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8 Steps to Inclusive New Hire Onboarding

Wednesday, June 29, 2022
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Most new employees understand the importance of first impressions. But are companies placing as much importance on the employer’s first impression?

According to Gallup, only 12 percent of employees strongly agree that their organization does a great job onboarding. An SHRM report found that 50 percent of senior hires from outside fail within the first 18 months, while the same percentage of hourly workers leave a new job within the first two months.

Companies must get onboarding right if they want to avoid being part of the problem. Making sure this process is inclusive can be a pivotal place to start.

Why Is Inclusive Onboarding Important?

Diverse companies lead to a range of perspectives, which encourages innovation and improves the company’s industry leadership and bottom line. Pairing an onboarding process that is considerate of people’s differences with an environment that creates a safe and supportive space enables companies and employees to be successful long term.

Before you can start building an inclusive onboarding process, you must assess the state of your onboarding today.

Evaluating Your Existing Onboarding Process

First, ensure your company has an onboarding system. Hoping your new hires understand the processes, culture, and day-to-day activities isn’t going to cut it. There should be a standardized framework that supervisors and managers can refer to.

Next, determine whether you have resources in place for new hires if they have issues, questions, or concerns. Then look at whether your company has provided a built-in support network. Does your organization have a system in place that encourages employees to form close relationships? If so, have you made those systems known and accessible to all employees?


Asking these and other onboarding evaluation questions will show the gaps in your current experience.

How to Create an Inclusive Onboarding Experience

Now, it’s time to adjust and build inclusive behaviors into your process. Here are the steps to inclusive new hire onboarding:

1. Set the tone. Once you’ve evaluated your onboarding process, make your employees aware of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Outline your goals, progress, and efforts, and provide them with opportunities and on-ramps for them to be involved.

2. Implement a buddy system. Ensure you’ve set up the beginnings of a support system or network around them. Introducing a buddy program or formal mentorship program can help establish that outlet.

3. Establish inclusive policies with regards to self-identification. Being inclusive requires you to let people be their authentic selves. That means actively respecting how people choose to identify. Your stance on inclusion should be clear to employees, providing education as needed. One way to do this is to encourage employees to include their pronouns in their email signatures. Or start new hire interviews with preferred pronouns.


4. Build belonging through ERGs. Employees feel a sense of belonging when they can form genuine relationships at work. Facilitate opportunities for employees to connect with each other through employee resource groups (ERGs) and learning circles that meet regularly in your organization.

5. Enable hybrid workplace setups. These days, workers expect companies to provide flexibility when it comes to when and where they work. Your onboarding process should outline and provide hybrid workplace setups for employees who want to take advantage of it. This includes helping them to build a proper remote setup conducive to their workplace productivity.

6. Establish career pathing. Employees are more likely to stay at a company that allows them to learn and grow. Your onboarding process should include career pathing conversations. If new employees are exposed to potential advancement opportunities and growth paths within the organization from the start, they’ll have more incentive to stay.

7. Set up feedback loops. Some mistakes and setbacks are inevitable. Solicit feedback from new employees, and provide them a safe space where they can share their honest thoughts. Acting upon feedback in a timely fashion will show new hires you care about their experiences and opinions.

8. Measure and adjust. Pay attention to retention rates and competency. Over time, identify whether you see the desired improvements. If you don’t, you may need to start your evaluation process over again.

It won’t happen overnight, but with thought and intention, you’ll find the formula that works for building inclusion in your organization, one step at a time.

About the Author

Anisa Purbasari Horton is a freelance journalist, content creator, editor, and writer. She writes and edits stories about all things related to the intersection of work and life—whether that’s productivity, personal finance, careers, leadership, psychology, or workplace culture. Her work has been published in a range of publications including Fast Company, Business Insider, and BBC.

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