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5 tips for employee onboarding

4-minute read

You’ve made it through the hiring process and found your brilliant new team member. Now comes the important part – making sure your new hire has the best start possible. Check out these five suggested seamless tips for onboarding.

Key take-outs
  • Almost a quarter of new employees leave their job within the first 12 months..
  • Don’t overload a new hire. Consider starting them on a Wednesday at 10am for a shorter week and great office buzz.
  • Snap open the laptop and lay out the uniforms. A prepared workspace says it all.
  • Training doesn’t have to be boring. Keep it simple, bite-sized and engaging.

Hiring is a two-way street. You spend weeks, maybe months, sifting through candidates to find the right fit for your growing business, but the minute your new employee walks through the door, they’re assessing if the job is the right fit for them. In fact, according to Jobactive, almost a quarter of people who start a job leave within the first 12 months – with some suggesting the cost of early resignations to employers to be upwards of 50 per cent of the employee’s salary. Ouch.

In order to avoid this scenario and retain your hard-earned staff, it’s essential to have an onboarding strategy that sets up your new hire for success. Here’s how:

1. Create an introduction plan that starts before day one

This doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s really just about thinking through the logistics of your new employee’s first day, week and month. What do you want them to achieve? What tone do you want to set? How can you make an unbeatable first impression? According to Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer at Employment Hero, one of Australia's leading HR and payroll platforms, onboarding should start well before your new hire even shows up. Hattingh suggests calling the new starter a week prior to beginning, just to say how excited you are and to confirm their start time. Another tip? Rethink their starting day and time. “I’ve experimented over the years with onboarding,” explains Hattingh, “and starting on a Wednesday at 10am makes a big impact. The shorter week means a new team member doesn’t get overloaded with information … and a 10am start means the office is already buzzing and everyone is ready to be focused on welcoming your newbie.”

2. Have everything ready to go

No one wants to spend their first day searching for stationery, so have a desk ready with all the essentials: laptop, welcome pack, email and pre-installed software (including all logins). For non-desk jobs – same deal, different tools. Try to get uniforms, lockers or workspaces and equipment super organised so your new hire has everything they need. Hattingh also suggests going the extra mile with a welcome sign or balloon (which lets the rest of the company know where the new starter is sitting). And if you have any company merch, load ’em up so they can look and feel the part. These personal touches go a long way to making someone feel welcome and ready for action.

3. Assign a mentor (and don’t forget lunch)

You see it all the time – the poor new employee wandering the halls looking for the printer, or eating lunch on their lonesome. It’s such a disappointing start, so make sure your new team member has a mentor or partner who they can go to with questions. It’s also great if the founder or a senior member of the team can drop by for a meet and greet. And it sounds obvious, but try to organise a team lunch on the first day so your newbie isn’t eating alone.

4. Rethink training as a series of snacks, not a meal

Induction training – urgh. No one likes it, especially when it involves the dreaded day-one info dump. Hattingh says your induction should “educate to inspire”. So try to get all the boring policy and compliance sections taken care of in a quick and simple way (short explainer video, anyone?) and, where possible, streamline job training into 30 to 60-minute sessions with regular breaks.

5. Check in and make improvements

The first few weeks are intense for all new employees, so check in regularly to see how they’re going. A simple “how are you finding things?” can give you insights into the new-employee experience that will help for future hires, and just as importantly, it shows that you’re the kind of business that values employee input.


Giving your new hires a calm, welcoming and organised start is the best thing you can do for employee retention and engagement. And for an even smoother start, try our helpful checklist for new employees (PDF 61KB)

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Things you should know

This article is a general overview and should be used as a guide only. We recommend that you seek independent professional advice about your specific circumstances before acting.


All statements in this article are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views or position of Westpac. The information provided in the article are general statements and for guidance only. This article has not been prepared with your situation in mind, and your individual situation may differ. Westpac’s products are subject to terms and conditions, fees and charges and certain criteria may apply. Full details are available on request.