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How to Set Onboarding Goals to Help Employees Succeed

Employee onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into your organization. It’s the crucial first step in helping new employees understand their roles, the team culture, and company objectives. 

Poor onboarding programs can leave new hires confused, disengaged, and unproductive. It also increases employee turnover, costing the company time, effort, and money.

This makes effective onboarding more crucial than ever in today’s competitive job market. A comprehensive welcome with documented onboarding goals makes new hires feel welcome, valued, and equipped to succeed. It also increases employee engagement, reduces attrition, and improves productivity, ultimately contributing to organizational success. 

In this article, you’ll find the necessary resources, tips, and steps to implement a winning employee onboarding strategy that increases employee retention and helps you excel as a human resources professional. 

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Understanding Employee Onboarding Goals

Onboarding goals ensure a smooth transition for employees joining a new company. Companies can speed up the initiation process through proper goal-setting, increasing employee satisfaction and team integration. 

Effective onboarding goals directly impact talent management and reduce turnover. By providing a structured learning path, these goals equip new hires with the skills and information they need to succeed, cultivating a sense of accomplishment and belonging. 

Goal setting is a critical step in a successful onboarding program. It turns vague expectations into achievable milestones, allowing the new hire and their manager to track progress and celebrate wins. In addition, this collaborative approach builds strong working relationships.

Your HR team can establish a robust employee onboarding program using a SMART goals framework to streamline this process. 

Let’s create some sample onboarding goals for better understanding.  

1. Administrative tasks (Week 1):

  • Specific: Complete all new hire paperwork within 24 hours of an employee’s joining date
  • Measurable: Track the percentage of new hires who complete paperwork on time
  • Attainable: Ensure all paperwork is readily available online and is easily accessible
  • Relevant: Ensure all paperwork is complete so that the new hire can begin accessing company benefits and resources
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline of 24 hours to ensure a smooth onboarding 

2. Role familiarization (Weeks 1–2):

  • Specific: Get the new employees to attend all departmental training sessions and shadow peers and colleagues for 20 hours by the end of week two
  • Measurable: Track attendance at training sessions and document shadowing hours
  • Attainable: Schedule training sessions and identify team members available for conducting shadowing sessions beforehand
  • Relevant: Ensure training and shadowing expose new hires to essential skills and knowledge specific to their role
  • Time-bound: Set a clear deadline of 20 hours to be achieved by the end of week two to ensure timely completion

3. Company culture (Weeks 2–3):

  • Specific: Get the new employees to participate in and contribute to two team-building activities by the end of week three
  • Measurable: Track participation in activities and assess contributions through feedback from colleagues
  • Attainable: Choose team-building activities that are inclusive and encourage participation
  • Relevant: Ensure participating in team-building activities helps new hires connect with colleagues and understand the company culture
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline by the end of week three to encourage active engagement

4. Skills development (Weeks 3-4):

  • Specific: Support the new employees in achieving a score of 80% or higher on the product knowledge assessment by the end of week four
  • Measurable: Track scores on the assessment platform
  • Attainable: Ensure the assessment is aligned with the training provided and also offers sufficient time for learning
  • Relevant: Help them master product knowledge, which is crucial for effective job performance
  • Time-bound: Set a deadline by the end of week four to motivate focused learning

Now that you understand the importance of setting SMART HR goals, let’s discuss the specific onboarding goals you should focus on.

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The Five Key Goals of Comprehensive Onboarding

Here are five key onboarding goals that can make your new hire training program more impactful:

1. Creating connection: Building relationships in the team

Any new employee can feel intimidated when entering a new work environment. However, as an HR professional, you can make things easier by helping them build connections with their team members. This can help create a sense of belonging, reduce feelings of isolation, and make the transition smoother and less stressful. This, in turn, goes a long way toward increasing employee retention.

