The Power of Onboarding

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by Sarah Gilson, Vice President at Remedy Intelligent Staffing

The Power of Onboarding

Onboarding is one of the most crucial steps of the hiring process for both leadership and human resources professionals. Some would even argue that onboarding is more important than recruitment and selection. Yet companies often spend little or no time ensuring newly hired colleagues have a successful and pleasant first 90 days. Onboarding is more than just a day of orientation or training, it is the process of acclimating new hires to the culture and performance expectations of their new job, and the process should take place over the course of weeks or months.

Why is the onboarding process often overlooked? One of the main reasons is lack of company focus or support for the onboarding process. In some cases, leaders are not provided with processes and tools and do not know “how” to onboard effectively, and in other cases, leaders are simply not held accountable to following through on the process.

Everyone is busy, and we have to prioritize our days. Sometimes, spending significant time with your new employee doesn’t make the top of the list. However, it should. According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 69 percent of employeesare more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience great onboarding. New employees who go through a structured onboarding program are 58 percent more likely to be with the organization after three years, and organizations with a standard onboarding process experience see 50 percent greater new-hire productivity.

Here are some best practices for onboarding success: 

Onboarding begins before the “ink is dry.”

You spent days, weeks, months recruiting and interviewing multiple candidates, and you finally found that purple squirrel. Many other companies were courting the candidate, and the candidate picked you! Everyone does a little happy dance when the signed offer letter is received—but is it really official?

In most cases, it is not. Your soon-to-be employee is likely still receiving offers from other companies, and some may be sweeter deals than yours. That’s why it is so important to make sure the candidate feels they the right choice.

Continue to reach out and discuss what to expect in the first 90 days, and make sure the manager is doing the same. Possibly send the candidate a little gift, maybe a T-shirt or hat bearing the company logo, or a book related to the company culture. These little reach-outs prior to the start date make a big difference.  

Create a thorough onboarding schedule and send it to the candidate prior to the start date.

This is basically an hour-by-hour rundown of everything the new employee will be doing for the first few weeks (or longer), and it is easier than it sounds, especially if you create a template that can be reused for similar positions.

It is extremely impactful to have the schedule for the first few weeks mapped out in writing for a few reasons. First, it ensures everyone is on the same page and has the availability to spend time with the new employee. Second, if you send it to the new employee ahead of time, it helps reduce their anxiety about what the first few weeks will look like. This is also a great opportunity to “wow” your new hire in the first few weeks. Of course, you have to include the boring but necessary paperwork and training, but also include things like lunch outings and coffee with key executives to spice things up a bit.

The most important aspects are the value of the content and ensuring the manager is onboard and ready to make sure the schedule is implemented.  

Make sure the manager is ready and willing.

You can create the most robust and impressive onboarding schedule ever, but if there is no follow-through, it can make you and your organization look unorganized. Sometimes this is unintentional, and a result of some kind of emergency, which is why it is important to have a backup plan. And having the new employee sit at his or her cubicle for eight hours straight reading the employee handbook won’t do it! The best course of action is to have a few people familiar with the onboarding schedule ready to help so they can cover for each other as small (or large) emergencies arise throughout the day.

Acclimating a new employee takes a lot of planning, follow-through, and focus, but it is also one of the most important interactions the employee will have with their new organization. Do not underestimate the power of onboarding!


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