What is good employee onboarding? A new definition for a new decade

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    Employee onboarding defined

    Defined as “the process of helping new hires adjust to social and performance aspects of their new jobs”, employee onboarding is essentially the link between recruitment and employment.

    Every company “onboards”.

    22% have no formal process in place, relying on existing staff to ensure new hires are “shown-the-ropes”. Many utilize a series of orientation activities and check-box training modules. And a handful have “best-in-class” strategies to engage and inspire onboardees throughout the new hire journey.

    A new definition for a new decade

    Good, or “best-in-class” employee onboarding starts well before day 1. It is an umbrella that spans the entire new-hire lifecycle. From signing the contract, and landing on Day 1 (preboarding), during their first days and weeks on the job (induction/ orientation), through until your new hire is fully settled in their role—whether that’s 3 weeks, 3 months or even a year (integration).


    • It is a long-term strategy and recognizes that a staggering 20% of new hires leave for a new opportunity within the first 45 days on the job.
    • Effective employee onboarding delivers an ongoing, all-inclusive experience that builds loyalty and confidence at every stage of the new hire journey.

    In one sentence: A comprehensive, 2-way process designed to share knowledge, communicate values, build connections and manage compliance to transform new hires into confident, empowered team members and ambassadors.


    Why good onboarding makes great business sense


    Onboarding is here to stay.

    In fact, 77% of professionals believe that onboarding is more important than ever.

    But what are the tangible outcomes? What benefits will your organization see when you commit to, and invest in, a fully-fledged onboarding journey? Good onboarding will help you:




    These are business-critical metrics that impact the entire onboarding lifecycle, from Talent Acquisition to L&D, not to mention your onboardees. Remember; while HR may not generate revenue, they are tasked with managing the resources that do: your people.

    Drive engagement_

    Employee engagement is generally defined as “the strength of the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work”, and 71% executives believe that employee engagement is critical to their company’s success.



    Because organizations with high employee engagement have happier employees who work harder and contribute more. They’re also 21% more profitable than those with low (or no) engagement.

    Onboarding helps.

    Organizations that onboard effectively have 33% more employees who are engaged with their employer.


    How do you drive engagement through onboarding?

    Dynamic story-telling

    Share the why of what your company does in a way that inspires new hires to want to come to work.

    Transparent processes
    Foster trust with your onboardee by setting clear expectations and following through on promises from the outset.

    Strong communications
    Don’t leave your new hire in the dark. Connect with them early and often.

    And the best part?

    When employees are engaged, everybody wins:


    • Increased performance.
      Employees who feel their voice is being heard are 4.6x more likely to produce their best work.


    • Better balance.
      Engaged employees tend to have more satisfaction in their home life.

    Shorten time-to-productivity_

    In the workplace, time-to-productivity (or proficiency), is the length of time it takes to bring new hires to targeted levels of task execution and performance. Estimates vary, but on average, your new hire won’t be fully productive until their 5th or 6th month of employment.


    And according to author and researcher Fred Charles, speed to proficiency “is the most devastating competitive weapon in the world where the forces of scale, automation, and capital are subordinate to the power of proficient workforce”.

    In essence, the faster your employees can get up-to-speed, the sooner they can begin to provide value to your organization.

    Onboarding helps.

    Good onboarding is proven to shorten “time-to-productivity” by up to 70%.


    How do you shorten time-to-productivity?

    Start preboarding

    Leverage preboarding and drip-feed relevant content to your onboardees before Day 1.

    Check-in early and often
    Ensure managers and key team members touch base with new hires regularly. Use these opportunities to gauge how your new hire is feeling about their role and what they need from you to succeed.

    Eliminate hurdles
    Make information easily available by centralizing additional resources so new hires can explore in their downtime and answer their own questions.


    • Minimize lost revenue.
      The faster your employees become productive - the less the financial impact on your organization.


    • Happier hires.
      Productivity makes us feel good - so the sooner your new hires become productive, the better!

    Increase retention_

    Bringing on new employees is expensive, and the bigger your organization, the bigger the numbers. Estimates vary, but the average cost of hiring a new employee starts at around $3328 for a newly created entry-level role, and balloons to almost $213,000 to fill highly educated executive positions.


    Compounding the problem, with more competition from other organizations desperate for good staff, employers have to be more competitive than ever to keep existing employees.

    So retaining your best people is not only a good idea, it is critical.

    Onboarding helps.

    Good onboarding has the potential to increase retention by up to 82%.


    How do you increase retention?

    Focus on connection

    Win buy-in from existing team members and have them help welcome new hires into the fold. Social networking is becoming an indispensable part of onboarding, so include elements that involve a wide network of team members as part of your new hire journey.

    Lead with experience
    Create content for your new hire that is fun, engaging, and informative. Think about how your new hire will feel during the process.

    Link Recruitment and HR
    Facilitate a smooth transition between recruitment and HR. Ensure communications from both parties are clear, concise and aligned so your new hire has confidence in the process


    • De-risk recruitment.
      Safeguard the average €4494 invested per hire in recruitment and talent acquisition costs.


    • Job security.
      On average, employees are much more likely to stay for three years with an organization if they experienced good onboarding.
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