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Where does new employee onboarding start?

I'm curious to hear what people's thoughts are on where new employee onboarding starts.

Does it start once someone has joined the company or before that?

If it is the latter, what might that point (or points) be?



  • That's a great question. As a brand manager, I know employee onboarding starts WAY before their first day. Today, people have mounds of information and experiences available to them with regards to your company at any time. Your website, social media, your press releases, your events, your speaking opportunities, awards you've won, mentions in the news, folks wearing your swag outside of work—ALL build perception of your company before a candidate even walks through your doors. This is why it's so critical to take the time and energy to build a powerful brand and culture (with strong company values!), so that the next time a candidate comes across your brand, they know immediately whether they are the right fit, even before they take an interview.

  • To Jenny's point, I think brand recognition starts pre-hire, but onboarding starts before the official start date.

    I know, here at PI, we send out a welcome email that includes overview videos of PI and the software, information about our colleagues, and links to help articles so we can get familiar with the company and the software prior to starting.

    In my former role as a hiring manager, onboarding started much the same way. I sent various assessments (DISC, MBTI, appreciation languages, VARK learning assessment, etc. -- this is all obviously before discovering PI) to get to know people before they started. Then on day one, I'd give them a list of roles and responsibilities, along with a Google Doc that served as a training manual with step-by-step processes, videos, etc. I would have them go through that, meet with the colleagues they'd be working with, then have a call to review any questions they might have about their role.

  • A really smart HR mentor of mine (a Talent Optimizer in the truest sense) always underscored to me that onboarding well is just managing well, defined by the time period it happens in. So for great onboarding, I think about the big question of how this person wants to be managed, their learning style, and what standards a manager wants/needs to set before the new hire gets up, off, and running.

    In that lens, to echo Jenny and Shannon, you are onboarding/managing as soon as you've made an offer, even before it's signed. "Formal" onboarding may be the first 2 weeks, or the first 30, or 90, days, but it's all the things that need to happen to set an employee up for success. That is as straightforward/basic as showing someone where the bathroom is (an old HR adage is that if you don't do that on Day 1, the employee will be gone within 6 months), to a customized Asana board or Excel spreadsheet with all the things they'll learn on the road to becoming an impact player for the org.

    We used to have a literal document at my past job called "Reducing Anxiety For New Hires" and it was a checklist of items to tackle before Day 1 so that a new employee could come in with, ok, maybe a little bit of nerves, but a LOT of confidence and excitement. Onboarding is training and shadowing and roleplays and orientations, but it's also lots of little things (often invisible if you have a great HR function or a great manager or both) that pave the way for your newcomer to focus 100% on learning.

  • edited March 2019

    I agree with everything that's been said here. But, if you're a truly smart talent optimizer - you might even start onboarding in the job interview! Set expectations early. At PI we actually interview candidates with a focus on our culture. It serves to not only tell us about our candidate's values and what they think is important, but also lets our candidate know the same things about us!

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