Here are some steps you can take to accelerate team integration for your new employees:

  • Host welcome lunches or hold team-specific social events outside of work hours to create a casual setting for interaction
  • Implement a ‘buddy system’ and pair the new hires with experienced colleagues who can mentor and guide them
  • Encourage the use of online icebreaker platforms to spark conversations and help new hires connect with colleagues who share similar interests
  • Utilize collaboration tools such as instant messaging platforms or onboarding software to facilitate communication, teamwork, and feedback, especially in remote work settings 

2. Training and education: Nurturing professional growth

As an HR professional, you’re vital in nurturing new hire growth during onboarding by offering targeted training and education to them. 

This personalized mentorship helps new hires feel supported and equipped with the necessary knowledge to succeed in their new roles. 

Let’s review some critical steps in this process:

  • Understand individual needs and tailor training accordingly
  • Blend training formats (such as classroom, workshops, online, and mentor-led) with educational technology to accommodate diverse learning styles
  • Ensure high-quality, engaging content delivered by experienced trainers
  • Foster a culture of learning with ongoing opportunities and feedback mechanisms

3. Compliance and safety: Ensuring understanding of occupational safety and health rules

Helping new hires understand compliance and occupational safety and health (OSH) rules empowers them to work safely and contribute to a positive organizational culture.

To achieve this, you can do the following activities: 

  • Develop engaging infographics, guides, or handbooks and conduct engaging training sessions
  • Ensure all employees, including the new hires, complete their OSH training by promising rewards such as achievement certificates 
  • Use company communication channels to urge managers to ensure training completion. You can also offer redeemable bonus points to boost engagement

4.  Introducing organizational culture: Immersing new employees into company culture  

Effective onboarding helps align your new hires with company values and objectives. It’s about embedding new hires in the company culture, creating a sense of belonging, and setting them up for success. 

This enhances employee engagement and positively impacts productivity. Additionally, it ensures better team collaboration and brand representation. 

Here’s how you can bridge the gap between the ‘new’ and the ‘established’:

  • Share your company’s history through engaging narratives, videos, or employee testimonials
  • Organize ‘culture walks’ for new hires to understand different departments and connect with colleagues
  • Plan fun and collaborative team-building activities that act as ice-breakers and build rapport among employees
  • Implement a mentorship program where experienced employees can guide and support new hires
  • Encourage open communication through surveys, suggestion boxes, or check-in meetings

💡Pro tip: Tools like ClickUp Form View make it easy for new hires to report issues, submit requests, or suggest improvements. These inputs can be automatically converted into trackable tasks in ClickUp and assigned to the appropriate teams for action.

5. Role clarification: Comprehensive understanding of performance indicators and appraisal system

New hires should understand their job responsibilities, performance expectations, and how their contributions will be evaluated. This helps establish the foundation for successful performance, increased engagement, and long-term career development for new employees.

This is how you can effectively equip new hires with this vital knowledge during the onboarding process:

  • Include a detailed description of a new hire’s job, outlining key responsibilities, expectations, and performance metrics in their employment letter. This helps clarify expectations
  • Organize one-on-one meetings with the new hire’s manager to discuss specific role expectations, projects they’ll be involved in, and daily workflows
  • Offer an overview of the performance management system used by the company, including its purpose and the frequency of evaluations
  • Explain the different performance components, such as goal setting, performance reviews, and feedback mechanisms
  • Develop online training modules or video tutorials to explain the system clearly and concisely

Together, these five types of onboarding goals set the foundation for long-lasting success within the company. That said, there is another indispensable framework that can help you create a lasting impact on your employees. 

Let’s understand what this framework entails, the four Cs of onboarding. 

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The Four Cs of Onboarding

Developed and presented by Dr. Talya Bauer in 2010, the Four Cs framework is still relevant in today’s onboarding processes. 

Let’s look into these four steps, from the least to the highest level of importance.

1. Clarification: Providing clear job roles and performance expectations

One of the biggest frustrations for companies and new hires is the lack of clear expectations. This can lead to ‘ghosting’ during the hiring process or high early-stage turnover. 

The good news is that onboarding clarity can ensure a smooth transition, increased job satisfaction, and better performance.

