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Employee onboarding best practices: The complete guide

Published April 8, 2024 (last updated on April 8, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

A woman showing a new male employee how to log in to the data system

Welcoming new members to your team is a critical step in their journey with your organisation and getting it right can significantly impact their effectiveness and longevity at your company. A well-structured employee onboarding process helps new hires feel valued and supported, laying the groundwork for success.   

Here we delve into the best practices for employee onboarding, ensuring your process is effective and enriching.  

Understanding effective onboarding practices 

Effective onboarding goes beyond mere orientation; it’s an extensive process designed to integrate new employees into the company culture, align them with organisational goals and equip them with the tools and knowledge needed to excel in their roles. The goal is to create a welcoming and informative experience that fosters engagement and connection from day one.  

Benefits of a strong onboarding process 

Investing in a well-designed onboarding process significantly benefits your organisation and new employees. Here are some key advantages: 

  • Increased employee retention: A positive onboarding experience delivers a sense of belonging and reduces the likelihood of new hires leaving within the first few months. 

  • Improved productivity: Effective onboarding equips new hires with the knowledge and skills they need to hit the ground running. This translates to reduced reliance on colleagues for basic tasks and ultimately increased productivity. 

  • More revenue: Since a strong onboarding process leads to higher employee retention, there's also the potential to generate more revenue. A study by the Human Capital Institute revealed 78% of organisations with strong onboarding processes reported increases in revenue that fiscal year. 

  • Enhanced employee engagement: When new hires feel valued, supported, and integrated into the team from day one, they're more likely to be engaged and motivated. This translates to a more positive work environment and increased employee satisfaction. 

  • Stronger employer brand: A positive onboarding experience reflects well on your company culture and employer brand. Satisfied new hires are more likely to recommend your company to others, attracting top talent in the future. 

  • Reduced costs: High turnover rates can be costly. A strong onboarding process helps retain employees, reducing recruitment and training costs associated with replacing them. 

Key elements of a successful onboarding process in New Zealand 

Here's a breakdown of the key elements to include in your onboarding and hiring process: 

Pre-boarding communication 

Before their first day, connect with new hires and provide them with essential information, including: 

  • start date. 

  • office address. 

  • working hours (including any relevant information about flexible work arrangements common in New Zealand). 

  • dress code (consider referencing any company swag or branded apparel they might receive). 

  • what they should bring on their first day. 

Consider sending a welcome pack or digital handbook outlining company values, team structure and what they can expect during their onboarding journey. This can ease pre-work jitters and demonstrates professionalism. 

First day experiences 

Make the first day memorable with a warm welcome from the team, introductions to key colleagues and a clear schedule outlining the day's activities.  

Ensure their workstation is set up and functional, with all necessary equipment and access to relevant systems. This demonstrates attention to detail and care for their comfort. 

Comprehensive orientation program 

Develop a program that covers not just job-specific training but also an overview of: 

  • company policies and procedures, including specific information relevant to New Zealand employment law

  • company culture and values. 

  • health and safety procedures (adhering to New Zealand WorkSafe guidelines). 

  • key contacts within the organisation, including HR representatives and relevant team leads. 

Include sessions on the company's history, mission, and values. This helps new employees connect to the broader organisational goals and feel a sense of purpose in their role. 

Assigning a mentor or buddy 

Pairing new hires with a hiring manager or an experienced employee can provide invaluable support during their initial weeks. A mentor can answer questions in a relaxed setting, offer guidance on navigating company culture and facilitate social integration within the team.  

Ongoing support and check-ins 

Onboarding doesn't end after the first week or month. Regular check-ins with managers and the HR department are crucial in New Zealand. These check-ins should: 

  • solicit feedback from the new hire on their induction process

  • address any concerns they might have. 

  • provide ongoing guidance and support. 

Employee onboarding best practices in New Zealand 

Here are some additional best practices to consider for your onboarding process.  

Personalise the experience 

Recognising individual learning styles and career aspirations can enhance the effectiveness of the employee's onboarding experience. This might involve offering a mix of training methods (e.g., online modules, hands-on exercises, one-on-one coaching) and tailoring feedback to individual needs.  

Leverage technology 

Utilise digital tools and platforms to streamline administrative tasks, deliver training modules and facilitate social connections, which is especially important for remote or hybrid working environments common in New Zealand.  

Consider using project management tools for task delegation and collaboration, communication platforms for team discussions and online learning platforms for accessible training materials.  

