Call Now
  1. Home
  2. Guides
  3. Other employment relations
  4. What is employee onboarding

What is employee onboarding?

Published March 28, 2024 (last updated on April 2, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Copywriter and Content Creator

A group of colleages gathered around a computer on a desk

Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new staff into your New Zealand business. It ensures they feel welcome, equipped, and supported to become happy and productive contributors. 

This comprehensive guide will provide you with the knowledge and tools to create a successful onboarding program for new hires. We'll delve into the importance of a formal onboarding program, explore the key stages of the process, and offer practical steps to ensure your new employees feel well-informed and empowered from day one. 

What is onboarding? 

In a competitive job market, attracting top talent is only half the battle. Retaining those stellar employees requires a smooth and engaging onboarding experience.  

The onboarding process starts with the offer of employment and extends through preparing the workspace, completing paperwork, meeting the new team members and providing ongoing support. A successful onboarding program can last for several months to a year, with regular communication and check-ins to provide feedback and address any concerns early. 

The importance of employee onboarding  

A well-structured onboarding process and program helps new employees feel comfortable and confident in their new job environment. 

Research by Brandon Hall Group indicates that a good onboarding program can result in a productivity boost of over 70%. This creates greater job satisfaction, happiness, and likelihood of staying with the company long-term. It also benefits existing staff by ensuring a smooth transition for the new team member. 

How employee onboarding reduces turnover 

Data from the Work Institute shows that replacing a single employee can cost a company one-third of their salary. This includes recruitment fees, lost productivity during the vacancy period and the time and resources invested in training a replacement. 

Here's how a well-designed onboarding program can significantly reduce your turnover rate and expenses: 

  • Increased engagement: A strong onboarding process creates a sense of welcome and belonging, leading to higher employee engagement from the start. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the company and contribute their best work. 

  • Improved productivity: Effective onboarding equips new hires with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in their roles. This translates to quicker ramp-up times and increased productivity from day one, minimising the period of lost productivity associated with turnover. 

  • Reduced risk of disappointment: A clear and comprehensive onboarding program sets realistic expectations and ensures new hires understand their roles and responsibilities. This reduces the risk of disappointment or feeling overwhelmed, which can contribute to early turnover. 

  • Stronger employer brand: A positive onboarding experience leaves a lasting impression on new hires. This can enhance your company's reputation as a workplace of choice, attracting and retaining top talent in the competitive NZ job market. 

Investing in a strong onboarding program is not just about welcoming new hires, it's a strategic investment in reducing turnover costs and building a successful, long-term team for your New Zealand business. 

Steps to onboarding a new employee in New Zealand 

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to an effective employee onboarding process. The ideal program depends on your company's culture, industry, and employee preferences. However, some key elements remain consistent for a positive and efficient onboarding experience: 

Before the first day: 

  • Inform current staff: Let your team know a new employee is joining, outlining their role, department, responsibilities, and start date. This prepares your team to welcome the new hire effectively. 

  • Prepare the paperwork: Ensure all necessary documents, from tax forms to company policies (employment agreements, KiwiSaver scheme information), are ready for signing on the first day. Consider using cloud-based onboarding software to allow pre-filling and electronic signing. 

  • Prepare the workstation: Set up a clean, functional workspace with any required equipment, computer, monitors, software, or tools pre-installed. Order special supplies well in advance to avoid delays. 

  • Appoint a mentor: Assign a dedicated mentor (ideally a trustworthy and experienced employee) to guide and support the new hire. This person can be responsible for showing the new employee where facilities are, the kitchen, location of office supplies if required, or any other important areas of the workplace they may need.  

On the first day: 

  • Remind staff: Inform reception and relevant team members about the new employee's arrival and who they should report to. 

  • Welcome breakfast/morning tea/lunch: Organise a casual gathering for the new employee to meet the team and start building relationships. 

  • Guided tour: Provide a guided tour of the workplace, including their workstation, exits, bathrooms and common areas. 

  • Training: Conduct internal training to familiarise the new employee with their role, company procedures, health and safety protocols, code of conduct, and the company culture. 

After the first day: 

  • Maintain rapport: Schedule regular check-ins with the new employee over the following weeks and months. This can be a mix of casual chats, follow-up 1:1 meetings and performance reviews. Provide opportunities for them to voice any concerns or to seek clarity on procedures. 

  • Maintain records: Keep track of interactions with the new employee, either electronically or physically. This allows you to monitor progress and adjust the program for future hires. 

How employee onboarding software can help 

Onboarding software can streamline and personalise the recruitment process in New Zealand. These onboarding programs automate paperwork and free up time for more meaningful interactions with new hires.  

Both you and the new employee can access the platform through a computer, laptop, or mobile device to complete tasks such as: 

  • Capturing employee details. 

  • Auto-generating employment agreements and policy documents for signing. 

  • Syncing data with payroll systems. 

