Onboarding 5 min

10 Powerful Onboarding Activities You Need to Try

September 19, 2017
Updated May 20, 2020

You’ve spent weeks screening resumes, interviewing candidates, and negotiating an offer; the new hire is scheduled to start.

Now what? Onboarding.

As an HR smarty pants, you already know how important effective onboarding activities for new hires are to your organization. Here are a few stats for you to chew on:

86 percent of new hires decide whether to stay or leave within the first six months
69 percent of employees are more likely stay at an organization longer than three years if they had a good employee onboarding experience
Employees in longer onboarding programs gain full proficiency 34 percent faster than those in the shortest programs

This is kind of a big deal. Excellence in onboarding cuts down on turnover, secures top talent, boosts productivity, and paves the way for each new hire to start off fully engaged.

Chances are your organization already has a regular onboarding schedule. But that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Organizations across the country are finding unique onboarding activities to engage their new hires right from the start.

What Are Onboarding Activities?

Since there’s nothing more anxiety-inducing than being left in the dark before day one, onboarding activities aim to integrate new hires with their future team, the company, and its culture. These activities should begin prior to day one. Onboarding activities involve materials, meetings, and gestures that are designed to engage new employees right after they’ve signed their offer letter.

10 Onboarding Activities

We looked at the top onboarding activities from Silk Road’s 2017 Strategic Onboarding Survey. Some you may already be doing, while others may be brand new. But when onboarding has such an impact on your workforce, it’s worth optimizing. Check out the ideas below.

1. Filling out forms before the first day of work

While the majority of employers (81 percent) have new hires fill out the necessary forms before their first day, it’s worth mentioning as a best practice.
You don’t want to bog down a new employee’s first day on the job with hoops to jump through. Instead, automate these steps with employee self-onboarding software.

2. Conducting informal calls or emails to keep enthusiasm high

Nothing kills enthusiasm quicker than radio silence.

If recruiters or hiring managers were in consistent contact during the hiring process, they should maintain that connection through a new employee’s first day.

3. Scheduling in-person meetings

Another way to stay in touch before a new hire’s start date is to schedule another face-to-face meeting.

This is a great opportunity for employees to get to know their managers better than they would in the hiring interviews.

4. Making introductions to future coworkers

Workplace friendships and positive team relationships can be a huge boon for employee engagement and retention.

Give your new hire a brief intro to the team they’ll be joining, and get those friendships started off on the right foot.

5. Sending flowers or welcome gifts

To some organizations, this strategy may seem excessive.

But it could be a good way to communicate your company culture and set a precedent for how you treat employees. And no one can deny that sending flowers would leave quite an impression!

6. Sending a lunch invitation with company owners

SilkRoad found that the majority of C-suite executives are only occasionally or minimally involved in their organization’s onboarding activities.

But giving employees the chance to interact with the CEO could help them feel valued and understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture.

onboarding infographic cta

7. Finding out a favorite snack then providing it on first day

The way to anyone’s heart is through food, isn’t it?

Making sure you have a bag of honey-roasted peanuts or a king-size Twix is an easy way to make that new hire feel instantly comfortable.

8. Sending invitations to meetings

Sometimes a simple invitation goes a long way.

Instead of sending a dry calendar notification, try extending a personal invitation to attend initial meetings.

9. Setting up a video call

If you’re onboarding remote employees who will never set foot in the office, you face a different set of challenges.

Start early in building a personal relationship with these employees to boost their engagement from afar.

10. Sending supplies to home office

This is another great strategy for remote employees.

Since they won’t be coming to a physical office, invite them to create their “new workspace” with special office supplies or custom desk swag.

Nail your onboarding process with BambooHR’s employee self-onboarding software.

How Do You Help an Onboarding Employee Have Fun?

So you have all your activities planned out, but how do you actually encourage your new hires to dive in and have some fun? Here a few good ideas to kick off the onboarding process right:

  • Trivia – If you want your new hires to get to know the company history and culture more, you can create a fun trivia game around this. You can conduct these over video chat (perhaps using interactive presentation games) or in-person over lunch.
  • Icebreakers – With technology like Poll Everywhere, you can bring out some fun icebreakers. “Who is it?” is a popular and great choice. You can have everyone submit a strange or unusual fact about themselves, and the team has to guess who is connected to each fact.

It’s important to make the onboarding process as personal as possible. This helps you get to know more about the new employees and identify opportunities to help them stay engaged and motivated to grow within the company.

What Is the Difference between Onboarding and Training?

Onboarding and training are often used interchangeably, but they are two separate things. While onboarding aims to get employees situated and integrated within the company, training focuses on making sure they have the knowledge and skills to do their job.

For example, introducing a new employee to their coworkers is onboarding. You are helping them garner connections with their future teammates and launching their experience on the right note. When a new hire sits down with their manager to learn about procedures such as sending out work orders to distributors, this is training. They are developing their knowledge, skills, and efficiency to perform their job right. Though onboarding and training occur at the beginning of the new-hire journey, both serve different purposes.

Reduce the Cost of Onboarding
With the right software, you can reduce the costs of onboarding for your company. Try this calculator to discover how much money you can save by using onboarding software.
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Tori Fica
Senior Copywriter

Tori Fica is a copywriter for BambooHR, the leading HR software solution for small and medium businesses. Through research, analysis, and writing, she creates content to help HR professionals think and plan more strategically. Her focus is on taking complex ideas and in-depth research and turning them into clear, digestible pieces of content.