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Employee Onboarding: What Makes it the Critical Stage for Establishing a Sense of Belonging?



For employees, entering their new workplace means starting the next chapter of their lives. It represents a fresh start, hope, and promising potential.


Yet, if their employer and manager don’t provide a welcoming introduction, workers might lose motivation early on. Moreover, they could struggle to connect with the work environment and their job role.


As a result, a sense of belonging, one of the critical elements of employee happiness, may never emerge. The onboarding process helps workers integrate into the corporate culture from day one and find their place within the workplace.


Moreover, 54 per cent of companies with thorough onboarding programs said they experienced a higher employee engagement in the process. Yet, organisations often fail to make the first days in their company enjoyable for new workers.


According to Sapling, only 12 per cent of employees agree that their employer handles onboarding well. That typically happens because organisations focus on processes and paperwork instead of introducing new workers to their assignments, company culture, and teammates.


The problem might be that many business leaders and HR professionals fail to understand the essence of employee onboarding, seeing it as a mere formality. If you want to ensure your employees feel welcome and ready for their work, here’s everything you should know about it.


Why Onboarding Experience Matters?


The weight of the first impression will never lose its intensity. We might hate to admit it, but what we think of someone when we first meet often determines our future perception.


In the same way, how new employees feel in their workplace in the first few days could affect their employee journey altogether. Because of that, companies must invest in coherent onboarding programmes that support and educate workers from the day they join the workplace until they feel it’s where they belong.


The practice of welcoming newcomers, providing them knowledge, and helping them connect with the team is especially significant in remote work. Telework creates an environment that’s deprived of in-person contacts and makes it more challenging to meet people.


Yet, many employees in the post-pandemic era won’t have the luxury to choose. Instead, they’ll start their new jobs remotely from the get-go, unable to bond with their new coworkers over a coffee break or get to know their managers in one-on-one meetings.


The first days in a new workplace are stressful as people adjust to the new environment and responsibilities. It’s why the majority expects employers to take some time to introduce them to the culture, policies, and perks.


According to Statista, onboarding helps build a positive attitude towards the employer and integrate quickly. It also increases engagement and gives employees a clear understanding of what they should achieve.


Hardly anyone feels ready to start working from day one and navigate their new role like a veteran. But many companies fail to make onboarding a priority and ensure new employees are comfortable with their assignments and understand what their managers expect from them.


That might create a negative first impression that increases over time and makes people believe that there might be a better place for them. The result could be turnover and an unfortunate candidate experience.


No surprise that six out of ten Australian managers have had an employee leave within their probation period — with 43 per cent of those workers leaving due to a poor onboarding programme.


The data confirms the first weeks in new work are crucial for retaining workers and helping them settle in and understand the scope of their responsibilities and rights. But there might be more to onboarding than its practical side.


The Beginning is of Paramount Importance for Building a Sense of Belonging


Every workplace has its unique atmosphere, practices, and rituals. That helps create a community and ensures people find their place in a company.


Work, salary, and professional development might build the initial motivation to be a part of a particular company, but that might not be enough to retain employees. Not many people would continue working where they feel alienated and struggle to connect with others.


The need to bond is just as significant as to receive paycheck and recognition. However, it can be challenging for new employees to find their tribe when they’re only starting to understand the workplace.


Employers and HR professionals can facilitate employee connections and help newcomers meet their teammates and like-minded coworkers. With onboarding, they have an efficient tool that ensures people integrate into the work environment from day one.


Besides helping employees feel welcome in the workplace, these programs encourage them to ask questions and share their ideas. Meanwhile, they start to understand their job role and how they contribute to the bigger picture.


It’s crucial to integrate employees and create the necessary conditions to develop a sense of belonging and find their place in the workplace. However, if you strive for building a thriving community where everyone feels welcome, you must start at the beginning.


Otherwise, you risk a poor onboarding programme that fails to provide the foundations to every employee. That could result in an incomplete candidate experience, low productivity, and lack of motivation.


But how do you establish efficient onboarding practices?