Measure and iterate 

Establish metrics to evaluate the success of your onboarding process. This could include: 

  • employee satisfaction surveys. 

  • time to productivity (measuring how long it takes new hires to reach full efficiency). 

  • retention rates. 

Use feedback to continually refine and improve the onboarding experience. Regularly review your onboarding program and make adjustments based on data and employee feedback.  

Cultural integration 

Emphasise cultural fit and understanding from the start. Encourage new hires to engage in social and team-building activities to generate a sense of belonging and alignment with the company culture.  

Consider incorporating elements of Kiwi culture, such as a focus on work-life balance, respect for diversity and inclusion and a "can-do" attitude, into your onboarding activities.  

10 employee onboarding best practices examples  

What does great onboarding look like in practice? Here are 10 engaging ideas to enrich your onboarding program and ensure a smooth transition for your new team members. 

  1. Welcome kit: Send a welcome package before the new hire’s first day, including company swag, an itinerary for the first week and a personalised welcome note from the team or CEO. 

  2. Virtual introduction: For remote workers, organise a virtual meet-and-greet session with the team. This can include fun ice-breaker activities to enhance connections from the start. 

  3. Interactive onboarding portal: Develop an interactive onboarding portal where new hires can access essential documents, training modules and information about company culture at their own pace. 

  4. Role-specific training plans: Create detailed training plans tailored to the new employee's role, ensuring they have a clear understanding of their responsibilities, the tools they'll use and who to contact for support. 

  5. 'Meet the executives' sessions: Schedule informal sessions where new employees can meet with executives. This promotes openness and reinforces that every team member’s contributions are valued. 

  6. Feedback loop: Implement a structured feedback mechanism where new hires can share their onboarding experiences and suggestions for improvement. This could be through one-on-one meetings or anonymous surveys. 

  7. Cultural immersion activities: Organise activities that immerse the new employee in the company culture, such as team lunches, company-wide town halls, or volunteering events aligned with company values. 

  8. Onboarding checklist: Provide managers and new hires with a comprehensive onboarding checklist to track progress through various stages, ensuring no critical steps are missed. 

  9. Professional development planning: Early in the onboarding process, begin discussions around career aspirations and professional development opportunities, demonstrating investment in the new hire’s growth and success within the company. 

  10. Celebrating milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate the completion of the new hire's first week, first project or other early milestones. Recognition can be as simple as a shout-out in a team meeting or a congratulatory note. 

Creating a culture of welcome and growth 

A well-designed onboarding process goes beyond ticking off tasks on a checklist. It's about creating a welcoming and inclusive environment where new hires feel valued, supported, and empowered to succeed.   

By implementing these onboarding best practices and tailoring them to the New Zealand work environment, you can build a culture of growth and employee engagement.  

Additional considerations for creating an inclusive culture in New Zealand include supporting diverse teams and emphasising work-life balance. 

  • Supporting diverse teams: New Zealand is a multicultural society. Ensure your onboarding program is inclusive and caters to the needs of a diverse workforce. This might involve providing translated materials, offering flexible work arrangements, and developing a culture of respect for different backgrounds and working styles. 

  • Work-life balance: New Zealanders value a healthy work-life balance. Communicate your commitment to work-life balance during onboarding and ensure your onboarding process doesn't overwhelm new hires with excessive workloads or unreasonable expectations. 

Fuelling long-term success: Empower your onboarding 

Ready to refine your onboarding process even further?  We offer a downloadable onboarding template packed with best practices.  

Still seeking guidance? Employsure’s helpline is available 24/7 at 0800 675 700. Call for a personalised consultation and to ensure your onboarding program lays the groundwork for thriving new team members. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long should the onboarding process last?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer. The ideal onboarding process can last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity of the role and the organisation's size. The key is to ensure new hires have the knowledge, skills and support they need to be successful in their roles. 

What are some legal requirements for onboarding new employees in New Zealand?

Employers in New Zealand have legal obligations towards their employees. During onboarding, ensure new hires are familiar with:

  • Minimum wage and holiday pay entitlements.
  • Health and safety procedures.
  • Right to breaks and flexible work arrangements (if applicable).

Several resources are available to help you create a compliant onboarding program in New Zealand. Here are a few:

How much does a good onboarding program cost?

The cost of an onboarding software program can vary depending on the resources and technology used. However, the investment in a strong onboarding process is often outweighed by the benefits of increased employee retention, productivity, and engagement. 

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