Employee onboarding is a process that introduces new employees to your company, its culture, and how they will perform their job. It is so crucial that this is not an oversight or last minute, but a well thought out plan. Employees can tell when you “remembered” the night before they were starting the next day. Take the time and effort to plan and execute this process properly. Without a well-planned onboarding program, it will be difficult for new employees to integrate into the company culture and have success in their position.

Here are 5 keys to build a successful onboarding experience for your next new employee, whether they are virtual or in person.

1.    Make sure your new hire has access to all the necessary programs and software in the company

Be proactive with this step and make sure you give them access to every software and system they need to do their job. Skipping this step can affect the new employee’s ability to get their work done and hit the ground running. This not only includes software but also any necessary computer equipment. If they are working remotely and you are supplying their laptops-make sure it is sent to them before the first day of work. Creating an environment for a new employee that feels like home is crucial to their first impression of your company. New employees find the lack of appropriate tools to be a challenge, especially when it comes to succeeding. Setting up a new employee’s information and providing any necessary office supplies immediately upon arrival will show that the person is valued. This gives the new employee basic tools to meet performance obligations.

2.    Make intentional introductions

On their first day of work, it’s a good idea for new employees to meet with key people and departments. Although they may not exactly remember everyone’s name, this will provide them with a sort of map to follow. These introductions will also help your team understand how the company functions on a larger scale. So make a list of people the new employee needs to know and be intentional about setting up those first introductions in person or remotely.

3.    Plan for a team lunch the first day

The first day is just like the first impression. Make it memorable and special. Schedule a lunch meeting or after-work gathering with the new employee’s team members within one week of their start date, but preferably the 1st day. If they work remotely, have DoorDash delivered to their house and have a Zoom team lunch. This can help break the ice and provide an opportunity for everyone to learn more about each other in a relaxed environment. When employees feel valued by their team both on the personal and professional level, they are more inclined to stick around for the long term.

4.    Make sure you have enough time for training

Training should be the first focus of a new employee’s first week on the job. Even though an employee may be qualified for a particular position, you should expect some things still needing training. Having a training plan is vital for helping new employees find their footing and adjust to an organization. When giving training for employees, it is important to cover guidelines and processes. Clearly communicating expectations makes new employees aware of what’s required of them.

5.    Make sure you follow up

This is the most important step and is often overlooked by employers. Give your new employees 30, 60, and 90-day reviews. Even if you feel like they’re doing well or do not need an evaluation from you, make sure to talk to them rather than assume they’re doing OK on their own. Take this opportunity to understand your company’s onboarding process as an employee. Keep track of what they liked and disliked about your process and make changes as needed.

Successful onboarding processes reflect the time and effort put into them. The first weeks are critical for new hires to form an impression – whether that is positive or negative – and this can impact their perception of your business in the long term. It also has a direct impact on your ability to retain employees. These tips should give you a great start in developing an onboarding plan that works for your organization.

Barbara Mason is a career consultant that brings over 20 years Human Resources experience and has been in senior level roles for Fortune 500 companies. She is the owner and CEO of Career Pathways Consulting and her passion is helping career professionals stay, flow, or go in their career.

To learn more about working with her, visit www.careerpathwaysconsulting.com.