Onboarding: Definition & Processes

Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

Onboarding is important for the success of a new employee. It introduces the new employee to the way the company operates. New employees become familiar with company policies during this period.

What Is Onboarding?

Imagine Jennifer is getting ready to start her first day of work at a new company. She's a little nervous. She doesn't quite know what to expect. She wants to succeed. Thankfully, this company has a very comprehensive onboarding process to help get Jennifer started at her new job.

Onboarding means getting a new employee used to and prepared to begin work in a new company. Each company has its own way of doing things. Onboarding introduces and teaches new employees how to do things the way the company wants them done. For example, Amazon.com uses the onboarding period to teach new employees about their important role in the business. It also prepares new employees for their job by giving them mock assignments to complete. Throughout the whole onboarding process, new employees are reminded of Amazon.com's customer service values. Amazon.com's onboarding process actually begins well before the first day of work. In fact, it starts the minute a potential new hire is interested in the job and continues when a potential new employee views an introductory video to see what the job is like.

The onboarding process can begin even before a new employee is hired.

Here's a quick overview of the onboarding process:

Introduction to company mission and values
Overview of what the job entails
Legal paperwork
Work area setup
Basic how-tos of office equipment
Meeting employee team and higher-ups
Work schedule/meeting schedule
Getting accustomed to surroundings

Onboarding is not a simple one-day project nor is it just about paperwork. A thorough onboarding process helps retain valuable employees. Sometimes, these onboarding processes take up to 12 months to complete.

Legal Forms

Even though legal paperwork is usually signed on the first day of work, some companies choose to send out necessary legal forms following the interview. This way, it lessens the number of forms that need to be filled out after a new employee has been officially hired. Forms include any non-disclosure agreements from the company, employee conduct forms, and tax forms.

If some new hire forms are given prior to the employee getting hired, then the remaining ones can be signed on the first day of work. After the forms are signed, it is up to the human resources department to file the forms and send them to the IRS if necessary.

Getting Started

The main purpose of the onboarding processes, aside from all the legal paperwork, is to help the new employee get started in his or her new job so they won't quit. It helps the new employee get familiar with the company mission and values and teaches the new employee how to work within the company. New employees often get discouraged if they feel that they don't have the tools they need to succeed in their new job. Often, new employees have a certain level of anxiety about being successful in their new job. If they aren't given the tools they need to succeed, then they will most likely leave. The onboarding process takes care of all these issues for new employees.


Let's take a look at what Jennifer's onboarding experience is like.

On her first day at work, Jennifer is a little nervous. She wonders if her coworkers are going to like her and if she'll be able to fulfill all her duties. She knows about the paperwork that needs to be filled out, and she is prepared for this. What she doesn't know is the company has already started the onboarding process with her. It actually began when she first heard about the job. The company prepared the job description so as to attract the right candidate. It asked the candidate to take a look at the company's website. On the website's front page there is a video to watch. The video shows just what the company and workplace are like. This video is for both customers and employees alike. It was this video that attracted Jennifer to the job in the first place.

Filling Out Forms

When the company first told her she was hired, it sent her some necessary paperwork related to the IRS. The company told her that she could fill it out early and email it over or wait until her first day. Jennifer decided to email it over so there would be less to do on her first day of work.

The day before her first day, she receives an email from the hiring manager of the company telling her exactly where to go and whom to ask for. Jennifer feels more at ease after receiving this information.

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