5 min read

Strategies For Effective Onboarding

Aug 18, 2014 6:30:00 AM

OnboardingAt Gibson, we are proud of the company culture we have established, but in order for our culture to stay strong, we must pay attention to how to we handle the integration of new employees. This is the onboarding process.

The goal of onboarding is to have engaged employees who feel valued and become a part of the company culture. Not only does onboarding teach an employee about the company and their role, but it helps them feel like a part of the organization, which in turn makes them a more engaged, empowered and productive employee.

How do you accomplish this? How do you successfully integrate new employees into your company culture? Here are some key points to consider when establishing and evaluating your onboarding processes:

It starts during the recruiting process. As you search for a new employee, are you assessing their cultural fit? If someone does not fit in the interview process, then they likely won’t fit as an employee.

Ensure the job description is accurate. When recruiting, strive to have open communication to ensure that applicants understand what their role would be. You do not want employees to come on and feel like the position was falsely advertised, as that could negatively impact morale and trust.

You have to start before they start. When a new hire walks in on Day 1, are you ready for them? Is their desk and technology ready? Do they have an agenda for the day? Is their manager ready to go over a training plan with them? Having these items ready and waiting on the first day gives the new hire a sense of belonging from the get-go. It also helps set their expectations.

The way you approach Day 1 is important. A new hire’s first day used to be full of paperwork, which does not provide them with much insight into the company’s culture. Instead, send this paperwork in advance. This allows for the time to become much more personal. The day can be filled with a tour of the office, IT training, and a team lunch – all are activities better suited to integrating the employee into your culture.

Crucial to a new hire’s integration is their manager. To develop employees who feel empowered and valued, it is import to have challenging work ready for new hires from the start. Yes, they need time to learn, but if you do not engage them early on, you are risking them developing apathy. This begins with the manager’s creation of a robust and formal training plan.

Share your mission and values. These are the foundation of your company culture, so make sure you are finding a way to educate new hires on them early on.

Help foster relationship building. A big part of how an employee feels they fit in a company is related to the relationships they build. You can help foster these relationships from the start by sending out an announcement to introduce the new hire, connecting them with local groups, and scheduling lunches in the first week for them to get to know their peers.

To get a feel for how effective your onboarding is, why not ask your employees? We asked several Gibson employees about their onboarding experience. Here is what they said:

  • All of my paperwork was done ahead of time, which takes a lot of stress out of the first day.
  • I liked walking around on my first day to meet everyone and see who sits where.
  • On my first day the whole team took me out for a welcome lunch. It was a little intimidating, but it really made me feel a part of the team.
  • In my interview, I was immediately drawn to the interviewer’s passion for Gibson and how approachable she was. I knew within the first few minutes of our conversation that I wanted to be a part of this organization.
  • My supervisor had me make a map of where everyone sat and had me set up my email to show pictures with each employee email address. This helped me learn where people were and put faces to names.
  • I felt like the best part was how welcoming everyone was and how much everyone was willing to help.
  • Gibson had an employee my age who was looking for a roommate and that was the start of me becoming extremely involved with the people of Gibson outside of work which made the working environment that much better. I created friends in my co-workers instead of people I just work with. That was a huge bonus!
  • I remember how quickly I felt “at home” when I joined the Gibson team. It was unlike any other company I have ever worked for. The knowledge, expertise, and professionalism of the team were on an entirely new level.

It is critical to also ask what can be improved. Below are some of the suggestions we received from our employees:

  • Being provided with a better understanding of what it is other departments in the agency do would be beneficial.
  • There wasn’t much of a training plan in place when I started. The team was wonderful about asking questions, but as someone with no insurance experience, I didn’t know what questions to ask.
  • The one thing I would improve on is the traveling. I had to travel to another office 3 days a week to train even though I was going to be stationed at the South Bend office.
  • Maybe clearer expectations for both the trainer and the trainee so everyone knows their part and responsibilities. Perhaps a more formal schedule would help guide the process better.

Do you feel your company is already strong in these areas? Even if you are, don’t shy away from regular evaluation of your onboarding processes. There is always room for improvement. Especially as your company grows, your onboarding will need to adapt to fit with the changes. If you don’t keep your eye on your onboarding processes, you risk losing the culture you have worked so hard to develop.

Don’t be afraid to change things to ensure your onboarding approach stays focused on finding the right people for your culture and their integration once you bring them in. Otherwise the result will not only be a weakened culture, but also the development of unsatisfied employees who are less productive and ultimately lead to higher turnover. 


Written by Gibson

Gibson is a team of risk management and employee benefits professionals with a passion for helping leaders look beyond what others see and get to the proactive side of insurance. As an employee-owned company, Gibson is driven by close relationships with their clients, employees, and the communities they serve. The first Gibson office opened in 1933 in Northern Indiana, and as the company’s reach grew, so did their team. Today, Gibson serves clients across the country from offices in Arizona, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Utah.