Improving the New Employee Onboarding Experience with SharePoint Online



Improving the new hire experience has long been a topic of conversation…and it IS an “experience” now isn’t it? Culture is so important, with the hiring market being so competitive for talented hires, the first few days with an organization can make or break a new employee’s opinion. The newest generation coming out of school has also grown up not just with computers, but with phones and iPads and all the electronics they could want. They have some pretty serious expectations when they set foot into your business – will you meet their needs for rapid communications? Will they feel connected with their new team through their collaboration tools? As they sit down their first day to do training and fill out their required forms, your SharePoint Intranet might be one of the first systems your new employee will engage with as they begin settling into their new role. You don’t get a second chance at a first impression – what kind of impression are new hires given at YOUR organization?

Don’t fear….Microsoft has your back with their latest New Employee Onboarding Hub for SharePoint Online.

What is the New Employee Onboarding (NEO) Hub?

Put simply, the NEO Hub is a set of pre-configured SharePoint sites (with branding!) that Microsoft provides that you can deploy into your Microsoft 365 tenant. Getting more specific for those of you IT Admins that have been supporting SharePoint for a while, this is a set of 3 Modern SharePoint site collection templates and 1 hub. Here are Microsoft’s descriptions for those templates.

1. Pre-Onboarding site : A site for new hires, who have yet to officially join the company, to learn more about the company they have joined and to get ready for their official start date. External guest access can be used for providing pre-start hires, with no corporate credentials, access to the Pre-onboarding site only.

2. Corporate onboarding site: A place for new hires to visit to get the information they need and make the connections they want to successfully onboard to the organization.

3. Departmental onboarding sites: A place for new hires to visit to learn more about the department they are joining, its people, culture, and priorities.
Each template is like a “starter kit” so even though you can do updates to each of these to make them your own, the templates present you with examples and ideas, in a modern and easy to use layout so you don’t have to start from scratch. Onboarding is something every organization does, why not take some of the best tried and true ideas and quickly deploy them into your own site?

Getting Started

First, you’ll want to review the New Employee Onboarding site details and layouts. Make sure to click through and expand each section, like Site Features, so you know what you are deploying into your environment.



Next, if you scroll down (or shrink all of the titles back up) you’ll notice the “Add to Tenant” button.
You may also notice it says you need to be a tenant administrator to deploy this. Clear as mud, right? What they mean is that you need to be a Global Admin, only having SharePoint Admin role will not be enough to deploy these sites.

Before you get excited and click that Add button, scroll just a little bit further down…I advise that you read through the resources to be absolutely sure you are comfortable with what you are doing! There’s a great video that will walk you all the way through the process!

Since we have that video, I’m not going to walk you through the provisioning steps here.

Please take special note, once you start the provisioning process, it says if you go to the site before it has completed, you might cause issues with provisioning. Don’t do it! You will receive an email notification when provisioning has completed. (I ran everything in the evening and received my email within 10 minutes.)

I was grateful for the email I received that linked me to the root hub since I didn’t think to write down those lengthy URLs during the provisioning process. Go ahead and click that link out to your Corporate Onboarding hub site and check things out!

NEO3 1


Pretty slick! Now that we know your site is up and running, you’ll need to take a couple more steps:

1. Turn on external sharing for your pre-onboarding site

2. Add your owners/stakeholders so you don’t have to update the site by yourself! Note: you should make them site owners if you want them to be able to do more than upload documents to the site.

3. Make sure to plan and set appropriate permissions before you begin to invite users to the site
Your sites are now ready to use! See for more details on what’s included in your new hire onboarding sites.

Final Thoughts

As I rolled this into my own tenant, I had one additional question that popped up that I thought would make sense to address here.

These LookBook sites are advertised as “fully customizable templates” – but as an IT Pro or SharePoint Admin, I’m not finding any pre-baked site designs or a way to deploy additional sites (for example…the departmental sites that exist in the navigation but were not deployed).

Here’s the good and the bad news.

  • First – the bad news. I can confirm there isn’t an “IT Pro” or “Site Admin” friendly way to deploy additional departmental sites. You’ll definitely want someone with more of a developer skill set for the next steps.
  • The good news. The templates for the LookBook are open source and can be found in the GitHub Repository
  • More good news, the documentation (link included above) for provisioning the NEO sites includes references to measuring the success of your hub – so I think it’s safe to assume that Microsoft DOES intend for us to take these sample sites into production.

So, if you’re feeling up to it, go ahead and deploy these sites, and use them to learn. Then, engage your developers to learn about “the art of possible” with SharePoint Online sites and deploy exactly what you need! These SharePoint LookBook templates are the perfect thing to help you continue to scale the use of your modern Intranet in your Microsoft 365 environment.