Practical tips to help ensure a successful onboarding experience

Practical tips to help ensure a successful onboarding experience
Photo by Tim King / Unsplash

In the modern work environment, remote work has become the standard for many organizations. As an avid explorer of the intersection of psychology and work, I want to delve deeper into strategies for making (virtual) onboarding more effective and ensuring the successful integration of new hires into a company's culture.

Understanding Onboarding: Goals and Outcomes

To develop a successful onboarding process, we must first understand the goals we aim to achieve. Research by Moser, Soucek, Galais, and Roth [1] reveals that effective onboarding processes should focus on five objectives:

  1. Enable new hires to work safely and in compliance with regulations.
  2. Equip them with the necessary competencies and a high level of self-efficacy.
  3. Immerse them in the company's culture, values, and practices.
  4. Clarify role expectations and requirements.
  5. Help them overcome the stressful initial period of adjustment.

The Three Pillars of Successful Onboarding

To accomplish these objectives, successful onboarding processes should comprise three essential elements [2]:

  • Inform: Provide necessary information.
  • Welcome: Make new hires feel personally welcomed.
  • Support: Offer guidance and assistance during the transition.

With these foundations in mind, let's explore practical ideas that can have a meaningful impact on (virtual) onboarding experiences.


  1. Lay the foundation: Ensure that new employees are equipped with the right tools, technology, and access to essential platforms. Provide comprehensive technical guides and designate "tech buddies" who can answer questions and offer assistance.
  2. Gamify the onboarding process: Research shows that integrating game elements into work can boost motivation and learning. Provide tools such as a "company quiz" or "onboarding tree" to visualize progress.


  1. Build anticipation before the first day: Onboarding should begin even before the new employee's first day. Generate excitement by sending welcome packages, introducing them to their new team via video calls, or sending informative emails with tips for a smooth transition.
  2. Promote relationship-building: Encourage new employees to engage in informal exchanges with colleagues outside formal meetings. Virtual coffee chats or lunch breaks can help build a supportive network .


  1. Foster self-driven onboarding: Help new employees actively shape their own onboarding journey. Leaders can inspire them through appreciative communication, offering continuous feedback and motivation.
  2. Assign a buddy: Provide new hires with a dedicated coach or mentor to help with cultural integration, role-specific training, and technical onboarding.

The Bottom Line

Investing time and effort into an effective (virtual) onboarding process can yield significant results. According to a US study by Laurano [3], companies with structured onboarding retained 91% of new employees after the first year. By implementing the strategies outlined here, you can increase the chances of your organization's (remote) onboarding success, leading to increased employee.

Onboarding plays a critical role in promoting employee success. A strong beginning fuels progress, while a weak start can damage a new employee's self-assurance and make the organization reconsider the hiring choice. What sets apart firms that excel in onboarding—whether in-person or virtual—is their intentional approach, which continues well beyond the first week, the initial 30 days, or even the first 100 days. Your onboarding program should be the launchpad for a sustained development strategy that solidifies your employees' connection to the company culture, encourages relationships within the organization, and optimizes their performance in their roles.

  1. Moser, K., Souček, R., Galais, N., & Roth, C. (2018). Onboarding–neue Mitarbeiter integrieren (Vol. 37). Hogrefe Verlag GmbH & Company KG. ↩︎

  2. Klein, H. J., & Heuser, A. E. (2008). The learning of socialization content: A framework for researching orientating practices. In Research in personnel and human resources management (Vol. 27, pp. 279-336). Emerald Group Publishing Limited. ↩︎

  3. Laurano, M. (2013). Onboarding 2013. A new look at new hires, Aberdeen Group. ↩︎