New Hire Onboarding: Compliance, Clarification, Culture, and Connection

7 MIN READEditorial Policy

We’ve all had that new job experience, where we show up, and no one knows we were coming, our workstation isn’t ready, and our manager decided to take a vacation for our first week on the job. Don’t be the company that does this to your employees. A simple new hire onboarding plan will help you avoid making new hires wish—from day one—that they were somewhere else.  

New hire onboarding provides companies of all sizes with an opportunity to give new workers the tools and resources they need to become effective members of an organization. Onboarding can happen through one-on-one conversations, eLearning courses, handbooks, workshops, or other means of employee communication. The goal: to help employees adjust to their job and the company by alleviating the stress that’s common in new jobs. Ultimately, onboarding programs assist you in satisfying employees’ basic needs so that they want to stay with your company for the long haul.

The onboarding process begins when a manager welcomes the new employee and provides the necessary information they need about the company and their job. Employees may be excited, but it takes at least a few months to acclimate to the organization and understand their role within the organization. As part of the onboarding process, there are some essential pieces of information you should include. According to the Onboarding New Employees: Maximizing Success guide published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation, the components of a successful onboarding approach include:

  • Compliance: inform employees about benefits as well as legal and policy-related rules and regulations.

  • Clarification: provide clear instructions and set expectations so that an employee understands their new job.

  • Culture: offer employees a sense of organizational norms—both formal and informal.

  • Connection: assist employees in connecting with colleagues, and establishing—or joining—the informal work networks they need to be successful.

Here’s some advice about what to include so that you’re covering each of these components in your new hire onboarding plan:


Be prepared to inform employees about all important policies, rules and regulations. Also be sure you provide them with resources and information that explain benefits plan options (healthcare, retirement investment, paid time off, company perks, etc.). Given the amount of information to cover, it’s helpful to have a checklist that addresses everything an employee might want to know on their first day of work.


For an employee to understand their role and responsibilities, it’s important that they’re having discussions with their manager about their job role and performance expectations from day one. You also want to make sure they know how to access the tools that will help them clarify how they fit within the organization—this will include items such as their job description, organizational charts, as well as process and procedure manuals.


It’s difficult to fully grasp organizational norms and culture until you’ve been part of an organization for a while. But that doesn’t mean culture shouldn’t be included as part of new hire onboarding. You can share information about your company mission, values, and history in a new hire orientation workshop (if you have enough new hires at one time), in one-on-one conversations, or via a video that provides insight into the company culture and work environment.

One major cultural component is communication, and here’s a tip from Human Interest’s team: When someone starts, we ask them how they prefer to receive certain types of communication. Do you want questions from team members via Slack, email, or in person? How to you like to receive feedback? When should people not interrupt your work? We keep these personal communication preferences in a doc for people to reference and see when they first join to keep us all happy, productive, and communicating (effectively!).


You want employees to feel an immediate connection with the people in your organization. Start this process by including a personal welcome letter from the business owner or CEO in their welcome packet. A new hire’s manager should also consider planning a lunch or team gathering so that the new employee has an opportunity to connect informally with members of their immediate team. Make it part of your practice to assign new hires to a mentor and set up a pre-arranged schedule of one-on-one meetings with colleagues who will help connect the employee to the organization.

When an employee starts a new job, there’s a lot to remember—names, computer logins, roles, and responsibilities, as well as where to eat lunch. Help employees avoid the stress and overwhelm of a new job by creating an onboarding plan that meets their needs as well as those of your company. Onboarding looks different based on each organization’s approach, but the ideal outcome is the same:  that new employees feel welcome and happy that they joined your company. Make sure you have a new hire onboarding plan in place that addresses these important details on the employee’s first or second day so that they begin their tenure at your organization with all the information they need.

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