Most people will have around 12 jobs over their lifetime. This is not just an upheaval to the person’s lifestyle each time, but it demands a lot from a company too, as they need to get the employee up-to-speed. In today’s world, you need to create an onboarding timeline that takes into account both an introduction as well as ongoing growth.

Though, what would such a timeline look like and how long would it take?

In truth, the onboarding process includes steps that never end. This article will elaborate on why, and expand on many aspects of what you should do at each stage of a person’s introduction to your company.

How Long Does Employee Onboarding Take?

The onboarding process is not a single-day task. It is a comprehensive plan that can span a long period of a worker’s employment. Not only does it start long before they start working for you, but it might often demand future steps, especially if the worker switches roles.


The pre-onboarding process allows you to create a smooth transition from a previous state of employment, to working with you. It starts with initial contact with the worker, welcoming them to your company, and setting out many of the core aspects of your vision. These could include things like your company goals and culture, to help align their understanding of your company with your own.

At this stage, you should also share with them any important materials you have for them. These might be:

  • Employee handbooks
  • Codes of Conduct
  • Specific department policies
  • Workplace benefit documents
  • IT guidelines
  • Company cultural resources
  • List of useful internal and external contacts

You should also collaborate with your IT department to ensure the employee has everything they need to start working on their first day. This should include their email, any hardware or network access they need, as well as passwords or other important credentials.

You can also put them in contact with an internal mentor to help them acclimatize to the role. If possible, this should be someone in the same team who has time to offer but is not superior to them. The mentor’s role is not only to help with logistical concerns but also to act as a representation of the company’s cultural touchstones.

The First Day

After an enthusiastic welcome, introduce the worker to their new team. Make sure to allow them to see how the group works together, as well as understand what the new hire’s place in the dynamic is going to be.

Give them a tour of the facility, if necessary, or if they work online then run them through the tools they have available. This will prevent them from needing to experiment or explore and skips many of the simpler questions they might have.

Get them started and set up with any equipment they have, test it all out, and ensure they have all the supplies they need to get started. It may even be prudent to offer them basic training in some tools or software should they need it. Although, try to do this in private so as not to cause embarrassment.

During this process, check in to see if they understand their role, your culture, and what the organizational structure is at present. They may need a small amount of orientation to help them know what your company expects of them.

The First Week

During or soon after the first day, give the new employee some initial tasks. Offer them enough slack to get started and try out new software and processes by themselves, but ensure their mentor is available. This means they can work based on their own processes, and you may sometimes find they are faster or more effective than your existing flow.

During that first week, ensure you and the mentor both check in with the hire. Give them challenges during their learning, and keep them occupied with tasks that match their growing skillset.

At the end of each day, dedicate a short period to discussing any issues they had, and how you can support them.

The First Month

Over time, you should start to ensure the hire grows their understanding of the company and the expectations you have of them. You can start to set SMART goals for the employee based on their performance, which you should time-limit to their probationary period. Also, keep an open ear and maintain communication with them so they feel comfortable asking questions.

The End of Probation

At the end of their introductory period, you should perform a comprehensive evaluation of their performance. Using the objectives you set earlier, measure their dedication and level of skill, as well as how much they have learned.

Should they stay on past probation, you can start to create iterative SMART goals that continue to allow their growth over time. This feedback loop ensures constant improvement and honest discussion about their career progression. Clear goals can also improve employee retention long-term, ensuring you do not need to follow this process again at a later time.

Beyond Six Months

As the employee continues to work for you, introduce them to other teams to ensure they gain a full understanding of the company’s processes. They may even have the ability to work on cross-team initiatives that improve the company further.

Working with other teams in this way, or offering a promotion to official hires at a later time, will come with its own set of onboarding steps. So, ensure you prepare for those too.

Skip Steps in your Onboarding Timeline

The above steps are all important in a comprehensive onboarding timeline and can create dedicated workers. If you plan to expand globally, though, it may help to have someone who can follow this process no matter where the employee resides.

Bradford Jacobs can help you onboard new employees fast, focusing on the areas of the role they need to succeed. We can also ensure your onboarding complies with local regulations, including payroll and other areas of concern.

If this sounds useful, contact us to learn more about what we can offer to help you get the people you need.