Building an Employee Onboarding Process

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 20/03/2023
Employee onboarding process

An employee onboarding process is crucial for the success of your business. In this article, we will be supporting business owners and managing directors in building it right. If you are looking to scale your company and gradually expand your teams, this will be a handy resource for you.

Welcoming new starters to your company is both exciting and challenging at the same time. On one hand, you will now have an additional resource to aid you in providing better services and sharing the workload. On the other, there are many hoops to jump through before they can start contributing. This is why a smooth and efficient onboarding process is an absolute necessity. Not only does it help move along quickly, efficiently and compliantly, but will also set the tone for the rest of your new hire’s employment with you.

The problem is, most companies don’t think past the traditional onboarding process that contains either email communication or an in-person exchange of documents. If you truly want to maximise the input you get from smooth onboarding, you will need to add more thought and effort to that. In this article, we will help you understand the structure of the onboarding process better and how to adjust your efforts accordingly.

5 Phases of Employee Onboarding Process

Onboarding is a rather linear process. But it can be broken down into key stages:

  1. Preboarding. It covers the candidate accepting the offer and being given information on the next steps. E.g. their starting date, workplace location, etc.

  2. Document collection. Just what it sounds - the new starter is to submit the documentation you require of them.

  3. Familiarising. At this stage, you introduce the new hire to your teams, processes, business structure, etc. We recommend providing them with an employee handbook too.

  4. Training. The theory is nothing without practice. It’s often forgotten that new hires need some handholding when beginning to apply the knowledge acquired at the familiarising stage.

  5. Transitioning into the role. It needs to be defined when the new hire becomes a fully pledged team member and is expected to begin contributing. 

To move through these phases smoothly, you will need some preparations in place And that’s what our next sections are about.

Make Checklists You Will Use

There’s nothing good in wandering into anything with no plan of action. Given there are many bits and pieces needed for both compliance and integration purposes, it’s easy to forget everything you need for successful onboarding. It’s best you start the journey off with making two checklists: things you need and things your new hire needs. 

Things You Need to Provide

While an employee onboarding process mostly entails an employer receiving various details from the worker, it goes both ways. We have previously spoken about how it is a good idea to put together an employee handbook that would outline key information about your business, its values and processes. Additionally, depending on the worker’s position, you might want to share the company’s branding and/or code of conduct for them to get familiar with. It would also be good for you to give them the structure of the existing team, so they know whom to address if any issues arise. 

There are also a lot of technical bits required of you. For example, you might be needing to provide special equipment or clothing if that’s something your business does. Not to mention you need to take care of granting access to any tools the worker might be needing: emails, time-tracking software, internal messenger, etc. To do that, you need to have a list of the resources you have. When they are used across the company (via the same login information), put them in a separate file to ensure they are not lost. Finally, don’t forget to provide what the new worker needs most: support to successfully blend into their new role. 

Things You Need to Receive

To be compliant with the law, you need some essential documentation from the worker. Usually such is limited to an identification document, national insurance number and bank details. However, every case is unique and there are sometimes more is required. For example, if you are hiring workers that are from overseas and they will be working in the UK, you will be needing to assign a certificate of sponsorship. Although most of the hassle will be on you, they will be required to pay for their visa application fee. For the EU citizens, you will be needing the evidence of their right to work in the UK. But even if your hires are local, there might be additional bits you need. 

If your business is in manufacturing and engineering, chances are you will need relevant certifications to prove the employee’s eligibility to work with the machinery you utilise. In a scenario they are expected to travel between the locations, a driver’s license may be required. In the healthcare industry, there are plenty of certifications needed for different positions, so be ready to collect those too. As you can see, there is a good chance more than just the basics are needed. It’s best you write down what documents are needed and keep it on hand, just so nothing goes missing.

Employ the Right Tools

It would be silly not to use digital tools to make your life easier. Especially when there is a huge selection of them available. Traditionally, onboarding is handled via email and in person, but both approaches can be time-consuming. They also make the process drag. If you want to make it more efficient and quicker, there are some solutions for you.

