According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), “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.” (source Wagepoint.com)

An effective onboarding experience is more than just a safety orientation and the required paperwork.  During the first couple of days with a new company, employees want to understand the business, the culture, and how they will be supported in becoming successful in their new role.  For employers this can be achieved with proper planning and the integration of the 4 C’s of onboarding.

  • Community – Building relationships throughout the company
  • Competence – Training on what to do and how to do it
  • Compliance – Understanding the rules and expectations
  • Communications – Knowing the avenues for important conversations

Every business is unique, and the onboarding experience should reflect the culture and the value proposition of the workplace.  The following guide will outline ways of designing an onboarding experience to engage new employees from that first day that best fits the needs of the business and its’ new employees.   


Onboarding helps new employees prepare for their new role, meet their coworkers, and begin integrating into the company.  Building connections throughout the business in the first days of work is a key component to engagement.  Facilitating introductions to members of their immediate team can be supplemented by meeting co-workers outside their department or business unit in order to integrate into the whole company.  Think about who they need to speak with about their benefit plan or to join the company softball team.  Highlight upcoming company events and ensure they invited.

In order to emphasize the commitment to a safety culture, schedule time with members of the Joint Health & Safety Committee along with the required safety training.  Ensure that new employees understand who they can speak with if they find themselves in an unsafe situation or have safety concerns.  This is particularly important for young workers who are statistically more likely to incur an injury in the workplace. 

Time and effort should be invested in building the relationship between a new employee and their immediate supervisor.  Going over the upcoming training schedule, communicating expectations and demands of the role and generally building a friendly and respectful rapport will go a long way to engaging and supporting the new employee.


Meeting compliance requirements is a basic component of the Onboarding process.  HR is tasked with explaining important workplace policies found in the Employee Handbook. An overview should be given of the Performance Management program and the progressive discipline policy. Whether the Employee Handbook is online or a paper copy, time should be allocated for the new employee to read through the Handbook, ask any questions that may arise and provide sign off to HR for their file.  

HR should also meet with the new employee to provide a thorough explanation of the benefits  included in the Group plan, as well as any other Well-Being Initiatives, explanations on reimbursement policies for cleaning and maintaining special clothing, and a detailed overview of averaging agreements should they apply.  All other HR or payroll documentation can be completed at that time as well.

A presentation introducing the company’s mission and values, Code of Conduct, and a review of the Organizational Chart should be provided either by HR or the manager.  These are important elements to establish a sense of purpose and understanding of the workplace culture.


A well-designed onboarding program provides new employees with the necessary skills,  knowledge and safety training to allow them to be productive as quickly as possible.  Even experienced employees need a breakdown of their specific job tasks and a review of the job description with their manager will set out proper expectations. 

On-the-job shadowing is a traditional way to deliver job training during the first days and weeks, but there can be challenges in scheduling and consistencies if this is the singular mode of training.  Providing access to a variety of formal and informal job training will lead to competence and productivity at a faster pace.

Safety Training, including a review of required PPE and emergency procedures should be completed within the first day if possible.  A member of the Safety Committee or a manager can also provide a safety orientation of the production facility.  Scheduling the remainder of safety training, such as lock-out procedures, is based on the needs of the role and the business.  HR should prioritize and document these requirements.

For certain manufacturers and roles where it may apply, specific quality training covering quality control measures, documentation, audit processes and non-conformance management is organized during the first month.  HR can coordinate this training if provided by an external supplier and ensure that documentation upon completion of the training is added to the employee’s file.


Poor communication can lead to low productivity, low morale and safety incidents.  All these have a financial cost to the business.  It is important then to promote the value of clear and effective communication practices during the Onboarding process.  It is the responsibility of the business to ensure that a new employee understands how they will receive important communications, either through technology or through their manager.  HR must ensure the new employee participates in Crew talks or shift meetings, check-ins with their manager, and attends any Safety meetings.  As well, HR would benefit from being culturally sensitive and aware of language limitations and build strategies on how to best meet the communication needs of a diverse workforce.

The business must also empower new employees with the responsibility to ask questions where gaps in knowledge might present themselves, speak up when a safety issue arises and provide feedback on their comfort level with their new role.  Putting an emphasis on clear communication practices will benefit the business and the new employee.