Hiring the right people is hard. Keeping those people is even harder. One of the best investments a company can make in itself is investing time and effort into their employee onboarding initiatives. Organizations live and die by their talent. Your ability to attract and keep high-value talent affects every corner of your company.

An investment in a proper employee onboarding strategy is one that will pay off for your company for years to come. Where many companies make a mistake is in falsely believing that they have to put together a complete onboarding initiative from the start. Onboarding strategies do have some bare-minimum things you need to include, but can be added to and expanded over time to improve their effectiveness.

If you are outlining the principles of your onboarding strategy, make sure that you take these eight tips into consideration for inclusion in your strategy:

A Memorable First Day

First impressions matter. We all know that. Make sure that you make a good first impression with new employees. Consider giving them a gift basket to welcome them to the team. Make sure that you have a plan for introducing them to the people that they need to know. Maybe there is an activity or a game that you could play to help them get to know people and welcome them to the team.

Make sure that your plan has a tightly-planned first day for every employee that you bring on. Now, that isn’t to say that it has to be a day with a lot for them to do. You can give them ample time to complete tasks and room to breathe. But make sure that you have a plan in place.

Make Onboarding Cross-Departmental

Most companies pair their new hires up with a seasoned employee to help show them how things work around the office. That’s an ongoing approach that can last for weeks or months until the employee is fully acclimated. However, having a new employee stick to working with one person gives them a very narrow view of your company, culture, and processes. We recommend a more collaborative approach.

Try having your new hires work with multiple employees in different departments. One example of this kind of onboarding story in action comes from Buffer, who assigns every new hire to three different buddies. One is a leader. One is a role buddy. The other is a culture buddy. This helps them to meet more people and have a variety of interactions with people throughout the company, giving them a bigger, broader view of how things operate there.

Effective Resources and Documentation

Want to help your new hires get acclimated? Give them the resources to learn on their own. No matter how many people you have assigned to help them, they are only truly going to become acclimated with your culture by diving into it head-first.

Create resources and documentation that answer questions and provide information about your company, their position, and resources to help them find more information if they needed. Videos, process documentation, shared documents, internal resources, org charts — anything and everything that you can share that would be helpful to them.

Goal-Setting Throughout the Process

Giving new hires direction is critical to an effective onboarding process. On their first day, you should sit down with them to make a few specific goals for their first day and first week. After having gone through the process a few times you’ll have a rough idea of what realistic goals should look like.

As the new hire reaches each goal checkpoint, work with them to set new goals. By constantly giving them new goal posts to hit and ensuring that they don’t want in their first few weeks, you put them in a position to stay focused and goal-oriented.

Activities to Instill Company Culture

In the first days and weeks that a new hire is with your company, it is important that you give them opportunities to familiarize themselves with your company culture. You can tell them about your culture all you want. Often, a company’s description of their internal culture will differ quite a bit from how it actually feels to work at that company.

The best move is to make sure that new hires have a chance to get acquainted with your company culture. Give them activities to take part in. People to work with. Take them out to lunch. Let them get to know what it actually feels like to work there from early on in the process.

Scheduled and Structured

Giving someone too much freedom can make a job seem unstructured and keep them from making the most of their onboarding period. Make sure that you have their schedule for their first weeks outlined in advanced and tightly structured — even when you give them plenty of time to breathe. Make sure that they always know what they are doing so they don’t have to put thought into what they are doing next and can focus on learning how to navigate their position.

Realistic Expectations

Don’t ask too much of your new hires. As time goes on, you’ll have a good idea of what reasonable expectations for them should look like. You don’t want new employees to feel overly rushed or have problems meeting the deadlines that you’ve imposed. Set expectations that can be reliably reached but still demand that they put effort into each task.

A Feedback Process

You want your employee onboarding initiatives to improve over time. Try new things. Not every new idea will work, that’s why we ask new hires what they thought about the process. Make sure that you give them the chance to tell you what worked for them, what didn’t, and help you to identify areas for improvement moving forward.