Making a good first impression is often a concern for new hires starting their new job, but what about the first impression you’re making as an employer? As employees put their best foot forward to build trusted relationships and pave the way for a thriving career, organisations with a strategic onboarding process can make a lasting impact.
That being said, employee onboarding isn’t just about first impressions. Besides introducing employees to their new co-workers and teaching them company policies, onboarding equips your new employees for a bright career ahead. Onboarding is more than an employee orientation or a pile of forms to fill out – when done right, it sets employees up for success and improves an organisation’s ability to attract and retain top talent.
Productivity doesn’t happen overnight—or even within a week, which is how long most onboarding programs run.
Brandon Hall Group’s Evolution of Onboarding Study showed that most onboarding processes last an average of one week, regardless of company size. Understandably, managers want their team members to start work immediately, but this is often not enough to prepare the new employee for their role. They might even have less work done, as it takes at least eight months for employees to reach their full productivity.
However, a more extended employee onboarding program can help employees gain full proficiency 34% faster than those who only have one week.
Research shows that 77% of new hires who went through a formal onboarding program hit their first performance milestone faster and show 62% higher time-to-productivity ratios, improving their overall performance and confidence in their jobs. When employees are productive, the organisation benefits, too – with their additional bandwidth, energy, ideas, and skills, and up to a 60% year-over-year improvement in revenue.
Most onboarding programs are short and focused on setting up accounts and workspaces, office tours, accomplishing mandatory compliance courses, and a lot of paperwork. It’s no surprise, then, that most employees don’t connect with the company’s culture during orientation.
With thorough onboarding, employees can get a shared understanding of the culture, values, and mission, all of which substantially influence the quality of their work. When employees see the value of their role and how they will contribute to the organisation’s overall goals, they feel a sense of purpose that encourages their success and productivity. With a holistic orientation process, you can boost long-term employee retention, supporting growth and profitability.
Employee referral programs are among the top recruitment strategies in terms of efficiency, cost, and retention. Onboarding sets the tone for the employee experience, and when done right, your employees can become the company’s brand ambassadors for your other hiring requirements. When done wrong, however, onboarding can cause new hire remorse, low morale, and high turnover.
Organisations worldwide have been facing the Great Resignation over the past two years, with 61% of employees being a flight risk. Retaining talent is critical, now more than ever, and providing a good onboarding experience to your new hires can be the key to making them stay. The first three to six months of employment are critical – up to 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days, and 17% of new hires leave the company within the first three months. Meanwhile, with a positive onboarding experience, employees were 18x more likely to feel committed to their employer and were even willing to stay for at least three years. With the cost of employee turnover ranging from 100 to 300% of the replaced employee’s salary, it makes more sense to invest in a thoughtful onboarding experience in the name of employee retention and engagement rather than deal with low employee morale and repeat the recruitment process.
Employee onboarding has expanded beyond a short orientation program and a list of administrative tasks. Partnered with the latest HR technology, a targeted onboarding strategy is critical to a memorable employee experience. While the investment may be high in terms of time and cost, the benefits are numerous: it increases employee engagement, productivity, and retention, improves their quality of work, boosts your employer brand, and reduces employee turnover – ultimately giving you an impactful return on investment.
David Forry, Evolution of Onboarding Study, Brandon Hall Group, November 2017
Keith Ferrazzi, Technology Can Save Onboarding from Itself, Harvard Business Review, March 2015
Arlene S. Hirsch, Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Good Onboarding, SHRM, August 2017
Employee Onboarding – 21 Simple Ways To Get It Right!, The Business Blocks, January 2022
Roy Maurer, Onboarding Key to Retaining, Engaging Talent, SHRM, April 2015
Myles Suer, Why you should care about employee onboarding, CIO, August 2018
Melissa Llarena, How not to lose your new employees in their first 45 days, Forbes, July 2013
Deyan G., 33 Startling Employee Onboarding Statistics to Know in 2022, TechJury, March 2022