  • Selecting a preferred KiwiSaver scheme. 

  • Accessing exclusive company benefits. 

Other onboarding materials for NZ businesses 

  • Company handbook: This essential document outlines company policies, procedures, health and safety guidelines, dress code, performance expectations and more. Ensure it's up-to-date and reflects New Zealand employment law. 

  • Equipment: Provide the necessary tools and equipment for the new employee to perform their job effectively. This may include a laptop, mobile phone, stationery, or protective clothing. Order special supplies well in advance to avoid delays. 

  • Online resources: Provide the new employee access to all online resources like company calendars and project management websites and project folders. 

  • Office-based resources: Include an organisational chart outlining the team structure and key contacts and a directory with employee contact information. 

Is the virtual onboarding process the same? 

Virtual onboarding is crucial in today's remote work landscape to ensure a smooth integration for remote employees and new hires. The shift to remote work necessitates a slightly different approach to the traditional in-office role.  

Whether your new employee is based in New Zealand or overseas, it’s important to welcome and train them effectively, setting them up for success from day one. Here are key strategies for successfully onboarding new hires in a virtual environment: 


  • Welcome package: Send a package with company merchandise – a water bottle, coffee mug, , notepad and pen. Add a personalised note, and other goodies. 

  • Remote ready: Ship essential work equipment directly to their home. 

  • Paperless onboarding process: Utilise online software for electronic document completion. 

  • Virtual introductions: Schedule video calls to introduce their manager or key team members they will work and collaborate with regularly. 

First day and week: 

  • Remote welcome: Organise a meeting to introduce the new hire to the wider team. 

  • Virtual office tour: Conduct a virtual tour of the physical office (if applicable) using video call. 

  • Home office help: Provide a guide or video call to assist with setting up a functional home workspace. 

  • Structured schedule: Outline a clear daily/weekly schedule with virtual meetings, training, and dedicated work time. 

  • Communication channels: Establish clear communication channels like Slack, Teams, or project management platforms. 

First 30-90 Days: 

  • Regular check-ins: Schedule video calls to discuss progress, answer questions and address concerns. 

  • Virtual training: Utilise online learning platforms and video conferencing for interactive training. 

  • Performance management: Set goals and utilise online tools for performance reviews. 

  • Virtual buddy system: Assign a virtual buddy for informal support and guidance. 

  • Social activities: Organise virtual team-building events and social activities to build camaraderie. 

During the virtual onboarding process, remember to: 

  • Overcommunicate: Be clear, and concise and encourage questions to avoid misunderstandings. 

  • Emphasise culture: Showcase company culture through video calls, online platforms, and internal communications. 

  • Embrace technology: Utilise online tools to keep the induction process engaging and interactive. 

  • Seek feedback: Encourage regular feedback from new hires to improve the virtual onboarding process for other remote hires. 

By following these tips, you can create a successful onboarding program that integrates remote hires into your team, building a strong foundation for their success, even when working virtually. 

Eight ways to improve the new employee onboarding experience 

As you now know, creating a memorable onboarding experience is crucial for long-term employee success and job satisfaction in your New Zealand business. Here are eight ways to make a lasting positive impression and improve the onboarding experience for your new hires: 

  1. Pre-boarding welcome: Before their first day, send a personalised welcome package with company merchandise, a handwritten note, and resources that showcase your company culture. 

  2. Warm introductions: On their first day, prepare the team to meet and greet the new employee. Assign a dedicated person to provide ongoing support throughout the onboarding process. 

  3. Equipped workstation: Prepare a clean and organised workspace with pre-installed tools and software. This eliminates technical hurdles and allows them to begin working efficiently from day one. 

  4. Streamlined onboarding process: Utilise cloud-based onboarding software to streamline paperwork and free up valuable time for meaningful conversations with the new employee. 

  5. Living company culture: Don't just explain your company culture; bring it to life. Share relevant blog posts, internal communications and even company videos to give them a clear picture of your work environment. 

  6. Comprehensive benefits overview: Introduce the new employee to your company's comprehensive benefits package, including health insurance, KiwiSaver options and any unique perks you offer (like subsidised gym memberships or team social events). 

  7. Tailored training program: Move beyond generic training. Focus on role-specific tasks and share relevant industry knowledge and company processes to equip them for success. 

  8. Inclusive team events: Organise social events or team lunches to build a sense of belonging. Games, trivia nights or even virtual happy hours can be a great way to break the ice and build team spirit. 

Creating an inclusive onboarding experience for your team 

Creating a welcoming and inclusive onboarding experience is crucial for setting your new hires up for success in your New Zealand business. An inclusive onboarding checklist ensures ALL new hires feel welcome, regardless of background.  This reduces bias and empowers everyone to contribute.  It leads to better decision-making, innovation and higher employee engagement — a win-win for the new hire and your business. 

Here are some steps you can take to ensure your onboarding policy is inclusive: 

  • Before they start, let the new employee know what to expect workload-wise and from their team.  

