The Importance of an Effective Onboarding Process

Starting a new job involves a range of emotions; from excitement to apprehension, over thinking of the dress code and fear of fitting in.


Most new employees will feel nervous on their first day and as an employer, its your job to show them they made the right decision in joining the business, to help them adjust to their new role and support them so they can perform at their best. 


First impressions count and it’s equally as important for employers to impress new recruits as it is the other way around.  In a time when sharing opinions takes just seconds through social media, it is more important than ever that businesses have a thorough onboarding process in place.


We take a look at what a successful process might look like and why it’s so important to get right.


What is onboarding?

Making any new hire involves completing paper work but the hiring process doesn’t stop at the point of signing the contracts. Hiring managers are responsible for settling employees into their new roles.


Naturally this process will vary depending on the size, structure and type of business but, in the last decade most savvy employers have realised that investing time at this stage of the hiring process will reap rewards in more ways than one.


For this reason, greater emphasis is now being placed on the needs on the individual than it did in the past. Many hiring teams now recognise that this is a critical time to ensure the recruit has a positive first experience, feels aligned with the company’s culture and is fully engaged from the very start.


What does the process look like?

If we were to believe everything we see on social media, the best companies give their recruits a goody bag, surround their desk with branded merchandise and some go as far as hosting them a welcome party!


The reality is that only a very small proportion of businesses go to such extents and while this may give the company a great reputation on social media, these types of onboarding may not be very beneficial to the individual. 


Onboarding should be designed to support the goals of the employee and the business. Immerse the employee in your company culture and strategy and let them see how they will be contributing to this in their role. This may manifest itself through a brief presentation of the company’s history, engaging with different teams and departments and involving the new recruit in less formal briefing sessions. The more knowledge they have, the better equipped they will be to perform highly in their role.



Employment experts say that the most critical period to retain a new hire is the first three to six months on the job, as this is the time when they’re most apt to leave. In 2017, a Korn Ferry study found that between 10% and 25% of newly-hired workers left within six months, the most cited reason being that the job wasn’t what they expected.


So, what does that tell us?

This striking statistic tells us that hiring managers need to be open and honest during both the interview and onboarding stages. Don’t sell the business as something that it’s not because this will more than likely lead to a high staff turnover and even higher recruitment costs.


The secret to success

The best onboarding processes are those that provide the candidate with everything they need to carry out the role successfully. In the early stages this could involve the classic orientation, training and introduction to the wider business, but don’t stop there. 


Assigning your new employee a mentor can be a great way to continue the onboarding process over a longer period of time, ensuring they remain engaged and feel supported while they settle into their role.


Set out a clear path for progression from the off.  Schedule quarterly consultations where they can discuss their career development. Find out their goals and determine what support and resources they need in getting there. If an employee can envisage their future at your company, they are more likely to remain loyal.


Ensure everything is ready for their arrival. It makes a world of difference starting a new job with laptops, business cards and IT systems already in place. This frees up a significant amount of time and energy which the new hire can invest in absorbing knowledge about the business, its culture and strategy.


Share success stories, show them rather than tell them that progression is possible. In most organisations there will be examples of people who came in at entry level and have climbed the ranks. Introduce your new hires to these people as this will act as a motivational tool.


Finally, be creative! There are no written rules when it comes to onboarding, but multiple studies show that businesses who invest time and effort at this stage retain talent for longer.


For more recruitment advice and support contact Human Resourcing.