying managers and co-workers concurrently capture a 360-degree view of how the employee’s tenure is working out for the entire team.

Feedback collected over the course of the first year becomes even more valuable when employees leave a company. HR managers may find patterns in early surveys that correlate strongly to a risk of the employee quitting prematurely, allowing for intervention to forestall a valued team member’s departure. Year-long employee onboarding process flows can also contribute to increased employee retention and more engaged employees.


The onboarding process refers to the set of steps required to effectively integrate a new hire into an organization. It includes expectations setting; introduction to company culture, systems, and co-workers; and imparting the foundational knowledge necessary to perform the role.

Evaluate onboarding by soliciting feedback from new hires and hiring managers. Use anonymous surveys to seek input on what worked well and what can be improved. Other evaluation techniques include comparing the productivity of new hires vs. experienced employees, and tracking first-year turnover.

The onboarding process for new employees typically consists of some consistent elements. It begins with recruitment, moves to interviews and office visits (if applicable), includes the sending of an offer letter, and then the important activities that occur on Day 1 and within the first few weeks.

HR professionals agree that the ideal onboarding process should last roughly 90 days, as new hires meet co-workers and settle into their roles. That said, recent research shows an onboarding process that continues through the year, with regular check-ins, can improve employee retention rates.

If a new employee reaches the onboarding phase, that typically means they have gotten the job. That said, within the organization, onboarding should begin even before an offer letter is sent, with digital workflows in place to bring the new hire on board in a smooth and efficient manner.