The 4 Phases Of The Employee Onboarding Process [Small Business Guide]

Last updated on December 8th, 2022

Expanding your business is pretty exciting as it’s a good sign that your business is on the right track. You’re in demand, and you need more employees to help your business grow even further. 

However, I’ve met a lot of new business owners who aren’t sure how to properly onboard (see also, ‘What is Data Onboarding in Business?‘) their new employees.

The 4 Phases Of The Employee Onboarding Process [Small Business Guide]

So, I thought I’d help by making this small business guide on the 4 phases of employee onboarding. Hopefully this will help you come up with your own employee onboarding process and feel more confident when it’s time to expand your business! 

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What Is Employee Onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of how you accept and welcome a new employee to your company. It usually begins from the moment the potential employee accepts the role, and every company aims to seamlessly integrate the new employee into the company. 

To achieve this, many companies set up an employee onboarding process. This includes multiple steps to help introduce employees to their new roles and settle into the company.

It’s not just about introducing your new employee to their responsibilities and tasks, but also supplying them with the equipment they need, introducing them to other members of your team, and giving important feedback on their work during their first few days. 

There are tons of benefits businesses can reap from introducing an onboarding process for employees.

An onboarding process can boost employee productivity, as businesses with a standard onboarding process see a 50% improvement in productivity with their new hires compared to businesses that don’t.

Employee onboarding also helps increase revenue as 78% of businesses saw an increase in their revenue after investing in an onboarding process. 

However, 36% of employers do not have a structured onboarding process for their new employees. I’ve talked to some business owners about why they don’t have a structured employee onboarding process and some said that the costs were too high.

On average, it can  cost small businesses over $1,000 to onboard a new employee. As a result, 35% of companies spend nothing on employee onboarding – although it takes on average $4,000 of recruitment costs to employ a new employee!

According to this survey from BambooHR, a third of recruits leave their job within six months.

When asked what would have made them stay, 23% responded with ‘receiving clear guidelines’, 21% replied with ‘more effective training’, and 17% said ‘a friendly smile or helpful co-worker’.

Employee onboarding can help tackle all of these – and as a result, businesses can retrain more employees simply by setting up an onboarding process!

This is further backed up by another study where 69% of employees were more likely to remain with a company for at least 3 years after a great onboarding experience. 

So, there’s no denying that employee onboarding is important for businesses.

The 4 Phases Of Employee Onboarding

So, employee onboarding is a must for a lot of companies if they want to retain their employees and ensure they work productively – but a lot of new and small businesses have struggled to come up with the best employee onboarding process for them. 

As a result, I’ve seen many follow the 4 phase employee onboarding process or use it as a basis for their own. If you are interested in doing the same, then here are the 4 phases. 

The 4 Phases Of The Employee Onboarding Process [Small Business Guide] (1)

Phase 1: Orientation

The onboarding process officially begins when the candidate for the role accepts the job offer. From there, a business will want to focus on four different aims during the orientation process to introduce and welcome their new team member to the company. 

The first thing is paperwork. I’ve seen a lot of employee onboarding guides which forget to mention that you should get all the legal stuff out of the way first.

This includes verifying any documents you have not already done yet, writing up the contract, and so on. This should all ideally be done before the employee even steps into the office or begins their first day of work.

After that, the real orientation begins. 

New employees should be introduced and welcomed by senior leadership as they begin their new role. This will help them know who they should report to, and also go to for further help and clarification.

From there, the senior leadership should introduce the new employee to their fellow team members, and important members of the company like Human Resources or Tech Support. Show them around the office, where the facilities are, and make them feel welcomed. 

From there, the new employee should also be introduced to the history and culture of the businesses so they can understand the company’s values. 63% of employees don’t have a clear understanding of what their company does and why.

This can lead to lower productivity in workers. 

Give your new employee a handbook that contains a compliance overview along with details on vacation time, payroll, how to call in sick, – all that stuff they will want to know from their first day. 

Phase 2: Training 

Now your new employee has been welcomed into the company, it’s time to start training them in their individual role. 

This can be done by having your new employees shadow others. Organize training sessions for safety training, compliance training, and processes related to their role. Then, wrap everything up with performance reviews to set expectations for outcomes.

72% of employees think that 1:1 time with their manager is crucial for good onboarding, so make sure your new employees have a chance to speak directly to their managers.

This can be done during performance reviews and simply checking in on your new employees after their first day! 

Phase 3: Transition

After your new employee is settled into their role, they will transition into a permanent member of the team. This means that they may start looking for advancement opportunities, or further training and development. 

You should also ensure that your new employee has effective communication with their supervisor and/or manager.

This will help you ease any bumps in the road during  those first few months of your new employee’s time with your company. Keep up those conversations, make sure they connect with their team, and this will help improve employee retention by 82%.

Phase 4:Ongoing Development

78% of employees say that they would remain with a company if they had a clear path within the organization – so the fourth phase of employee onboarding is all about ongoing development and career mapping with your new employees. 

Set both personal and professional goals with your new employee, keep assessing their performance, and see how they can continue contributing to the company.

Be sure to reward and recognize their hard work as employee recognition is important to 37% of employees.

Basically, look to the long term with your employees if you want to retain them! 

Final Thoughts 

A lot of businesses use the 4 phases of employee onboarding as a neat, handy guide for their own onboarding processes.

Each phase is backed up by statistics and research, so it’s something I definitely recommend to businesses looking to improve their onboarding strategies. 

I hope you have found this guide helpful and that your future onboarding processes are a success! Good luck!

By Ramunas Berkmanas

As a full-stack marketer, I have been actively involved in the digital marketing industry since 2014. Over the years, I have gained extensive experience in various areas such as SEO, media buying, and performance marketing. Read my story

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