Strategies for the Onboarding Process

With efforts to further develop the onboarding process, local governments have reimagined the developmental experience for new hires.

New Employee

Prepared By: Samantha Corrales

Executive Summary & Analysis (Key Points) 

With efforts to further develop the onboarding process, local governments have reimagined the developmental experience for new hires. The onboarding process is rather extensive because it is a comprehensive process that involves management and other employees that can last up to 12 months.  

This research request further examines the following:  

Departmental Targeted Onboarding Opportunities  

  • Approaches 

  • Key Objectives 

  • Areas of Focus 

  • Timelines 

  • City Case Studies (City of Long Beach, Lancaster, Clarksville) 

  • Best Practices  

Guidebooks and Standard Operating Procedures 

  • Objectives 

  • Benefits 

Survey questions 

  • Questions regarding pain points in onboarding or orientation process 

  • Sample Survey from the City of Long Beach  

In addition to these resources, there are attachments with guidebooks and standard operating procedure templates. These templates are completely accessible and editable to target specific departmental goals. The City Case Studies are also attached for reference that includes department onboarding checklists and more.  

Research Findings 

Departmental Targeted Onboarding Opportunities 


  • According to the Society of Human Resources Management, department management must decide whether to utilize an informal or formal onboarding process.  

  • Informal onboarding refers to the process by which an employee learns about his or her new job without an explicit organizational plan. Formal onboarding refers to a written set of coordinated policies and procedures that assist an employee in adjusting to his or her new job in terms of both tasks and socialization. 

  • However, research shows that organizations that engage in formal onboarding by implementing step-by-step programs for new employees to teach them what their roles are, what the norms of the company are, and how they are to behave are more effective than those that do not. 

Key Objectives  

  • The Society of Human Resources Management also shares that to better formulate a successful onboarding process, management must ask themselves the following to devise a plan of action to help new employees quickly assimilate company policies and workflow while getting fully acquainted with the organization's culture: 

When will onboarding start? 

How long will it last? 

What impression do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of the first day? 

What do new employees need to know about the culture and work environment? 

What role will HR play in the process? What about direct managers? Coworkers? 

What kind of goals do you want to set for new employees? 

How will you gather feedback on the program and measure its success? 

Areas of Focus 

  • Society of Human Resources Management shares that the Four C’s of Onboarding establishes the most effective onboarding experience. These areas can be crafted to reflect specific department policies and procedures. 

Compliance is the lowest level and includes teaching employees basic legal and policy-related rules and regulations.  

Clarification refers to ensuring that employees understand their new jobs and all related expectations.  

Culture is a broad category that includes providing employees with a sense of organizational norms— both formal and informal.  

Connection refers to the vital interpersonal relationships and information networks that new employees must establish.  


First day 

The first day will include delivering all the basic information, including a tour of the facility, introductions to key staff, and a review of all new-employee paperwork. Because new employees will retain only a certain percentage of new information, it's important not to inundate them with too much and to reinforce information throughout the onboarding process. 

First week 

During the first week of employment, the organization should provide more detailed information for the new employee and reinforce key points delivered previously. The human resource professional, the supervisor, the mentor, or some combination of them should check in to determine how the new employee is adjusting and whether the organization is delivering on promises made. This also should serve as an early opportunity for the employee to air any concerns. 

First month 

During the first month of employment, the person or team responsible for onboarding should continue to reinforce key issues and introduce the new employee to additional staff, including key members of the leadership team, and check in to determine whether the employee's questions and concerns are being addressed. 

First year 

The onboarding process should continue by providing a touchback to the new employee to ensure that all necessary information has been shared and that the organization is addressing the employee's questions and concerns. 

City Case Studies 

City of Long Beach, California 

  • Department Orientations: This orientation covered department culture, job expectations, and introductions to the management team and executive team. Such efforts to foster interpersonal connections and information networks within the department is a valuable onboarding tool and a highly recommended best practice.  

  • Buddy Program/ Mentorship: Best practices highly recommend pairing new hires with experienced staff such as through mentorship and buddy programs. Some of the departments indicated that a buddy or mentor program was a part of the onboarding process but implemented at a supervisor’s discretion and not part of a department requirement. Further, some departments described that the pairing of senior staff with new hires required the right fit, specifically that the senior buddy was experienced in the job and welcoming of the task. 