  • Schedule 1:1 meeting with their manager and a mentor to discuss goals and answer questions.  

  • Deliver an orientation program using inclusive language and accessible formats.  

  • Offer a clear training plan with opportunities for collaborative learning, including access to relevant e-learning modules.  

  • Conduct regular check-ins to discuss progress, goals, and the new hire's experience so far.  

  • Celebrate early accomplishments. 

By focusing on inclusion throughout the onboarding process ensures your new hires feel comfortable and empowered to contribute their best work. 

Common onboarding challenges and solutions  

While the benefits of a strong onboarding period are clear, New Zealand businesses sometimes face challenges in its implementation. Here are some common hurdles and solutions to consider: 

1. Lack of time and resources 

  • Solution: Utilise cloud-based onboarding software to streamline paperwork and free up valuable time for training and mentoring. Involve existing team members in the onboarding process by assigning mentors or buddies to support new hires. 

2. Inconsistent onboarding practices 

  • Solution: Develop a standardised onboarding process with clear steps and timelines. Create onboarding checklists and templates to ensure a consistent experience for all new hires. 

3. Remote onboarding difficulties 

  • Solution: Leverage video conferencing for introductions, training sessions and virtual office tours. Provide remote-specific resources like guides for setting up a home workspace and establishing clear communication channels. 

4. Lack of engagement and motivation 

  • Solution: Integrate interactive elements like online learning modules, gamification, and collaborative activities into the onboarding. Schedule regular check-ins with new hires to discuss progress, address concerns and celebrate early wins. 

5. Limited cultural integration 

  • Solution: Actively showcase your company culture through onboarding activities, team lunches, and access to internal communication channels. Provide opportunities for new hires to connect with colleagues from diverse backgrounds and foster a sense of belonging. 

By understanding these common challenges and implementing solutions, New Zealand businesses can overcome these hurdles and create a successful onboarding program that sets their new hires up for continued success. 

Building solid foundations: Onboarding advice in NZ 

With this comprehensive list of onboarding materials, you're well on your way to creating a smooth onboarding experience for your new hires. 

Want to take your onboarding to the next level? Download our free onboarding template or explore our new employee onboarding checklist for additional resources and best practices. 

Still have questions? Employsure's HR experts are here to help. Call our 24/7 helpline now on 0800 675 700 to discuss your specific needs and ensure your new employee immediately feels part of the team. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 phases of employee onboarding?

The four phases of the employee onboarding process are:

  • Pre-boarding: This occurs before the first day and involves tasks like sending a welcome package, completing paperwork electronically and scheduling introductions.
  • First day and first week: This focuses on welcoming the new employee, setting up their workspace and providing initial training.
  • First month: This phase involves ongoing training, mentorship, and performance check-ins to ensure the new employee is comfortable and adjusting well.
  • First three to six months: This is a period of continued support, setting goals and performance reviews to help the new employee integrate fully into the team and their role.
Can employee onboarding be too long?

While crucial, an employee stuck in the onboarding process for too long can grow fatigued. The key is balance:

  • Provide essential knowledge and support, but allow them to start applying skills and becoming productive and contributing team members as soon as possible.
  • Focus on core skills, break down training and incorporate hands-on learning.
  • Regularly check in and adjust the program to ensure a smooth and efficient onboarding experience.
How do I onboard a new employee at a startup?

Despite the fast-paced environment at startups, new employees must still receive proper onboarding. Here are some tips for getting onboarding done quickly and thoroughly:

  • Focus on the essentials: Role-specific training, introductions to key team members and clear communication about company culture and expectations.
  • Use online tools: Utilise online software and resources for efficient onboarding.
What documents are needed to onboard a new employee in NZ?

Documents typically include tax forms, employment agreements, KiwiSaver scheme selection forms and right-to-work documentation. Consider using cloud-based onboarding software for electronic completion. 

Are there legal requirements for onboarding new employees?

Yes, New Zealand employment law requires employers to provide new employees with certain information, including details about their employment agreement, health and safety protocols and holiday entitlements. Refer to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) website for details. 

Guides in this category

View All

Have a question?

Employsure Logo

Not a client yet?

0800 568 012

Existing clients call

0800 675 700

Existing clients (overseas)

+64 9 941 5205

Employsure Office

8 Tangihua Street, Auckland CBD
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo
Peninsula LogoEmploysure Law LogoFair Work Help LogoEmploysure Mutual LogoBright HR LogoHealth Assured LogoGraphite HRM Logo

Copyright © 2024 Employsure Pty Ltd. ABN 40 145 676 026

Employsure Protect is a discretionary risk product issued by Employsure Mutual Limited ACN 630 256 478 (AFSL 544232). Employsure Mutual has appointed Employsure Limited to distribute the product in New Zealand. To decide if this product is right for you, please read the Employsure Protect Product Disclosure Statement.