• Estimated read time: 4 mins
  • Date posted:07/09/2020
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The purpose of onboarding is to acclimatise new employees and get them to grips with the organisation swiftly. It involves equipping new hires with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed in their role. What makes onboarding so important is the direct impact it can have on staff retention; great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%. If it’s not done correctly then your new hires may only last a short stint which can have a devastating impact:

  • It’s expensive to recruit: The more employees that resign, the more new hires you will have to make. The significant cost involved in this stems from advertising costs, third-party recruiter fees, travel expenses, and relocation assistance. For this reason, excessive recruiting is something that organisations will want to avoid.
  • Employee morale is affected: When impactful talent resigns, the remaining team are left to pick up the pieces, take on additional workloads and feel the effects of a loss of leadership. This disruption, therefore, impacts the productivity and motivation of the team.

Organisations can prioritise preventing employee turnover by creating a smooth and effective onboarding process. Onboarding is complex and lasts longer than just the first day. It involves a series of phases that last for months and must be followed to nail onboarding:

Phase 1: Before the first day

This phase involves covering the basics and requires similar preparation to the interview process. It’s essentially your responsibility to answer your new hire’s questions, provide appropriate details and prepare for their arrival.

1. Send an email to confirm the details

This email should provide instructions on how to get to the location and where to park for their first day, as well as information on the dress code. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a new job on your first day with absolutely no idea of what to expect or where to go. Create an excellent candidate experience by providing adequate information in advance to alleviate any first-day jitters.

2. Organise their work station

This involves setting up their desk with their laptop and/or computer. You will need to set them up on the work system, create an email address and download all of the necessary programmes they will need to ace their job. Secondly, prepare any additional gadgets and provisions such as their phone and access card to get around the building. Many organisations now create welcome packs for their new starters which are left on their desks. The welcome pack could include stationary, a welcome letter and/or your employee handbook. It adds a nice, personal touch that simultaneously gives the new hire all of the important resources they require.

3. Plan, plan and more planning

Create a training and onboarding plan for their first few days or week on the job. You should book these sessions into their calendars and print a paper copy of their schedule so that they know what to expect. Get clear on their responsibilities, goals and tasks expected of them so that you can communicate this to them.

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Phase 2: The first week

The first day can be overwhelming to new hires so make sure you don’t overload them with too much information. Otherwise, it will go in one ear and out the other. It’s fairly typical for new hires to ask you to repeat yourself. This doesn’t mean they’re not listening to you, but a sign that they’re struggling to retain all of the information they’ve heard and seen in the past 24 hours. It’s worth being aware that some people can take on and retain information much faster than others.

1. Introductions

Greet the new hire at the main entrance of the building upon their arrival so they’re not left wondering where to go. After you’ve introduced yourself, introduce them to their team and show them to their desk. Offer them a tour of the office and don’t forget to include the essential stops, such as the toilets and staff canteen. It’s a good idea to assign them a buddy – someone who can look out for them, answer their questions and take them out for lunch on their first day. A friendly face doesn’t go amiss in a new job.

2. Provide training

The majority of the training and onboarding sessions should take place in the first week. You need to empower and bring the new hire up to speed on your company values and history. It’s a good idea to arrange introductory meetings and training sessions between the new hire and relevant managers of the business. This allows them not only to expand their network but also learn more about the organisation from long-serving and beloved members.

3. Set goals and expectations

Set a challenging but attainable task so that their first week isn’t just one long, drawn-out introduction. This can be tedious for both the hiring manager and the new starter, and they’ll appreciate being allowed to prove their abilities so early on. You should also schedule regular check-ins to see how they’re getting on and allow them to ask questions.

Phase 3: 1 month down the line and beyond

1. Establish performance goals

Arrange a meeting with them in which you discuss how their first month or two has gone. This is the perfect opportunity to assess their workload and address any challenges they may be facing. The key to onboarding successfully is communication. In their first few months of the job, it’s a good idea to check in with them often to assess their wellbeing and job satisfaction. You can also discuss what they’ve done well and what improvements need to be made. Set clear goals and expectations in preparation for their 6 month and 12-month performance review.

2. Gather feedback from the new hire

Finally, ask your new hire how the onboarding process is going so far and whether they have any suggestions to make it better. This will allow you to improve your onboarding process for new hires to come, ensure you’re not missing a trick and successfully retain your team.


Many hiring managers think that the task of onboarding ends once you’ve shown the new starter to their desk and given them a company handbook. In reality, the process is so much more complex than this and requires a lot of planning and preparation on your behalf. While onboarding involves a lot of work, it’s worth it in the long run if you can prevent high employee turnover and an expensive recruitment effort.

For more hiring advice tailored to hiring managers in the life science industry…

* Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-up to established leaders – since 2013.