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How to Onboard New Team Members: A Step-By-Step Guide

How to Onboard New Team Members: A Step-By-Step Guide

June 29, 2022

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How to Onboard New Team Members

When your company grows beyond the point where you can remember everyone's name, you know it’s time to make sure your onboarding processes are doing their job. New hires are one of the most important investments you make in your organization. If they don't feel welcome from day one, they could leave before their first paycheck even hits their account. That means less money for salaries and benefits and more time spent recruiting new team members, which takes away from productivity.

Here’s where a solid onboarding process comes in handy. The right process helps ensure every new hire becomes an important part of the team as quickly as possible. Today, we’ll provide you with ten creative ideas to improve your onboarding process. But first, let’s start with the basics.

Why Do You Need a Top-Notch Onboarding Process?

Only 12% of people think their company provides good onboarding. This means that 88% aren't satisfied with their organization’s current onboarding process. By developing a solid onboarding program for new team members, you’re literally building a competitive advantage.

New hires who are well-prepared are also more likely to hit the ground running. They’ll feel welcome and appreciated, which might lead to greater work satisfaction. Also, let’s not forget the important objective of keeping new hires engaged.

Research from Firstup reveals that roughly 5 out of 10 employees don't feel valued in their job. This is why it’s key to make new hires feel acknowledged and appreciated early on. If you do, they won’t need to consider other companies. A great onboarding process can cut down on negativity and give a new hire something to look forward to. That can make all the difference.

In short, a solid onboarding process is fundamental to a successful human resource management strategy and can have a major impact on your business as a whole.

Benefits of Implementing a Solid Onboarding Process

Some of the benefits of implementing a solid onboarding process might include:

  • Better overall experience: An onboarding process can help you set new members up for success so that they feel welcomed, acknowledged, and appreciated.
  • New hire contribution: A well-implemented onboarding process allows new hires to hit the ground running and contribute right away.
  • Fewer problems in the future: A solid onboarding process leads to fewer problems in the future. If you provide your team members with a clear idea of what they’re expected to do, they’ll be more likely to stick around and contribute.
  • A more solid company culture: A well-designed onboarding process can help you establish and strengthen your company culture.
  • More competent employees: A new employee will spend less time learning the ropes and more time focused on work when they’re well-prepared. This means they'll be more competent sooner.

8 Creative Ideas to Onboard New Team Members

8 ideas to onboard new team members


Now that you understand the importance of developing a top-notch onboarding program, let’s explore a few ideas to actually do it.

1. Implement an Ice-Breaker Team Activity

Ice-breakers are an effective way to ease tension before diving into training. Everyone gets to know one another and builds rapport from the get-go.

For example, you could organize a Friday happy hour to bring them together or host an “onboarding party” where new members can meet and greet. If you work remotely, a Zoom meeting could do the trick.

You can even use SmartSuite's Idea Box template to brainstorm ice-breaker activities and host polls to see which your team likes the most.

SmartSuite's Idea Box template screenshot


This template allows you to organize and visualize ideas in a creative way, making your brainstorming sessions a breeze.

The point is to ideate activities that will help you get to know each other and get past the awkwardness that comes with it.

2. Create a Resource Library for New Members

As your new team members learn and grow within your organization, they’ll come across new challenges that require resources.

Instead of having them ask you every time they need help, provide them with a resource library that they can go to for answers.

Create an easy-to-follow folder structure to organize resources under relevant topics.

For example, if you’re onboarding a UX designer, include articles on how to conduct user interviews, design personas, and use qualitative data.

If you're onboarding a salesperson, you could include articles on making cold calls and following up with prospects.

Even your job description can be considered a resource for new employees that don’t know the ropes yet.

The resource library should be curated by someone who knows what it takes to become successful in your company and position.

By having centralized resources, new team members will feel like you’ve got their backs, and they’ll be prepared to solve their problems without wasting time.

A solid work management platform can help you with this.

With SmartSuite's Learning Library template, for example, you can organize your resources based on topic and even assign specific tasks to team members.

SmartSuite's Learning Library template screenshot



This template helps you set clear learning objectives, track each team member's progress, and see who is strong or needs more training.

You can also use SmartDocs to create new documents and share them with everyone on your team. You won’t have to worry about linking, renaming, or losing documents anymore. SmartDocs automatically pulls all your content from a single place.

SmartDocs in action


With SmartSuite, you can give your new team members access to the tools they need in their roles and save yourself the time of teaching them how to use everything.

3. Don't Assume They Understand the Vision

New team members need to know what they bring to the table and how it will impact your business.

The way you sell them on your vision will affect their level of engagement, which is crucial for building a strong foundation.

That’s why every team member should understand the mission, vision, and objectives of your business.

Your onboarding program should include key company updates that you would normally share at an all-hands meeting.

For example, you can introduce new team members to leadership, update them on current projects and milestones, discuss company values, and even get everyone to help define the future of the organization.