Setting clear expectations is crucial, and setting goals is the perfect tool. Here are some ways you can ensure role clarity for your new hires: 

  • Clear documentation: Ensure goals are clearly defined and accessible
  • Company-wide alignment: Align goals with overall company objectives
  • Consistent application: Ensure all new hires receive the same level of clarity with a standardized approach to onboarding
  • Time tracking: Monitor progress and offer support as needed
  • Technological integration: Utilize talent management software or HR software for efficient tracking and communication

This level typically focuses on:

  • Processing: Completing new hire paperwork and enrolling them for benefits
  • Systems understanding: Making them understand company policies and procedures
  • Training: Orienting new hires through training sessions about mandatory policies, rules, and regulations
  • KPIs: Establishing criteria for them to achieve industry-specific or role-specific requirements

However, making new employees read your company’s employee handbook isn’t enough. To truly help them succeed, you must equip them with additional resources that include company-wide policies and procedures. 

Moreover, you should schedule meetings with them to discuss these resources, explain how compliance impacts their daily work, and evaluate their understanding.  

3. Culture: Instilling the company’s ethos and way of life

Organizational culture always plays a significant role in attracting new hires, and for good reason. However, a lot goes into ensuring a new hire’s cultural fit extends beyond initial impressions. 

While recruitment focuses on compatibility, onboarding presents the opportunity to cultivate cultural understanding. 

Onboarding itself reflects culture. When HR representatives actively facilitate new hires’ team integration and introductions and solicit feedback on their experience, it represents a solid commitment to transparency and accountability.

For example, Google provides its employees world-class benefits such as one-on-one financial coaching, a medical advocacy program for transgender employees, four ‘work from anywhere’ weeks per year, and fertility and growing family support.

All these efforts reflect Google’s commitment to its employees and show how deeply invested the company is in their professional and personal well-being. 

4. Connection: Building interpersonal relationships

Undeniably, one of the most essential ingredients in the four C’s framework is how onboarding helps new or established employees feel connected with their team and company. 

If the post-pandemic era has taught us anything, solid workplace connections provide essential help, support, and guidance during both challenging and happy times. 

But it’s easier said than done. Building reliable connections may prove difficult due to social anxiety, lack of interest in socializing, or even preconceived notions about company politics, which impact employee morale. 

Here are some key strategies HR professionals can implement:

  • Socializing: Plan informal gatherings outside of work hours, such as team lunches, happy hours, or volunteer activities
  • Recognition: Recognize individual and team accomplishments publicly to strengthen team bonds and motivate employees
  • Fun at work: Create an online channel (in Slack, for example) where employees can share non-work-related updates, jokes, or fun facts
  • Celebration: Go beyond birthday cake; personalize celebrations by highlighting an employee’s unique contributions or creating a ‘memories board’
  • Team-building: Plan regular off-sites, annual fundraisers, New Year parties, and ‘bring pets to work’ days to build inter- and intra-team relationships

With a great framework comes the greater responsibility of implementing and retaining it. Companies faced enormous challenges doing this during the pandemic era.

Let’s look into the workings of a remote onboarding process, typical challenges faced, and possible solutions. 

Also Read: How to improve employee retention by preventing quiet quitting at your workplace

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Remote Employee Onboarding

A study by The Survey of Working Arrangements and Attitudes (SWAA) revealed that as of early 2024, 13% of full-time employees in the US worked remotely, while 29% were in hybrid arrangements.

Companies adapted their onboarding techniques to keep their remote employees engaged and productive. But not before tackling challenges such as:

  • Difficulty in understanding new technologies or software platforms required to smoothen remote working
  • A lack of professional relationships and rapport among team members due to the absence of face-to-face interactions
  • Limited access to company resources, documents, and other information that’s typically easily available in on-site work settings
  • Communication barriers that led to miscommunication between team members and their supervisors or colleagues

To overcome these challenges, companies worldwide employed strategies to transform traditional onboarding techniques into remote-friendly ones, such as:

  • Leveraging work productivity platforms for onboarding by introducing video conferencing, online training modules, and collaboration tools 
  • Utilizing online platforms and digital signature solutions to streamline document management and reduce reliance on physical paperwork
  • Introducing online training materials and resources in versatile formats, allowing new hires to access them anywhere, anytime
  • Focusing on building social connections and team rapport through virtual events, online icebreakers, and peer-to-peer mentorship programs
  • Introducing online feedback forms, surveys, and anonymous comment web pages to address new hire concerns and also gather insights for implementing change

