May 29, 2018

New Guide to Best Practices for Onboarding

Your organization's onboarding process offers it the opportunity to make a great first impression on new employees and help them get up to speed more effectively. A new guide by Leading Edge provides advice and tools to get you started.

You get one chance to make a great first impression, and in many ways, your nonprofit's onboarding process can be that chance. If done well, the process welcomes new hires—whether a new CEO or an entry-level employee—and aptly prepares them for success in their new roles. If not, you could be looking for your new hire's replacement sooner than you think.

According to the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, companies lose on average 23 percent of new hires before the one-year anniversary. In fact, notes Leading Edge: Alliance for Excellence in Jewish Leadership, in its recent how-to guide "Onboarding Best Practices: A Guide for Onboarding New Staff," the effects of onboarding last for years, so it's critical for nonprofit leaders to determine the best approach for their organizations.

So what are you waiting for? Here are some highlights from the how-to guide to get you started.

Before new employees walk through the door, help them feel prepared and excited. Email them about the game plan for the first day. This can include logistical information they might need on arrival and paperwork that can be filled out in advance. Consider calling them to let them know how much you and the organization are looking forward to having them join the team. Being helpful and welcoming before new employees walk in the door can put them at ease and give your organization's brand a boost.

On day one, focus on helping new hires acclimate to the work environment. Review the schedule for the day with them and include check-ins with HR and supervisors. It can also include assigning "buddies" to give them tours and introduce them to colleagues. Lastly, encourage senior leadership to drop by their workspace to welcome them—it will make a very positive impression.

Starting the first week, provide enough structure for new employees so that they can adjust to their new environment, get to know those with whom they'll be working, and formulate their own daily routines. Some activities to consider within the first week or month include: scheduling a cross-departmental meeting and meetings with key stakeholders; establishing times for checking in; setting clear expectations for the first 30, 60, and 90 days; discussing performance reviews; and arranging job shadowing opportunities. Oh, and don't forget the fun—schedule something energizing to expose them to the social side of your organization's work culture.

The guide covers much more ground and provides helpful sample documents and checklists that nonprofit leaders can adapt to create their own process. To download a full copy of the guide, please click here. For more information on Leading Edge and for more on it resources, please visit

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