How To Create An Effective Employee Onboarding Experience

by Lindsay Boone
Employee Onboarding

This is the second blog in a two-part series by Lindsay Boone, HR Associate at High Alpha. You’ll learn her advice for creating a seamless onboarding experience and get a better understanding of the pitfalls to avoid at your startup. You can read the first blog in the series here.


Hiring top-tier talent to join your team is challenging, but retaining top-tier talent is essential. And onboarding can make or break your employee retention. 

In the first blog of this series, I shared four key lessons I’ve learned from one year of onboarding new hires at High Alpha.  If you haven’t read that yet, I recommend you start there and then continue with this article. Read it? Great! 

Now that you understand the importance of successful onboarding, you’re probably wondering how to build your onboarding process. 

The short answer? Start somewhere! Anywhere!  But to help you get started, I’ve highlighted four questions to consider when building your new hire’s onboarding experience. 

Q: What should a new hire know about you personally and the team culture you’re building? 

Ask yourself, “What motivates you?” and “What motivates your team?” 

When startups inevitably get overwhelming, you, your team, and your new hire will need to remember the “why.” Use onboarding as an opportunity to lay the groundwork behind the “why” that drives your company and employees forward. 

You can do this by prioritizing intentional conversations between you, your new hire, and your team within the first few weeks. These conversations can ignite passions for what you’re building and motivate your new team members to be the best they can be in their new role and stay long-term. 

Q: What should a new hire know about how your team and company works? 

Think about how your team functions. For example, consider your team’s communication preferences (email vs. slack vs. text vs. call), boundaries for nights and weekend work, PTO requests, remote working policies, etc.  In onboarding, you should clearly outline the inner workings of your communication style to help them avoid awkward missteps and communication. 

Hint: Your company handbook serves as an excellent resource for the new hire to fill in any gaps. 

Q: What does success look like in this role? How can you set up your new hire for success? 

In startups, roles often evolve with the needs of the company.  While some change is inevitable and flexibility is critical, communicating expectations and standards early on is key to your new teammate’s success. 

Skip the confusion for you and the new hire by putting a 30-day check-in on their calendar. Our team recommends scheduling it with the new hire during your new hire’s first week.

During that time, work with your new hire to set some goals and milestones to work towards. At the 30-day check-in, there should be a standard set to help you both evaluate success, progress, and learning opportunities. Then, repeat this style of meeting again for 60 and 90-day reviews. 

Q: What processes do you entrust to your HR team, ops, and other departments? How are these processes being communicated?

Simply put, who handles what?  Whether it be a spreadsheet or project management tool, find a way to document and collaborate on the onboarding process across multiple departments. For example, our team just started using Gather (and we are already obsessed!)

Okay, are you overwhelmed? That’s okay! It’s normal to hit bumps in the road.  It’s all part of being a start-up. What’s important is to pick a direction and get started.