City of Lancaster, Texas 

  • Department Checklist: This document organizes all of the critical components of the onboarding process. It provides further details on what needs to be information and procedures that need to be covered for the transition. Some of these areas include training requirements, performance, and department standards. This document has been attached for further review. 

City of Clarksville, Tennessee 

  • Department Checklist: This document also has a similar checklist that encompasses the entire onboarding process. It also has a department onboarding, supervisor component, and helpful resources and guides. Lastly, it suggests the creation of a 30-60-90-day plan that lists specific goals for the employee. This document has been attached for further review. 

Best Practices  

  • According to the Society of Human Resources, embedding opportunities to identify self-efficacy, role clarity, social integration, and knowledge of culture will promote deeper role understanding. 

  • In addition to this, they explained that to increase job satisfaction, there needs to be a focus on creating relationships. To increase performance, the onboarding process must clarify delivery expectations and objectives. Finally, to reduce turnover, there needs to be additional support through feedback, coaching, and follow-ups. 

  • The following are best practices that will ensure the success of the onboarding process. 

Implement the basics before the first day on the job.  

Make the first day on the job special.     

Use formal orientation programs.   

Develop a written onboarding plan.  

Make onboarding participatory.  

Be sure your program is consistently implemented.  

Ensure that the program is monitored over time.  

Use technology to facilitate the process.    

Use milestones, such as 30, 60, 90, and 120 days on the job—and up to one-year post-organizational entry—to check in on employee progress.  

Engage stakeholders in planning.  

Include key stakeholder meetings as part of the program.  

Be crystal clear with new employees in terms of objectives, timelines, roles, responsibilities 

Guidebook and Standard Operating Procedures Templates 


  • Editable templates of Guidebooks and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) documents have been attached to this document for further review. Both of these documents allow the successor to have access to helpful resources. 

  • A Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) is a set of written instructions that document a routine or repetitive activity followed by an organization. The development and use of SOPs are an integral part of a successful quality system as it provides individuals with the information to perform a job properly and facilitates consistency in the quality and integrity of a product or end-result.  


  • The Society of Human Resources Management confirms that support tools and processes both during and after the orientation, readily available support tools, such as those discussed below, are invaluable for onboarding success.  

  • A formal document, or roadmap, that outlines the specific timeline, goals, responsibilities, and support available to new hires will help them succeed because it spells out what they should do and what assistance they can expect. The most effective onboarding plans are usually written, communicated to all members of the company, consistently applied, and tracked over time.  

Survey Questions 

  • Questions regarding pain points in onboarding or orientation process 

Are you having to ask a lot of questions about topics not covered in your training? 

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve encountered so far? 

Do you feel like you’ve been well prepared for your work? 

Would you say you’re beginning to master your responsibilities? 

What’s still unclear to you in terms of your duties and our work policies? 

Do you feel like the training was relevant to the specifics of what you do? 

Is there anything you wish you’d been told? 

Do you understand what the expectations for this job are in detail? 

Should onboarding have been longer, shorter, or was it just about right? 

Do you have the knowledge you need to succeed? 

Did we meet your expectations during this first month? 

What would help you feel connected to the rest of the team? 

Is there any type of resource you’d need to do your work better? 

Do you have access to all the information you need? 

What’s one thing you’d change about our workflow? 

How can we help you improve your performance? 

 Have you had any significant communication issues you would want us to fix?  

City of Long Beach, California 

  • The City created this survey to further examine the onboarding experience. The following statements were listed, and participants were asked to select from Strongly Agree, Agree, Somewhat, Disagree, and Strongly Disagree based on their experience.  

Adequate training is provided to new employees to understand their job duties.  

The City is dedicated to the professional development of its employees.  

The resources necessary to perform job duties are readily available to employees.  

Job performance expectations are clearly communicated to employees.  

Employee work performance is evaluated fairly.  

Information on how to perform job duties is adequate.  

The management team is actively involved in the success of new employees.  

Supervisors provide recognition for satisfactory employee work performance. 

The management team effectively promotes a sense of teamwork. 

Supervisors provide helpful feedback to improve employee work performance.   

The management team promotes respect for all employees. 

The management team makes new employees feel welcome.  

There is a sense of pride in delivering the best services to the public. 

I know where to go to get additional assistance on personnel matters and benefits.  

The City promotes a working environment free from harassment and discrimination.  

Ethical behavior is an important part of my work. 

My supervisor was available to answer work questions. 

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