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Employee Onboarding is one of the most critical strategic functions at any company, but is often trapped inside administrative software and stale checklists.

But recruiting, developing and retaining talent has never been more valuable.

Today’s millennial workforce changes jobs twice as frequently as the current working population, leaving employers with an ever-growing need to invest in onboarding success and continued employee engagement.

People-focused organizations prioritize their talent development, getting their most strategic resources – people – engaged and succeeding as a team as quick as possible.

The new frontier of People Management is employee engagement, satisfaction and development that drives company success.

This all starts with effective Employee Onboarding.



We believe that Employee Onboarding is best understood through the three layers of New Hire Needs – Accommodate, Assimilate and Accelerate.

Most companies fail into the trap of believing that onboarding is just to Accommodate new hires – but people-focused organizations recognize that this is just the base of the pyramid.

To provide a great Employee Experience and achieve full ROI on hiring plans, forward thinking leaders know that providing the Assimilate and Accelerate levels of the hierarchy are mission critical to employee success.

These are the crucial engagement and development ingredients in the onboarding process that get new hires ramped-up to full productive. How does this early employee success contribute to company ROI?

Research from Boston Consulting Group revealed that onboarding ranks #2 (after recruiting) with the second highest impact to revenue and profit margin of all HR practices.




Hierarchy of New Hire Needs

To provide a great employee experience and achieve full ROI on hiring plans, forward thinking HR and People leaders can use the following framework to structure effective onboarding programs.


Investing in new hire confidence, efficiency and ramp-up to full productivity with a curated program.

These are the development factors that accelerate new hire success, and help organizations achieve full ROI on their hiring plans.


Supporting an onboarding framework for new hires to align themselves with the company culture, values and ‘way of doing things’. 

These are the core engagement factors that show you value them becoming part of the team.


Providing new hires the tools and physical environment that they need to be productive. This may include a laptop, orientation and simple payroll.

These are the basic hygiene factors that you should never forget.

Key components of Employee Onboarding Success


1. Accommodate

The Accommodate level of employee onboarding is focused around the transaction aspects of new hire orientation. This includes getting employee paperwork completed, ensuring they are set up with their hardware, and that they understand payroll and benefits. These are the basic hygiene factors that you should never forget.

Pre-Boarding PaperworkMost of these processes can be taken care of ahead of time during ‘Pre-Boarding’, which will allow a new hire’s first day to be less administration and more productive. New hire paperwork commonly includes offer letters, NDA, inventions agreement and tax forms. It’s important to give new hires transparency on what’s required, so you don’t need to chase them for signatures at the end of the year.

OrientationIf hiring locally, it’s likely that new hires have visited your office during the interview process, but it’s their first day experience that will leave a lasting impression. It’s important to inform the broader team about new employees to ensure they can warmly welcome the newcomer. First day anxieties come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s encouraging for someone to take responsibility and introduce the new hire to the their new physical and social environment. Make sure new employees know the team is excited and happy to have them onboard.

Employee Profile – To save HR time and manual data entry across applications, forward thinking HR teams can either 1) pull the candidate profile from the ATS or 2) push as much new personal data entry to the employee as possible. Most human resource information systems (HRIS) integrate with your recruitment tools to make the data transfer smooth and efficient – but lots of fields will sit outside of your system of record. Don’t forget the necessities including emergency contact info, mailing address and a simple ‘About Me’.

Payroll & BenefitsThe most misunderstood briefing for new employees is commonly payroll and benefits. Make sure they know when they are getting paid, by what vendor and who to ask for if they have questions.  Employees missing their first paycheck not only puts them in the awkward position of having to raise money issues, but will signal a lack of care for the most basic of new hire needs.

2. Assimilate

The Assimilate level of employee onboarding centers on aligning new employees with company culture and values, fostering early engagement and team alignment. The onboarding experience is the first opportunity to build trust and belonging with new employees. Showing them your company’s personality, streamlining workflows and providing engagement opportunities will show them that you value them becoming part of the team.

Mission, Vision, ValuesThese statements should play an active role in business practice and be the guiding principles by which your people operate. Leveraging an onboarding experience that showcases the company’s mission, vision, and values will provide a true north for new employees to understand whats important. Company leaders can’t decree employees to follow these principles, but they can encourage the mindset and value-based decision making with the right information and early education.

