Onboarding Staff – Positively Impact Employee Retention

By: Cindy Conti

What is Employee Onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of integrating a new hire into a company and its culture. When done right, onboarding results in a highly engaged and productive employee. The first day and even the first week of experiences for your new hire establishes their perception of the workplace environment and company culture. You have a limited opportunity to make a great first impression that leaves a lasting impact. Does your organization have a successful employee onboarding program?

An employee’s first day on the job generally starts with an orientation, but it doesn’t end there. Orientation is just a small part of a more extensive onboarding process. Onboarding should cover the employee’s first three months of employment. It can be longer depending on the employee’s position and level of responsibility. During this critical time, the employer and employee are getting to know one another and this step ensuring the new hire is set up for success. Here are some best practices you can implement for an effective onboarding program:


  1. Engage before the start date. An effective onboarding program starts before the actual date the new employee begins work.
  2. Send a welcome e-mail telling your new hire how excited the company is to have them onboard.
  3. Provide necessary tools for the job such as access to company email, communication system, and other tools. You can share resources via an online portal or system.
  4. Schedule an introductory call with your new employee to welcome them, ensure they know where to go on their first day, and to explain the onboarding process. Communication is critical—be sure to provide clear and concise instructions and explain who to contact if they have any questions throughout the process.

The Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub in Whistler operates quite uniquely, being located within the Pan Pacific Mountainside hotel.  The hotel’s human resources team assists with the recruitment process and the initial part of the onboarding process. They work closely with the pub’s management team to ensure a smooth transition for the new hire. The pub managers are involved from the interview process straight through to onboarding, which contributes to the culture of open communication and fosters a supportive relationship.

First Day or Week: Plan your Orientation Session

An orientation session is typically held on the employee’s first day of employment. These sessions should cover basic questions regarding work hours, paydays, dress code or uniform, breaks, vacation, training, and performance management. Familiarize your new hires with company policies and procedures; an employee handbook can be a helpful resource that outlines company expectations and rules. Take time to address workplace health and safety fundamentals from day one by conducting any relevant training and reviewing your health and safety policies and procedures. Create a simple first-day checklist to avoid overlooking important steps.

The JAK’s Beer Wine Spirits team provides a warm welcome for new hires at their liquor stores by having all staff write welcome messages onto a large whiteboard. All new hires receive a company shirt or sweater, apron, name tag, and details on a monthly product tasting allowance as part of their first-day welcome package.

First Three Months and Beyond: Training and Development

Training is a vital part of the onboarding process. Set your employee up for success by providing them with the tools, equipment, knowledge, and skills needed to perform their job effectively. Identify employees that the new hire can go to if they have questions or experience issues. Provide specific technical training, such as navigating HR and payroll systems or internal applications. Consider providing job-specific training and support by assigning a buddy or mentor. Partnering up a new employee with an already experienced one can allow for a smooth transition into the company.

“Training is a vital part of the onboarding process.”

JAK’s operates several stores across BC, so to stay consistent across locations, they utilize an onboarding training checklist where all stores follow the same guidelines. The checklist ensures there are no training gaps and allows the new hire and their manager opportunities for dialogue and feedback. The stores make learning fun by organizing scavenger hunts for product knowledge and learning. Carla Ladeira, Director of Human Resources at JAK’s explains that onboarding “sets the foundation for employee success.” JAK’s invites all their new hires to the head office during their first few months so they have an opportunity to meet the Chief Operating Officer, Training Manager, and Human Resources. They receive product knowledge and tasting training and discuss career path opportunities with the company, which ultimately aids in retention.

The Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub management team is very involved in onboarding all their new hires, which is a main contributor to their high staff retention. There’s a “feeling of belonging and a sense of family” according to Lucas Perelstein, Director of Human Capital & Development at the Pan Pacific Whistler. There is a strong sense of camaraderie when pub managers are hands-on, visible on the floor, and a part of the team. The staff feel comfortable around them and know they can approach management anytime. Managers are patient, provide guidance and flexibility, and are fully supportive of their team when issues arise.

A positive working relationship with your employees will lead to lower staff turnover, higher productivity, and better employee engagement. Take the time to do it right and reap the rewards of a satisfied new hire. Conducting a well-planned program to onboard new hires will pay off in the future for you and your staff and ultimately improve your bottom line.

Cindy Conti is the HR Consultant, Vancouver, Coast & Mountains with go2HR. go2HR is the Human Resources and Health and Safety Association for BC’s tourism and hospitality industry. Questions? Contact