How to Create the Best New Employee Experience When Onboarding


Why it’s essential to get onboarding right

What happens if you neglect it?

Companies who excel at onboarding

Successful onboarding: Step-by-step process

How Sodexo Engage can help optimise the employee experience

How to Create the Best New Employee Experience When Onboarding

What’s the most important factor that impacts whether or not a new hire is a success? Their talent? The training process? How they’re managed?

Believe it or not, the success or failure of a new starter can come down to that first couple of months.

The onboarding process will define an employee’s time with your organisation, and it’s arguably the most important element of the new employee experience.

Why it’s essential to get onboarding right

The onboarding process is so important because it’s the first impression a new employee has of the organisation. It acclimates employees to their role, the company’s culture and values, how they contribute to the business’ success, and what the organisation has to offer.

A strong onboarding process engages the new hire from day one, not just getting them up to speed with their new job, but also ensuring they’re more committed to the company.

What happens if you neglect it?

There are a number of consequences for organisations who don’t prioritise the onboarding process, and they primarily derive from a lack of employee engagement.

A well thought out and effective onboarding process engages your new hires immediately, and sets them up for long-term success with your organisation.

Companies who excel at onboarding

Let’s take a look at three examples of companies excelling at their employee onboarding.


New hires at SaaS company Zapier spend the first week at the company simply getting familiar with the company and their new team. This includes learning the tools and systems they’ll be using, and setting expectations for their time at the company.

A new starter at Zapier starts getting to work on small tasks by their second week, while week three involves collaboration with other teams on cross-functional projects.

The reason Zapier’s onboarding process is effective is because it sets clear task milestones, gives the new hire time to settle in, and doesn’t overwhelm them with large amounts of information.


Telecoms giant Vodafone doesn’t rely on generic frameworks and documentation for their onboarding—they’ve created a bespoke employee onboarding application.

The dedicated app guides the employee through the entire onboarding process, allowing the new hire to fill in their requirements, while delivering crucial information about the company.


Google’s onboarding process puts the impetus on the managers, setting them five specific tasks 24-hours before a new hire starts. These tasks include:

  • Assigning the new hire a peer/buddy
  • Discussing their role and responsibilities
  • Facilitating intros to coworkers
  • Putting in place check-ins for the employee’s first six months at the company
  • Encouraging them to speak openly about potential issues.

Because these tasks are set right before a new hire starts, they’re fresh in the mind of the managers.

Successful onboarding: Step-by-step process

We’ve explained why the onboarding process is so important, and looked at some great examples, but how do you create a successful onboarding programme and perfect the new employee experience?

Step 1: Recruitment

Your onboarding process doesn’t start with the new hire’s first day—it has to begin during the recruitment process.

Throughout this period the candidates should get a clear sense of what your company stands for, what to expect from the role and what’s expected of them as an employee.

Review your website, job ads and interview format. Every point at which a prospective employee interacts with the organisation is a chance to engage them.

Transparency is key during the interview process, both in terms of what working for the company is like and what the next stage is.

Step 2: The first visit

A job candidate’s first visit to the office isn’t just for the purpose of attending the interview. It’s an opportunity to see where they’ll be working, meeting some of the people they’ll be working with and build excitement for their future employment.

Use their first and/or second interview to provide a transparent glimpse into a day in the life of their potential new job.

Step 3: The offer letter

Once you’ve decided on the new hire you need to send out the offer letter. This should communicate your appreciation and excitement that they’re becoming a new employee. The offer letter is also a final opportunity to outline their responsibilities and expectations before they start to help avoid any surprises.

Step 4: Build excitement

If your new hire accepts the job, onboarding shouldn’t be put on ice until their first day. The weeks between offer acceptance and start date is a great opportunity to build excitement and confirm they’ve made the right decision in choosing your organisation.

There’s some routine documentation that needs to be shared. For example, their company phone number and email, as well as access credentials for company comms tools, but you can also share their first week itinerary, tasks and assignments for when they start, and pictures and video of work events and things that make your business unique.

Ask the new employee’s team to send a welcome email too—or even a welcome video.

Step 5: The perfect new hire welcome

The new employee experience isn’t defined by the first day, but it makes a big difference.

Work on delivering a personal experience, with one-to-one meetings booked in and other fun team building activities. A team lunch is an easy but effective place to start.

If your new hire is working remotely, don’t neglect them just because some things aren’t as simple. Put just as much effort into a remote or hybrid employee’s first day as you do for office based new hires.

Step 6: The first few weeks

During a new hire’s first month the goal should be to help them understand what’s expected of them in their new role, and map out their future progression.

Getting a new employee excited about their potential future is just as important as getting them excited about their new role. Indeed, a clear direction and path for progression is essential for job satisfaction, as well as an increased expectation for future satisfaction.

Some key things to do in those first weeks include:

  • Announce the new hire to the whole company, with an outline of who they are, what they’re going to be doing and how they’re going to help the company achieve its targets.
  • Book in meet and greets with teams across the organisation, as well as company leaders and top performers.
  • Put in place a clear and achievable personal development plan, with goals for the first year, stretch goals and KPIs.

Step 7: Ongoing employee engagement

Your efforts to engage new hires shouldn’t end once they’ve been bedded in. You need to be working to engage employees throughout their time with the organisation.

Organise regular team building events (making sure they’re inclusive of all employees, including remote workers), ask senior management to book in regular check-ins with all employees, and make sure you’re regularly seeking feedback from employees on how you’re doing.

Recognition is also essential for ongoing engagement. Employees who are ‘always’ or ‘usually’ recognised are ‘very unlikely’ to job hunt within the next six months. What's more, a recognition programme increases your organisation’s chance of strong business outcomes by 12 times.

A recognition programme doesn’t require a huge investment in order to be effective either, with an expenditure of just 1% of payroll enough to deliver a positive impact on engagement.

How Sodexo Engage can help optimise the employee experience

If you’re looking to improve the new employee experience at your organisation, look no further than Sodexo Engage. We offer the widest choice of rewards on the market, with incredible bulk discounts on a huge range of retailers.

From eVouchers and gift cards, through to team celebration packages and merchandise, you’ll be able to identify the ideal rewards solution for your business.

Supporting wellbeing is also key for engagement, and our dedicated Health and Wellbeing Hub makes it easier than ever before to protect the mental, physical and financial wellbeing of your workforce.

To find out more about how we can revolutionise your new employee experience, either through our recognition and rewards programme or Health and Wellbeing Hub, get in touch with the experts here at Sodexo Engage today. We have over 60 years of experience in helping organisations across a wide range of verticals to supercharge their employee engagement, boost productivity and acquire their industries top talent.



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