Many young organizations onboard employees by working "over the shoulders" of fellow colleagues. This may work well in small, early-stage companies, but it becomes increasingly difficult to scale once your organization grows past 25 employees. Here are a few lessons learned on our journey at Slingshot SEO to building an official employee onboarding program.

1. Set aside an entire week for onboarding.

This can be frustrating for employers in the beginning, because you want your employees to be productive as quickly as possible. But making this small investment up front will not only make your new employee more productive, but it will also keep the rest of your staff productive, as it won't be responsible for employee onboarding during work hours. We've found that it takes an entire week to properly introduce employees to the organization and to fully understand the brand.

2. Provide upfront brand training.

Brand training is an important step toward maintaining consistency across your organization. This empowers new employees to speak from the heart about the brand, an ability typically reserved for seasoned employees. This will give new employees the ability to talk about your brand intelligently and even to contribute content to the company website.

Start by building a brand guidelines document that outlines details regarding your brand. Outline brand specifics, such as your mission, vision, values, and personality. Also include details on your brand message, starting with your "big idea," value proposition, brand story, and details on "your people" and ideal clients. An enthusiastic and experienced member of your HR department should write this document as a guide for your brand training process.

3. Use your top performers as trainers.

A full-time onboarding training staff isn't necessary for organizations under 100 employees. Top performers in each department are usually capable of contributing to your onboarding process. Select departmental representatives from your most enthusiastic, engaging, experienced, and passionate top performers. These core values will facilitate an exciting and entertaining introduction to your organization.

4. Make departmental introductions.

Prior to building our employee onboarding process, we noticed that many employees--some who had been with us for months--knew little about other departments within the organization. This kind of disconnect promotes organizational silos, which can squash cooperation. Departmental introductions during the onboarding process allow employees to understand how they fit into the big picture.

Each department representative should introduce new employees to the functions, purpose, and high-level overview of their specific departments. When combined with brand training, these introductions will provide a holistic overview of your organization.

5. Don't forget to have fun!

Employee onboarding training can be entertaining and inspiring. This can be done by incorporating contests, quizzes, and feedback throughout the onboarding process, to keep new employees engaged and excited about their new jobs. My favorite part is on the last day, when our new employees play Slingshot Jeopardy. A game or challenge is a fun way to quiz employees on brand values and departmental processes.

Slingshot SEO has grown quickly, and we've changed our onboarding process to ensure that employees are well informed and enthusiastic about joining our team. Whether you're a small start-up or a growing company, dedicating time and effort to onboarding helps your new employees hit the ground running.

What are your best onboarding tips? Tell us in the comments.