Role of HR in Onboarding Process

Alister Esam
Nov 2023

Human Resources (HR) doesn’t merely play a role in the onboarding process; it serves as its cornerstone.

HR ensures that new recruits are not only well-integrated but also welcomed into the organizational culture from day one. From coordinating initial interviews to managing compliance checks and facilitating introductions, HR is the behind-the-scenes force making sure that the onboarding process is not only effective but also enhances the employee experience.

Despite the critical nature of these activities, many businesses still rely on outdated onboarding methods. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the responsibilities of HR in modern onboarding, and how a meticulously planned strategy can reduce errors, ease the challenges of scaling, and improve service quality.

In this article we’ll cover;

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Infographic showing business benefits of onboarding programs

Are HR Managers Responsible for Onboarding New Recruits?

Yes, HR managers are the architects of the onboarding process, shaping the initial experiences that can make or break an employee’s tenure. Unlike yesteryears, where their role was mostly administrative, today’s HR professionals are strategic partners in talent management. They oversee everything from preparing employee onboarding documents to crafting an immersive orientation program. Modern HR managers understand that an effective onboarding process can serve as a cultural incubator, allowing new hires to not only integrate but also contribute quickly.


For example, they might use a structured approach, employing tools and metrics to gauge the effectiveness of the onboarding program. It could involve periodic check-ins, orientation meetings, and even mentorship programs to facilitate the new hires’ transition into the company culture.


The impact of this approach extends beyond mere productivity; it fosters a work environment where individuals can thrive, reducing turnover and elevating the entire business. However, it’s crucial to note that onboarding isn’t just an HR solo act. Other departments within the organization bear a collective responsibility to collaborate with HR, ensuring that the new recruits are well-equipped to contribute across various facets of the business. For instance, the IT department may need to prepare hardware and software, while the Finance department might handle pay and benefits setup.

What Should an Onboarding Process Include?

The HR department plays a pivotal role in onboarding new employees, coordinating various activities that span from the administrative to the educational. Below are the critical elements that should be a part of any well-structured, HR-led onboarding process:

  • Orientation: Orientation goes beyond a warm welcome. It encompasses the first formal introduction of new hires to the company’s mission, values, and culture. This ensures that employees are aligned with the organizational ethos from the get-go.
  • Compliance Training: This is more than just ticking boxes; it’s about ensuring that each new hire is well-versed in the legal and ethical requirements of their role. Compliance training helps in mitigating risks and ensures that the company operates within legal boundaries.

  • Role-Specific Training: While specific training is often departmentalized, the HR team acts as the quality assurer. They ensure that the training materials and methodologies used meet the company-wide standards for excellence.

  • Documentation: Documenting is not just a clerical task. The HR team ensures that all required forms, such as tax forms and non-disclosure agreements, are completed, filed, and securely stored for easy access and future reference.

  • Technology Setup: The HR team collaborates with the IT department to make sure that new hires have all the technological tools they need. This includes not just hardware like laptops, but also proper access rights to software and internal platforms.

  • Initial Evaluations: The first few weeks are crucial for any new hire. HR schedules periodic evaluations to understand how the new employee is adjusting and to identify any areas where further support might be required.

  • Ongoing Support: HR’s role doesn’t end once the onboarding is over. They offer continuous resources, workshops, and mentorship opportunities to encourage long-term growth and career development within the organization.

  • Performance Metrics: Key performance indicators (KPIs) are established early on, which serve as a yardstick for measuring the new hire’s ongoing contributions and potential for growth.

Collaboration among various departments is essential for a seamless onboarding process, but the HR department lays the foundational framework that ensures all other activities are aligned for success.

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What is the Onboarding Process in HR?

When we talk about the onboarding process in HR, we’re focusing on a journey steered primarily by Human Resources. It’s like a chef preparing a signature dish; HR gathers the ingredients, follows the onboarding process templates, and sets the stage for a memorable first course in the company.

  • Firstly, HR takes the lead in recruitment, screening, and interviewing candidates.
    Once an offer is accepted, HR then initiates the pre-employment formalities: background checks, contracts, and legal documentation. These steps are typically exclusive to HR.
  • The formal orientation day follows, organized exclusively by HR.
    This includes an introduction to the company’s culture, policies, and benefit packages. Compliance requirements and legalities are also covered here.
  • Training is the next milestone.
    While the HR department often manages the overarching training program, it’s important to note that specific training sessions are typically performed within the employee’s role-specific department. Periodic assessments may follow, helping HR gauge the effectiveness of the training modules.
  • HR then oversees the performance appraisal process.
    During the probation period and helps transition new hires into their permanent roles.

