5 key stages to include in an effective employee onboarding program

February 1, 2024 By Kit Germeroth

How long does a good employee onboarding process last? Days? Weeks? Months?

Most human resource experts say that comprehensive onboarding can last for up to 12 months and that employers shouldn’t presume new hires have the skills they need to hit the ground running.

You probably already have some type of onboarding process in place, but is it as effective as it could be? In this guide, we’ll cover the basics of what employee onboarding is, why it’s so important to get right, and the five stages every onboarding program needs to include. 

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into your company. As part of onboarding, you give new employees information about your company culture, standard processes, and their role.

Onboarding is different from orientation. While orientation is a one-time event, onboarding is a continual process that goes beyond the first few days or weeks of an employee’s company journey.

Effective onboarding is a holistic process — it helps new employees align with your culture and build workplace relationships. It also helps them develop the skills they’ll need to thrive in their new work environment.

Why is employee onboarding important?

Good employee onboarding makes all the difference for new employees and your organization. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of effective onboarding.  

Improves employee retention

Hiring a new employee is expensive, so you ideally want new hires to stay at your organization for many years. Sadly, up to 20% of staff turnover occurs within the first 45 days of an employee joining your company.

A structured onboarding process makes new staff more likely to stay. Onboarding helps employees feel informed, valued, and productive — all of which contribute to a positive experience.

Improves employee engagement

When employees are engaged at work, they feel connected to your organization. This makes them more productive, collaborative, happier, and loyal. Companies with high engagement have lower turnover rates and higher customer satisfaction rates.

Onboarding is the first step towards achieving high levels of employee engagement. It helps employees feel like a valued part of the team right away. Plus, it reduces the stress employees feel when learning about their roles and responsibilities.

Increases new hire productivity

An effective onboarding process introduces new employees to the tools, resources, and processes you use at your company. It introduces company culture and sets clear goals for employees in the first weeks and months of their role.

This helps new hires make a positive contribution during their first days and weeks. Employees who have a good onboarding experience are 50% more productive than those who don’t, meaning they can start adding real value to your organization more quickly.

Facilitates collaboration

Collaborative employees are more engaged and produce better work. However, company collaboration relies on co-worker connections, which new hires sometimes struggle with.

A good onboarding plan allows time for new hires to meet their co-workers and start building positive team relationships from the get-go. They need to know who to turn to with questions, concerns, and ideas to truly feel part of the company community.

Sets the tone for an employee’s workplace experience

Your onboarding process is an opportunity to align expectations. If you want employees to value continuous training, transparent communication, and co-worker connection, you can demonstrate these values in your onboarding program.

Likewise, you can show a new hire that you value them and their wellbeing by integrating support and recognition into your onboarding process.  

What are the stages of employee induction and onboarding?

As we mentioned earlier, onboarding (unlike orientation) isn’t a one-time event. Instead, it’s a process that begins before a new hire’s first day and continues well into their first year with your organization.

Here are the key stages of employee induction and onboarding that you should include in an effective onboarding plan.


Onboarding starts before your new employee has their first day at work. As soon as they accept your job offer, onboarding can begin.

Pre-boarding is all about setting expectations and giving new employees everything they need to feel excited and prepared for their first day. That might mean sending a welcome packet, clarifying the onboarding schedule, and sharing documents like your employee handbook.


Orientation happens during an employee’s first few days. During orientation, you’ll welcome them to the workplace, get them signed into company computer systems, show them around the office, and introduce them to key people within their team. These first few days are also an excellent opportunity to share company values and workplace policies.  

Skills and job training

Skills and job training are two of the most critical parts of the onboarding process. This step is about giving new hires the skills and resources they need to do their job well. E-learning, mentorship, and on-the-job training can all play a part. And you should give new employees plenty of opportunities to ask questions.


During orientation, you’ll introduce your new hire to everyone they’ll be working with. But that’s just the beginning. Integration must be part of your onboarding plan to foster strong work relationships. This is where you encourage a sense of teamwork and belonging and support your new hires to build relationships beyond their immediate team.

Continuous learning and development

Skills and job training help employees make a positive contribution to their team right from the start of their workplace journey. But training shouldn’t stop after their first few weeks on the job. Ongoing training helps keep employees invested in their roles and your organization.

As part of onboarding, your HR team should consider an employee’s continuous learning and development needs during their first year. Use this assessment to set performance targets and create a schedule for training, feedback, and performance reviews.

Building an effective onboarding process for your employees

A good onboarding process helps new employees feel at home in their new role. It supports them in building a meaningful and lasting connection to your organization.

However, according to Gallup’s research, only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organization does a good job onboarding new employees. If so many employers are getting it wrong, what can you do to get it right?

Here are three key things to bear in mind:

One size never fits all

To be effective, an onboarding process has to be tailored to the needs of your organization, individual teams, and roles.

Onboarding is a sustained process

It doesn’t take place over a week or even a month — it continues for (at least) the first three months of a new hire’s employment.

This is when new employees pose the biggest “flight risk.” And when a culture of continuous learning, training, team-building, and support stand to make the biggest difference to their engagement and productivity.

The right tech is essential

Onboarding tools streamline the process — and make it more engaging for employees, too.

When you want to build an effective onboarding plan for your employees, Moodle can help. Moodle is a learning management system (LMS) that lets you craft personalized learning journeys for employees. 

With automation, powerful reporting features, and custom integrations, creating a positive onboarding experience for every employee is easy.  

Find out what we can do for your organization by checking out Moodle Workplace’s key features and learn more about harnessing an LMS to improve employee onboarding.

Set your employees up for success

Our team of experts can help you build out an engaging and effective employee onboarding program.