5 Tips on How to Develop a Powerful Onboarding Programme


1. Start with a Great Recruitment Process


Onboarding concludes candidate experience, but the first recruitment stages ensure a stable groundwork. Create a hiring process that leaves little to no doubts and ensure everyone understands company values and culture.


Create easy-to-understand job descriptions that convey the right message and speak to the target audience. That way, you’ll attract the most compatible talents who have the potential to integrate into your company with ease.


Pay attention to detail and assess your social media channels, website, and career site. Ensure that they all manifest your mission and objectives. Let your future employees know what happens next if they get the job and why your workplace community is unique.


They should know their job role, what to expect from work, and what you expect from them. Transparency is critical in this phase, so be clear about the company policies, work from home possibilities, and vacation rights.


Consider providing future employees with an office tour to give them a glimpse of how things work in your workplace. You can also use this opportunity to introduce them to their teammates, equipment, and work environment.


2. Send Your New Employees Welcome Kits


Consider engaging your worker from the day they sign the contract. Make them feel like a part of the team before entering the office by sending them a thoughtful welcome package.


Show your care and how much it matters to the company that they joined. Tailor the welcome kit to their job role and send them gifts with the watermark of your company’s brand.


The new employee will understand the message: you care about their experience and appreciate they chose you. Send a branded hoodie, mug, notebook, or other office supplies to start the onboarding process the right way.


3. Provide a Guide on Company Policies and Culture


Onboarding serves to ensure new employees are familiar with the company expectations, policies, and culture. Provide your workers with a guide in the form of an engaging video or an e-book.


There, you can inform them about everything that impacts their work and presence in the company. Include information about the perks and benefits, vacation policies, sick leave, notice period, well-being programmes, and professional growth opportunities.


Employees can always turn to this guide when they have questions and clear out their doubts. You can also consider suggesting what they should achieve in the first year of their work, making it easier to track and measure their accomplishments.


4. Extend the Welcome Week


Most companies focus on the first week of the onboarding programme. Yet, that’s not enough to integrate employees into the workplace and ensure their readiness.


Instead, create an extensive welcome period that provides thorough training and welcome sessions. It isn’t wrong if onboarding lasts for a few months.


Use this time to organise meet and greet workshops, team buildings, and provide your new employees with a list of goals they should achieve in the first six months. For instance, you can make one of their objectives to meet at least two coworkers and invite them for a coffee.


That way, you’ll help employee create their first connections in the workplace and start developing a sense of belonging. Moreover, you can establish a buddy network and encourage experienced workers to guide the new ones through the work environment and make their first days more comfortable.


5. Use an Engaging Communication Platform


When new in a workplace, employees hope to meet their coworkers as that makes them feel more welcome and gives a sense of support network. However, they might find it challenging to approach someone or hesitate to start a conversation.


It’s why you should consider an engaging communication platform where they can feel more comfortable talking with their teammates. Moreover, you can even encourage new employees to find mentors who can help them navigate the workplace smoothly.


shoogle is an app that provides plenty of collaborative features that help your new employees connect with coworkers and managers. Encourage your staff to try shoogle Community Messaging and share their story, what they’re working on, or what joke made them laugh yesterday.


It’s an easy way for new employees to meet their teammates and participate in light conversations that might turn into long-lasting friendships. Thus, they can also use shoogle Buddy and Messaging to find a workplace buddy, work on a goal together, and motivate each other.

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Onboarding is an essential part of the candidate experience that sets the tone for the employee journey. Hence, you shouldn’t underestimate its power and neglect the practices that help you introduce the work environment, company culture, and policies to new workers.


Moreover, the onboarding phase is crucial for helping people meet their coworkers and build their community within the workplace. Leverage team building, welcome sessions, and collaborative platforms to facilitate these connections and help employees feel a sense of belonging.


You can rely on shoogle for providing a platform where they will form their first workplace connections. shoogle is a virtual land with a plentitude of opportunities that help workers meet people in their new workplace and build a network of friends, mentors, or lunch break buddies.

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