19 May 2022

9 onboarding ideas to help employees hit the ground running

We all know first impressions count, and onboarding is your chance to make the right first impression with new recruits. Not only that, but having a solid onboarding strategy can make a huge difference to employee turnover and business success. Here are our 9 steps to onboarding nirvana

Companies with a lasting and engaging onboarding process retain 91% of their first year workers, and employees with good onboarding experiences are 69% more likely to stay in their jobs for three years or more. With half of senior-level hires leaving jobs within 18 months and the same amount of hourly workers leaving in just 120 days, the power of onboarding really can’t be underestimated. With that in mind, here are a few top tips from Team Synergy.


A successful onboarding should start long before someone’s first day. People often have to work a month’s notice – sometimes up to three months for senior hires – and that’s a long time. Anything can happen, so don’t let them forget why they took the job in the first place. Start the onboarding process from the moment they accept the job.

1). Get the boring stuff out the way There’s so much paperwork to fill out when you start a new job. Contracts, waivers, health and safety documents, etc. Get it all out of the way before they start by taking advantage of online tools. There’s so many out there that can help you to automate the process (whilst maintaining the personal touch) and collect electronic signatures. It’s faster, more efficient and means there’s less paperwork on their first day.

2). Get creative with your information One of our favourite projects was redesigning the onboarding process for Ladbrokes. They were noticing that some recruits (who had to give up to three months notice in their existing jobs) were changing their mind before their start date. We created a digital onboarding pack that had automated countdowns with engaging content such as ‘meet your team’ and ‘choose your benefits’ as well as all of the required paperwork. It helped to build excitement and show that they weren’t just another number, but that Ladbrokes truly cared.

3). Promote your vision and values Onboarding is about more than processes and paperwork. It’s about culture. Prior to starting, showcase your vision, values and strategy as well as softer ’10 things you didn’t know about us’ style content. Why not try video? We know it has huge cut through. Whichever way you decide to communicate – keep it simple, short, and to the point. Or what about a short podcast-style overview? A recent UCL study found audiobooks can sometimes outdo films in emotional engagement.

4). Tell them what to expect on their first day Starting a new job is daunting, so let them know what to expect beforehand. Give them the agenda for their first day (or even week) and don’t forget to include useful information like who will be meeting them, where, and at what time.

5). Invite them along to events Do you have any work events happening before they join? Pub lunches? Nights out? Conferences or events? Invite them along. If they can make, it’s a great chance to meet the team before starting. And even if they can’t then you’re already setting the tone of your culture before they’ve even set foot in the door.


The first week is one of the most important times for an employee. It’s when they get a full understanding of the company, its culture and how they fit within it. Making this first week run smoothly sets you both up for success.

6). Don’t forget the little things While having a formal onboarding process matters, so do the small things. Were they greeted warmly? Was their computer and workstation already set up? Did someone take them for lunch? Were they introduced properly to the team? Even something as small as a mug or plant to call their own can reap the benefits from the new hire. In behavioural science this is known as the ‘endowment effect’ and increases their attachment to the object and willingness to reciprocate.

7). Set up a buddy system Setting up a buddy system for new employees really helps with a smooth induction. A buddy is an employee who knows the ropes, who can look out for the new person, help make introductions, provide advice and guidance whilst they settle in and provide an intro to the social side of the organisation.

8). Make sure your managers are ready The relationship between manager and new starter is key for that new starter to feel comfortable. Managers need to make themselves available to check in with the new employee on progress, how they’re settling in, and be a good point of contact for any questions they may have. Why not run training with your managers to make sure they’re up to speed?


The amount of time required for onboarding varies from company to company and job to job. But one thing is for sure, it’s a long-term investment.

9). Map your employee journey and end with a high Mapping your employee journey will help you to clearly see the route that your onboarding needs to follow. For example, training and development plans and reward and recognition programmes should be introduced within 3-6 months. But what happens after that? You could introduce mentorship programmes or additional onboarding elements that keep employees engaged. Feedback is crucial to engagement and learning, it’s a chance to get up to date feedback on company culture and processes as well as refine your onboarding process as you go. Make sure your onboarding programme ends with a high. People remember the ‘peak’ and the end of their experience with an employer. They’ll go home and tell friends and family about the day they’ve had, so make sure it’s been a good one!


Did you have a brilliant onboarding experience? Or does your organisation’s onboarding process need a bit of work? We’ve got loads of examples of how we’ve helped clients create amazing onboarding experiences – send us a note to hello@mccannsynergy.com.uk and we’d be happy to share them.

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