HR Glossary  >   Onboarding


What is Onboarding?

Onboarding is a process of introducing the newly hired employee to the company. It is an important stage to help the employees understand their job roles and responsibilities. It involves many activities like a job offer, team intro, induction, training, etc. Onboarding may last for a few weeks or even months, depending on the organisation. When the onboarding process is rightly carried out, the employees feel confident and competent to work for the company.

In simple terms, employee onboarding means turning a newly hired candidate into an employee. Despite its seemingly simple nature, the onboarding process involves a significant amount of paperwork and attention to detail to ensure the best candidate experience is delivered. Beyond just paperwork, It’s about making a positive first impression and then persisting with a consistently positive organisational culture for a new hire.


Importance of Onboarding

Effective onboarding improves the new hire experience and provides a lasting and great first impression. This helps both the new hire and the company look forward to a productive engagement at the earliest. The meaning of onboarding as a focused activity becomes evident when you look at the topics that are addressed.

Legal Compliance

It helps ensure the paperwork is in order and complies with all local labour laws.


Clarity in defining duties and responsibilities eliminates the removal of any ambiguity that could adversely affect employee performance.

Company Culture

One of the trickiest topics to cover is to convey the culture of the company to the new hire. As daunting as it may be, there should be training sessions organised so that leaders can address and communicate company culture.


Getting introduced and making connections as part of the onboarding will help new hires navigate effectively while performing their duties.


Taking and providing quality feedback helps both the new hires and the company make adjustments as necessary early on in the engagement.


What is the Onboarding Process

Releasing Offer Letter

Sending the job offer letter is the first step in the process. This document outlines the role, job location, and compensation along with the company policies and terms & conditions of the offer. This letter also asks the candidate to provide their acceptance before a specific date.

Recording Candidate’s Acceptance

The candidate’s acceptance of the offer, along with a possible joining date, is used to plan the joining day and further engagement schedule for the candidate. It is also a common practice to schedule a telephone conversation to review the offer letter's contents and clarify any queries the candidate may have.

Engagement During Notice Period

Usually, lateral hires serve a notice period in their current organisations before they join a new company. It is normal for candidates to look for other opportunities despite having an offer in hand. Hence, this is a period to keep the offered candidates “warm” by engaging them during this period.

Joining Day Checklist

Joining a new organisation is an important milestone and it is natural to be nervous and anxious about the future in the new workplace. This is when HR professionals ensure the new joiner’s formalities are completed smoothly by following a checklist of things to do.

Induction and Orientation

It is a common practice for organisations to conduct orientation sessions at the earliest possible opportunity after joining formalities are completed for new hires. These sessions familiarise new employees with the organisation’s mission, goals, rules, policies, ethics and culture described in the handbook.


The HR manager works with the new employee’s manager, schedules required training and facilitates the training. This initial training and how the new hire progresses will give a sense of the quality of the selection process and also set the new hire to perform the job role effectively.

Performance Goals

A discussion between the new hire and their manager early on performance goals will help set the expectations. The performance goals identified should be SMART - Simple, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.


Onboarding is an important activity and should be conducted in an orderly fashion in line with the industry requirements. The experience of new hires in the initial days sets the stage for their long-term contributions and commitment to the organisation’s growth. Irrespective of the mode of onboarding, specialised software helps the process run smoothly and provides a great experience to the new employees.



How long does onboarding take?

The short answer is “it depends”. Every organisation can have different customised processes for onboarding according to the job role and area of work. It can take anywhere between a few weeks and a full year in some cases.

Who are the stakeholders in the onboarding process?

The key stakeholders are the new hire, the hiring manager and the HR professional. However, there are other stakeholders who either support or manage the onboarding like the team, training department, facilities, etc.

What modes of onboarding exist?

Post the COVID pandemic, organisations have resumed the mode of conducting onboarding on-premises. Thanks to the availability of advanced onboarding software, depending on the requirements and job locations, online onboarding is also followed by many organisations.

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