onboarding experience

Engaging New Hires: A Step-by-Step Recipe for a Structured Onboarding Experience

The average job tenure has shrunk to two years in some industries, and it continues to shrink. Younger millennial and post-millennial workers (the largest cohort in the workforce) aren’t staying as long at their jobs and want more immediate feedback from management. So many companies blend their recognition/engagement programs with their hiring efforts to create a structured onboarding experience.

An engaging and rewarding onboarding experience can boost new hire retention and productivity, as well as making them more likely to stay beyond three years. Here is a brief run-down of all the major milestones and engagement opportunities that occur in the first year of employment, along with tips to prepare for them.


Before the employee arrives on their first day of work, consider sending a personalized welcome kit. Make sure their new workspace is set up and equipped with their laptop and any other equipment they’ll need. Work with your IT department to configure the email account, network access and security clearance ahead of time so they can be productive right away and feel a part of the team.

Day 1

Your company only has one chance to make a great first impression, so make it count. Treat the new hire to breakfast or lunch with coworkers. Give them a customized tour of your facility and make introductions – names, titles, how they’ll be working together. And, of course, don’t leave the new hire hanging. Check in with them throughout the first day, and schedule a meeting to address any questions or concerns.

Day 7

Establish a positive foundation for your manager-report relationship. According to Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace, only about 1 in 5 employees say their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work. Set regular meetings for touch-bases. Make sure the new hire knows someone is always available for consultation and support.

Day 30

The first month of employment is a crucial period during which a new employee often decides if they’ll stick around before really getting into the nitty-gritty of their job functions. When an employee hits this milestone, acknowledge and celebrate the achievement to reassure them that you’re glad they’re a part of your team. Set up a special touch-base with the new hire plus other close team members to ensure the transition has been smooth.

Months 2-3

Hold regular one-on-one meetings to ensure the employee understands their responsibilities and are meeting their performance goals. Take this time to make sure they don’t have any personal issues with other employees that are a hindrance to job performance.

Months 4-5

Around month 4 or 5 is the perfect time to check in on the onboarding process, since the new hire is getting settled into their new position but the newness of the job has not yet worn off. Consider implementing an onboarding survey to assess how well your company does with the new hire process. Use the results of the survey to address any issues or concerns, such as barriers to first-rate job performance.

Month 6

Provide recognition for the employee who has reached the 6-month employment milestone. Implementing a third-party recognition program at your company can be a great way to reward employees for going above and beyond, as well as for reaching tenure milestones. You may choose to use a points program, for example, in which employees are awarded points that they can redeem for goods in an online store.

Months 7-9

Keep up regular touch-base meetings, while you proactively seek out opportunities to praise the employee so they feel appreciated. Gallup estimates that actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity. Therefore, make sure each employee feels appreciated and part of the team—not just a number in your company’s headcount. Now is also a great time to cultivate a culture of ongoing learning and skills-building. Make sure the employee has all the skills and resources necessary for future growth and development.

Months 10-11

Engage with the employee on a personal level. For example, invite them to breakfast or lunch. Some people are more likely to candidly share concerns or barriers to their jobs outside of the office setting. It is important to tailor management and feedback style to how the employee best responds.

Month 12

Reaching the one-year mark for employment is a big deal. You should strive to make the employee’s one-year anniversary just as special as their first day. Here are some ways to commemorate this key milestone and reinforce the onboarding experience:

  • Notify the employee’s direct manager ahead of time, so they are prepared to commemorate the achievement
  • Invite colleagues to attend a lunchtime celebration
  • Ask close colleagues to prepare a few words to share about the employee’s contributions over the past year
  • Give the employee a special gift

Recognize and reward employees to foster loyalty

The silver lining of shrinking job tenures is that many organizations already have the proper recognition and engagement schemes in place to leverage a world-class year one onboarding experience with little extra effort.

By taking the first step to build the bridge and forge the personal connection with a structured onboarding experience, you tell new hires loud and clear in an age of instant job offers that your workplace is one worth staying with – just don’t forget to live up to the promise.



Cord Himelstein

Serving as the Head of Marketing for Michael C. Fina Recognition, Cord Himelstein has helped Michael C. Fina become one of the leading providers of employee recognition and incentive programs.

  • Wow, Cord! This is really a very detailed on-boarding plan. This plan really encourages engagement between the company and their new-hires. It’s pro-active, it’s positive, and what I love about it is it can surely make the new-hires feel like they are welcomed, needed, and important.

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