Editor notes: This blog article has been updated on March 13, 2023
Good onboarding is the cornerstone of the new hire experience. But how long should the onboarding journey last to be effective? And what happens if you miss the mark?
We've all seen the numbers. Effective onboarding has a big impact on your organization's key people metrics - from engagement to productivity, and even long-term retention.
The thing is, onboarding is a little bit like a course of antibiotics (bear with me) - it's most effective if you continue the process for a specific period of time.
And while cutting your new hire journey short won't land you with a collection of onboarding-resistant superbugs, it WILL negatively affect the long-term longevity and success of your recruits.
So - with that in mind, let's explore the most common onboarding program lengths and find out once-and-for-all what the perfect onboarding timeline looks like!
|1 week: One-and-done|
Our onboarding survey revealed that 14% of organizations have an onboarding program that lasts just 1 week.
A 1-week program is very low investment from an HR perspective, so the team will have plenty of free time to focus on other tasks.
A 1-week program is entirely ineffective. It does not offer even the bare minimum of support required to set a new hire up for success and your people metrics will suffer for it.
Whilst a one-and-done program may seem attractive (particularly for organizations who employ entry-level employees en-masse) it's simply a bad business investment.
You're unlikely to retain many new employees long-term and considering the high cost of hiring even 'unskilled' positions, that's money down the drain!
|1 month: A-for-effort|
1 month is the most common length of an onboarding program, with 38% of new hires reporting their journey was done and dusted after approximately 30 days.
1 month of onboarding activities will equip new hires with a basic understanding of their role and how your organization operates. Done well, it should also provide them with a decent social connection to their team and wider network of colleagues.
An onboarding journey that stops at the 1-month mark does little to help onboardees integrate into the organization. It misses out on the mentoring & development opportunities afforded by a lengthier formal program.
A 1-month program is a really good place to start. But there is so much more to be gained from a longer period. It's a little bit like running a marathon but packing it in a kilometer from the finish line - still an admirable feat, but it's not the end!
|3-6 months: The sweet spot|
An onboarding journey that lasts 3-6 months is what we here at Talmundo like to call the 'sweet spot'. Unfortunately, only 29% of new hires are lucky enough to have experienced a journey that fell into this category.
A 3-6 month journey gives space for HR to deliver need-to-know information to onboardees in bite-sized chunks, rather than front-loading everything in a matter of weeks. The process, referred to as 'drip-feeding', stops new hires from being overwhelmed and ultimately helps them to retain that knowledge long-term.
3-6 months of onboarding can be a lot of work for HR without good onboarding software & expert advice.
HR professionals agree that 90% of new hires make the decision to stay in a new role within the first 6 months - so it makes business sense to extend onboarding to match that all important 'first-impression' period.
|6+ months: Future-proof|
Whilst 3-6 months is considered the onboarding 'sweet-spot', many organizations take it one step further with 19% of new hires experiencing a formal onboarding journey that lasted for more than 6 months.
An onboarding journey that lasts 6 months builds on the same positive things that a 3-6 month journey offers. More time to drip-feed information, more time to connect, more formalized support.
Some hires don't need this level of support. On top of that, it can be a burden on HR, especially in larger organizations.
If you want to take your onboarding to the next level, optional formalized activities & support that go beyond the 6-month mark are great ways to inspire your new hires and make your commitment to their success crystal clear.
For the most part, onboarding is increasingly more effective the longer it lasts. Shorter processes don't deliver the same results and can harm your people metrics.
For results that balance investment and output, consider extending formal new hire activities to the 3+ month mark to give your new hires the level of support they need to succeed long-term within your organization.
Want to learn more about how Talmundo helps support your new hire from the moment they accept a job offer? Take a look at our onboarding journey template and discover a best-in-class new hire experience!