Employment4 Jun 2024Simon Druery

The role of internal communications in employee onboarding

Internal communications play a critical role in successfully onboarding new employees. By helping new employees smoothly transition into their roles, internal communications can boost engagement, improve the employee experience and lay the groundwork for a positive, mutually beneficial relationship. 

In this article, we’ll walk you through some practical steps for using internal communications to create a stand-out employee onboarding experience.

The employee onboarding process

The onboarding process is unique to each business and varies across departments, depending on an organisation’s size, industry and specific needs. Understanding the structure of the employee onboarding process is essential for shaping an effective internal communications strategy. Once you have a clear understanding of the process, you can strategically plan your key messages, channels and approach for each onboarding step.

A successful onboarding process typically includes the following key stages: 

Why is internal communication important during onboarding? 

Successful onboarding is highly reliant on clear, consistent communication at every step. Effective internal communications ensure new employees receive clear, consistent and timely information, playing a key role in:

1. Creating a welcoming environment -  this helps new employees feel valued and excited to be joining the organisation 

2. Promoting clarity and understanding - minimise confusion and overwhelm with up-to-date, accessible and consistent information across all communication channels

3. Facilitating engagement and integration -  keeping employees informed and inspired helps them feel connected to their colleagues and company culture.

4. Building relationships - clear communication is the foundation of creating and maintaining positive relationships, which is essential for success in the workplace

5. Gathering feedback - feedback is essential for identifying areas for improvement and ensuring an organisation meets its employees' changing needs

6. Promoting inclusivity - providing equal access to information for all employees, including new employees, helps promote a sense of belonging within the organisation

7. Encouraging collaboration - clear communication helps new employees understand their roles in the team and creates a supportive work environment

Communication channels for employee onboarding

As part of your internal communications strategy, you’ll need to consider which communication channels can best deliver your messages. Using a combination of different channels can accommodate various learning styles and preferences, as well as optimise the reach and impact of your messages.

Here are some communication channels commonly used during the onboarding process, with suggestions on how you can use them:

1. Emails

Send new employees a personalised welcome email before their start date. This email can include essential information, such as the first-day schedule, details about their team and any pre-arrival tasks. After employees have started working in their new roles, you can continue using email communication to share important updates, reminders and additional resources. 

2. Intranet
Your intranet or employee portal can centralise onboarding resources. The platform can host documents, policies, training materials and other relevant information that new employees can easily access.

3. Company website
You can provide selected onboarding information on the company's external website, such as in the ‘Employee resources’ section. This can include FAQs, company culture details and other resources for new employees.

4. Orientation meetings
Run orientation meetings, either in-person or virtually, to welcome new employees. Introduce them to key team members and provide an overview of the company's history, mission and values.

5. Virtual meetings
Run virtual meetings to conduct training sessions and introductions. Videos help add a personal touch and help new employees feel more connected, especially in remote or distributed work environments.

6. Social media platforms
Leverage internal social media platforms or groups to create a sense of community among new employees. This allows people to interact with each other, share experiences and connect with existing employees.

7. Messaging apps
Messaging apps such as Slack and Microsoft Teams can be useful for informal communication and can be a valuable resource for new employees to ask questions or seek guidance.

8. Online learning platforms
Deliver training modules and courses related to company policies, job responsibilities and professional development opportunities using online learning platforms.

9. Printed materials
Offer physical materials, such as welcome packets, employee handbooks and other printed resources, to new employees who prefer tangible learning materials.
10. Feedback surveys
Run feedback surveys to gather insights from new employees about their onboarding experience. Use this feedback to continuously improve the onboarding process.

The aim is to create a well-rounded communication strategy that combines various channels to cater to different preferences and needs.

How to create a great onboarding experience

Creating a great onboarding experience goes beyond just sharing information - it’s also about engaging and motivating new employees. This requires both internal communications and HR to work together to develop an onboarding process that truly supports new employees.

Here are five best-practise tips to create a great employee onboarding experience at your organisation:

Common employee pitfalls - and how to avoid them

Even with the best intentions, internal communications during onboarding can sometimes fall short. Here are some common pitfalls and how to avoid them:

1. Overloading new employees with information

Too much information can lead to confusion and overwhelm, making it difficult to retain essential information. Use a phased approach to deliver information in manageable chunks, delivered over time. 

2. Inconsistent messaging

Inconsistent messages shared across different departments can lead to conflicting instructions and new employees missing out on important details. Make sure all communications are centrally coordinated and regular briefings are held with team leads to keep everyone on the same page.  

3. Limited accessibility

When important information isn’t easily accessible, it can lead to frustration and delays. Make all onboarding information easily accessible on one central platform and provide clear instructions on where to find information. 

Frequently asked questions

Q. How can effective internal communication be achieved?

Effective internal communication is crucial during the onboarding process to ensure new employees receive the information they need, feel engaged and can quickly integrate into the organisation. 

To create effective internal communication during the onboarding process, we recommend:

1. Developing a strategic internal communication plan
2. Using multiple communication channels
3. Personalising the communication experience
4. Encouraging two-way communication
5. Maintaining ongoing support and updates

By following these steps, organisations can create a transparent, engaging and supportive onboarding experience that sets the stage for new employees to succeed and become integral team members.

Q. Why is internal communication important for employee engagement?

Internal communication reduces uncertainty and ambiguity among employees, improving their efficiency. With effective communication, employees learn what is expected of them and how to improve their work effectiveness. It is also a useful tool to boost employee engagement and improve productivity.

At Belong Creative, we specialise in helping organisations develop strong internal communication strategies that drive growth. For more information, contact our team of internal communications experts.

Article by Simon Druery

Simon Druery is Director and Brand Strategist at Belong Creative. What gets him jumping out of bed each day is helping business owners and marketers craft brands that people want to belong to. When he’s not working you can find him travelling Australia in the family caravan and enjoying a tawny port by the fire.