In summary, while collaboration with other departments is inevitable and beneficial, this section underscores the tasks usually handled only by HR in the onboarding process.

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What are the Six Critical Steps of Onboarding?

The onboarding process can feel like a whirlwind for new hires and the HR team alike. To ensure a smooth transition, HR managers need to focus on six essential steps that set the stage for a successful employment journey.

  1. Pre-Boarding Preparation: Before the new hire’s first day, the HR department should prepare all necessary documentation and tools. This includes employment contracts, benefits enrollment forms, and scheduling any orientation sessions.
  2. Orientation and Welcome: On the first day, a formal orientation session is held. Here, new hires are introduced to the company culture, values, and expectations. A well-structured welcome package, including the Company’s playbook, can set a positive tone.
  3. Compliance Training: Training on company policies and legal requirements comes next. This ensures that new employees understand their roles, responsibilities, and the laws that govern their actions, helping to mitigate risk and ensure compliance.
  4. Role-Specific Training and Integration: HR collaborates with the relevant departments to facilitate training that is specific to the new hire’s job function. Whether it’s software training or understanding departmental processes, this step is vital for seamless integration into the team.
  5. Initial Performance Evaluation: After the first couple of weeks, HR should conduct an initial performance evaluation. This helps assess how well the new hire is adapting to their role and whether additional training or support is needed.
  6. Follow-Up and Continuous Support: The onboarding process doesn’t end after the first month. HR departments should regularly check in with new hires, offering additional resources and career development opportunities to encourage long-term growth and success within the company.

Each of these steps is crucial, and while HR is the orchestrator, it’s essential for other departments to engage in the onboarding process collaboratively.

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Why Should Managers Care About Onboarding?

When it comes to onboarding, some might assume it’s solely an HR affair. However, such a viewpoint would be as flawed as assuming a ship’s captain can navigate stormy waters without a skilled crew. Here’s why managers should not only be invested but actively participate, utilizing the onboarding process checklist as a shared roadmap:

  • Employee Retention: A well-thought-out onboarding process is a proven catalyst for increasing employee retention. Managers shouldn’t see this as merely an HR responsibility; it’s a golden ticket to building a stable, committed, and competent workforce.
  • Team Dynamics: Managers are often the bridge between HR policies and team realities. By actively participating in the onboarding process, they can tailor experiences that help in quickly assimilating new hires into existing team dynamics.
  • Skill Alignment: Managers have first-hand knowledge of the skill sets required in their departments. Their input during onboarding can ensure that not only are these skills recognized but also honed through targeted training modules.
  • Resource Allocation: It’s one thing to hire a talent, and another to furnish them with the tools they need to excel. Managers are responsible for ensuring new hires have access to essential resources, be it software, documentation, or even mentorship.
  • Feedback Loop: Unlike a monologue, the onboarding process thrives on dialogue. Managers can establish a feedback mechanism that benefits both the new hires and the organization, facilitating quicker adjustments and more effective performance evaluations.
  • Performance Benchmarks: Managers can set early performance goals for new hires, allowing them to have tangible milestones. This keeps both the new employee and the team focused on continuous improvement.
  • Cultural Fit: Beyond skills and duties, managers help gauge how well new hires fit into the company culture, which can be crucial for long-term satisfaction and productivity.

In summary, managers aren’t just spectators in the onboarding arena. They are active participants who share the responsibility with HR to ensure the new hire’s journey is not just smooth but enriching.

Who is Involved in the Onboarding of New Employees?

Onboarding is a collaborative effort that requires coordination and clear communication between different departments. The Human Resources department often serves as the central point of contact and planner for this important process. Here’s a rundown of who’s involved:

  • HR Department: They plan, execute, and oversee the onboarding process from start to finish, ensuring that every other department is aligned and understands their responsibilities.
  • IT Department: This team ensures that the new hires have all the technological tools they need, from computer setups to software installations and network access.
  • Finance and Admin: They handle the administrative aspects, including payroll, benefits, and the initial paperwork that needs to be completed.
  • Legal Team: This team ensures that all employment contracts and required documentation meet legal standards.
  • Peers and Mentors: These individuals offer on-the-job guidance and are the go-to resources for any questions new hires may have.
  • The New Hire Themselves: The new employee also has a role to play, completing necessary paperwork and actively participating in training programs.
  • Customer Success: This team might be involved to offer the new hire insights into customer expectations and the company’s service standards.