An Employee Onboarding System

There are tools that are focusing solely on creating a seamless end-to-end onboarding system. They come in different forms, offering different features. For example, some tools will simply send an automated email to an employee, inviting them to log into the system with their unique login information. From there on, the employee would need to upload whatever documentation is required of them. Other, more intricate solutions, come in a form of a highly engaging digital platform. It can be taking the new hire on a virtual tour around the company, presenting it with video introductions on other employees, helping them arrange a meeting time with their new team, and so on. Essentially, there is something for everyone. 

While Timesheet Portal is not an employee onboarding system, it comes with an onboarding module. What it means is that if you are considering our tool for pay & bill purposes, you will also get an onboarding feature already included in the price. It falls into the first category of software we’ve described, where the user will be required to log into the system and upload the documents you need. To ensure all of their paperwork is submitted and is correct, you can deny their access to the platform until it gets approved. Once it’s done, the documents will be stored in an allocated location on the system you can access at any time. But more on this in the next section.

A Document Management System

There are several uses for a document management system. First of all, it will tie all documentation from the employee onboarding process and the bits acquired in the future to the worker. Easy access like that will be a godsend when it comes to audits. Certain systems, like Timesheet Portal, will also notify you when the documentation is nearing its expiration date. It can then be updated in advance to keep your business compliant. 

Most document management systems can also serve as shared storage spaces. All you need to do is tinker with the membership levels/privileges or an equivalent term the tool may have. When you onboard a new hire, it’s a good idea to grant them access to the shared storage at once, so they can start familiarising themselves with the insides of the company. This could be where the employee handbook is found, or a file with login information for company-wide tools. In other words, if you pack it with important business-related files, your new and old workers will always have them at their fingertips. 

Run, Analyse, Fix and Repeat

Like any other process, employee onboarding isn’t a one-off. It might come across as something you set to run once and never revisit, but this is not true. Effective onboarding requires the same approach as other elements of your business. Namely observation and optimisation. It is meant to be improved as you go.

Remain Flexible and Adaptable 

The onboarding process doesn’t have to be standardised and watered down to simple documentation exchange. In fact, creating memorable experiences is the way forward for some companies. For example, in our eBook, we have described an example where a company would ship out a work laptop, fully set to be used for work. They would add other bits to it, such as a welcoming card and a few bits and bobs teaching the new hire how to get around in a light-hearted, humours manner. Some companies, especially with small, tight-knit teams, encourage their new hires to do a short informal presentation about themselves. There are no rules what can and cannot be added to your onboarding process. 

While to most the era of covid lockdowns is not a pleasant memory, it brought along many lessons. One of them is the importance of flexibility. Before that, most companies conducted interviewing and onboarding processes in person only. Those who were fortunate to be expanding throughout the pandemic, however, needed to find a new way of handling things. Going completely remote meant having to optimise all hiring-related processes, and finding new solutions to accommodate your needs. Most companies who did end up keeping the said practices as their permanent process. What we are trying to say with this example is that you shouldn’t be married to your existing onboarding practices. Instead, keep the door open to changes.


While an efficient employee onboarding process involves more steps than simply collecting required documentation, it is not more complicated. In fact, with the right tools on hand and the right mindset, it is a whole lot quicker and intuitive than doing it in a traditional way. And it’s certainly more hands-off. 

Although onboarding involves a lot of human-to-human interaction, there are many elements of it that can be automated. It doesn’t mean the process will be less personal. In fact, it will be leaving you more time for getting to know the new hire and bond with them. Companies often forget that synergy and communication are essential for teams to be aligned, and the foundation for those things is laid down during the onboarding process. It’s time you prioritise human relationships and let the machines handle boring manual tasks. 

Ready to start building your onboarding process? We can assist.

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Timesheet Portal online software provided by Anfold Software Ltd, a registered company in the UK.