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Good onboarding has been shown to improve employee productivity by 70% and increase engagement by 54%. Set up an easy, standardised onboarding process with these 3 simple tools.

A client told me recently that they wanted to build their onboarding like McDonald’s. At McDonald’s, when a new employee needs to make the hamburger, they don’t need to ask what the ingredients are, how much sauce to add, how to wrap it in paper etc. All those things are standardised and made available, and people have access to this information when they first walk into the job. So how can you standardise the onboarding of new people into your business most effectively?

Onboarding is a big subject that extends beyond standardising. In episode 6 of my podcast, I discussed how you can get new hires up to speed quickly with the key principles of onboarding:

  • starting before day one
  • being manager-led
  • having an assigned buddy
  • having staged check ins.

Here I’ll take a look at three components that enable you to standardise your onboarding through:

  • videos
  • how-to guides
  • buddies.

Start with Why

Why do we care about onboarding? Why even worry about making it standardised?

Onboarding is important because it reinforces the employee’s decision to join the company. It prevents them from feeling ‘buyer’s remorse’. The benefits of onboarding are clear from the research. For example, it’s been shown to improve employee productivity by 70% and increase engagement by 54%. So there’s a huge benefit associated with getting your onboarding processes right. It ensures people are more productive and more engaged.

Gallup has found that only 12% of employees strongly agree that their organisation does a great job of onboarding. That’s because most onboarding programs are focused on process and paperwork, rather than trust, communication and collaboration.

‘most onboarding programs are focused on process and paperwork, rather than trust, communication and collaboration’

Having a structured onboarding process is critical to differentiate your business from other employers. And it doesn’t need to be complicated. Let’s take a look at those three ways to standardise it.


You may be starting to think this sounds really time-consuming and complicated. But it’s really not that hard.

Record your usual training

The next time a new person joins, record yourself during their training. That’s it – you now have a video. When somebody comes into the business, usually the first thing you do is to show them where the drives are on the computer and typical systems, for example, how to book meeting rooms. I’m sure there are processes and components that you can record.

I had a client that was a financial services business. When they brought people on board, they had to go through regulatory components, such as the Australian Financial Services Licence. So that’s a perfect example – rather than going through it each time a new person comes in, record yourself doing it once.

Ask an experts

Ask the people in your teams that are the subject matter experts, who have been there for a long time, to record themselves doing tasks. For example, if you have a bookkeeper and they are doing a pay run, ask them to use a screen capture tool to record themselves doing it. When a new person comes in, they can watch it, and it helps them learn.

I’m not saying that’s the only thing to help them to understand what to do, but it is very helpful to watch things as they’re happening. Videos are great for that. And it means that you’re standardising the process because you’re not having to do the same thing over and over again when a new person comes on board.

Record meetings

Another thing to record is your all-staff meeting. If you’re doing quarterly meetings, or six-monthly meetings, or 12-monthly meetings, make sure that you’re recording them. And give the latest one to new employees. It’s a great way for them to get their head around the company’s strategy, where you’re headed and challenges at the moment, as well as what’s going really well.

Example recordings

So let’s say I am setting up standardised onboarding for my business. The things that I would record are:

how to navigate our systems So that people can find the different drives and folders and client information that they need.

how to carry out common processes For example, engagement surveys for our clients. I use Loom, which is a great tool that I find easy to use, and I’m sure there are lots of others out there. I would show the steps to put the engagement survey into Survey Monkey, how we get the results back, and how we then put those into a presentation to the client.

how to present feedback to clients I have clients who I can ask for permission to record a meeting of myself giving feedback, for example, for that engagement survey.

So all of those recordings, including screen captures, Looms, and even me standing up in a room talking, can all help as new employees come on board to show them how we do things. In every business, even though there might be different roles, there’ll be some components of your business that will be standardised that you can put into those videos.

How-to Guides

I know that creating guides can be very time consuming. One way to start a process of creating guides is to use a tool like or Rev. They are tools that turn your voice into a written transcript as you go.

Voice of an expert

Again you might ask a subject matter expert in your business to do this. The expert can just talk about what they do then, and then the program will turn it into a transcript. And that can be a good way to start to get some how-to guides together.

Capture notes from new recruits

As you’ve got new people coming in, and they’re learning the tasks, ask them to actually start to write down what they’re learning, because that could start to build a how-to guide as well. And the next new person that comes in can then go through those how-to guides and they can update them as they need to.


Research indicates that there’s a 97% increase in productivity when an employee is assigned to new recruits as a buddy. So there’s clearly a massive benefit there. But we need to be sure that we’re using the right buddy and that we’re giving them some standardised principles on their role as a buddy.

A cautionary tale

A few years ago, a friend of mine, I’ll call her Fiona, started a new job. She arrived on site at her workplace on her first day. It was a secure site, so you needed to have a key to access it. She met her buddy, who I’ll call Kim, outside and Kim took her into the office and said ‘Just leave your handbag and your mobile phone, etc, here. I’ll take you for a tour around the site’.

So Kim took Fiona around the site and while they were outside, a car pulled up driven by another employee. And Kim waved at him and said, ‘Oh yes, let’s go’. And then to Fiona’s dismay, Kim hopped into the car and said, ‘Don’t worry, I won’t be long. We just need to go to Bunnings and get some supplies’. And then the car drove off.

And so Fiona was left outside, locked out of the building, because it was a secure site. All of her belongings, including her mobile phone, were inside. She didn’t know Kim’s surname, she didn’t even know where the office was where she had left her bag. And she felt that she couldn’t even go to the door and ask some to let her in without seeming really stupid.

So she decided, I’ve just got to sit and wait. So Fiona sat down, and she waited for almost an hour before Kim returned. Now that might be an extreme example, I’ve changed the names, but everything else is quite true.

And you might be able to imagine how you would feel being Fiona, because her reaction was, ‘I don’t think I want to work here. This buddy should be the best person to support me on my first day and this is how I’ve being treated. Just really careless, thoughtless behaviour’.

And you may not be surprised to learn that that kind of behaviour continued on, and after a year my friend left that job because it was really a clear signal about their culture. Also she had to work very closely with Kim, and let’s just say that Kim was not the best choice to give Fiona as a buddy.

Select your buddies carefully

So we need to really think about who the buddy should be. Not just the person who has been around the longest, but the person who is able to give the new person the best insight into the business in terms of the role and the culture. And also let the buddy know why their role is so important.

The buddy role is not just there because the manager wants to get out of doing work. I know, I’ve worked at loads of places where managers whinge and complain about new staff coming in, because, oh my gosh, I’m so busy already, and now I’ve got to train up a new person.

So if your buddy hears that, they think ‘you just want me to be the buddy because you don’t want to do the work’. So it’s important to actually explain to them why it is important.

Buddy checklists

What does the buddy need to do, and when? It’s a good idea to provide some checklists. Going back to the McDonald’s analogy, set down the things that you need to teach that new person and give that checklist to the buddy, along with the videos and the how-to guides.

Standardised Onboarding Tools

Hopefully, that has got you thinking about the ways that you can standardise onboarding in your business.

Recordings Think about different ways you can use videos, screen capture tools, Loom, the old standard video cameras, or even the camera on your mobile phone.

How-to guides Allocate someone in the business to get onto an app like and just start talking so we can start to get some content together?

Buddies Allocate buddies and put in place some processes to help them be successful.

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