A practical guide to employee onboarding

Business Process Management

In this guide, we’re going to teach you everything there is to know about employee onboarding – why it’s important, how to do it right, and best practices for the future.

Vendr | Employee onboarding
Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
October 7, 2016
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In this guide, we’re going to teach you everything there is to know about employee onboarding – why it’s important, how to do it right, and best practices for the future. We’re also going to give you a new employee onboarding checklist that you can customize for your own business. We'll cover:

  • What is employee onboarding and why is it important?
  • How structured onboarding can significantly improve your business.
  • How you can use SaaS management to automate your employee onboarding workflows.

What is employee onboarding?

Simply put, employee onboarding is the process that takes a newcomer to your organization and gives them the skills, knowledge, and tools to be an effective member of the team, and, eventually, an insider.

Many companies look at onboarding as an afterthought: it took a lot of effort to find and vet the right person, so 90% of the job is done, right? This means they often don’t have an actual process for onboarding, it’s being done on an ad-hoc basis.

Employees request access to services or credentials when they need them, rather than receiving all of the appropriate onboarding materials up-front. This is inefficient and can slow down productivity. In 2018, Urbanbound found that loss of productivity due to new hire learning curves can cost a company anywhere from 1% to 2.5% of total business revenue.

For a lot of companies, onboarding = paperwork. but in reality, it’s so much more than that. You want the employee to feel like part of the company. You want them to have access to all the necessary knowledge and information. You want them to get the required training, and not feel lost on day one.

Onboarding requires a lot of collaboration between departments, which is usually what makes it so hard. It’s not just HR and IT, either – you also have the employee’s department and team lead involved.

HR manages the formal hiring process, screening, documentation, payroll, and benefits (often with the help of software solutions like workforce management software). IT manages the distribution of email accounts, company credentials, workstation hardware, software tools, and more. The team lead must integrate the new hire into the team, helping them understand the knowledge and tools they’ll need for the job, as well as the greater company culture.

This distribution of responsibility also leads to a process we call “Collaborative IT”

There’s usually no one really owning the entire onboarding process, and for a ton of large organizations, the whole thing can go real hectic real fast. Having a strong structured onboarding process can help keep the process organized and improve efficiency. Onboarding programs have been shown to increase retention by 25% and even improve employee performance by up to 11% (ClearCompany, 2019)

If you want to REALLY get the most out of your onboarding, you should use workflow softwaref to manage the process from a central location and make sure that everything is managed sufficiently.

Benefits of Employee Onboarding

Effective onboarding helps build culture and happy employees, which leads to a productive team and company. Some of the main benefits include:


Taking a people-first approach has the added benefit of improving your organization’s productivity. The faster you get someone up and running, the sooner they can add value to your company. So if you’re focused on the bottom line, think of optimizing the onboarding process as a way to increase the ROI of a new hire. People need access to the right apps, tools, and people to do their jobs well, and a good onboarding process will enable this efficiently.

Better retention

People are the lifeblood of your company. In fact, they are your company. So how you get them started is important. A strong onboarding program can increase retention by 25% and performance by 11%. Often we think of onboarding as a technical process, and parts of it may be, but we must remember that people are at the center of it. We should strive to build processes that take this into account. It’s the right thing to do, and it will benefit the organization as a whole.

Better security

You can’t risk company or customer data leaks or security breaches, and one of the best ways to avoid this is to develop tightly controlled onboarding processes to ensure that the right people have the right levels of access at the right time. A whopping one-third of all companies have already experienced an insider threat incident, according to a recent SANS report. A proper onboarding process dramatically decreases the odds that your company will be vulnerable to this type of attack. It’s easy for credential allocation and privileged access controls to slip through the cracks if there aren’t clear processes in place. Protect your organization’s security by getting this right.

Employee onboarding best practices

Here are some ways to quickly improve your processes:

Help new hires understand team goals, priorities and success measures

Corporate onboarding should cover the firm’s overall mission and corporate goals. However, each team’s onboarding can help the new hire to immediately understand the focus and the priorities of their new department and team.