Here’s a broader comparison between traditional and remote onboarding processes:

FeaturesTraditional onboardingRemote/Virtual onboarding
LocationOn-site at the company officeImproved employee wellness, reduced absenteeism, hiring of a wider talent pool, and a more sustainable work environment
InteractionPrimarily face-to-facePrimarily virtual, with video conferencing and online resources
PaperworkPhysical forms and documentsDigital documents and online forms
TrainingIn-person sessions and presentationsOnline training modules, webinars, and self-paced learning
Team BuildingIn-person activities and social gatheringsVirtual team-building exercises and online social events
ChallengesLimited flexibility for scheduling, time spent on traveling to work, less work-life balancePotential technology issues, build-up of team silos, lack of interpersonal interactions
BenefitsBetter team member bonding, instant feedback collection, more networking opportunities, and easy tracking of attendanceImproved employee wellness, reduced absenteeism, hiring of a wider talent pool, more sustainable work environment
Streamline your remote onboarding process quickly and easily with the ClickUp Remote Onboarding Template

Bonus: Onboarding for remote teams? ClickUp’s Remote Onboarding Template equips you with a pre-built task list for all onboarding steps, a project timeline to complete onboarding in time, and collaboration tools to facilitate communication with team members.

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Incorporating Onboarding Goals in ClickUp

Now consider an all-in-one platform that not only aids in onboarding employees but also organizes your entire recruitment pipeline.

All this is possible with the ClickUp HR Management platform

ClickUp’s HR Management Platform
Simplify recruitment, onboarding, talent management, and training and development with ClickUp’s HR Management Platform

ClickUp, with its multiple ClickApps and tools, acts as a central hub for recruitment and onboarding for you and your team. 

Let’s explore how you can use different ClickUp features to establish the ideal HR control center to achieve your five objectives for employee onboarding.

Simplify training, compliance, and cultural integration of new hires

ClickUp Automation
Create any number of custom ClickUp Automations that save time and make your day-to-day compliance work easier based on any trigger or condition

With 100+ ClickUp Automations, optimize daily tasks such as sending welcome emails, celebratory messages, birthday wishes, reminders on employee training, event updates, holiday notices, and more. 

💡Pro tip: You can make ClickUp your all-in-one company work and productivity platform thanks to ClickUp’s API, which lets you integrate any tools with ClickUp. Moreover, you can use over 1000+ ClickUp templates for all your recruitment and onboarding needs. This saves time and effort in creating and setting up documents and frameworks.

Furthermore, there are two specific ClickUp tools that you can use to create a smooth onboarding flow for new hires. 

With ClickUp Docs, you can create and share compliance documentation such as company SOPs, FAQs, hierarchy charts, policies, rules, and guidelines, ensuring your employees can settle in right after onboarding. You can also embed links within these documents for ‘how-to’ videos or audio files, offering guidance on company policies as well as tools and systems. 

ClickUp Tasks
Assign and track tasks easily through ClickUp Tasks

You can also use ClickUp Tasks to delegate projects and track progress in real time.  

Create a list of all onboarding elements that need to be completed and divide them into tasks and subtasks with relevant owners. For instance, the HR manager could oversee the introduction of a new employee, while the hiring manager could be responsible for ensuring the employee submits employment documents. 

You can also create a checklist of all the steps a new employee needs to take for a successful onboarding.

Set up an end-to-end onboarding checklist with the ClickUp Employee Onboarding Template

 Try the ClickUp Employee Onboarding Template, which can help you and your team accomplish your tasks during the first 90 days of the onboarding process. With this template, you can also include the paperwork your new hires must submit, the onboarding goals they must set for their long-term success and the company training they should attend. 