This is a great way for new team members to get involved and give you valuable feedback — and for everyone to understand the big picture.

4. Keep Information About Workflows in One Place

As your company grows, you’ve likely changed the way work is done over time.

By documenting processes, key steps, team roles, and responsibilities, you can keep your organization productive.

If processes are not documented, new employees may have to ask their co-workers a lot of questions about how things work. This will slow their productivity and might lead to new hires having a negative opinion about your company.

Asking your employees to document their workflows is a way to show that you value them and take their opinion seriously.

You can also use the information gathered to optimize your processes and consider different points of view.

A solid work management platform can help you centralize this information.

For instance, SmartSuite allows you to bring your entire team into the same platform and build a single source of truth for your team. This helps you communicate in context and consolidate your organization's knowledge.

SmartSuite's centralized workspace in action


You can also create workflows for any task, so everyone will always know what needs to be done. SmartSuite provides you with dozens of predefined workflow templates that help you standardize any process or operation.

SmartSuite's templates screenshot


This way, new team members will have a step-by-step guide of how to do their jobs, and your organization can grow at a faster pace.

5. Track New Team Member Progress With an Onboarding Dashboard

Now that you've documented all the crucial work processes, it's important to make sure new team members are following them. By creating an onboarding dashboard, you can track their progress and see how they're mastering company standards.

Any great work management platform should provide you with reporting capabilities and visualizations. With SmartSuite, for example, you get access to a complete set of analytics and tracking tools that enable you to measure progress, performance, and success.

You can use these dashboards to identify who lags in their tasks, performs well, and needs assistance. In addition to these analytics, you also get access to all your team's work, enabling you to check the status of every project.

SmartSuite's task management features in action


This way, you'll have a clear picture of your company’s performance and progress, as well as the success rates of your onboarding program.

6. Connect New Team Members With Your Veteran Employees

A good onboarding program should make sure new hires are comfortable from the moment they start. They shouldn't feel as if they were dropped in the middle of the ocean when getting onboarded by experienced teammates. Instead, they’ll feel supported and integrated into your company culture. SmartSuite offers you the chance to connect your new hires with your veteran employees.

For example, you could create a new “test project” and assign an experienced member to every team. They'd guide new employees and show them how things work in your company while also getting more involved with their teammates.

SmartSuite's team management features in action


Thanks to SmartSuite's easy-to-use interface, newcomers can easily get in touch with their veteran teammates and start building relationships.

You get access to a members directory where you can sort teammates by role or function, helping you find any employee in a few seconds.

SmartSuite's members directory in action


SmartSuite allows you to plan and schedule tasks to be completed by specific employees, which makes the management process simple.

You can also make sure all onboarding processes are documented and shared with everyone on the team, so no information is lost and new employees won’t have to ask you how things work. All of this will help you have a smooth and productive onboarding experience with your new hires.

7. Onboard New Hires With Contextual Communication

Onboarding new employees isn’t just about teaching them how things are done — it’s also about helping them understand why.

Onboarding is about making sure your teammates understand the big picture and why things are done the way they are.

To achieve this, you must contextually communicate with your new hires. Otherwise, they'll have a hard time getting immersed in your organization.

With SmartSuite, you get complete control over the content of each message, allowing you to share relevant information with your team contextually and helpfully.

SmartSuite's in-context communication features in action


For example, you can schedule messages to be sent out the moment someone starts working on a new project or task.

This way, your new hires will immediately get the most important information about that particular project and know how to proceed.

You can also schedule messages at the end of every project or task to ensure everyone understands why specific decisions were made.

SmartSuite also allows you to add comments inside each task and project, so new employees can easily ask for explanations and get more details about what they should do next.

How to add comments inside a task using SmartSuite


This way, team members will feel supported and encouraged to ask questions when necessary, without taking up your time and attention.

8. Adopt the Right Technology

At the end of the day, it all boils down to choosing the right platform to manage your onboarding process.

You need to find a solution that covers each step of your program, allowing you to easily track progress and identify any problems along the way.

But most importantly, that platform should help you contextually communicate with new hires without making things complicated.

With SmartSuite, for instance, you get all the features needed to run a successful onboarding program.

Our employee onboarding template helps you set up and organize each step, from scheduling tasks to managing new hires' profiles and tracking progress.



This template is fully customizable, and you can adapt it to your exact business needs in minutes.

This way, you'll get a solid onboarding process that will help your new hires feel supported and completely integrated into your team.

Ready to Improve Your Onboarding Process?

Employees are the most valuable asset of your organization.

The right onboarding process helps you take care of that asset from the get-go and develop a more engaged team over the long term.

If you’re looking for a platform to streamline and optimize your onboarding process, SmartSuite can help.

With SmartSuite’s employee onboarding template, you can get started in minutes.

The best part?

This template is fully customizable. You can drag and drop elements to adapt the template to your exact business needs.

Give it a try today.

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