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For Supervisors: Onboarding New Employees

What is onboarding?

Onboarding is the process of welcoming new employees to the university and their team, helping them understand job expectations and how their position supports the university’s mission, and quickly equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and key relationships to be successful in their new job.

Why is onboarding important?

  • Excites and engages new hires.
  • Creates a faster time to proficiency – new employees can fully contribute sooner.
  • Increases job satisfaction.
  • Builds a strong relationship between the new hire and their manager.
  • Develops a more collaborative and productive team.
  • Lowers turnover costs.
  • Provides a better reputation for your department and Virginia Tech.

What is my role in the onboarding process?

A new employee will be looking to you for guidance on their priorities, who they need to meet with, when to attend orientation, and more. There are typically several roles in the onboarding process and they may overlap or be combined based on the needs of a particular unit. Successful onboarding requires partnership. The roles may include:

Onboarding coordinator/delegate:  Oversees the entire onboarding process by coordinating tasks, ensuring administrative are met, tracks onboarding progress and ensures there is an opportunity for the new hire to give feedback about the onboarding experience.

Supervisor/manager: Welcomes new hires, communicates job expectations and training and development plans; communicates the departments vision, mission, and culture; checks in frequently; and provides timely feedback on performance.

Buddy:  Some departments may have a buddy program. The buddy welcomes the new hire, facilitates introductions, checks in frequently, assists the new hire with navigating the culture of the organization, and generally serves as a resource.

Onboarding Guide

A successful transition doesn't happen in one day, it's a continual process. See below resources to help your employee successfully navigate their first year.

Pre-boarding is the period between an employee accepting a job offer and their first day of work. Pre-boarding allows you to build engagement and enthusiasm before the employee sets foot on campus. Tailorable resources for pre-boarding include:

Dear [Employee’s first name],
We are delighted you have accepted the offer to join the [department name] team as a [new employee’s job title]. 
For the first few months in your new position, you will be assigned a buddy who will help you get acclimated to your new position, our department, and Virginia Tech. You and I will also meet throughout your onboarding to ensure you are settling into your new role and to discuss job expectations and goals.  
Again, welcome to our team!  If you have questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.  We look forward to seeing you on [first date of employment].
[Supervisor Email Signature]
  • Sample new employee announcement email text to your current team.
I'm delighted to announce that [new Hokie] will join [department name] as [job title] on [start date]. [new Hokie] will be report to [supervisor name].
As [job title], [new Hokies]'s responsibilities will include [information about position]. [new Hokie]’s office is located in the [room number] [building name].  Be sure to stop by and say hello. 
Please join me in welcoming [new Hokie] to the team!
[Supervisor Email Signature]


The employee's impression of the department on the first day will have a lasting impact on them, so make sure it's a positive experience. Show them you have been preparing for their arrival by enthusiastically welcoming them and preparing a detailed plan for the day. Tailorable resources for their first day include:

The employee is acclimating to their new position, including getting to know their team and their responsibilities. They will have plenty of questions so make sure to schedule regular check-in meetings. Tailorable resources for the first month include:

At this stage of onboarding, your new employee should be working from an agreed-upon list of priorities and goals that you have discussed. As the supervisor, you must continue to regularly check in to make sure the new employee is fully engaged in their role, is continuing to build relationships with the team, and understands how their role fits in with the bigger picture at Virginia Tech. It is also a great time to revisit how their training has been going and to identify if further training/support is needed. Tailorable resources for their first three months include:

  • Month 3 checklist.
  • Sample of new hire survey questions. These can be used for departmental onboarding feedback. 
    • What is your overall impression from the first 90 days?
    • Do you have a clear understanding of what is expected from you in your role?
    • Are there any other resources that you need to do your job effectively? 
    • What information would you give a new hire that you wish you had?
    • Is there any other information that you would like to share or questions that remain unanswered for you?
  • Sample weekly check-in meeting questions.

If your new hire is in a staff position, their six-month probationary period is almost over. Make sure you've had a performance conversation before the probationary period ends. Continue those regular check-ins to make sure the new employee is fully engaged and continuing to build relationships. Tailorable resources for their first six months include:

Don't stop now. Continue to invest in your new employee. Ongoing feedback and relationship-building are key to engaging and retaining the employee. Tailorable resources include:

It's time to celebrate the one-year work anniversary. If you followed the onboarding plan, you have been providing regular feedback to your new hire along the way. Part of the one-year milestone is a conversation about performance and what their future looks like moving forward! Tailorable resources include:

Onboarding senior and executive leaders

In addition to the tools provided in the onboarding guide, we have additional resources specific to the onboarding/integration of senior and executive leaders. 

Additional onboarding tools and resources

Learn more about the onboarding community of practice and read through the frequently asked questions related to onboarding.

Employee engagement

Managers play a critical role in employee engagement. Learn why engagement is important and find resources to support your engagement efforts.