Essential tips for an effective employee onboarding

6 min read
Essential tips for an effective employee onboarding
Brian Kyed
May 31st, 2018

Employee onboarding provides an important opportunity to build a solid foundation for a working relationship. We work with 5 steps to solidify that experience

It’s quite overwhelming for most people to start a new job position, and it can also be for the manager handling the employee onboarding. It’s a mix of many emotions for a new person to start a new position. Excited? Yes. Nervous? Probably. Eager to impress? That too.

All these feelings are far from negative, but they need to be tackled and approached in the right manner. An effective way of doing that is having a standardized employee onboarding plan for new hires to make them feel prepared, welcome and taken care of.

Sink or swim? Not for us

An effective employee onboarding plan doesn’t have to be long and complicated. Something simple is helpful both to the company and the person being onboarded.

Some new hires need a bit more handholding than others who are already familiar with the industry or technicalities we deal with. It’s not always the most experienced new hires that need the least bit of priming. Senior hires are often more set in their ways and therefore have a harder time transitioning smoothly.

Regardless of the person we’re hiring, we always try to follow these five essential steps to a successful onboarding plan.

Start employee engagement early

The first day at the office isn’t necessarily the first day of employee onboarding. Besides signing the contract, we set them up with an email account and event calendars, pass along any material about the product and company culture, and make sure they’re updated other office procedures. We don’t have a dress code or any out of the ordinary code of conduct, but communicating the lack thereof is still essential.

Airtame has an entire “People Ops” team dedicated to making sure the office runs smoothly and keeping staff happy. Someone from People Ops, for example the office manager, makes sure new team members come prepared. Before the first day, she makes the new hire aware of such important documents and information. She also sorts out issues of convenience, for example, if they prefer a vegetarian lunch option or need any special hardware or equipment.

We make an agenda for the first week. That way, our new employee knows what to expect. and create a board on Favro with small assignments that can be easily checked off when they begin. We use Favro because it has an intuitive UI that allows for easy prioritization of various assignments. These online overviews are not only for new team members – we make guidelines for ourselves as well to make sure we haven’t overlooked anything.

employee onboarding notes 1

Welcome to the team

Yay! It’s our new team member’s first day! There are several steps to take to break the ice. First of all, we introduce them to the team. That means everyone at Airtame, not just their designated department.

We have an initiation ritual at Airtame that helps newcomers ease into the company culture. They are taken to the favorite local café for a spicy ginger shot. The drink is harmless, even healthy, but has a burning sensation that makes most people sour up. We take a picture of their reaction to the burning drink and share it with the rest of the office. On Slack, we also pair up new “coffee buddies” each week. It encourages everyone to meet new people and communicate cross-department.

All new employees also prepare a short presentation about themselves which they show at one of our wider bi-weekly team meetings. We encourage these presentations to be as humble, silly or personal as possible rather than a summary of previous achievements. This applies more nuance to the individual and also hints at how they can contribute to the company culture.

Oh, and we high-five – a lot, actually! It’s not just for new employees, we high-five on a day-to-day basis. It’s a fun and neutral way of interacting and meeting people on the team, and we find that it also makes new faces feel more familiar quickly.


Every new hire brings something unique to the table, and thus every employee onboarding experience is unique as well.

The People team schedule all essential meetings for the first week, while the team lead sets up 1:1s with other relevant people the new hire should meet. The new employee is also encouraged to reach out to other departments leads as this might help give them a better understanding of the overall business goals, eradicate blind spots or foster unexpected working relationships.

Besides meeting up cross-department, we set new team members up with the right tools to communicate. The right technology can be an effective way to socialize – we use Slack a lot and immediately introduce new team members there and other social platforms.

Creating a warm atmosphere both in the workroom and in the digital universe can help any newcomer feel right at home.

employee onboarding present 1

Strategic placement and training

We especially employ a lot of people on the engineering team, and onboarding of engineers is thus a bit more complicated. Because there are so many engineers, we create a rotation schedule for a better technical onboarding.

Find out more about our engineering culture and what we look for in new hires here.

Everyone goes through customer success training, product demo calls and a broad company introduction to provide a better understanding of the product and the customer journey. That’s not the only benefit, though. Working with another area of expertise provides an insight to a different department and a greater awareness of successes and failures, business goals and customer needs.

Following up regularly

This is as important as all the other steps, perhaps even more so. We commit to catching up regularly, especially in the first few months. It’s a point often overlooked or simply forgotten, and we don’t want anyone to feel overlooked. The team lead schedules 1:1s after 4 and 8 weeks besides small lunch chats and walk and talks. That way, we can evaluate the employee onboarding process and learn where to improve.

We follow up, not only on new employees but the entire office, by sending out short surveys via Peakon at recurring intervals. Each survey looks at different elements of employee satisfaction, covering a variety of topics and also including employee onboarding. The surveys are anonymous and designed to help management get valuable feedback with learnings fed back into the company flow.

Onboarding shows that we care about new employees and helps us get better over time. But besides that, a successful onboarding plan builds a supportive culture within the company and this helps build a solid business reputation for future recruitment. So an effective employee onboarding process is not just a process that helps new employees thrive, it’s for us as well, because it improves our company culture and brand.

So, how do you do employee onboarding? Are there any steps we have missed?

We’re hiring right now! Find your next big career move on our jobs page and reach out ?

Interested? Let’s talk.

Brian Kyed
Brian is co-Founder and CPO at Airtame. He’s the right side of the brain in the business, which is a fancy way of saying he’s a “dream big”, creative type. When he’s not leading on all things design and product related, he’s crushing it on the football pitch as a striker with Airtame FC.

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