Drive innovation and cultivate strong working relationships using AI

ClickUp Brain
 Get instant, accurate answers based on context from any HR-related tasks within and connected to the platform with ClickUp Brain

There are many ways in which your HR team can use ClickUp Brain to make work easier: 

  • Create personalized email scripts to welcome new hires and send automated reminders to complete their onboarding documents 
  • Create custom HR templates for frequently used documents such as job proposals, feedback forms, surveys, daily activity reports, event plans, and more
  • Use ClickUp as your assistant to offer training summaries. You can use its AI tools to generate insights from training data, create emails to employees, customize achievement messages, and plan events such as icebreakers and fundraisers
  • Brainstorm ideas for employee engagement and receive summaries of attendance rates, turnover statistics, leave reports, and departmental reports
  • Use Docs with AI tools to make shareable onboarding guidelines, training modules, holiday lists, and compliance and safety rulebooks

Clarify job expectations with real-time insights

ClickUp Dashboard
Track employee performance and workload with customizable ClickUp Dashboards

You can merge ClickUp Dashboards with your HR management platform to get real-time insights into employee onboarding progress and feedback, training requirements, engagement rates, and more. 

Here are a few ways your HR team can use ClickUp’s customizable dashboards:

  • Create a dashboard to visualize the onboarding process for new hires. Include widgets showcasing task completion rates, document status, training module progress, and onboarding satisfaction rates
  • Visualize completion rates for feedback forms, skill development programs, and upcoming training sessions
  • Develop recruitment and retention dashboards depicting the status of open positions, applicant pool size and diversity, interview scheduling and completion rates, employee satisfaction surveys, participation in company events, and internal communications

💡Pro tip: Utilize ClickUp Project Time Tracking to record an employee’s time spent on tasks, manual timesheets, daily attendance, and billable hours for freelancers or external vendors. Integrate time-tracking apps you use, such as Toggl, Timely, and Clockify. 

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Performance Appraisal and Onboarding

Productivity impacts the realization of organizational goals. Employees should know their job description, daily duties, and key goal metrics against which their performance will be measured. An effective onboarding process will ensure that all new hires have clarity about their job responsibilities and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will impact performance appraisal.

Track performance metrics, present constructive feedback to employees, and monitor progress with the ClickUp Quarterly Performance Review Template

Data derived from KPIs such as task completion rates, knowledge retention tests, and feedback surveys allows you to measure this progress toward completing onboarding goals. This helps you identify areas where new hires might need help. 

By identifying performance gaps early in the onboarding process, you can provide targeted support and address any underlying issues before they hinder new hire success. 

For new and established employees, you can use the ClickUp Quarterly Performance Review Template to measure and track performance over time, detect areas for improvement, and provide timely feedback and coaching. This will result in better employee engagement and give employees a sense of accomplishment and recognition.

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Occupational Safety and Health in Onboarding

Helping a new hire understand their compliance, health, and safety (CHS) obligations lays the foundation for a safe and ethical work environment for the individual and the organization.

Create and give access to a one-stop-shop employee handbook to all your employees with the ClickUp Employee Handbook Template

With the ClickUp Employee Handbook Template, a new hire can quickly learn all the vital details of your company. You can add other essentials to this list, such as an onboarding checklist, workplace policy, business ethics, legal and regulatory requirements, confidentiality clauses, reporting safety hazards, attendance policy, and company benefits.

The focus of the onboarding process should be on creating a culture of continuous learning and awareness about compliance, health, and safety. This can be achieved through regular refresher training sessions, safety campaigns, and readily available resources such as safety manuals and online training modules.

Related: See how ClickUp’s onboarding team uses the platform to meet employee onboarding goals 💪

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Create Impactful Onboarding Programs for Your Company

When you hire and retain the right talent by putting them on a progressive path, you reduce the cost of attrition and improve your company’s brand as an employer. 

The core objectives of an onboarding plan are to increase employee engagement and productivity to help them succeed at your company. 

ClickUp and its many features equip you with the necessary power to create a comprehensive onboarding program and realize the organization’s onboarding goals. 

Moreover, when you use ClickUp as your primary onboarding software, you enjoy a more streamlined flow of collaboration and communication, whether for your remote teams or onsite employees!

Sign up to ClickUp today to complement your HR efforts toward recruitment, onboarding, talent management, employee engagement, and retention. 

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