February 4, 2019

Three keys to a successful strategic onboarding program

In today’s world of work, strategic onboarding is key to retaining top talent, strengthening the employee experience, and making life easier for HR departments. Here, the three elements you need for a successful onboarding program.

The organizational impacts of a poor onboarding program can be both short- and long-term. A poor onboarding experience can lead to increased costs and lower value from new hires, not to mention increased early attrition. Research shows that nearly one-third of new hires start looking for a new job within their first six months. However, you can lower this number for your organization with a great onboarding experience. 

There are three keys to a successful strategic onboarding program: people, culture, and milestones and tasks. When incorporated as part of a consistent, and repeatable onboarding process, the program requires few adjustments, and benefits all stakeholders involved. Plus, you’re more prepared to set your new hire up for long-term success. Here, we outline the three keys to onboarding success.


Successful onboarding programs revolve around two distinct groups of people: the new hires and those involved in their onboarding. While it is important to have a repeatable and consistent onboarding process, it is also important to understand that your new hire is a unique individual, and to value them as such.

The wider organization, as well as the new hire’s manager and immediate team are the key groups instrumental in onboarding success. Read more about preparing managers and educating new hires on important people across your organization in this post.


A company’s mission, vision and values help employees find meaning in their roles, and see how they are connected to the bigger picture. From an early engagement and retention standpoint, it’s important that new hires understand how their work contributes to organizational success, and the types of personal goals they can set as well.

Ceridian’s Pulse of Talent found that high performing respondents were more likely to work for companies that have clear values (85%), and far more likely to know their company’s business goals (72%). 

Get some tips on integrating culture into onboarding here.

Milestones and tasks

Milestones and tasks are key components to any job, so it makes sense to start using them as soon as you start onboarding your new hire.  Early job accomplishments give new hires a sense that they are succeeding, and create motivation for continued success as they progress in their jobs. It’s also important to remember that onboarding experience extends beyond a new hire’s first day or week. Up to 20% of turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment, and according to SHRM, can be as much as 50% in the first 18 months of employment.

Read more about how to extend the onboarding process beyond your new hire’s first day in this post.

Every organization has the tools required to build a successful onboarding program – all it takes is thoughtful planning.

Onboarding should be a fun, inclusive experience for everyone involved, and you can make it a success at your organization by taking advantage of resources already at your disposal.

Ari Lesniak

Ari is the product owner for Dayforce Onboarding. He takes an entrepreneurial approach to his work and ensures the customer's voice is always top of mind. Ask him about skiing or hiking and you’ll be sure to hear a story or two.

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