Each department has its unique tasks, but the Human Resources department is crucial in ensuring that the onboarding process is effective from the first interview to the final orientation.

A happy and relaxed woman drinking coffee while leaning against their desk

What is HR Management’s Responsibility in Onboarding Activities?

The HR department plays a pivotal role in the onboarding process, overseeing several crucial activities that lay the foundation for a successful employment experience. Below are the responsibilities that typically fall within the HR domain:

  • Document Verification and Compliance: HR ensures that all employee onboarding documents are accurately filled out, verified, and stored for compliance purposes. This includes background checks, employment contracts, tax forms, and any other legal paperwork.
  • Orientation and Cultural Assimilation: HR organizes and leads the orientation programs that introduce new hires to the company culture, expectations, and policies.

  • Initial Training: While each department may offer role-specific training, HR provides general company training sessions. These could include workshops on diversity and inclusion, workplace ethics, and sexual harassment prevention.

  • Benefits Enrollment: From healthcare to retirement plans, HR is responsible for enrolling new hires in the benefits programs available to them and providing necessary information and tutorials.

  • Performance Tracking: HR sets up the initial performance reviews and continues to track the development and performance of new hires throughout the onboarding process.

  • Employee Relations: HR serves as a point of contact for any concerns or issues that new hires may have during onboarding, helping to ensure a smooth transition.

  • Feedback Mechanism: After the initial onboarding period, HR collects feedback from new hires and relevant departments to continually refine the onboarding process.

HR is not just a facilitator but the driver of the onboarding process, coordinating multiple tasks and liaising between various departments to create a seamless entry experience for new employees.

What Happens After the Onboarding Process?

Many think the onboarding process is a finite journey with a set end-date. But in reality, it’s more like the season premiere of an ongoing series—something that sets the stage for all the episodes (read: workdays) to come. Let’s look at what happens after the employee onboarding stages are “officially” over.

  • Performance Review: Just as a pilot reviews his flight data post-landing, the HR department, in collaboration with respective managers, reviews the performance of new hires. These metrics give a snapshot of how effectively the onboarding program translates into real-world skills.
  • Continuous Learning: Learning doesn’t stop once onboarding ends; it merely transitions into a new phase. New hires are provided with opportunities for continued education and skill-building, whether through internal training or external courses.
  • Integration: HR makes sure the new hires blend into the company culture seamlessly, like a good DJ mixing different tracks into a coherent whole. This involves monitoring cultural fit, team dynamics, and social interactions.
  • Role-Specific Tasks: While not solely the purview of HR, they do keep tabs on how the new hires are doing in their respective roles, ensuring that their initial training serves them well in the challenges they face.
  • Career AdvancementHR serves as a career coach, guiding employees toward potential paths for career development within the organization. They help identify opportunities for promotions, role shifts, or even cross-departmental moves.
  • Feedback MechanismConstant feedback between new hires and their managers, as well as between the hires and HR, ensures that the post-onboarding phase becomes a cycle of continuous improvement. Think of it like a software update that fixes bugs and adds new features—because that’s essentially what it is.
  • Succession Planning: This is the long game. HR starts evaluating new hires not just for their current role but their potential future roles within the company. It’s like a chess game where HR is already thinking five moves ahead.

By understanding what follows the onboarding process, businesses ensure that their newest team members don’t just come aboard—they stay aboard.

The Ongoing Role of HR in the Onboarding Process

When it comes to onboarding new recruits, HR managers stand at the helm, steering the ship through the initial choppy waters into the calmer seas of full integration and productivity. They’re the navigators, compass in hand, ensuring every employee is aligned with the company’s mission and values. But the journey doesn’t end after the first week or even the first month; it’s a long-term commitment that HR leads, but also one that requires the continuous support and input from multiple departments across the organization.
HR sets the course but it takes a whole crew to sail the ship smoothly. If you’re in a senior leadership role and your onboarding process feels more like a rudderless boat than a well-oiled ship, now might be the time to recalibrate and invest in a more streamlined, effective approach.


How can you improve employee onboarding?

Don’t leave it to chance. Manage employee onboarding with beSlick using a comprehensive range of tools and solutions that can elevate your onboarding process, facilitating not just easier integration for new hires, but also offering a clear pathway for their future growth within your organization.

, Author of The Dirty Word and CEO at beSlick

Alister Esam is a successful entrepreneur and investor, having bootstrapped his fintech software business eShare to international status operating in over 40 countries and servicing 20,000 board directors, before successfully exiting to a multibillion-dollar organisation in 2018. He now invests in a variety of startups and on a global mission to make work, work.