Help them know their individual goals, assessment criteria and career path

New hires will better understand their job responsibilities and what that will be assessed on by showing them their own individual KPI’s, their bonus formula and the elements contained in their performance appraisal form.

Help them understand and appreciate the impact of their job

If new employees immediately know “why” their work is important and their impact, they are more likely to be productive and focused.

Utilize analytics to continually improve your onboarding program

In today’s highly competitive recruiting and retention environment, excellence is required. And you can’t usually achieve your quality goals unless all major onboarding decisions are made based on data.

Survey your new hires that went through your onboarding after 1, 6, and 12 months have gone by. Use that survey data to identify the program components that worked, those that need improvement and those that need to be added.

The ultimate employee onboarding checklist

Not sure what to include in your employee onboarding? Here’s our checklist you can steal and customize!

Pre-first day:

  • Inform current employees of hire: Communicate to current staff so nobody is taken by surprise by the changes.
  • Assign onboarding roles: Be sure current employees are aware of their responsibilities re: onboarding the new team member.
  • Prepare new employee office/workstation: Includes items like: furniture, telephone, computer, desk supplies, chair, branded gear.
  • Prepare facility requirements: Includes keys, badges, anything required for physical access.

First day:

  • Welcome tour: Give the new hire a guided tour of the facilities to get them acquainted.
  • Personal workstation set-up for new hire: Give your new team member time to get their workstation set up to their liking and any support needed.
  • HR documentation: Includes W-4, I-9, insurance forms, direct deposit forms, any non-disclosure agreements, etc.
  • Provision software and accounts: Make sure your new hire has access to company email, shared drives, and any software tools necessary.
  • Meeting w/ direct manager: To establish basic processes and standards.
  • Review company policies and culture: To better integrate your new hire into the overall organism.

After the first day:

  • Set-up early check-ins: Early weekly (or more) check-ins with direct management will allow your new hire to start off on the right foot and be aware of what’s expected.
  • Further legal/HR documentation: Any further documentation needed for payroll, benefits, etc.
  • Set 30-60-90 day plans: Set up expectations into the future, as well as set times to check-in, complete surveys, and explore progress.
  • Organize social activities to include new hire: Make sure new faces are included!

Use SaaS management to simplify employee onboarding

SaaS management helps automate and scale the onboarding process in a few ways. Our workflow engine provides you with workflows and automations to ensure that your onboarding is structured and scalable, with clear tasks for everyone involved.

Automate Onboarding

Whether you trigger your onboarding, a new workflow is generated.

All you have to do is sign up for a Demo, and create your workflow through the “Workflow Gallery.”

Vendr | Blissfully Workflow Gallery

Configure team onboarding

Your workflow pulls a list of teams from your Google Groups. Create customized onboarding plans for each team.

Vendr | Employee onboarding

Select teams

Click “Start new” on the workflow you want to begin and input employee details.

Vendr | Onboarding

Select tasks

Then choose the individual tasks for this workflow. These can be assigned to anyone in the company.

Vendr | Employee onboarding

Launch your workflow

From now on, all you have to do is retrigger the workflow and it will automatically generate the necessary list of tasks for any new employee. Or customize by role and team.

Vendr | Blissfully onboarding


The software-defined approach outlined above allows you to manage the employee lifecycle in a way that is people-centric. It both smoothes out the process for the employees themselves during onboarding and also streamlines work for HR and IT professionals who are charged with managing the process.

These tools are also key to boosting productivity, in that they automate many of the routine and rote tasks that would otherwise consume valuable time for your new and departing employees, as well as HR and IT professionals.

These tools support security, by ensuring that access to key data and information is carefully controlled and automatically provisioned and de-provisioned at the appropriate moments.

Finally, by using software-defined solutions to track the employee lifecycle, you will be better able to meet **compliance mandates and regulations** that apply to your business.

To sum it up, the employee lifecycle approach outlined here, when executed with technologies like the ones described above, will help make your organization a better place to work, while protecting your valuable assets and enabling your long-term success.

Vendr Team
Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

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