Company Culture – It’s no secret that organization’s benefit from growing and managing company culture – 95% of candidates value culture more than compensation. But every company has a unique personality that only makes sense ‘on-the-floor’. The foundation of company culture is built through employee onboarding – it’s the bedrock for which you align impressionable new recruits with their environment. Giving new employees a great onboarding experience supports a cycle of employees willing to offer the same courtesy to those who will come into the organization after them. You’ll find employees continually supporting and encouraging the company culture you’re building – whatever that may be.

Workflows – When assimilating new employees into the company, the last thing you want them to do is chase their co-workers (some which they might not know) for onboarding tasks to be completed. Keeping a tight and collaborative onboarding workflow process across relevant departments such as IT, Recruitment, Facilities, and Line Managers is important to make sure new employees have everything they need to get to work.

Engagement – Recognizing that a day of orientation will not sufficiently engage new hires is one of the first steps to scalable employee onboarding success. Starting at a new company isn’t just about knowing where the bathroom is or where they sit, it involves navigating their new social environment and interacting with peers. Provide meaningful introductions and a basic network that a new employee can rely on to support their early engagement. Buddy or mentor systems can be great for this and provide a safe sounding board for new hires to trouble-shoot any questions. 

3. Accelerate

The Accelerate level of employee onboarding is focused on supporting a new hire ramp-up to full productivity with milestone based check-ins, regular feedback, training and coaching. This road-map for employee success demonstrates that your company is committed to seeing them succeed. Investing in their acceleration to full proficiency not only supports their transition, but will have significant impact on broader company success and hiring plan ROI. 

Onboarding Road-map – Employee onboarding road-maps provide specific milestones that new employees should seek to achieve through their onboarding journey. When you have someone joining the team, it’s tempting to get them working as soon as possible. But taking the time to get them aligned on a clear development plan will help them visualize how they can continue to be successful in their role.

Scheduled Check-ins – HR and Team Managers should schedule to meet with employees at predetermined points – commonly at 1, 7, 30, 60 and 90 day check-ins. Calibrating these check-ins with their onboarding milestones and clear criteria to gauge their progress can provide invaluable feedback. This feedback is important, and give will give you a chance to understand how new hires believe their onboarding experience is going. Before jumping to conclusions – listen first. Simple questions around how they are learning different parts of their role, how they are contributing to the business, and if they have any unanswered questions, can provide unique insight into areas that they may be struggling with. Feedback on outcomes at the individual, peer and team level will also help support success as a team sport.

Training and Development – 35% of millennials believe training and development programs are a top factor to determine whether a job offer is attractive or not. Support the new hire’s continued learning and development with the right tools and resources. Micro-learning is popular with Millennials because it doesn’t require a long attention span, and works great for delivering lessons over mobile devices.

Coaching and Career Path – A definitive end-point to the employee onboarding program (typically 90-days) and next steps to their career success will help support employees to transition out of the onboarding road-map and reach for their longer-term goals.  Employers need to be aware of new hire aspirations, and invest in their continued professional growth. These simple steps will help companies have a much better chance of keeping employees engaged, loyal and happy for the long term.

Employee Onboarding for Your Organization

When thinking through building an employee onboarding program for your organization, its important to remember employee onboarding means different things to different people.

  • Recruiters: manage employment offers and paperwork, so focus on onboarding as it relates to their applicant tracking system (ATS) and passing a candidate to the HR team.
  • Human Resources: manage onboarding workflows, buddy systems and culture across departments, so seek to minimize overhead, manage compliance and ensure new employees are happy and successful.
  • Managers: need to get new hires trained up with the right systems and ‘hitting-the-numbers’ as quickly as possible, so accelerated learning, development and goal setting becomes important.
  • IT: set-up computer hardware and provide access to key applications and systems. Efficient communication, task tracking, security and workflows efficiency is high on the priority list.

In addition to this, employee onboarding can vary significantly depending on the size of the organization. Employee onboarding at a 50 person company is very different to onboarding at a 5,000 person company.

But what doesn’t change across organizations are the simple and best practices that support new hire success.


Employee Onboarding solutions can enable you to deliver a higher quality, lower cost and ROI accelerating employee experience, designed to help your team succeed.

  • Better Quality: Purpose built software delivers a great experience for all stakeholders in the onboarding process and builds alignment with company culture.
  • Lower Cost: Onboarding requires resources from nearly every team to be successful. Sapling reduces overhead by streamlining workflows and notifications so your HR team can focus on the people, not the process.
  • Faster Employee Success: Achieve faster ROI on hiring plans by supporting new hire alignment with company culture, and leveraging institutional resources from day one.
  • Clear Visibility: Manage the employee onboarding pipeline and ensure new hires are on-track with required documents, tasks and training.